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Shabby chic stores springing up in area

Janese Simunek, owner of When Pigs Fly in downtown Fredericksburg, uses chalk paint to refinish and repaint furniture with artistic touches.  / Photos by Suzanne Carr Rossi

Janese Simunek, owner of When Pigs Fly in downtown Fredericksburg, uses chalk paint to refinish and repaint furniture with artistic touches. / Photos by Suzanne Carr Rossi

Sisters Brandy Edwards and Tabatha Haines share a love for shabby chic.

Now they’ve joined forces and opened Jane of all Trades inside the Lord Culpeper Hotel at 401 S. Main St. in downtown Culpeper.

It includes Shaggy Chic Boutique, Haines’ by-appointment-only hair salon, but its main focus is on shabby chic furniture and accessories that they and other vendors create.

“We go and find older stuff that people haven’t loved in a while, and we love it back to life,” said Edwards.

She and her sister find these diamonds in the rough at yard sales, flea markets, antique stores and online. They update them with Websters chalk paint powder, which they mix with latex paint, and Fiddes & Sons soft paste wax.

Simunek has painted birds and flowers on the front of one of the pieces she's refinished for her shop.

Simunek has painted birds and flowers on the front of one of the pieces she’s refinished for her shop.

Jane of All Trades is the latest in a growing number of area stores specializing in the popular shabby chic style of interior design. Owners typically find older, well-built furniture and repaint and/or repurpose it. Often, the items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique.

“There are definitely more people into it than when I started five years ago,” said Hanna Kappes, who moved her home-based operation into a shop she named Shabby Love in downtown Orange two years ago. Since then she’s added a second location in Harrisonburg and has gone from a solo operation to having a staff of nine.

Kappes also hosts a popular vendor fair that’s grown each year since it started in 2012. The next one will be held Sept. 27 and 28 at The Market at Grelen in Somerset.

The shabby chic look has become “super trendy,” Kappes said, and major retailers such as Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware carry it. It’s even spawned a number of books, specialty magazines and television shows, such as “Flea Market Flip” on HGTV.

“I love it that all these other people are doing it,” Kappes said. “There’s so much great stuff out there that can be upcycled. It’s neat to see.”

At When Pigs Fly in downtown Fredericksburg, for example, owner and artist Janese Simunek recently transformed a dining set by not only painting the top of the table and the chair seats a warm beige, but adding a realistic-looking rooster freehand in the middle of the table and nests containing a clutch of eggs on each seat.

“I painted Marilyn Monroe on a dresser, and a woman on her way to Florida saw it and bought it,” she said. “If they can fit it in their car, it goes with them.”

The latest inventory at her year-old shop at 1011 Caroline St. also includes an old headboard that’s been turned into a shelving unit and coat rack, vinyl records that have been transformed into clocks, and crates that her husband, Melvin Brown, nailed together to form a table.

“Things you find here, you will not find anywhere else,” said Simunek, who also does custom work for customers.

Savvy Chic, which is just a few blocks away at 619 Caroline St., specializes in repurposing and upcycling furniture.

“We go to auctions to find it,” said Beth Gulatzi, a partner in the nearly three-year-old shop. “We try to find pieces that have good bones about them—dovetailed drawers, solid wood. You can hardly buy that [new] today. I think that has a huge appeal for customers. They realize they’re getting a solid piece of furniture.”

Desks, dressers, dining tables and vanities are among the popular items at Savvy Chic. Many are revitalized with a coat of paint, although some are stained.

“Everybody likes a little painted piece in a room,” Gulatzi said. “It softens a room when you add a painted piece to it.”

The shabby chic look is often created by using specialty paints that are eco-friendly and rarely require any preparation, such as sanding or priming.

“We have all these DIY paints coming out in the last couple of years that make it easy for people to do [the shabby chic look] themselves,” said Cheryl Roy of Deep Creek Vintage on U.S. 1 in Massaponax.

She uses the American Paint Co. line to refinish the pieces she sells at her shop, and also sells it and offers classes on how to use it and such techniques as decoupage, crackling and glazing.

“There’s a group of people who don’t have the confidence to do it themselves, but we try to give them confidence by holding these workshops,” Roy said.

Most area shabby chic shops hold classes in various painting techniques, and Paint Workshops, a part of Picked and Painted in Stafford County, also hosts painting parties and rents studio time in its 2,000-square-foot-space at 21 Commerce Parkway, Suite 101.

Owners Erin Hurry and Ashley Call–Williams also like to help those down on their luck by letting them paint a piece for free and sell it in their shop. They split the proceeds.

“We’re paying it forward,” Call–Williams said.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

 

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