Over the weekend of Feb. 5-6 – Super Bowl weekend – auctioneer Don Presley will preside over the sale of the remaining inventory of Steven-Thomas Antiques and Interiors, which is closing its doors. Founded in 1979 by brothers-in-law Steven Shedd and Thomas Silk, the prestigious Orange County antiques and restoration firm has operated from the same Santa Ana venue since 1979, redesigning and repurposing antiques for functional use in today’s homes.
“Some of the finest oceanfront residences in southern California have benefited from the imaginative design concepts of Steven-Thomas, ” said Presley. “The company is very well known here in Orange County, and they’ve sold $150 million in antique furniture since opening their doors.” Steven-Thomas also catered to a large celebrity clientele that included the late John Wayne, who resided in Newport Beach. Their custom work is also on view in the Dorothy Chandler House in the stylish Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park, where they were commissioned to install antique kitchen buffets.
The idea behind Steven-Thomas germinated in 1971 while Steven Shedd was living in Italy and playing on a baseball team. “I was going back and forth to Italy, and a friend said, ‘You should get into antiques.’ That was when dealers were just started to ship antiques from Europe to America in containers, ” Shedd recalled. He and his wife decided to cast out their nets to see if the idea had any potential. They started traveling all over northern Italy, buying up the type of furniture that could be bought cheaply there and resold easily in the States. “While there was an abundance of English rolltop desks and gateleg tables at the time, that wasn’t the case with high-end Italian Renaissance Revival furniture, ” Shedd said. “We knew we had found an opportunity in the marketplace.”
In 1980, the Shedd and Silk families purchased land on the 55 Freeway five minutes from the John Wayne Airport, and designed and built the Steven-Thomas showroom. It did not take long for Steven Shedd and Thomas Silk to ascertain exactly what their clients wanted.
“The customer base we were serving expected to see things in tip-top condition. To meet their needs, our business became 70% restoration – bringing antiques back to their original condition – and 30% recrafting, ” Shedd said. “For instance, we would take two twin beds and make them into a king-size bed, or we’d use the carcass of a buffet to create an entertainment center. We developed a reputation for being very creative and eventually grew to a staff of 50 employees.”
After 30 years of building the business into a landmark antiques and interiors retail destination, the partners are now ready for retirement. Recently, the Steven-Thomas building was sold to a computer assembly company, and the premises must be vacated by Feb. 28. The Feb. 5-6 auction will dissolve the remaining Steven-Thomas inventory in its entirely, with no minimum bids and no reserves. Every article will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of price.
The vast array of furniture includes complete bedroom suites, buffets, hall trees, dressers and chests, Louis XV and XVI mirrors, china cabinets, and dining tables with complete sets of 6, 8 and 10 chairs. Additionally, there are bookcases, desks, Renaissance-style trestle tables and kitchen cupboards. Coffee tables with carved figures at the base, glass tops and hand-carved finials are prime examples of the Steven-Thomas method of recrafting antiques into unique “fantasy” pieces. “It’s possible that someday those pieces we’ve recrafted with have value as unique articles, ” Shedd said.
Befitting the palatial furniture on offer, Presley will auction several lavish crystal chandeliers. Among the top lots is a French robust-center chandelier with six patinated cherubs, each holding two lights; and an 18th-century Russian enameled-bronze chandelier with a blue star-emblazoned globe, and crystal and beads surrounding the 12 arms. A very special pair of Lalique chandeliers renders the illusion of a crystal waterfall. Its round, bronze body is decorated with cherub figures on Lalique glass.
Additionally, the on-site auction will feature hundreds of quality smalls, decorative art and other items. “There is so much merchandise from with to choose, everyone is sure to leave with something wonderful, ” said Presley. “And there are sure to be some bargains.”
All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Live Auctioneers. Note: all purchased goods must be removed from the premises no later than Feb. 15 to make way for the new tenants.
Steven-Thomas Antiques is located at 800 East Dyer Road at the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana, CA 92705. The auction will commence at 12 noon Pacific Time on both Saturday, Feb. 5 and Sunday, Feb. 6. Preview goods any day prior to the auction from 10 am. to 5 pm., and from 10 am. to noon on actual auction days. For additional information, call 714-957-3989 or 714-633-2437. View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet.