Hinsdale shop offers antiques with a French and English twist
Anna Rasmussen Stansbury plumps up the pillows on a pair of leather upholstered chairs at Barley Twist Antiques. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Barley Twist sells: English and French antiques, from the early 1700s to the late 1800s
Where: 18 W. Hinsdale Ave., Hinsdale
Owners: Bill Walker and Anna Rasmussen Stansbury
Telephone: (708) 445-0100
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:08AM
HINSDALE — Barley Twist, the name of a new store in Hinsdale, does not give away what type of business it is.
It could be a bakery, a restaurant or a feed store, but it’s none of those. It’s an antique store, which opened at 18 W. Hinsdale Ave. in February.
Bill Walker had an antique store by the same name in Oak Park for more than 10 years, which he closed to move to Hinsdale with his partner Anna Rasmussen Stansbury.
Walker explains in the 15th century, farmers would take stalks of barley growing in the field, twist two together and dip them in sugar water for children to suck on.
“People started carving that look in wood, primarily oak,” Walker said.
The design, which resembles a twisted rope, appeared as table legs, lamps and candlesticks.
“The English used it a lot,” Walker said. “I love it.” His Oak Park store focused on English antiques.
Stansbury was importing French antiques, when she went into business with Walker about four years ago.
“We now have an aesthetic where we mix English with French (furniture),” Stansbury said. “It works out for both.”
“We combined our business, our inventory and our point of view,” Walker said. “We focus primarily on furniture 100 to 250 years old.”
“From the 1970s to the 1990s, antique collectors primarily focused on a particular period or niche. They were more straight and narrow in their collections.”
In the mid-1990s, however, people were mixing furniture from different centuries and different countries.
“So many people are doing an eclectic look now,” Walker said.
In his own home, for example, his English antiques share space with a large French barber mirror, a Chinese altar table from the 1600s and a set of 1970s dining room chairs.
The furniture in Barley Twist is displayed in vignettes, which show how pieces can be combined.
The two travel to England, France and Belgium about twice a year looking for new inventory. Walker said he has established ‘a network of friends and dealers” in the small towns and villages in northeastern England that they visit.
“With the Internet, we can put out feelers for things we are looking for,” Walker said.