As an Award Winning Furniture Designer, Sarah’s ability to turn a piece of furniture into a work of art, personifies what “trash to treasure” really means.
Stay in touch with Sarah:
The Art of Refinishing
WE ARE GIVING AWAY 2 OF SARAH'S FAVORITE ZIBRA PAINTBRUSH!
YOU MUST COMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED!
For an additional entry, note in the comments that you shared on social media and/or you listened to the podcast! All those that comment will be entered into the random drawing to win a set of their favorite brushes. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest closes Friday, October 29th, 2021 at 12:00pm EST Noon. The winners will be announced below once they have responded to the email notification we send out to winners so make sure you check your emails October 30th - 31st!
Click on the plus signs below to reveal Sarah's answers!
How long have you been refinishing furniture?
As a hobby for about 8 years, professionally for about 4 years.
Tell us how you got started?
I initially started refinishing furniture when I was tired of store-bought new furniture in my price range that would inevitably fall apart after a couple years. I decided to start going to thrift stores and purchase quality vintage furniture and give it a fresh look by painting them. I've always been drawn to pieces from the past, especially the mid-century (I'm convinced I was born about 80 years too late, so blending old and new has always been part of my personal design style.
Do you refinish for personal use or do you sell?
I started out refinishing furniture for my own home. Occasionally I had some friends who would ask if I would refinish something for them. In late 2017, I decided to try my hand at selling some furniture locally. It was successful enough that I started focusing more time and energy into it- learning everything I could to improve my skills and knowledge. In the beginning of 2019 I took the risk of quitting my job and refinish full-time! By September 2019 I was opening my own storefront and expanding the business. I'm extremely grateful to have been able to survive Covid and the shutdown. I feel like I haven't really experienced what it's like to run a shop during "normal" times! Regardless of all the set-backs and hardships, I was able to move to a larger location in October 2020. It's definitely an overwhelming amount of work starting up and running a business on your own, but it's also incredibly rewarding. I am always reminding myself not to take what I have built for granted and to keep pushing on. Having my passion and creative outlet as a career is something rare- and I love it!
Do you have a favorite furniture style that you like to refinish?
That is a tough one! If I HAD to pick, it would have to be Danish Mid-Century Modern. Something about the clean lines, minimalist design and tapered legs really gets me. I also get really excited to work on Hollywood Regency style- the ornate detailing and oversized hardware always looks stunning when refinished. It's the perfect style to channel Mediterranean/ Moroccan vibes and use varieties of vibrant colors.
What paint medium is your favorite?
Definitely mineral paint! I mainly use Fusion Mineral Paint- after trying it I never looked back. Durability is huge for me, I want my work to hold up over time. The main reason I use FMP is the fact it is self-sealing. When I chose a color to use, I want the piece to end up exactly that color in the end. Sealants typically darken colors and add a sheen, sometimes even yellow over time. I love a clean matte finish, and that's precisely what Fusion delivers with proper techniques. I also enjoy using milk paint for certain finishes, with it's unpredictable result always being a fun surprise. Shackteau Interiors is my go-to milk paint.
Do you have a favorite piece you've refinished and why?
Another tough one....My mind immediately thinks of this Stanley MCM Credenza I did a while back. I think it represents my work quite well. First, having the vision to see potential where many don't. Second, the process of removing the current finish. Third, envisioning an original design that is modern, on-trend and complimentary to the piece's genre. When I found the credenza, it was looking pretty awful: coated in black spray paint that was still tacky after who knows how long and replacement hardware that did not suit it's style. I spent days sanding and stripping the paint off- a combination of power sanding, hand-sanding and using gel stripper; meticulously getting into the tight spaces as I wanted to incorporate raw wood into the majority of the design. After revealing the gorgeous natural walnut wood, I chose two colors that worked perfectly with the tones in the wood. I then played with a few different ideas for the paint in my mind. I wanted to keep it simplistic, as to not overstate the color or the painted aspect. Wanting to use a light palette, I decided to paint a soft greige on the drawers in between the wood panels one one side and on the bottom two on the other side. A complimentary shade of green/blue/grey was painted on the top drawer for some contrasting visual interest and a color-block element. To complete it, I chose small white knobs which added some subtle color while keeping with the overall minimalist aesthetic. I really loved the end result: modern, versatile, warm + neutral yet and eye-catching statement piece. It sold online quickly and now has a home in NYC!
Overall, not exclusive to furniture refinishing, what is your favorite color?
I've always had a thing for an earthy blend of terracotta and burnt orange.
When you aren't refinishing furniture what do you enjoy doing?
Second to my love for furniture is my love of plants- I currently have over 300 plants between my home and my shop, and for some reason haven't decided that's more than enough. I love learning about the different species and the challenge of keeping them thriving. Propagating is my newest plant venture!
Do you have any tips you would like to share?
Create a recognizable aesthetic. I think that's key to creating a brand and standing out. Curate a design sense and offer fresh, unexpected + original design elements while staying true to what you love and do well - it can set you apart and keep you creatively stimulated. I actually don't do much searching for inspiration through other people's furniture designs, although I am always so impressed with what people create!. I prefer to use my creative process to dream up designs using a variety of different inspirations: era-specific design, geometric shapes, art, nature, architecture etc. For me, this helps keep some of what I create unique and unusual. Don't shy away from color and don't base everything you design around what's the most "sellable". The right clients WILL find your work and appreciate it like you do.
Do you have a favorite Zibra Paintbrush and why?
The Round Brush is not just my favorite Zibra brush, it's my favorite of any brush out there! It's my go-to for almost everything I paint. I am also constantly using my Square Brushes, they're perfectly designed for getting into any tough to reach areas. I'm able to achieve such a smooth, brush-stroke free finish and they really last- even with all I put my brushes through!
OUR PODCAST FEATURE WITH SARAH: Learn more about Sarah, some of her favorite pieces and LEARN FROM HER EXPERIENCE OF RUNNING HER OWN SHOP.