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New Arbutus venture brings 'character' to old furnishings

Salvaged Furnishing, on East Drive in Arbutus, focuses on bringing new life to otherwise unwanted pieces

Furniture has started appearing on the sidewalk of East Drive in Arbutus.

It's from Salvaged Furnishing, a business created by former Washington, D.C., food truck operators Leah Perez and Jane Lyons.

Salvaged Furnishing focuses on bringing new life to otherwise unwanted pieces and displays them street side.

Perez and Lyons take what some may see as junk and make what they see as showstoppers.

Repurposed furniture has become more mainstream thanks to television shows such as the HGTV program, "Flea Market Flip," Perez said.

"We want our pieces to be that focal piece in the room," Perez said.

Perez, 38, had been selling "upcycled" furniture on the Craigslist website from her home for about a year, but she wanted to get a storefront for more exposure. She teamed up with Lyons, 62, to create the business.

They opened the venture at the end of September and have about 600 pieces in their inventory. The business shares space with Objects Found, an antiques store.

While terms such as upcycled, recycled, and refurbishing have similarities, Perez and Lyons describe upcycled as similar to reinventing, changing furniture to make it a better quality object.

"I love to create things and take trash and make it really pretty and beautiful," said Lyons, whose career includes 15 years as a visual director at Bloomingdale's, the department store chain. She was most recently substitute teaching. "That's where our commonality is with our venture."

Perez said it cost about $1,500 to start up the business. The women have a deal with Objects Found owner Reggie Sajauskas to run the Objects Found storefront twice a week, in lieu of rent.

They do not have projections for first-year revenues.

"It's sort of a hobby that has morphed into something more," Perez said. "I'm excited to see it grow."

Perez and Lyons find inspiration for pieces through donations and even the trash. They then refurbish them for sale.

Perez said no piece sells for more than $400.

A hall tree — furniture used in an entryway to hang coats — that was made out of an old door and includes a bench that was made from parts of two dining room tables, sells for $295. A chandelier, painted hot pink and sporting new bulbs and hanging prisms, sells for $139. A Mediterranean hutch turned into a TV stand is $295.

The goal is to come up with something unique, Perez said.

"I think this is a store you walk into and you fall in love with a piece and you make it work for your space because you want it, you love it and you want it to be a part of your home," Perez said.

Perez and Lyons said there isn't much competition, aside from a store in Howard County called The Vintage Marketplace that repurposes furniture.

Laura Kimball, the interior design program coordinator at The Community College of Baltimore County, said upcycling has become more commonplace in recent years, in part because of Pinterest, a social media platform that allows users to share ideas they like.

The idea of owning upcycled furniture has trended because people enjoy having pieces that have quirks or stories behind them, she said, such as a table that used to be a suitcase.

"They're popular," she said. "You wouldn't necessarily fill a whole house with these items but they're character pieces."

IF YOU GO

Salvaged Furnishing

When: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: 5409 East Drive, Arbutus

Call: 630-827-9419 or 301-674-0345

Web: SalvagedFurnishings.com

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