“MY APOTHECARY TABLE!”
In the sixth season of Friends, Phoebe explained to Ross and Rachel how important it was for her to have furniture that told a story. This free-spirited fictional character’s love for antiques is something many people said they relate to.
Barbara Beaver, owner of Beaver’s Den Antiques in Woodland Hills, said antiques are what make a house feel like a home.
“These things have survived and the reason why is because of the quality and that they were loved and taken care of,” Beaver said. “For these things to go on to new homes and be appreciated by young people is wonderful.”
Searching for Antiques
Students, faculty and local shop owners said they appreciate the thrill of the hunt, the everlasting quality of antiques, as well as the keepsake of history — remembering things locally made with love, not manufactured in 2024’s fast-paced world.
“You can get the same thing [item] at an antique sale and paint it to your heart’s delight, and you will have that piece forever because they’re just so well made,” said Avesta Carrara, office manager of Alumni Relations.
Carrara said she first became interested in antiques by admiring the decor in her grandmother’s house in France. She ended up bringing small pieces of this house back home with her but had the desire to grow her collection.
She said she started finding estate sales as well as antique markets and moved on to collecting and selling antiques of her own for over 25 years. Other than her sheets and towels, she has no new items in her house.
“If you shop estate sales, you know that stuff is not going into landfills, and a lot of the kids don’t want it,” Carrara said. “A lot of the time either the parents are downsizing or someone has passed away. I have been to more places in L.A. than I ever would have had I not had an interest in antiques.”
Carrera’s most prized possession: a pie safe. She said she had been looking for one for years and they were used in the 1800s as a cabinet for food.
She also found a coveted butcher’s block she had been looking for, used to cut meat in old butcher shops.
“I wish they [antiques] could talk,” Carrara said. “Because if they could talk they could tell me where they have been and who they have been with.”
After losing her home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, Carrara said she had to start her collection over, but that it left space for a bigger and better vision.
“When do you have the opportunity to redo everything and start from scratch as an adult?” Carrara said.
Carrara’s favorite era is anything before 1960, she said, but she really looks for things from the 1800s. She said she is fascinated that older antique styles are starting to come around — because no one, not even young people, can pass up the homemade quality.
Senior Grace Garrabrants said antique shopping is in her blood because her nursery and childhood room were filled with antiques as a way to both save money and have items with a story.
As she grew older, antiques were all she knew, which helped shape her aesthetic when she decided she wanted to become a fashion designer.
“My mom was always collecting a lot of vintage, I was just always around it,” Garrabrants said. “I’ve always loved antique clothes and decor and when I worked at a thrift shop, people would bring in insane things because California is a very diverse place, you would find anything and everything.”
Her favorite find was a purple Amethyst necklace from the Victorian era, Garrabrants said. She bought it in high school and wore it to school one day. Her mom had warned her she might lose the necklace, and it did in fact fall off.
After days of searching and accepting the harsh reality it was gone, one day at school she saw a shimmer in the bushes. She had found it.
“When I see stuff at an antique store I’m like, ‘Ah that’s so beautiful, that’s so sad it’s just sitting there,’ and I get an emotional connection to the thing,” Garrabrants said. “Artistic people are like that a lot because you value your creations a lot, that you wonder how other people couldn’t value a creation that someone made and you need to take care of.”
Beaver said her mother started Beaver’s Den Antiques in 1967 and when they moved from Tarzana to Woodland Hills, she loved how small and calm the French Quarter area of Woodland Hills was and how it matched the Southern styles of her items.
Beaver’s Den Antiques specializes in silver and has pieces ranging from $10 to items worth thousands, Beaver said. She loves to help customers pattern match and add single pieces of silverware to an already existing set, she said.
She also sells plates, holiday decor, jewelry, gifts and more. She even had Tiger Lily art on silverware handles from 1901.
“I often have customers come in and say ‘My mom passed away and I have all this stuff, what should I do with it?’ And I say, ‘Use it,’” Beaver said. “‘Let’s use these beautiful things that you have inherited and enjoy them.’”
Beaver said she hopes everyone of every age can find something in her store. Her passion for collecting started when she was a little girl collecting horse statues and watching her mother travel for antique pieces.
“As a woman, having a business at that time was pretty revolutionary, so growing up with it, I loved that passion,” Beaver said. “My background is theater and that is what I studied in high school and college, and I loved learning about history.”
Lieberman grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, and came to L.A. when she was 12. She studied art history and started working for different artists and designers, which led her and her partner to open a furniture store with handmade items, she said. This led her to traveling the country to collect pieces for her own antique store.
“I have a lot of favorites in here, but I would say the airships,” Lieberman said. “They are motorized and we found those driving up the coast going to different antique shops, they were made from a couple in Wisconsin and they are really magical.”
She said the joy of antiques comes from the people she meets in her store. From tourists coming in and becoming overwhelmed with the sheer amount of items, to producers and artists, and kids asking their mom to take them to “the robot store,” due to the extravagant window displays.
“It’s been a really exciting career, the thrill of the hunt, and then going to auctions in the Midwest and flea markets in New England, and just the excitement of you never know what you’re going to find,” Lieberman said.
Many said antiques are about appreciation and the ability to be timeless — to become humble and remember what, and who, are deemed precious.
Email Beth Gonzales: email@example.com