With her exquisite taste and keen eye for European style, Judy Frankel’s name is synonymous with unique, decorative antiques. It’s been nearly a dozen years since she opened the Antiques Centre of Troy, and this year she celebrated the way she knows best: by redecorating.
“It was time for a fresh look,” says Frankel, an antique dealer since 1991. “We removed walls, added warmer colors and carpet, and completely renovated the place. I hear people say it’s so much bigger, but the gallery is the same size.”
At 9,000 square feet, the Antiques Centre of Troy is the kind of place you can walk into and lose yourself for an hour or two. Every wall, ceiling, and inch of floor space is adorned with objects lovingly selected by Frankel — many chosen with specific clients or designers in mind. Most patrons look to her for a mixture of styles, and are thrilled to see how effortlessly Frankel can tie together an Art Deco piece, a Chinese vessel, and a beaded chandelier. “They come here looking for things they can’t find in stores or catalogs,” says Frankel, who began her career finding American folk art pieces for her own farmhouse in Metamora. Her clients are primarily interior designers and those who collect antiques for their home or office, but everyone feels welcome. Frankel greets patrons with a warm hello, and then lets them explore to their heart’s content. She is often able to find a particular antique at a moment’s notice, if needed, and has succeeded in shipping even fragile pieces all over the country for discerning customers. Michigan’s fledgling movie industry has found Frankel to be a valuable source for items needed to accessorize sets.
Several times a year, Frankel embarks on a buying trip to England, Holland, Belgium, and France. She spends five days in four countries, and fills a 40-foot container faster than anyone can imagine. She lives by one rule: “I never buy anything until I see it.”
Based on what she’s looking for, Frankel may shop at obscure warehouses or boutiques. “I never know what might attract my eye,” she says.
Lately she’s focused her buying trips on architectural and French industrial pieces, and has even created her own line of upscale custom furniture, designed in the French tradition with fine hardwoods and simple, clean, sophisticated lines. Labeled “Bespoke,” Frankel says it’s been a very inspirational venture — and one she hopes to continue to expand.
In March 2010, the Antiques Centre of Troy began showcasing area designers and has seen a very positive response to the designer vignettes. “Good designers set the trend,” Frankel says. The vignettes give patrons an opportunity to see how various lighting, antique furniture, and accessories work together in one complete space.
In addition to constantly changing her showroom to highlight specific pieces, Frankel’s website is ever-evolving and, at any moment, she might have a thousand items on view. “It’s become a great resource for designers online, but there are many who will only buy through a tactile [experience]. They have to feel and see it first,” she says.
The gallery also offers a popular bridal registry, and couples can choose silver, serving pieces, furniture, and lighting. “I buy high-end antiques,” Frankel says, “but I try to keep prices affordable so everyone can enjoy a unique piece of history.”