Embree & Lake
For centuries in Europe, antiquarians have traditionally lived above or inside their shops — whether they are modest in size and cluttered with furniture and art, or grand and handsomely appointed with the finest goods. But it’s rare to find this arrangement in Dallas. Earlier this year, when Marc Lake completed renovations to Embree & Lake (the 54-year-old antiques emporium on Slocum Street that he inherited from his late business partner Donald Embree), Lake built a small apartment for himself upstairs and moved in with his two dogs, a terrier named Edith Bunker and a spaniel mix named Sister (after the grand dame of decorators, Sister Parish). While his personal space is still a work in progress, the antiques showroom, which was once a carpet store, has been gloriously enlivened with a massive skylight, raised ceilings and reconfigured front windows. He put up a black wrought-iron fence in front, planted climbing vines and put out a new sign. Lake also enlisted well-known stylist Jimmie Henslee to create lavish and elegant room vignettes with the store’s fine European antiques and accessories. The result is a sumptuous dreamscape of rooms bathed in light and shadows.
The renovations are a fresh start for Lake, who started working for Donald Embree in the early 1990s. Barely 20, fresh out of the Dallas Design Institute and working at his first job as an assistant for an interior designer, Lake called on Donald Embree Antiques frequently. “It was jam-packed with all these incredible things,” Lake remembers. “You could barely walk through there. It was what I think of as a real antiques store.” Embree, then 65, was planning to retire and eventually offered Lake a job running the store. Embree never ended up retiring, but Lake started doing most of the buying in Europe and became his business partner in 2009 at age 25. Best friends, they worked together until Embree died in 2011. Lake’s focus has gradually shifted from the formal and country French antiques Embree preferred to a fresher mix that includes French and Italian antiques and art, painted and lacquered Maison Jansen pieces, and modern art. It’s a look that Lake describes as “Billy Baldwin New York,” but his heart remains with Louis VIX French furniture, he says. “I just have to rein in the ormolu a little.”
A new shipment from Europe just hit the floor in May, and it contains quite a few mid-century furnishings. The haul includes two pairs of 36-inch-tall rock-crystal obelisks, contemporary cocktail tables by Bagues and Jansen, and a set of four rare Bagues sconces from the 1930s. There’s also a “really gorgeous” serpentine red glass and bronze credenza from Italy, Lake says, along with “our usual antique chandeliers and beautiful chairs. I try to buy a lot of Jansen; they were a great firm.” The renowned Paris furniture manufacturer’s black-lacquered mid-century furniture has been a longtime obsession. “I have wanted one of their folding tables since high school,” he says. Lake has a dealer friend in Paris who lives across from an auction house, and he’s always texting him at 4 am when he’s spotted a Jansen piece that he thinks Lake will like. “Sometimes I say to myself, ‘You’re going to go broke before you even get out of bed,’” he laughs.
When your store is also your home, surroundings have to be considered from a more personal perspective. “I just buy what I like now and hope that it sells,” he says. Embree & Lake, 1115 Slocum St., 214.760.9141.