Vintage furniture gets a fresh start in the hands of savvy DIYers | Home | Spokane | The Pacific Northwest Inlander

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Get inspired by your own upcycling projects while strolling down Boulevard Mercantile. young kwak photos

Upcycling is a catchy term for what is actually an age-old predilection for savvy people: why not just convert a gently used tool or obsolete object into something else instead of starting over?

With this mindset, local upcyclers look for discarded furniture and use a variety of techniques to transform even the most improbable items into unique and useful treasures that add a personal touch to their home decor.

The thrill of the hunt

Aside from the club and caveman clothes, the thrill of the hunt is an integral part of the upcycling process.

“I’ve always had a penchant for anything vintage and started casually doing garage and property sales in my early twenties,” says Sandi Schulte, who sells industrial goods, vintage furniture, and home decor under the name Sandis Shabby Shed, some of which she reworked.

At first, Schulte only bought items that she could use in her own home. After giving birth to her children, she repainted several pieces of furniture for her rooms. But she eventually sold some pieces on Craigslist. And then she was addicted.

“I could do what I loved and also make money,” says Schulte, who works as a salesperson at both Spokane’s Paint in My Hair and Tossed and Found, two regional branches that share Schulte’s passion for upcycling.

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Deep blue-green offset dark wood (above) or peasant cream (right) in these reworked chests of drawers at Midtown Home & Vintage.  Midtown Home & Vintage Photos

Deep blue-green offset dark wood (above) or peasant cream (right) in these reworked chests of drawers at Midtown Home & Vintage. Midtown Home & Vintage Photos

In Idaho, Megan Eatock is a kindred spirit.

“It always seems like when we’re looking for the perfect piece of furniture / decor to complete the look, we can never find it,” says Eatock, an avid upcycler who runs the Midtown Home & Vintage Market in Coeur d ‘ Alene started junk.

The fun, says Eatock, is there – looking for interesting items and figuring out how to make improvements. Sometimes she finds the perfect piece, she says, but sometimes she buys something that isn’t quite right. Do not worry.

Fortunately, with all of the shopping sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, it’s easy to resell used items when you find something better, says Eatock, whose Midtown Home & Vintage Market occasionally buys back items to resell them.

Spokane has many such outlets and malls, including Boulevard Mercantile, which moved from North Monroe to 1012 N. Washington St. last year.

Among the 14 current sellers, according to Boulevard co-owner Joellen Jeffers, are two avid do-it-yourselfers: Jennifer Pluid, known for her “party animals” (vintage rubber cranes with little decorations), and Jane Wood, whose business is run by Traveled Treasures.

For DIY enthusiasts, Jeffers recommends exploring the store’s textiles – called the “cutter” section – which includes salvaged woolen blankets, Pendleton shirts, and other fabric finds.

“Our customers like to use these fabrics for pillows, upholstering furniture, repairing or making clothes,” says Jeffers, who founded the company five years ago with her husband, Dave Jeffers, and a third business partner, Dan Webb.

Another popular spot for creative people is the shop’s “Spin Bin” – an exhibition of things and trinkets such as laboratory glassware, hooks, pullers, buttons, Scrabble letters and even miniature figures.

“We are always amazed to see and hear what our customers are doing with the properties they find on Boulevard Mercantile,” says Jeffers.

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Choice savvy

Not all furniture and decorations are designed equally when it comes to their upcycle potential. Plastics, including laminates, can be problematic and require a number of problem solving when it comes to reworking them. However, wood offers a wealth of possibilities and is both Schultes and Eatock’s preferred medium for upcycling projects.

Both are looking for solid pieces that are structurally solid and unpainted in a perfect world.

“A lot of the antique pieces were built to last, compared to new pieces of chipboard,” says Eatock. Older parts can be quite heavy, however, warns Schulte, who has a list of preferred attributes: “Dovetail joints, requires minimal repairs, easy-to-fix defects, no funky smells.”

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Before (top right) and after.  |  Sandi took photos

Before (top right) and after. | Sandi took photos

With the project piece selected, it’s time to prepare.

“I always start with a thorough cleaning of the item, which can include removing dirt, wiping off any loose dirt or debris, and even doing a quick vacuum,” says Schulte.

Both Schulte and Eatock use versatile chalk paints that, according to Schulte, not only adhere to wood, but can also cover metal, stone, laminate and even fabric. Usually, the paint can be applied directly to an object, although she has occasionally noticed that oil-based varnishes and paints can bleed through. In this case, she uses a primer.

Eatock uses a range of natural clay-based paints from DIY Paint Co., which they also sell at the Midtown Home & Vintage Market. Whether you prefer a farmhouse look or boho chic, says Eatock, chalk paint is a must-have tool.

“It changed me,” says Eatock, who used to spend a lot of time preparing their surfaces. “It sticks to everything, including shiny surfaces, and it’s highly pigmented so the coverage is exceptional.”

Special effects can also be easily achieved with chalk paint. Eatock will wipe away some of the paint while it’s wet to create distressed edges. When it comes to detailed areas like carved designs, Eatock reaches for a stiff brush that is barely laden with paint. He only applies it to the raised surfaces so that the wood shows through and the details are slightly emphasized.

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Vintage leather belts with tools find a new purpose in this rustic chair on display on Boulevard Mercantile.  YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

Vintage leather belts with tools find a new purpose in this rustic chair on display on Boulevard Mercantile. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

Then it’s time to beautify.

“If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then the best hardware is a dresser’s best friend,” says Schulte. “While not every drawer pull or knob needs to be replaced, a quick paint job, touch-up, or replacement with just the right pop of color can turn your piece from the ordinary to ‘Oh, my!’ in a few moments. “

After the chic “new” piece has settled in the home improvement store, collectors in particular have to be particularly careful. Once in a room, a refinished piece of furniture can be a show stopper due to its size. Or it can be overlooked under a mountain of other decorative things.

“Sometimes less is more,” says Eatock, who takes great care in her displays. “When you start collecting too many things, it’s easy to clutter your space. Stick to the items you really love and let go of the rest.”

Your final piece of advice: just experiment.

“I love items with a story that have a story,” says Eatock, who notes that not all furniture and accessories in a room have to be vintage. “Sometimes you can create more contrast and visual interest by combining this chippy painted piece with something shiny and new.”

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