Salvage Chic

In the wake of the recession, something wonderful happened: Generation Y became Generation DIY. These Pinterest-following, deal-seeking denizens boast inspiring, decorator-style homes filled with upcycled furnishings. (Think chalk-painted hutches with antique china or a pair of white-lacquered Edwardian chairs recovered in a modern, colorful print.) We’re talking some jaw-dropping before-and-afters. Still, many who adore the design trend are too overwhelmed by the process to try it. Here, find simple ways to achieve the reclaimed look.

Step 1: Rescue It. 

Grandma always says, “They don’t make furniture like they used to.” Fortunately, around our area, you don’t have to look far to find a plethora of pieces with solid bones. Antiques co-ops, estate sales, flea markets and even friends’ junk piles offer amazing options waiting for a second home. 

One must-stop is Fairhope Furniture Consignment. Downtown Fairhope has long been a mecca for sidewalk merchants. This shop’s owners, Jeffry Culbreth and Janice Edwards, showcase upscale furniture and accessories at amazing prices. Designers regularly browse here to snap up finds. 

Fairhope Furniture Consignment • 458 N. Section St., Fairhope. 928-3133

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David and Memorie Martinez have fashioned an especially fascinating mall, Southern Antiques and Accents, which houses a whopping 86 dealer booths with below-market pricing on everything from vintage pie safes to handmade farm tables fashioned from reclaimed wood. Some dealers are even willing to make trades with you. Hint: The store hosts ladies’ night every third Thursday of the month from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and a seniors’ day the second Tuesday of the month, where shoppers can expect a jubilee of extra savings on high-end gems.

Southern Antiques and Accents • 254 S. Greeno Road, Fairhope. 517-7047

Bright and early the first Friday of each month, collectors and deal-hunters alike gather at the back entrance of Olde Mobile Antiques Gallery and Estate Sales. By the time the door swings open at 8 a.m., the line is snaked around the corrugated metal building. And there’s good reason why. Inside, treasures from all over the country await ­– Oriental rugs from a Manhattan condo, wicker armchairs from a Boca Raton decorator’s paradise or a traditional oak sideboard from a Wilcox County plantation home. For 20 years, two of the most knowledgeable antiques dealers in the Port City, Charles Parmenter and Greg Reynolds, have hosted hundreds of these upscale estate sales. 

To snag the best pieces, the staff recommends arriving by 7 a.m. on the first Friday of the month. The legendary events continue through the weekend, with 30 percent off small pieces and art on Saturday and 60 percent off on Sunday. Hint: Throughout the month prior, the guys share sneak peeks of upcoming merchandise on their Facebook page, so like them to stay up-to-date on the best goods going up for grabs. (But don’t ask for prices, because they aren’t revealed until opening day!)

Olde Mobile Antiques Gallery and Estate Sales  1616 W. I-65 Service Road S. 661-9818

Nestled on the back roads of Baldwin County, Fairhope’s 181 Market is an open-air bazaar jam-packed with bargains. The upscale flea market is set up rain or shine on the vast lawn in front of a mini storage facility every Friday and Saturday and the first Sunday of each month. Folks travel far and wide to treasure hunt here for one-of-a-kind pieces. Discover antique shutters, vintage farm equipment and claw-foot tubs just begging to be repurposed. “We have a creative group of pickers, ” says manager Melissa Smith. “They find some really unique items.” So unique, in fact, that in 2012, the History Channel’s antique upcycling reality show, “Picked Off, ” even filmed an episode at the hotspot. Bonus: If you’re feeling especially lucky, visit the regular auctions in which the public may blindly bid on the contents of the abandoned storage units on the lot. Hint: Regular “Caravan” events take place the first full weekend of each month. For only a $30 fee, anyone can set up a booth for all three days. “It’s like a big weekend-long yard sale, ” Smith says.

181 Market • 16925 State Highway 181 Fairhope. 591-7340


ABOVE This ho-hum mid-century modern chest received a cheery, bold facelift thanks to “Amy Howard at Home” chalk-based paint, which allows you to skip the sanding, priming, stripping and sealing steps. The product line is available at Wigman’s Hardware, where staff also hosts regular DIY workshops.

Step 2: Renew It

Once you’ve found the perfect piece with potential, it’s time to transform it. Sand, scrape, clean, second-guess, repeat, right? For the novice, refinishing furniture can seem like a daunting task – until now. Two local handy women, armed with paintbrushes and know-how, offer popular tutorial sessions to take the guesswork out of transforming that junktique find into your own stylish, custom piece. No headaches necessary.     

This past May, third-generation hardware shopkeeper Kim Whigham and her daughter-in-law Lauren began hosting their furniture painting and refinishing workshops at the family’s store, Wigman’s Ace Hardware on DIP. The trend-savvy decorating duo demonstrates an array of antiquing and distressing techniques using their incredibly user-friendly “Amy Howard at Home” paint collection. (No sanding, no stripping and no priming involved!) The ladies provide all the necessary tools and materials and plenty of guidance along the way as they tackle projects such as degreasing, working with milk paint, creating a cracked patina texture, refinishing with gesso and wax and more. “A first-timer can easily learn to paint it, finish it and antique it in a Saturday, and you’re done, ” Kim says. 

Participants simply sign up and BYOP (bring your own piece) to get started. Even better: The classes are free! Save the date Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. for the One Step Paint Plus Workshop. Other upcoming themes include “Revamp Your Lamp” and “Mirror and Sheet Metal Antiquing.” 

“Our family’s hardware store has been in this same building for more than 55 years, ” Kim says. “And I’ve seen more women here in the last month than in the last 30 years.” Hint: Be sure to register early; space for all classes is limited and they fill up fast. 

Wigman’s Hardware • 1623 Dauphin Island Parkway. 471-3138

text by Lawren Largue and lee ann kelley

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