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At Home with Art

Antique dealer Ambrice Miller reflects on her earliest artistic influences

In hindsight, it makes total sense that Ambrice Miller would create a business around art, antiquities, and design. Growing up in Birmingham, she accompanied her mother to thrift stores and estate sales, where treasured finds, including ginger jars, carved busts, and chinoiserie, often found their way home. Paintings by Miller’s father, a hobbyist painter, graced the walls alongside prints by renowned African American collage artist Romare Bearden. “They never wanted us to be intimidated by art,” Miller says of her parents, “I don’t know if they anticipated how much that would influence us.” Today, Miller and her three older siblings inhabit art-filled homes, a testament to their earliest surroundings. 

The youngest of four, Miller traces her initial interest in art to watching her oldest brother sketch and draw. “I wanted to be just like him,” she laughs. As her talent became apparent, a guest visited her school, Huffman Middle, and mentioned the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA). It was the first time Miller had heard of the school–where she could pursue art. The next day, her mother stopped by ASFA on her lunch break to pick up an application. “That single decision changed the trajectory of my life,” Miller says. She went on to study art history, developing a love of the Italian Renaissance and large-scale figurative paintings.

After graduating from ASFA and Davidson College, Miller settled in London, where she worked in finance but planned to become a full-time working artist. Increasingly disillusioned with the rarified world of high art, she leaned into her growing love of the hunt. Her spare moments were spent perusing estate sales and auctions. Her collection of still-life paintings, ginger jars, and sculptures began to grow.

“You're buying all this stuff for some castle you don't own!” Miller’s flatmates teased. Undeterred, she continued to develop her eye. “I'm always composing still lives in my head–that’s the art background,” she muses. Friends began to ask Miller for help navigating estate sales and art auctions.

One day, a friend asked, "If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?”

“I would buy and sell antiques.”

It was the first time Miller began to see her dream as a real possibility–she had an art degree, had studied art history since the age of 12, had grown up with art, and had developed a keen eye and understanding for antiques. “Why not me? In the worst case, I’ll just end up with a house full of antiques–which would happen anyway!” she laughs.

A few years later, Miller and her now husband, Ben, purchased their dream fixer-upper–a 17th-century former malt house–in Long Melford, a town in Suffolk with a slower pace and ample space to accommodate an ever-growing collection of blue and white porcelain, tapestries, busts, and paintings of horses. Miller created an Instagram account @sunny_in_suffolk to share the renovation process. She continued to sell her estate and auction finds to a captive and growing audience. When the pandemic lockdowns hit, along with lead time increases and a focus on one’s home environment, Miller’s fledgling business–Relic Interiors–was properly launched. 

A design conundrum–finding the just-right loungers for her outdoor area–led Miller to create her own. Relic’s Toscana Collection of chic outdoor furniture launched in mid-2022.  More recently, Miller’s “obsession” with antique bobbin furniture culminated in the creation of Relic’s Chapel Vale collection. Asked about her love of the style, Miller says it’s both the whimsy “almost like a child’s toy” and the craftsmanship required to create those early editions prior to the motorized lathe. 

The prices of Relic-designed pieces and antiques reflect Miller’s belief that “your budget shouldn't constrain you if you want to live with beautiful things.” Her pricing reflects that she is a “dealer’s dealer” and a resource for people furnishing a first home or apartment.

Relic’s growth has brought opportunities for collaboration and further exposure. Miller participated for the first time this year in Birmingham’s premier antique show,  Antiques at the Gardens, which she described as “such a fantastic experience.” She plans to collaborate with de Gournay and Plain English in the near future, where she’ll showcase how antiques are things to be lived with and integrated alongside newly made things–lessons she first learned through osmosis at home in Birmingham. 

Follow Ambrice Miller on Instagram @relic_interiors and at

Pull quote: “My taste is a direct correlation to my roots in Birmingham,” Miller recently replied to a Brit who expressed surprise at her elevated aesthetic.

  • Ambrice Miller with poodles Theo and Edison at home in Suffolk
  • "I think sometimes people play it safe with bathrooms. Decorate it! Why not have a bust in there?" - Ambrice Miller
  • In the utility room, a painting by Miller depicting a friend gazes from above Aegean blue cabinets.
  • The bathroom design was inspired by Turkish hammams, a must-do for Miller on her trips to Istanbul.
  • Ginger jars and horses figure prominently in Miller's home. She rode horses as a child in Birmingham.
  • The crystal ship chandelier is one of Miller's most prized possessions.
  • Miller designed the Toscana Collection of outdoor furniture, which is inspired by classical pieces with sleek lines and timeless shapes.

Despite living 3,000 miles away, Birmingham has influenced where I am, for sure. I'm very proud to be from Birmingham, Alabama.