Bringing New Life to Old Things

Presented by: RE/MAX Results Logo

Painting a family heirloom or antique might be antithetical to a purist, but many people believe that updating a piece to make it relevant to current styles is the kindest course of action and far better than allowing it to molder in a basement or attic.

Brandy and Chad Dressen, owners of Carver Junk Co. subscribe to this philosophy. Their stores in southwest Minneapolis and Carver feature an ever changing selection of furniture that has been brought back to life through thoughtful restoration and finishing. Their mission is to give old things that have often been neglected, forgotten or otherwise left for dead (style-wise), new life.  Sometimes the pieces are hand me downs from relatives that an owner feels too guilty to part with, and sometimes they’re in disrepair and need TLC.

“It’s so satisfying to watch someone fall in love with a piece that has narrowly escaped a trip to dumpster heaven. It’s even more satisfying if they’ve seen the before, doubted the possibilities, and then realized the value of refurbishing, recycling, repurposing.” says Brandy, “Old things have so much character, such stories behind them. There’s always that “if these walls could talk” sort of allure with older pieces. We actually write down the stories we know on the tags we attach to each item at the shop.” I chatted with her last week and asked a few questions about upcycling furniture.

What kinds of pieces are good candidates for updating?

Any piece of furniture can be changed to bring it back to life or to fit your style. We work with customers who want to update grandpa’s antique dresser and sometimes to customize newer things. Our stores tend to focus on antique and vintage pieces that need a little help to be lovable again. 

What do you tell people who are worried they’re ruining an antique that’s been in the family for a while?

Owning a family heirloom should bring joy and keep family memories alive. Updating that piece of furniture gives it new life, and gives a new generation a chance to enjoy it in a way that fits their lifestyle. Our stance is this: We’d rather see a piece of furniture painted, taken home and loved, than see it sit in our store, or someone’s garage, collecting dust and mold. We keep things natural and original when possible, but we’re happiest doing whatever it takes to find new homes for previously unloved furniture. 

What trends do you see right now in paint colors, materials and hardware?

Navy has been really hot recently for furniture, and we expect that to continue throughout the year. Mustard yellow is great for smaller accent pieces along with emerald-green. We’re really loving black on big pieces of furniture lately, including dressers and dining tables, and the farmhouse trend is keeping the weathered-gray wood look popular as well. 

Brass hardware has been a big seller, on both mid-century modern furniture and antique pieces. Anthropologie has really set a trend in fun, interesting hardware. It’s a safe way to add whimsy to a piece, because hardware is easy to change with trends. 

Textures are important in decor, and we’re loving the mix of natural elements—wood, metal, jute, and {faux} fur as accents against painted and wood furniture. 

What is the cost to do these kinds of projects?

Cost is dependent on a few things, including structural condition and the products used to update. If you’re paying a professional to update your furniture, labor tends to be the majority of the cost. We handle tricky pieces like cherry and mahogany, which tend to bleed through paint unless treated. Labor and materials for an average-sized dresser in good structural condition runs between $150 – 250, with extra charges for wood or structural repairs, for a professionally sprayed finish. Sprayed finishes have a smoother finish – more like a manufacturer’s finish. Handpainted finishes often have more texture and character, with more distressing options. We also sell paint in our stores for DIY’ers. 

Upcycling furniture

RE/MAX Results Collection Home

17497 63rd Ave. N.

Over two acre lot in Wayzata School district! Master suite features whirlpool tub, ceramic tile shower and bedroom-sized closet. Upper level laundry has granite counter and upper cabinets. Stainless kitchen with ceramic back splash and granite counters. Stone fireplace, hickory floors and main floor office. Finished walkout lower level has 2nd master bath, living room and 5th bedroom. Large 30car garage and very private back yard.

by Laurie Junker

Photos courtesy of Carver Junk Company


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