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Home is bursting with treasures

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Traveling light is not a philosophy which Pequetti Bouwkamp embraces. "I've moved the piano 10 times," laughed the native of Lafayette, Indiana. She currently resides in Naples, Fla. "And I've been collecting treasures since the mid-1960s."

Bouwkamp has surrounded herself with her cherished possessions in a two-bedroom/two-bath condominium, which she purchased 3 1/2 years ago.

"The jam cupboard in the foyer has been with me at least 25 years," she said. "Now it holds my dinnerware."

While the dinnerware — which, by the way, is Louisville pottery snatched at a local resale shop at a fraction of its worth — is hidden from view in the old cupboard's shelves, clustered collectibles of all sorts are a visual treat above the kitchen cabinets.

"Cow bells, graters, slaw cutters, cherry pitters, apple peelers, old milk cans — I've enjoyed collecting them, and I enjoy looking at them," she said.

Even the ice cream parlor set beside the kitchen window is authentic. Bouwkamp thinks it was acquired when she had an antiques shop for three years in Fort Wayne, Fla.

"Many of my favorite things were bought at auction or flea markets," she said, "and that goes for the main furniture as well."

As an example, she cites the dining room table, which came from a resale shop, and the handsome beige/pink upholstered caster chairs that have the Holland Salley label on them but came via a sale by Moorings Country Club in Naples.

"The old printer's rack that now holds family photos and some small collectibles in the dining room once held a television set in a guest room and once held a microwave in a kitchen," she explained. "The living room sofa is a Robb & Stucky piece I got at Encore — it looked like it had never been used," she said. "Even then, it was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I gave them the sofa I had, they sold it and at least I made back the delivery cost."

Bouwkamp spends her days assisting guests as a concierge at the Registry Resort in Naples, but her great pleasure is making her guests feel comfortable in her own home. Those who stay overnight enjoy the old-fashioned charm of a guest room furnished with family heirlooms and vintage furniture.

"The headboard is an antique door found at a salvage company," said Bouwkamp, "and the apron and dresses hanging on the rack belonged to my mother and grandmother.

"Just inside the door is my collection of eye cups, and on the adjoining wall I've hung quilts made by my grandmother and daughter."

Bouwkamp said she fashioned the guest room window swags from panels she had used in another home, and she refinished the old bench that provides guests with a handy place to read or finish dressing. The guest bath supplies visitors with another pleasant surprise: an elaborate light fixture over the sink.

Above the resale sofa is a collection of treasures that includes a hot-chocolate pitcher that belonged to Bouwkamp's grandmother.

"I waited a long time for that," said Bouwkamp. "I'd seen it in the home of friends of friends in Fort Wayne, and I asked that they contact me if they were ever going to sell it. They did, and I grabbed it."

Grabbing the wooden wagon that serves as a coffee table in the living room was an absolute must, she recalled, even though the family was in the midst of a trip to Niagara Falls.

"I have no idea how we managed to stuff it in the trunk, but we did. It was in terrible shape when I got it for $8 at an out-of-the-way antiques shop, but I refinished it, and it has been a joy ever since."

Refinishing wood was a technique she learned through classes, and good old scouring powder was the product she needed to revitalize an old copper apple butter kettle in the living room and an old copper boiler in the foyer.

"The walnut chest in the living room is from my grandparents," she said. "I've had it since I was a little girl. At one point I painted it cream and green — big mistake. The wood armoire in the dining area has been a linen closet in the past, but now it holds crystal."

The results of her gardening efforts can be seen in the robust plant display on the lanai. But implanted with the greens is an old bicycle she used to ride and a droll road sign that she stresses was a gift from a friend, not a theft.

Bouwkamp uses one corner of her master bedroom for her office, centered by a desk she discovered at Encore. Another corner is occupied by white mica cabinetry she designed to hold extra wardrobe items she often picks up at consignment shops.

"My travel mementos are all over the place," she said. "The spinning wheel under the piano and the clock in the foyer I bought in Luxembourg 28 years ago, and the Hummels in the foyer I brought back from Germany."

Bouwkamp, mother of three, said she plays her much-moved piano occasionally, but not so the wall-mounted instrument.

"The dulcimer hanging near the piano was made for me. After I took some lessons and played it, my friends said they wished I wouldn't," she said with a grin.

Bouwkamp makes good use of all her treasures, but cherishes most her wide circle of friends and family. "I love to be with friends and share with them," she said. "I try to live my life to the fullest, and I can do that here."