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Thursday, September 20 Living

Antiques dealer has a taste for the eccentric

You never know what you are going to stumble upon in Chris Chervenak’s wonderful antiques shop.

A gorgeous piece of furniture.

A bit of bold taxidermy for the den.

A striking portrait of no one in particular that could become a major conversation piece in your home (and a terrific mystery for your guests to ponder — who is it and what did they do?).

DC Kingswood feels like the private, informal museum of a man who wants to share his taste, and eye for detail, with his friends.

“I guess I would call my style relaxed and eclectic. I think I prefer the unexpected to the super-traditional,” Chervenak says during a tour of his collection of beautiful and frequently eccentric collectibles. The shop is heavier on accessories than furniture.

What’s the main criterion for adding a piece to DC Kingswood?

“If I like it, I buy it,” the dealer tells me, with a smile, adding that sometimes it’s hard for him to decide if a new object will go on display in Norwalk or in the Bethel home he shares with fellow collector David Cote.

“There’s a very fine line between (pieces for) the shop and my home,” he says. “Things go back and forth all the time. We’re always switching things up. I try to make the shop like my home.”

No need to worry about any clutter in either location, though. The shop is carefully curated, with the objects placed together by design, and Chervenak follows the same rules at home: “I’ve learned to be very stringent about what I buy.”

Objects give off vibrations just like people, the dealer believes, and Chervenak has learned to trust the chemistry he feels (or doesn’t) the moment he lays eyes on a piece. The dealer, who once worked in the corporate world, is thrilled to run a business that is powered by his trust in his own taste.

Although an “antique” is generally defined as something at least 75 years old, Chervenak is not bound by arbitrary rules — he’ll give space to anything that attracts his attention no matter what its age might be. The dealer enjoys matching customers with the Norwalk collection.

“Everything depends on the focus of the customer and making sure they buy the right things. With a new place we often deal with interior designers,” he says.

The internet has made it easier to shop for antiques, but Chervenak believes there is no substitute for checking things out in person with an expert guiding the way.

“The internet has actually inflated the value of some items,” he points out. “Just because something (is supposedly on sale) for $500 doesn’t mean it’s worth that and that you should buy it.”

The web is a great tool for Chervenak, however, because it keeps him up-to-date on where he finds his goods — estate sales, flea markets, auctions. “I’ll preview online but I’m always willing to take a chance on a sale.”

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Antiques shops are one business type that has not been impacted by the rise of the super-sized discount stores that have wiped out many small businesses. What is found at DC Kingswood is not on the shelves of Target or Walmart.

“I don’t like going into big box stores where you see millions of the same item,” Chervenak says. “You’re not going to find a one of a kind there.”

The dealer has small items for as little as $20 as well as more expensive offerings. He wants DC Kingswood to be the kind of place where anyone can find something to take home.

Portraits of unknown sitters are fascinating, paintings Chervenak was drawn to without knowing or caring who the people might be. He just likes the way they look. Some are done in a modern graphic design style, others are more traditional.

Chervenak is always happy to play docent with his diverse offerings — and tell you where each items came from — but he thinks customers should follow the same rule he does for making a purchase:

“Don’t buy it unless you love it.”

DC Kingswood, 19 Willard Road, Norwalk; 203-339-0265.

jmeyers@hearstmediact.com;

Twitter: @joesview

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