Armed with a can of chalk paint and a good eye, Joanne Loudin can turn any castoff into a display piece.
Take the case of the clunky typewriter with frozen keys. It was a junky find. Loudin took a can of peacock blue spray paint and changed it from a nonworking artifact to a cute centerpiece. It’s also a showpiece featured on the blog for her store, Off The Beaten Path in downtown Sumner, which Loudin has owned for about five years.
Her store specializes in vintage items and antiques. About 20 percent of the store contains items she’s rehabbed or restored, but also holds about 30 additional vendors selling vintage, antique or rehabilitated items.
Loudin will be one of several vendors selling items at the Vintage Market at the Tacoma Home Show, Jan. 28-31 at the Tacoma Dome.
Loudin’s particular specialty is in restoring old items — which sometimes is also called upcycling or repurposing. That upcycling trend is seeing momentum, thanks to websites such as Pinterest (also known as the Internet rabbit hole for the design-obsessed).
“All it takes is paint,” said Loudin, of turning flea market finds into coveted treasures. “For instance, take the side table mom and dad gave you when you moved into your first home. You can turn it into something for the baby’s room.”
About that paint. Today’s popular paint is chalk, or mineral, paint and requires a coat of wax sealant. Loudin stocks one brand at her store, but she said in downtown Sumner, where there are numerous antique and vintage businesses, at least four or five stores carry different brands of that style of paint.
Loudin’s mantra is this: If it’s broken, just fix it, don’t junk it. She honed that philosophy while growing up in a family that was more prone to fix than pitch something. She also learned to appreciate the act of recycling old items when she worked as a house flipper for her construction company, the first business she owned.
“I would see things that got left behind that didn’t need to be left behind. I knew they could be salvaged,” said Loudin.
When she first started rehabilitating vintage items, she’d tour garage and estate sales. She developed an eye for what could be repurposed. Soon, due to a reputation she earned for restoring old things, customers came to her with castoffs she would clean up and resell. Now, she rehabs some of the things she’s brought, but often she’ll leave pieces unfinished and sell the piece along with paint so a customer can create their own makeover project.
Loudin has seen the ebb and flow of popular items.
She can’t keep old windows in stock.
“You would always think it’s end tables and chairs, but what I find the most flying out of my store are windows. They’re picking up the older windows. We have them there at the store all the time. They start at $25 and go up to $65.”
What are her customers doing with those windows? “Sometimes they repaint and repurpose, but they’re great for projects. You can display family photos on them. They’ll print their family photos and display them behind the panes of a six-pane window.”
Ladders are another commodity for the do-it-yourself decor crowd. “One person hung hers in a laundry room for a clothes drying rack,” said Loudin. Other customers have turned them into pot racks or hanged it as a display piece.
If Loudin could name any personal decor weakness for herself, it’d be dressers.
“I love old dressers. I tend to have too many of them all the time in the store. I can’t leave one anywhere. There’s always somebody looking for a dresser. Those are usually pieces we can pick up and turn around.”
Armoires are a secondary passion. “I absolutely love the armoires from the 1800s, but those only go to special buyers. People put them in their homes, but they’re more rare.”
At the Tacoma Dome Home Show that starts Thursday, she’ll feature a wide range of vintage and antique items.
“I hand picked several items, including larger furniture pieces. I focused on farm items, outdoor implements, older vintage items and a lot of older pieces,” she said. “I’ve got a couple fun things. I’ve got a few wagon wheels, an old vintage couch. Only a few pieces from the shop will come down. We don’t want to pull the store apart to do the home show, but we’ve hand picked a few things that will pop in our display.”
Tacoma Home Show
When: Thursday through Jan. 31. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 31
Where: Tacoma Dome
Tickets: $12 for adults; free for children 16 and younger
17 vendors will feature classic, one-of-a-kind garden and vintage items, upcycled furniture, garden art and many other items. Here’s a look at South Sound vendors and what they’ll feature.
Around My Vintage Table: Vashon vendor will focus on garden items for the indoors.
Kit and Kaboodle: Buckley vendor will offer economical vintage items, including old farm finds.
Paintbrush Cottage: Orting business will sell vintage textiles.
Curious Deer: University Place business specializes in repurposed benches made from old beds.
Urban Gardener and Millesime Designs: These two Tacoma businesses will team up to offer upcycled pieces and garden antiques.
Weathered Finds: Yelm business will have items for the porch and patio.
5 THINGS TO DO AT THE SHOW
1. Garden seminars. See News Tribune and Olympian garden columnist Marianne Binetti at 1 p.m. every day of the show. Tacoma garden designer Sue Goetz also will speak, as will Frank Gatto of Raft Island Roses in Gig Harbor and Bruce Lind from the Tacoma Rose Society. WSU Master Gardeners also will attend.
2. Display gardens. After taking in a garden lecture, be sure to check out the 6,000-square-foot design garden from Marenakos Rock Center and Washington Association of Landscape Professionals. Olympic Landscaping, Buds and Blades, the Pond Guy and other yard/garden professionals also will have displays.
3. Wine and beer tasting. Take a respite at the wine or beer garden. The beer garden will feature South Sound brewers.
4. Exhibitors. More than 500 exhibitors will display the latest and greatest in home remodeling and design.
5. Bulb sale. Get a head start on spring planting. A selection of plants and bulbs will be for sale.
Off The Beaten Path
Where: 1109 Main St., Sumner.
Contact: 253-987-5632 or myshoppingpath.com.