We absolutely love This Old House, can you tell us a little bit about the store and how it all started?
I discovered a passion for furniture revamping and upcycling when faced with my new home full of 90s pine furniture, not wanting to spend thousands to purchase all new pieces I decided to try my hand at giving it all a new look. Blown away with the results, my passion grew and developed as I began to buy and sell pieces I had upcycled and also started taking on custom work. This Old House Studio was launched in September 2015 as a ‘pop-up’ shop in Nowra on the south coast of NSW offering Australian made furniture paint and furniture finishes, painting and upcycling supplies, how-to workshops, and a range of homewares and furnishings with a focus on Australian made and locally made products. Running the workshops is so important to me as I get to share my passion and provide participants with the tips, tricks, techniques and confidence to achieve their vision for their own projects. In January 2017 I relocated the studio to an amazing heritage listed cottage in the heart of beautiful Berry, closer to home for me, where we have a gorgeous light-filled studio and sun drenched workshop space. I couldn’t be happier.
What inspires you to support Australian made brands?
From the very beginning I experimented with many different furniture paints and finishes. Popular brands in Australia at the time included many imported products which I had concerns about regarding their environmental credentials and human health impacts. I discovered that we had some amazing manufacturers of chalk-based furniture paints in Australia, who were focussed not only on producing beautiful products to use but also products that were fully eco-approved, environmentally friendly and safe to use. I am a proud stockist of ‘L’ESSENTIEL Australia’ and ‘Mezzie and Frank’ paints, waxes and furniture finishing products – all 100% Australian owned and Australian made. I also support as many Australian made and particularly locally made homewares, craft, gift and soft furnishing producers as possible. I think it is vitally important to buy Australian made and owned, shop local and be environmentally conscious.
We love the idea of transforming pieces of furniture with our wrapping paper designs. Where do you get your creative ideas from to make over each piece of furniture?
Using wrapping paper to ‘decorate’ a piece of furniture is a technique often called ‘papering’ or ‘decoupage’. We use Little Branch wrapping papers to line the insides of drawers in dressers and wardrobes for a ‘pop’ of colour and also cover painted drawer fronts with complementing paper for a stunning and unique look. Each furniture piece is treated as unique and its story or history, shape and form will determine the colours and finishes we use – no two pieces are the same! Often the vision we have for a piece ends up nothing like the final product as the piece speaks to us through its behaviour while we work on it which dictates the direction we have to take. Each piece is a creative journey!
Your store is located in the beautiful town of Berry. Do you find yourself drawing inspiration from the architecture and nature surrounding you?
Painting in our beautiful light-filled workshop space every day is an absolute joy. The reaction of visitors when they enter the front door of our little cottage is one of wonder and delight and many customers reminisce about furniture pieces they recall in their grandparents homes or as children. Being part of an amazing community like Berry is wonderful, rich in history and beautiful in nature. The gorgeous wrapping papers by Little Branch reflect the natural environment which surrounds Berry and inspires the use of stunning blues and greens in our paint colours and revealing gorgeous natural timbers on our furniture pieces.
Which is one of your favourite designs from the Little Branch collection?
I don’t think I could pick just one! If I absolutely have to narrow it down I would say ‘Rainbow Puddles’ is a favourite – I love the vibrant colours and the feeling of absolute fun in this print – it is perfect teamed with the vibrancy of the Australian lifestyle inspired colour palette of the Mezzie and Frank Chalk Effects paint. My other favourite would be ‘Gum Nut’ which is so rich and warm feeling – this print is gorgeous with the natural earthy colours of the L’ESSENTIEL Botanics Furniture Paint range.
If you could renovate any piece of furniture what would it be?
I think I’ve almost revamped nearly every piece of furniture there is haha! I do admit to wishing I had more free time to paint. Opening 7 days a week means there is a limit to how much time I get to ‘play’ with painting for fun just at home in my studio as I once used to. Also, I don’t have time to travel out to clients homes any more to do custom work which means I haven’t had the opportunity to paint something like a kitchen or laundry for a couple of years. I have had a few workshop participants tackle their own kitchens which I have been so pleased and proud of their achievements but I’d love to have time to make over a kitchen myself again one day. The transformation from a sea of boring brown to something light, bright and clean is so amazing.
Is there anything exciting coming up for This Old House?
We always have LOTS of new and exciting things coming up! We are running our ‘BYO Furniture Painting’ workshops all year round as well as our ‘Decorative Finishes’ workshop series where we teach participants lots of tricks like decoupage using wrapping papers from Little Branch. We love having local artists and makers use the workshop space for lots of different activities. We currently have local makers running workshops on making Kokedama (Japanese moss ball plants) on 21st and 26th April, a Free Form Fibre Art workshop on 6th May , a Drop Spindle Workshop on 3rd June, kids workshops on 13th and 20th April, art workshops in September and basketry workshops also later in the year! So lots happening!
Discover more about This Old House online at www.thisoldhousestudio.com.au or by visiting in store at 81 Queen Street, Berry NSW 2535.