Trio of educators opens new furniture business that focuses on items your mother probably threw away – Lawrence Journal World (blog)
Lawrence residents know if you want to see old hippies, take a Sunday stroll on Massachusetts Street. (ESPN executives evidently do not know that, or else they wouldn’t have shown us soooo much of broadcaster Bill Walton during Saturday’s KU-Texas game.) If Lawrence residents, though, want to see old furniture, they’re quickly learning to go to North Lawrence. Indeed, there is news of another vintage furniture store opening on the north side of the river.
A trio of paraeducators who worked together at Langston Hughes Elementary School have opened The Art House, a vintage home decor store that focuses on mid-century furniture, along with farmhouse and rustic-style pieces.
“We found that when other people were going to happy hours, we were going to estate sales,” Tracy Ford Stacey, one of the three owners said of the decision to start the business.
The shop is located at 700 Locust Street, which is part of the small commercial area that has gained the name North Lawrence Marketplace. Several other home-oriented stores are located in the district, including Amy’s Attic, Tooter & Tillaye’s, and the Topiary Tree, which previously was in the 700 Locust space but recently moved into larger space across the street.
Stacey said The Art House sells dining tables, dressers, kitchen islands, and pretty much every other type of furniture except beds and mattresses.
“If it is something we would want for our homes, we buy it for the store,” Stacey said.
Many of the store’s pieces come from auctions, estate sales or word of mouth. Most of them require Stacey and her partners to do some work to get the pieces back in top shape. But she said the store’s philosophy is to keep the pieces true to their original design and look.
“I think elbow grease is our biggest ally,” Stacey said.
The store has found a particularly strong following from people who like mid-century furniture, which generally comes from the 1940s, ’50, and ’60s.
“A lot of people describe mid-century as the things your grandparents bought, your mom threw away, and now you want it,” Stacey said.
The store focuses on a lot of items that have straight, clean lines and that appeal to the trend toward minimalism.
In addition to the mid-century pieces, the store carries several pieces that fit into what people call a farmhouse style. If you have ever seen the popular HGTV series “Fixer Upper,” farmhouse style is often what designer Joanna Gaines uses on that show. Indeed, Stacey said the store gets a fair number of people who have seen something on the show and want to buy something similar. To help accommodate that trend, the store has recently created a partnership with an area craftsman who will build custom farmhouse furniture for people who come into the shop.
The store also sells a few other items that aren’t furniture-related. Older jewelry is a popular seller, and some of the pieces can get pretty unique. The store carries one line of earrings that are made out of vintage plates. To be clear, they are made from a portion of the dish, not the entire plate. (I was interested until I learned that. The all-you-can-eat buffets I go to always seem to run out of plates.)
Like most of the stores in the North Lawrence Marketplace, The Art House is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. But business is good nonetheless, Stacey said. She has quit her job as a paraeducator while her business partners Leslie Goertzen and Julie Buller continue to work at Langston Hughes Elementary.
“It has been a really fun adventure so far,” Stacey said. “Lawrence is so supportive of these types of businesses.”
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