Master of Antiques

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Margaret ‘Margie’ Hetherington is celebrating 35-years of The Red Barn Antiques and Collectables this month. Amongst the old printers trays, chandeliers, farming implements and furniture hangs a small framed certificate. It’s stamped with the date June 4, 1982, and it’s Margie’s second-hand dealers license. “This all came about by accident” Margie says leaning on a beautiful colonial era kauri dressing table.

“I restored a few things, furniture mostly, and then people started to bring things for me to take a look at.” Margie exudes warmth, a dash of mischief and a touch of glamour. She shows me around the barn, which has similar attributes. There’s a lighting area, lace room, and a shabby-chic section. She points out the lace labels she sells on behalf of her friend, Donelle.

Margie assures me that despite shabby chic being a best seller; she is very selective before getting out the paintbrush. Stripping, restoring and polishing native timbers back to their original rich lustre is Margie's passion. She has seen the fickle home decor trends wax and wane over the years, and is staggered by how inexpensive antique furniture is. Looking around at the quality of materials and workmanship in the barn, it’s easy to see why.

“Fashion is a rollercoaster. It’s all very minimalistic and very white at the moment, but everyone needs a bit of colourful clutter.”

Some of Margie’s ‘clutter’ is very much in vogue. She recently sold a large collection of vintage biscuit tins to an interior designer for a swanky new café in Auckland.

“I told her they were rusty, but that’s exactly what she wanted. I think sometimes the more rustic it is the better it is!”

The Matakana Coast is now punctuated with establishments selling collectibles, but when Margie and her late husband Rob, ‘emigrated’ from the North Shore in 1976 it was a very different story. They purchased 72-acres and a dilapidated house. The house was in such bad shape Rob was hoping it would be demolished. Margie on the other hand wanted it restored back to its former glory. Needless to say, it was restored.

The barn that now houses Margie’s treasure trove was an old hayshed, trucked up from the back of the farm. It quickly took on a new purpose as Rob went about making repairs and Margie applied the finishing touches to the growing array of antiques and collectables.

“I still have customers that visit me from back then. It’s all been built on word-of-mouth.”

Margie, who is now a great-grandmother, doesn’t have any grand plans to celebrate the thirty five year milestone.

“Every day is a celebration to me because I love what I do,” she says, shutting the gate and waving goodbye to the last customer of the day.

190 Matakana Road, Warkworth 09 425 8960

Photography: Sue Donkin