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Fab Friday: Antique Expert, Allison Kohler

ABOUT Allison Kohler is President/Owner of JMK Shows & Events, where she manages and promotes some great antiques shows along the East Coast. Her shows are designed to educate, cultivate, show extraordinary craftsmanship, history and value of so many treasures. We thank Allison for taking some time out of her VERY busy schedule of preparing for The Antiques and Fine Art Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City this weekend to share her fabulous with us. If you're in the city this weekend, head to the show for some great GREEN holiday shopping. Don't forget to say hello to the woman who made it all happen! Robin Baron: What are your top five tips for buyers hitting your antique shows? Allison Kohler:

1. Negotiate. As they say, you can't get if you don't ask. Haggling is a part of the business, so don't be afraid to ask a dealer for their "best price". You may even want to make an offer. But if making an offer, be respectful and reasonable, particularly if you are really interested in an item, as you want to keep the negotiation going, not help bring it to an abrupt end.

2. Inquire. If you see something you like, ask questions. Museums and libraries are not the only places you can learn about history, function, and value. Many dealers are quite knowledgeable and love to share their knowledge, so let them educate you about their wares. Then, if you are interested in making a purchase, you'll have a lot more information on which to base your decision of whether or not to buy.

3. Do your Homework. Do a little research into what you're looking for before and a little detective work during. That way you're more likely to be happy with your purchase and the dealer is more likely to have a happy customer. Before actually buying your treasure, examine it so you know what you're buying. And ask the dealer if there are any damages, repairs or anything else you should know about the piece that might affect its value or your interest in it.

4. Exchange Digits. If you see a seller who carries items you collect or have an interest in, exchange contact information. Many dealers travel extensively to replenish their stock and they often have connections we don't, so if you're looking for something in particular, they may be a valuable resource. Not to mention, what dealer isn't interested in developing a market for their merchandise by building additional clientele!?!

5. Get it in Writing. When you make a purchase, be sure to get a receipt and that the receipt provides all relevant details about the item you purchased, including cost. Visiting an antiques show should be an enjoyable experience, and buying something you can't live without should only enhance that enjoyment. Should any problems arise with your purchase, having a receipt makes it easier to resolve those problems so that your enjoyment isn't tarnished.

RB: You run antique shows all around the country, what are the best markets for buyers? For sellers? AK: Simply put, the best markets are the markets where buyers and sellers meet and transact. There is a great deal of that happening all around the country. Some of the more prominent antiques shows are specialty driven events. Americana, folk art, country, decorative art, and modernism are all represented by shows which appeal to their collector audiences in addition to the general public. It also helps to have a show in a "destination city" like New York City, Boston, Atlantic City, Miami Beach, etc. This way, shoppers can do their antiquing as well as make a weekend out of it and do other enjoyable things that each city has to offer. From a seller's perspective, the big fairs around the country are still very appealing because the shows are able to draw large numbers of people to them. Antiques shows from Brimfield to Miami Beach bring nearly 2,000 dealers together to buy and sell with each other and their retail clients. Florida, in season, continues to impress from a buyer's stand point. There are so many wonderful venues and professional show managers doing an amazing job of presenting a remarkable depth and breadth of goods to the marketplace. RB: What’s inspiring you now? AK: Due to the economic climate, our industry continues to decrease in size, shows are closing, exhibitors and shops are going out of business and attendance is down significantly at most events. This is what inspires me!!! I love what I do – I love going into an empty space and transforming it into something magical, full of amazing displays, objects, art & beauty. I love making it all come to life. I love keeping our prices affordable for the exhibitors, keeping us all working, educating new customers and expanding the awareness of the antiques industry as a whole. There is nothing more fulfilling than at the end of a show, exhibitors coming over to me to thank me and let me know they had a great show and how much they appreciate how hard I work for them. It makes it all worth it! RB: How would you describe your own home décor? AK: My home is a bit of a mix depending on which room you are in. There are antiques and fine art scattered throughout my home and yet there is a great deal of comfort and practicality. I adore earth tones with a bit of animal print and sexiness. Sort of mother nature-meets-bordello! My living room is decorated completely in Asian antiquities and is very zen. My kitchen is full of open air, windows and light, with the cabinets in a light bisque-colored wood. But no matter what room you are in, you are sure to find angels. I have them scattered all over the house, including the bathrooms.

RB: What do you love most about your home and why? AK: I find my home very peaceful and serene. It nourishes my spirit. I love my backyard, where I have done all the gardening and plantings myself. It is where I can commune with nature and then in turn commune with myself to create balance, peace, clarity and all around good health for myself, my business, and those around me. RB: What is the one thing in your home that everyone always comments on? AK: Overall it would be the backyard, waterfall and sunroom combination and how bucolic it is for them. There are many treasures (antiques) throughout my home and there are usually comments on what piece strikes an individual’s fancy. It's interesting to see the different observations and tastes!

> all images courtesy of Allison Kohler and are similar products to those found at JMK shows.
Each Friday Simplifying Fabulous! presents Fab Fridays, an up-close-and-personal look at how one of our community members simplifies fabulous in their own life. Is there someone you'd like to see featured? Email your submission to info@simplifyingfabulous.com.

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Great design isn't always about symmetry, it's about balance.

Create equal but different visual interest on both sides of your space by playing with varying heights, weights, and quantities of your objects on opposing sides.