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Sourcing Limestone Troughs; An Exclusive Interview With Audrey Elo, Founder of Trouvaille Imports

At Garden Studio Design, our passion revolves around breaking design barriers and crafting landscapes that effortlessly embody the enduring charm of centuries past. The art of curating hardscape materials, designing intricate plant compositions, and, above all, seeking out unique landscape elements such as limestone troughs lies at the core of encapsulating this luxurious essence.

You’ve probably noticed how our pursuit of these distinctive elements often ignites the most inquiries on our Instagram and TikTok! Procuring these items isn’t a walk in the park – their immense popularity in the design world underlines their rarity. Each piece holds its own story, often spanning decades or even centuries, sourced meticulously from various corners of the world. Committed to crafting timeless and refined landscape designs, our team meticulously selects extraordinary pottery that seamlessly integrates with our landscape compositions—a personalized process aimed at realizing each client’s distinct vision.

Today, we’re extending an invitation to peek behind the scenes and explore the intricate sourcing process. Join us as we sit down with Audrey Elo, our partner in helping us source these pieces, and visionary behind Trouvaille Imports. Audrey’s journey commenced with the discovery of her very first vintage treasure while wandering through Europe. Her collection boasts Moroccan water jugs echoing tales of desert adventures, eclectic furniture sourced from decades past, and Indonesian limestone troughs steeped in stories of water filtration. Within the expansive warehouse and showroom at Trouvaille Imports, you’ll find a plethora of exquisite antiques and vintage pieces, from limestone troughs, to antique pottery, vintage furniture, and more treasures each carefully hand-selected from the diverse corners of the globe.

Come along as we delve deeper into Audrey’s world, unraveling the inner workings that elevate the quest for these unique pieces into a labor of passion and dedication.

 How did you get started in the business of sourcing these limestone troughs as well as your other antique pieces for landscapes and luxury spaces? 

My journey started in real estate, where my heart always lingered in admiration for stunning spaces, captivating architecture, and beautiful decor. But you know what truly fueled my path here? Loads and loads of traveling. I mean, it was travel, work, repeat for me. Every time I hit the road, I couldn’t resist bringing back these beautiful gems that I encountered on my journeys. Slowly but surely, what I initially thought would just be a side gig started to take on a life of its own.

Could you share some insights into the historical significance of the antique pieces you curate for your clients’ landscapes? 

When it comes to the limestone and pottery I carefully curate, authenticity is key. Each piece carries a fascinating history, a true relic of its time as a genuine antique or vintage item. For instance, rectangular limestone troughs once served as feeding stations for animals in pastures, while round limestone troughs were vital for storing and purifying drinking water in numerous villages. Let me emphasize – every single item in my collection is a certified antique or vintage piece. Selecting these pieces feels like personal shopping for my own home sweet home. I meticulously handpick each one, ensuring it resonates with me on a deep level and something I would personally treasure.

What is biggest obstacle when it comes to sourcing these objects for luxury spaces. 

Hmmm being in love with the biggest baddest hardest items to find lol. Sourcing many limestone troughs involves navigating through regions that are incredibly tricky to access, making the whole process of getting them overseas quite the challenge. And let me tell you, the difficulty doesn’t stop there. Once these beauties arrive, the real work begins – storing them properly and handling them with the utmost care before delivering them to my clients’ doorsteps.

Every step of this journey is riddled with considerations and hurdles, but you know what? When I witness that priceless moment, that joyous smile lighting up my client’s face as they discover their dream antique limestone fountain, it all becomes worth it. The struggle and the effort fade away in that one magical moment.

What advice would you offer to our readers who are looking to incorporate antique pots, limestone troughs, or other antique items into their own landscapes or luxury spaces? Are there certain things one should look for to make sure they are of highest quality?

Love this question! First and most foremost, I would say select and choose the antique items you’re drawn to. What speaks to you and what you love.  Also with the popularity of limestone now there is a lot of reproduction unfortunately. The reproduction is of course never as good as the authentic pieces and won’t hold up as long. Unfortunately it can be very hard to distinguish if it is reproduced or not without seeing them side by side. One of the key markers I always look for in an authentic piece is if there are natural imperfections present on the surface of the stone (i.e. cracks, chips, holes). These are easily repairable and often invisible to the human eye when done properly! Although this isn’t always found on every limestone trough, I also love to look for the inclusion of lichen (or in other words, moss). This is a telltale sign that a piece was aged naturally by the elements, and often times adds to the beautiful patina of a stone. I am very proud to say I have only authentic antique limestone and by far the largest selection currently on the market. It is so hard to pass up a beautiful trough when I come across it!

When sourcing limestone troughs for a water feature, are there any special details one might look for when considering converting it to a water feature or planter? 

When it comes to selecting authentic antique limestone, it’s all about choosing from the heart. These pieces carry a unique charm, adorned with beautiful patinas and a history that adds character to any space. Each piece is truly one of a kind, sharing its own captivating story from times long past.

The key here is to follow your instincts. Pick pieces that truly speak to you because chances are, those are the ones you’ll cherish forever. Consider the purpose behind your selection too. If you plan to convert it into a fountain, opt for a piece with minimal cracks and a sturdy base that allows for easy installation of drainage and spigots. If it’s meant for planting, look for a piece deep enough to accommodate root growth and provide ample breathing space for the plants as they mature.

Authenticity is crucial in sourcing these treasures, so it’s essential to verify their origins. When purchasing, inquire about the authenticity of the antique limestone and aim to buy from trusted sources who value honesty in their dealings. By taking these factors into consideration, you’ll not only find a piece that resonates with your vision but also ensures its longevity and suitability for your intended use.

What do you find most rewarding about working with antique pieces in landscape design, and what unique benefits do they bring to the clients you serve?

 1.) There’s something truly magical about bringing someone’s dream to life. When a customer comes to me with a Pinterest photo or a quest for that elusive piece they saw somewhere or dreamt of, it’s a thrill to see the excitement on their face when we find that perfect piece. Witnessing their dream materialize right in front of them – that’s what I absolutely adore.

2.) Supporting families overseas is beyond words for me. It’s hard to articulate the depth of this impact. Just understanding that the pieces you purchase can genuinely transform lives across the globe—it’s what fuels me, especially on the most tiring days. Knowing that my work contributes to making a difference in someone else’s life keeps me motivated and driven.

As our conversation with Audrey Elo, the visionary behind Trouvaille Imports, draws to a close, it’s evident that sourcing authentic antique pieces like limestone troughs for luxury landscapes is more than just a profession—it’s a passion. Audrey’s dedication to curating exceptional treasures with rich histories truly breathes life into landscapes and luxury spaces. For those intrigued by these remarkable finds, head to Trouvaille Imports’ website to explore a treasure trove of exquisite antiques and vintage pieces. Don’t forget to mention Garden Studio Design for an exclusive consultation and discover how these timeless pieces can elevate your space to unparalleled sophistication.

We are a full-service landscape design/build firm located in Southern California. Our projects consist of Custom Residential, Residential Redos, Design-Build, and Commercial and Public Works. Whatever the project, our goal is always the same: Fully utilizing and enjoying outdoor spaces. We believe that well-prepared space planning, aesthetic and durable materials along with our quality craftsmanship are the ingredients to a vibrant and livable outdoor space.