The Life Cycle of a Brocante Item: Our Fabulous Fantine Linen Cabinet

By on September 25, 2014, in Soft Surroundings


Brocante is the French term for flea market, or the kind of pop-up street fair that sells antique treasures and old-world finds. Brocantes are part of the culture of France and you can walk these markets all over the small villages and picturesque towns of the countryside in the South of France.

These are also the very places Soft Surroundings shops to find the items that inspire our reproductions.

The Fantine Linen Cabinet is an exquisite example of the journey a brocante piece takes with Soft Surroundings before it’s deemed worthy of your home.

We bought the inspiration for our Fantine Linen Cabinet in April 2012 in a small, quaint antique shop in Marseilles, France. The shop owner saw us covet it and told us it once held jams and jellies.


But our designer’s expert eye immediately envisioned it as a stately and elegant linen cabinet. She imagined its shelves piled high with soft blankets, ruffled shams, luxurious throws, and downy pillows. So we arranged for it to take a two-month long trek by ship from the South of France to our headquarters in St. Louis.

When we uncrated the original in St. Louis in July of 2012, we loved it even more than we did when we first saw it. It was truly a French beauty!


We quickly set to work measuring every tiny curve, recording each design nuance, and rendering our Soft Surroundings piece to exacting detail—top, sides, front and back.

The renderings were ready to begin to build in October 2012.

With every one of our brocante pieces, we take great care to create a reproduction  that links us to the original in all aspects: quality, craftsmanship, design and aesthetic.

So after another six months of prototyping and building, in April 2013, a photo sample arrived from our master craftsmen and woodworkers. Of course we had some tweaks, but overall, the Fantine Linen Cabinet is as breathtaking as its muse, the jam cabinet we’d uncovered in France one year earlier!



photosample_arrivesThe Fantine is hand-painted a lovely verdigris color and distressed by hand to give it the character and romance of history. From the top of its hand-carved cornice to the bottom of its curvaceous apron, and along every raised panel, carved motif and brass pull, it’s an heirloom in the making.

It debuted in our AT HOME catalog in September 2013, and it continues to be one of our customers’ top favorites. Because of its petite footprint it fits into almost any space in the home including the bath, boudoirs, even the kitchen! We have no doubt some of our customers are using it creatively—maybe even in the pantry with jams and jellies inside?


The gorgeous Fantine Cabinet is just one of the items that Soft Surroundings reproduces with tender care and attention to detail. Browse our Brocante – Antiques section for more of our time-honored treasures reclaimed from the South of France. While you’re there, explore more of our home decor items.



  • Shirley

    Love my switch plate covers. They’re gorgeous and great quality for reasonable price, thanks so much!

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