My sister Deb had driven up to help me this weekend as we were expanding our antique business and moving into an actual space that could hold furniture and other larger antiques that couldn’t fit into the small five foot glass case that I had occupied for the past seven months. We had been keeping our look out for the right pieces of furniture to put in the space and sought out other items that might fit the “look” we were trying to accomplish. My little fifth wheel trailer that I call home had become so full of boxes and small pieces of furniture that I gave up on trying to sit on the couch weeks ago. It was beginning to look like one of those places you see on programs like “Hoarders”.
Soon, the walls were being transformed from a state of depression to a palette of vibrant and lighter pinks. As I walked from the space to go out to my car to get some more supplies, one of the antique mall employees called me over to his desk. “You know…your space is looking a little ‘gurly’”, he said. I smiled a little and told him he just needed to wait until it was finished. As I walked out into the parking lot, for a brief second I once again wondered if it would turn out as we had imagined.
Deb did most of the painting while my brother Frank and his wife Clare brought their trailer over so we could move some furniture down to the mall. Unfortunately, Frank had ‘tweaked’ his back that morning and was in considerable pain. The furniture ended up being a little bit too large for the trailer to transport in one trip so our plans were altered slightly as we placed the first piece of furniture in the space as Deb continued to transform it. As the day ended, the paint was still too tacky to put the finishing touches on the walls…a dark mahogany chair rail that we hoped would add the touch to the space to give it the look we desired.
We knew we were going to have a long day in front of us as we sat in the small restaurant nearby. Deb and I talked about all that we needed to get done this morning to be able to get finished by the time the mall closed tonight. While we thought that we had given ourselves plenty of time to load up all of the antiques and some furniture from my place, we still ended up starting the day about 20 minutes behind schedule.
The walls in the space looked radiant as we carried the tools into the mall. We were soon busy getting ready to cut the chair rail and miter the ends so we could start to move the antiques into the space. I should have know when the miter box I was using didn’t open wide enough to accommodate the chair rail that this part of the project wasn’t going to go smoothly. After two attempts to cut the miter with the saw failed, we decided that this wasn’t going to work. I called my brother Geoff who was coming down to help us to bring along the “right” tools to get the job done. The problem was, it would still be close to an hour before he would get there.
Deb and I looked at each other and she suggested that we at least place the chair rail on the back wall so we could move the first piece of furniture in and start to load it. Our time was too valuable to spend the next hour doing nothing. Pulling out the small coping saw, I tried to “eye-ball” a 45 degree angle and started cutting. Somewhat satisfied with the results, we nailed the rail to the wall and stepped back to check it out. I can’t describe the difference that having the dark, mahogany wood made in the space. The mall employee who had said the space looked “gurly” the day before walked up a few minutes later to check it out. His comment this morning said it all. “It really looks rich”, he said. Deb replied back, “that’s what we were hoping for.” And it was really beginning too.
Patience isn’t one of my greatest attributes (nor is it Deb’s) so we decided to try to hang more of the chair rail so we could keep working. Using the handheld coping saw, I carefully cut the pieces we needed to finish two of the three walls. While the miters weren’t perfect, they were good enough to hang. With each piece of chair rail placed on the wall, the feel of the space continued to be transformed.
I was soon moving the smaller pieces of furniture from the truck to the space and placing them against walls and in corners. It was fun to watch the reaction of the mall employees and other dealers as each piece was brought in. After each item was placed in the space, we could count on one of the workers coming back to see what we had this time. They seemed to be as curious as we were impatient.
A short while later, Geoff arrived and with the right tools and we cut and hung the last pieces of chair rail and the palette was complete. While Geoff and I made one final trip to pick up the rest of the furniture, Deb began to place our treasures in the various display cases and curios. As Geoff and I moved the final pieces of furniture into place, I smiled to myself at how well it all fit into place as Deb and I had envisioned.
The rest of the day was spent unloaded containers and placing them in the cases. Geoff artfully filled the case with the sterling pieces while Deb pointed out where the pictures should be hung and carefully unwrapped the smaller items and placed prices on them. Soon, there were more empty boxes than full ones and the places to put the antiques were filling up.
Before we knew it, the announcement was made that the mall would soon be closing. Fortunately for us, this was a “dealer night” and we would have a little more time to work after dinner. Geoff left to go home as Deb and I visited with other dealers over the chicken dinner the mall was providing and soon lifted our tired bodies out of the chairs to finish our project.
I have to admit…the space didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned it. I’ve been in a lot of antique malls and have walked into literally hundreds of dealer spaces. They all seem to have their own feel and identity…and there are some that I’m happy to get out of quickly because they are not inviting.
The space that was created on that Friday and Saturday was something special! We wanted a place that had a Victorian feel to it…a richness that would transform you to another time and place. What we saw as we stood back at the end of the day was a “destination” space. Without question, it is the most beautiful space in the mall. Rich, the mall owner, was visibly pleased as he came back to visit with us as the night ended and told us how much he loved the space.
When I started my antique business, Angelwings Antiques, last August I really didn’t know what it would look like. It just started as a dream. This past weekend, we spread our wings a little bit. Who knows how far this dream will go.
Photos by Deb Shucka and Mark Lyons
A special thank you to Deb who helped to make all this possible!