Confession time: For someone who writes about all things Home, I've never been into do-it-yourself projects. In fact, I always thought those people who spent long hours at Home Depot on the weekends were a little on the nutty side. But thanks to a visit with designers Andrea Miner and Beck Georgiades, I've been inspired to change my ways.
Miner and Georgiades own The Little Black Chair in downtown Littleton, where they design and produce custom furniture pieces with unique, edgy, high-end finishes. The words "shabby-chic" instantly came to mind when I entered the sunny storefront, but a closer look at the store's smart, fun designs revealed more to the concept: These two aren't satisfied with simply buying furniture, giving it a facelift, and reselling it. Rather, they are on a mission to bring out the inner desginer in us all. (More on that later.)
The pair, who met through a mutual friend, started their business with $250 each and worked from their garages. After two years of selling painted vintage furniture at Colorado Antique Gallery and some open-air flea markets, they'd built up a loyal following and decided the time was right to open their own store. "When we first started, we used to pick, paint, and sell everything," Georgiades says. Now they have two pickers: one travels throughout the United States, while the other focuses on Colorado finds, like the table pictured above (the top and benches are made of reclaimed wood from the bleachers at the old Regis High School).
Besides their infectious enthusiasm, these two make a good pair because they each have their own niches and special interests. Becky went to school for fashion merchandising and was inspired by Christopher Lowell's late 1990s design show Interior Motives. She enjoys smaller projects like painting, furniture, and lighting. "Lighting is my passion. Furniture is only so pretty unless it's lit right," Georgiades says. Miner is self-taught and (in her words) "likes to rip down walls, reconfigure things, and design kitchens."
Having their own store has allowed Miner and Georgiades to showcase their decorating skills, too. You'll find everything from vintage horseback riding helmets to intricately-designed window treatments (pictured, right) at The Little Black Chair, plus an entertaining assortment of wares from local artisans. All upholstery is done in-house. It's a mix of old and new, sentimental and trendy, classic and modern.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the best parts about the Little Black Chair is that the owners aren't just trying to sell you stuff—they teach their clients that design doesn't have to be intimidating. They offer classes at the store two to three times a month, which allows people like me to try the do-it-yourself thing without a huge time committment. The beginner class focuses on exposing students to five painting techniques, which can be used on walls, cabinets, floors, and fabrics. The Advanced class teaches more intricate finishes like impasto, gilding, waxing, crackle, decoupage, stencil, and dry brush. Each class lasts three hours and costs $175, and the two plan to expand their class reportoire soon by offering classes such as antiquing and mirror painting. Miner emphasizes that they don't stop at technique; they also teach troubleshooting and educate their clients on how different climates (particularly Colorado's dry, arid environment) can affect paint.
Georgiades and Miner welcome custom projects, and can give quotes via email based on photos. Or, you can bring your piece to the warehouse and let them have a look. So, go on, dig out grandma's furniture that's been sitting in storage gathering dust. By utilizing some simple techniques, you could give your home a whole new look and still keep the sentimental value of each piece. The design divas at the Little Black Chair will be happy to show you how.
For more information, contact Miner and Georgiades at email@example.com.
5767 S Rapp St., Littleton, 720-428-8920, thelittleblackchair.net
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