Passionate About Antiques: 
A collector and a 
folk artist combine forces

Written by: Lisa LeBlanc-Berry

Maria and Simon Hardeveld have created a magical world at their quaint shop filled with unusual treasures. Unlike the more traditional furniture galleries along Magazine Street, Antiques on Jackson pays homage to the intrinsic character of New Orleans, where anything goes.

Located on a large corner lot at Jackson and Magazine streets, the charming store displays an atypical combination of elegant antiques juxtaposed with rustic folk art. Popular with interior designers and collectors since it opened in 1999, the shop reflects the vibrant character of this enigmatic city that seduces residents with its opulence and decay, elegance and faded glory.

The main building showcases Maria’s extensive collection of fine European antiques, whimsical sconces and delicate chandeliers, mirrors adorned with intricate designs, old Italian trays, rare books, and one-of-a-kind collectibles, as well as the tattered and worn pieces for those who enjoy reviving items of past grandeur.

In the outdoor area, Simon often displays his rustic folk art that is made with found objects including weathered plywood, corrugated tin, and discarded bottle tops. To make things sparkle, he adds plenty of glitter on various signs. Known as Simon the sign man around town, locals see his art every day on the network news. Simon created the rustic and colorful News With a Twist set for WGNO-TV.

Like the shop, Maria and Simon’s circa 1898 residence holds a special kind of beauty and charm. Maria’s passion for antiques is evident with her sophisticated design aesthetic and elegant decor, yet she blends an unlikely mixture of richly textured old fabrics to adorn sofas and chairs, including vintage curtains, rug fragments, and swatches of velvet and damask. Her creative touch extends to the master bedroom, where she designed a unique headboard extension that is embellished with a pair of sconces, and crowned with layers of loosely draped fabrics that give it a regal feel.

Situated on three large lots with a fenced-in yard, the house was purchased in 2004. A year later, hurricane Katrina hit in the middle of their renovation, which the Hardevelds completed in the aftermath of the storm. Maria transformed the modest, four-bedroom house into a showplace by lavishly decorating it with an array of beautiful antiques from her collection at the shop.

The Hardevelds were in business together long before they opened Antiques on Jackson. Married for the past 23 years, Maria and Simon met in Florida, fell in love, got married, and ran three restaurants together on Florida’s east coast before moving to New Orleans in 1993.

Born in the French Alps, Simon was a chef and restaurateur in Cannes before moving to Florida to peruse the culinary scenario there. A mellow fellow who speaks with a heavy French accent, he has long hair and wears a bandana reminiscent of the 1960s. In contrast, Maria is a savvy collector who was born in the Big Easy, where she developed her passion for antiques.

“We were living in Florida and I found out that my mother was ill, so I wanted to come back home to New Orleans,” Maria explains. “I always loved antiques and had an opportunity to open a shop here. We had antiques in our restaurants in Florida, plus I had a little antique shop down the street from our place in Stuart.”

After moving to New Orleans, Simon had a sea change when he began working as a chef at an old bar and grill in Metairie. He serendipitously found his muse as an artist by painting signs that listed the menu items he prepared in the kitchen. Little did he know that those funky signs would be the dawning of a new career. He had never held a paintbrush before.

As it turned out, the regulars liked Simon’s brightly colored, offbeat signs more than the food. Word spread, and folks began showing up to purchase and commission his clever creations instead of his cuisine. He eventually left the restaurant and stopped being a professional chef altogether, turning his attention full time to artful endeavors.

Simon’s vibrant signs symbolize the spirit of New Orleans and are adorned with icons such as alligators and golden coconuts. The punchy slogans are their main appeal: Geaux Saints, Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler, Shalom Y’all, and Beware of Dogs and Voodoo, for example. As Simon began to expand his repertoire, the signs started popping up in restaurants and storefronts throughout New Orleans. “He can’t keep up with the demand,” Maria exclaims.

Simon also makes one-of-a-kind furniture and decorative items that are on display at the shop. A few of his colorful pieces hang in their home, although the formal decor theme largely prevails.

When renovating the residence, Maria had the floors painted white to complement the antiques and give it a “fresh look.” Since she favors Florentine antiques (which are also predominant at the shop), Maria selected a variety of treasured pieces from the shop and on buying trips.

“Italian pieces from Florence have been my absolute passion for 30 years,” Maria says. “I prefer the Florentine pieces from 1915 to 1950; but I also like 18th- and 19th-century French, Belgian, Spanish, and English antiques.”

The Hardevelds’ elegant living room is appointed with a large 18th-century trumeau mirror with delicate lead figures of angels; a graceful settee from Sicily; and an assortment of Florentine chairs, tables, and chests. “The trumeau mirror is split in the middle, because they didn’t know how to make large mirrors back then,” Maria points out.

“I love my three-drawer Florentine chest with a serpentine front, it fits perfectly in the living room,” Maria states. “I wanted a piece that could be placed directly under the windows so that I could display my things on top. I saw this piece and fell in love with it. It isn’t overwhelming to the room, which isn’t that large. I also love the red Italian turn-of-the-century chair in the living room. Red is one of my favorite colors, and the chair is so ornate. It is beautifully made, as only the Italians can do. I enjoy sitting in it and having a cup of coffee in the morning while listening to music.”

The Hardevelds converted one of the original bedrooms in the house into a casual sitting room, which opens onto a sunny, L-shaped porch.

“For the sofa, I placed old velvet pieces on each arm and adorned it with a rug on the seats, and also placed throws on top,” Maria says. “I also used fabric to decorate a painted antique Italian chair in the living room. I ripped off the brand new polyester fabric that was on it, and threw a piece of old velvet green fabric on top of the cotton. I like dressing up antiques with interesting fabrics.”

Once again, Maria used various fabrics to decorate an Italian 18th-century settee in the living room. “It is covered in a yellow silk damask. In the winter, I place a green velvet throw with tapestry trim on top. It is actually an old curtain that came from France. In the spring, I use a throw made of old damask that is really tattered. It is trimmed with tassels. I find that the velvet is too heavy for the warm weather.”

Maria created wall art by placing framed fragments of Aubusson rugs on either side of the sitting room sofa, and placed a 19th-century tapestry in the center of the wall for added interest.

A large breakfast room is adjoined to the kitchen, which was formerly a porch. The spacious room features a narrow wooden table that was made by one of Maria’s friends.

“I found the boards for the table in a warehouse after Katrina, and then I found the little French legs,” she says. Italian cane-back side chairs are paired with antique Florentine armchairs for the dining table.

“I display my Old Paris china in a custom-made, glass-enclosed vintage cabinet from the 1920s. I put a large, old English scale on top; it is perfect for that space. The old bar near the dining table is from Texas. We ripped out the original bar,” she adds. A chalkboard listing drinks, located behind the bar, came with the house.

The master bedroom is adorned with richly textured fabrics and stately antiques. “When we bought the house, my master bath was a kitchenette,” Maria remarks. She appointed the master bath with a copper shell sink from France and decorated the walls with antique Florentine trays. “They work perfectly here,” Maria says. “You have to love it. Like I tell my clients, if you love it, the pieces you choose will always fit in somewhere.”