Dépêchez-vous To The Basic French Estate Sale
Napoleon III chaise longe, recently reupholstered by an artisanal upholsterer with hemp, linen and horsehair (it will last another 100 years, Neiley says), $1,200.
By Lisa Green
Francophiles — and those who just plain love an estate sale — will want to thank Carol Neiley for her own passion for France and her householding there. The owner of Basic French, a Gallic-provenanced shop in Red Hook, is selling off the vintage goods from her French country estate and apartment in Lyons at the Basic French Estate Sale today through Saturday. Our advice: jump in the car right now and get there before it’s all gone.
Neiley, who worked as a graphic designer in New York, moved to Red Hook in 1992, and opened the first Basic French storefront on East Market Street, selling what she loved most about French living: the simple products — linens, soaps, stationery, sponges, toothpaste (“la vie quotidenne”). The store was a novel concept and became a shopping destination.
While she and her two daughters had been traveling back and forth to France since 1998, in 2007 she decided to make the French connection permanent. Neiley and her daughters moved to Lyon. She had an apartment in the city, and also owned a country estate.
“What started as a year in France ended up being five years,” she explains. Fluent in French, she worked with ex-patriots from all over the world who had moved to Lyon for business. It was usually the men who preceded their families and needed help finding a place to live and (and getting it furnished) before the family arrived. Neiley, with her language and design skills, would find them an apartment, then outfit and decorate their new residences “soup to nuts.” At the same time, she was scouting markets and antiques stores to furnish her own two homes.
In 2012, she and her daughters moved back to NYC, but after a year, missing the region, returned to Red Hook. She reopened Basic French, now at 15 West Market Street, and also works full time as a home stylist and supervisor of design and construction in the Hudson Valley.
“I love Red Hook,” she says. It’s such an unpretentious place, with a successful mix of a diverse demographic. It’s never become a tourist trap — it’s truly an authentic country town.”
A sampling of the items at the estate sale: transferware plates, $20 each; metal road race numbers, $8 each; colorful valises, $5; vintage linens and linen sheets, $20-$70.
So now Neiley’s passion for all things French (and her thorough foraging of antiques markets in Lyon and the French countryside) will bring more of that je ne sais quoi to Red Hook — and perhaps, your home. And there’s a lot of it to be had.
“Coming back from France, I brought a container of [items from] my country house in France — vintage linens, artwork, china, furniture — most of which has been in storage all this time,” she says. “There are things that no one has ever seen, one-of-a-kind things from my personal collection.” At prices that have never been seen in the U.S., she adds.
Come early enough, and you’ll find big furniture pieces, paintings, glassware, sterling silver, mirrors, and lots and lots of linens. (“I’ve realized I’m a linens hoarder,” she admits.) The items from Basic French will be newer things, but all just as authentically imbued with French esprit.
La vie quotidienne never sounded so good.
Basic French Estate Sale
Thursday, July 30, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday, July 31, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 1, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
7423 South Broadway (Rt. 9), Red Hook, NY