Robert Rentz may be one of Richmond's best-known interior designers, but above all else, he is a collector.
"I'm a hoarder," he says, laughing, opening a closet to reveal shelves stocked with accessories for which he has no immediate use.
"I have a warehouse full of stuff that I have no place for, but I won't let go of it. I can't let it go, because I love it."
In less skilled hands, Rentz's accumulated treasures might resemble a jumbled flea market. Instead, his Fan District home is testament to an innate design sense and a discerning eye.
From his dining room with niches custom-built to house two ancient Greek statues (OK, they're reproductions salvaged from the Miller & Rhoads display department), to an extensive collection of contemporary art, to antique furniture from all corners of the globe, Rentz's home embodies eclectic style. It's also proof of the dictum that if you buy only what you love, somehow it will all work together.
"We all have imaginations and dreams as to how we see ourselves living," Rentz says. "[As a designer], I either create that fantasy or help bring it down to earth." In his own home, Rentz lives as curator to his personal museum.
Gardening is another of his passions. About five years ago, he added a two-story addition to his home, with a master bedroom upstairs and a gorgeous sunroom downstairs. The sunroom looks out onto a lush garden where unique plants, antique statuary, fountains and urns create an exotic oasis of tranquility in the city.
When he is not collecting for himself, Rentz is shopping for his clients, spending late nights at home scouring the Internet for antiques or poking around out-of-the-way shops. Sometimes he even delves into his own trove and reluctantly parts with a beloved item that he decides is better suited to a client's home. "When I give something away," he jokes, "I request they put me in the will so that I get it back."
Robert Rentz's Favorite Shopping Trips:
Rentz loves the famous Paris flea market Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (Les Puces). About 70,000 shoppers descend upon its 2,000 merchants each week to buy everything from furniture to old postcards and clothes. Open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at Porte de Clignancourt. parispuces.com/en
One of his favorite spots in New York is Olde Good Things, an architectural salvage shop in the fashion district at 124 W. 24th St. He likes to search for cabinet hardware, doorknobs and exterior fixtures here. oldegoodthings.com
Golden & Associates Antiques, 206 King St., is where you'll find furniture "as interesting as any piece you would ever find anywhere in the world," Rentz says. "Hold on to your pocketbook."
Rentz does not have a favorite shop, but says he is always inspired by the American and English period furniture, and "outrageous" French and Asian pieces he finds here.
Rentz recently returned from a trip to Israel, where he was awed by the incredible selection of antiques from Egypt, India and Morocco.