Your home is your castle

Jacques Claessen (35), lecturer in criminal law and criminology, Faculty of Law

“People who come to my house for the first time are usually surprised by the design. ‘It reminds me of my grandmother’s house’, is a comment I often hear. Perhaps that’s because of the smell of polishing wax. Not everyone thinks my furniture is beautiful. That’s also not necessary. Everyone has their own taste. But people do feel right at home. Everyone thinks it’s ‘gezellig’. I find that much more important.
I love antiques and curios. And, yeah, most people my age like modern. My partner Marc had to get used to it, but he has now fallen for antiques—though he doesn’t find it all equally beautiful. For me, the love for antiques was spoon-fed. As a child, my parents took me to antique and flea markets. Today, I buy mainly through auction houses. The price of antiques has never been so low. You can buy stuff for peanuts. That makes collecting even more fun.”

Moszkowicz estate
“Recently, I bought a Louis XVI-style table by auction from the estate of the Moszkowicz family. Luckily my father is very handy. He sanded the table and added a coat of varnish. That’s also the case: many antiques have to be restored. The furniture needs to be waxed and the silver items should be polished regularly. That’s a job for my mother.
Not everything here is antique. There are also family pieces that have emotional value, as well as items that I bought on my trips abroad, like this picture, the chessboard and the wooden Guanyin statue (a Buddhist goddess). I bought it at a Chinese market in 2004 for about 20 euros. It’s worth 400 euros.”

Between art and kitsch
“Funny enough, I took this statue to the recordings of Tussen Kunst & Kitsch (Between Art & Kitsch) in the Bonnefantenmuseum because I wanted to know more about the background. It’s painted black to look like bronze. Nearly every Chinese household had this type of altar statue at home. This is an alternative for the common man, who can’t afford a bronze one. No, the clip wasn’t shown on television.
In most cases, I know approximately how much something costs. As a collector, I’ve developed quite a bit of knowledge and have read a lot about art and art history. If I lose my job, I can always become an antiques dealer. Have I ever made a bad purchase? I have to think about that. Oh yes, I recently had to replace the glass in a frame with an old map of Limburg. When I pulled out the map, it turned out to be a newspaper article in Limburgs Dagblad. Luckily, I had bought the map for a few euros at the thrift store.”

Only the bed is modern
“Because we love to scour antique and flea markets, more and new pieces keep being added. Sometimes I replace furniture. Or it gets a place in the hallway or a room upstairs. Only our bed is modern, but that has to do with the small dimensions of the antique beds. My partner is still looking for an antique corner sofa to relax on. I fear he may have to search for a long time. For now, I can still manage with the space. Our attic is still empty.
Do I have suggestions for future collectors? Now is the time to buy antiques, considering the rock bottom prices. It’s wise to buy only the things you really think are beautiful. Put your heart and soul into the design of your home. Your home is your castle. The design also says something about the person. Sometimes I feel like an old soul. I don’t need all those modern appliances and gadgets. You won’t find me with an iPhone or on Facebook; I’d rather sit in my study with a book and classical music in the background.”

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