Jane Peters has always had an appreciation for beauty, and she has channeled her aesthetic sense into a number of businesses in her lifetime. She has worked variously as a Steuben glass gift buyer for the Reagan White House, designer for the Lake Placid Olympics (as well as for a number of other corporate clients), interior designer, and owner of two shops in Greenwich, Conn.
Her latest venture, an antique and home décor store in Vineyard Haven called At the French Doors, is truly an expression of her abiding passion. “I have a long history of loving antiques and beautiful things,” Ms. Peters said. “My parents were collectors of antiques.”
Everything in the shop, located next to Tisberry on Cromwell Lane, is stamped with Ms. Peters’s exceptional taste. She doesn’t collect just anything old: she buys what she likes and what she knows, from her long experience with antiques, is interesting and desirable.
The quaint shop is stocked with a collection of unique furnishings and objets d’art focusing on early French and English finds. Among the more eye-catching items is a 1920s replica of a large boar’s head sculpture from the 17th century, an impressive painted French screen from the 1920s, and a set of rare hand thrown pottery lamps from mid-century Japan. There is also a smattering of unusual finds from U.S. craftsmen such as a small early American drop-leaf table.
The shop owner’s interest in gardening is in evidence in the selection of antique garden ornaments such as a large statue of St. Lucille, the patron saint of writers, holding a removable quill; a large, very ornate stone bird bath decorated with gargoyles; marble-topped iron outdoor dinette sets; and many decorative planters and urns.
Ms. Peters also carries a number of new home items including her own pillows, small monogrammed soaps, candles, boxwood bonsai trees, and a line of watercolor cards printed with an antique letterpress on cotton and linen paper. “I want to welcome all pocketbook sizes to the store,” Ms. Peters said. “I have items from $5 on up.”
Also on display are a series of beautiful detailed marine oil paintings by Connecticut artist Tom Graves. A longtime sailor, Mr. Graves focuses on accuracy in his paintings of racing and pleasure sailboats. Although he has only been painting professionally for about six years, the artist’s eye for light and attention to detail bring his maritime scenes to life. The work of Mr. Graves can be found in galleries in Connecticut and on Nantucket, and he has done a number of commissioned pieces, but he has never shown on the Vineyard before. You can see his work at graves-marine-art.com.
At the French Doors is technically a pop-up shop. Ms. Peters has taken over the remainder of the lease from the former consignment shop Freebird. It was a bit of a last-minute decision by Ms. Peters, based on a need to stay active. “In November of 2012 I was a pedestrian hit by a texting driver,” says the Vineyard summer resident, who lives in Stamford, Conn., the rest of the year. “It took me a long time to get back to where I am.” She emphasized, “Not where I was, but where I am now.”
Prior to the accident, Ms. Peters spent a good deal of time sailing and playing tennis. While recovering from her injuries, the 80-year-old said, “I read a lot of books. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m a people person. Spending all that time alone was not good.”
With her new business, the outgoing, energetic Ms. Peters enjoys visits from shoppers — both locals and tourists — with whom she enjoys sharing her knowledge of antiques or talking about her years sailing on a Sparkman and Stevens one-off sloop, traveling between the Caribbean and the Bay of Fundy and all over Yugoslavia, Greece, and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
At the French Doors is located on Cromwell Lane in Vineyard Haven.