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Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Antiques Article – New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques

January 19, 2015

I wrote this article as a part of the series that I write for our local newspaper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletion.  The series focuses on antiques as seen through the focus of our Shady Lawn Antiques business.  This article was published on Sunday, January 18, 2015.

Recently restored early 1900's Oak Vanity.  No power tools or any chemical strippers were used during the  restoration.

Recently restored early 1900’s Oak Vanity. No power tools or any chemical strippers were used during the restoration.

New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques

 

January marks the beginning of the New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques but it hasn’t always been so. My wife Jill and I were both educators before we opened Shady Lawn and as such, the New Year always began in September.   It only took a year in business before our sense of the New Year was reset to the spring. In the spring the weather got nicer, people began cleaning out their storage and a bigger source of ‘new’ inventory became available. There was also just a general ‘stirring’ as people started getting out going to antique shops and to the (then widely popular) antique shows.

 

Over a period of the last ten years our business has evolved to the point where Shady Lawn has become known for high quality antique furniture. Adding to this recognition is our philosophy that every piece of furniture we sell must be ready for immediate use. That is, it must be both structurally and cosmetically sound without any defect that we must apologize for. The restoration of furniture to that quality level takes a significant amount of time.

 

Further, major restorations take big hunks of uninterrupted time. So several years ago, we took the gamble that we could close the sales area from Christmas until February to restore furniture and that we could ‘make-up’ the sales later in the year.

 

Further we also found that a Wednesday through Saturday sales ‘week’ seems just as effective for our type of business. So furniture restoration is now also the focus on our ‘closed days’ of Monday and Tuesday. It should be noted that we only restore our own furniture and we do not offer restoration as an option for the public.

 

We are currently in the midst of our winter closure and our furniture restoration binge. Fortunately this change of pace invigorates me. I enjoy the mental challenge of creating solutions to the problems that are inherent in every restoration. It is also a physical challenge to see how much we can accomplish… if we are not going to be open to sell things we’d better get something ready to sell.

 

This daily schedule of focusing entirely on woodworking also sparks my creative side.  My thought process just naturally flows from the project at hand to designing my next re-purposed wood project/creation. A re-purposed wood and metal table design is percolating in my mind and may pop out as a finished project before we reopen…

 

Our current focus is on working through the restoration of some oak storage cabinets we acquired this past year. Then we will select a few of the more unique pieces of furniture from our archival storage to restore.

 

With the more ‘furniture forward’ business model our sense of the New Year now corresponds directly with the calendar. We start our New Year by building up our inventory so we have an interesting mix of new items for our customers to see. We organize our new items into interesting coherent displays and then open in February for our New Year! Until then you can monitor our progress on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShadyLawnAntiques .

 

 

Dave Emigh is the owner of Shady Lawn Antiques and is a fifth generation ‘Walla Wallan’. He writes about antiques and life in the ‘Valley of the Two Wallas’ on his blog: http://www.wallawallalocal.wordpress.com.

This is the Oak Vanity before restoration. Nick is carefully scraping off old finish.

This is the Oak Vanity before restoration. Nick is carefully scraping off the old finish.

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2015 4:55 am

    Just looking at this beautiful piece again, and wondering where we can get a little scraper (drawknife?) like that.

    • May 11, 2015 9:09 pm

      We use a replaceable carbide blade scraper. We got ours at a Pittsburgh Paints store – it was intended as a paint scraper.

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