Introducing Front Porch Mercantile:
The next installment in my series of interviews with Furniture Fanatics and fellow up-cyclers, I introduce you to a lady after my own heart from across the other side of the world …I’ve been following Wendy’s work for a while now, mostly on Facebook, but I also regularly check out her blog over at Front Porch Mercantile. Wendy is from Canada, and although we are from opposite ends of the earth, I feel like I’ve met the girl next door who loves painting furniture as much as I do! I just know that if we lived in the same neighborhood, we’d be sipping coffee and painting furniture together like long lost friends!
Wendy agreed to an interview with ‘lil old me, so here ’tis:
Sharon: Where do you live? Tell us about your home town.
Wendy: I live in Atlantic Canada wayyyyyy over on the East Side of Canada. We are lucky to live close to the sea, and have a lovely home in the country in New Brunswick near my shop that we’ve been renovating forever with a big front porch.
We also have a fixer-upper-by-the-sea in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Lunenburg NS. Our hearts are in the tiny town of Lunenburg – this town fills my creative bucket. We like to call it Milk Paint Town because of all the colorful homes and businesses. I feel very blessed to be able to live and work in both towns.
Sharon: What is something that not many people know about you? Maybe a talent, somewhere you’ve travelled or anything interesting really.
Wendy: Not many people know my husband and I work together and have since we met 30 years ago. We met working for an airline, then he opened a service industry business and we both work at that (still do) and he helps me now with my business. I could not run my business without his help, he’s the behind the scenes dude, but laughs when he’s in the shop and people call him Mr. Front Porch Mercantile.
Not many may know that I also coach fellow retailers on how to take their hobby and make it a business. I truly love that part of my job as well. It’s very rewarding to help others.
Another “funny” back story… my business started because my (then) 16 year old told me I “needed a hobby other than her” – ha ha. I was painting and creating and a serial DIY’er. I had just not put those talents to use as a business.
Now Mom has turned her hobby into a huge business “gone mad” – haha.
My family is intricately involved with my business. Without their support and help there would be no Front Porch Mercantile. I’m very grateful.
Sharon: Where did your love for painting furniture begin?
Wendy: I first started painting furniture when I inherited several pieces from my Grandmother. I was following Miss Mustard Seed’s blog and was inspired to “give it a go”. I loved my nan’s furniture but they did not look good in my white farmhouse kitchen. I ordered my first bag of milk paint online and in those days there were no instructions, videos or help. Everyone told me, “You can’t paint Nan’s china cabinet”! I made the biggest kind of mess, but FELL in LOVE! I painted everything, and everyone loved it and said, “Wow, you painted Nan’s china cabinet.” I educated myself, took a lot of advanced classes and attended every workshop and training I could get my hands on, offered by the paint companies I carried and others. Something magical happened as I painted and re-loved pieces. I wanted to paint all the things in my house. I still can’t explain the “high” I get from transforming a piece from dated to beautiful, with paint. It’s an addiction for me and gives me such pleasure. It probably sounds like I need therapy. I seriously get almost spiritual and pure joy from painting and even more so from inspiring others to do so.
“You can’t paint Nan’s china cabinet!”
One of my first projects with chalk style paint can be found here: Union Jack Chalk Painted Bench.
Sharon: How would you describe your style or your favourite style?
Wendy: I don’t know if I even have “style” (laughs), but I guess my style is mostly relaxed, laid back farmhouse style. I cannot not distress a piece of furniture. Unless I’m doing a custom piece it probably will have a light distressing or chippy look. My style has been evolving, which I guess is true for most people, I love light and bright, my white farmhouse kitchen is a favorite place to hang out. I like wicker, green plants and galvanized metal – red geraniums make me smile. I love my casual porch. I love to collect old tarnished silver. I love items to tell a story. Things collected over time. My furniture is all painted light. I don’t like a cluttered or overly decorated space in my home. Simplicity – I guess that’s my style.
You’ll want to grab a coffee and come back here to check out some of Wendy’s home/cottage reno posts:
Sharon: Let’s talk about colour – Do you have a favorite to paint with? What colour themes do you have in your home? What colour is selling well in your neck of the woods at the moment as far as painted furniture and decor?
Wendy: Oh, this is super hard to answer. Right now my favorite colours would be the in the light whites and greys, and lately blues and greens. I love our Miss Mustard Seed’s Farmhouse White, Grainsack, Eulalie’s Sky and Lucketts Green and Trophy for staining everything.
We own two cottage rentals, and in the cottage rentals (by the sea) our favorites are Fusion Fort York Red and lots of whites.
In my shop, I cannot keep the Fusion blues in stock, Miss Mustard Seed’s Mustard Seed yellow, Tricycle and Eulalie’s Sky are all very popular here.
Sharon: Do you have a favourite up-cycle or renovation project that you have undertaken?
Wendy: Oh….where to begin? Our biggest and most proud renovation was of our fixer upper by the sea in Lunenburg.
We took an older house in a tiny fishing village by the sea that had been painted in very colourful tones and we re-painted, renovated, furnished and re-loved it on a very tight budget. Our Haven By the Sea is now a refuge for us – we love it there. We are still working on the exterior and some interior things (we never ever seem to come to an end to a renovation, there is always something! Is that just us?)
We use it and we rent it out. It’s a lovely seaside escape (rental info here if anyone is interested). We also are currently working on a beach cottage rental in New Brunswick that we just purchased last month. It was a family cottage on the beach and we are re loving it. It’s rental can be found here but it’s a work in progress (I’m sitting on the new deck we just built, as I do this interview.)
We have also been working away on our home in the country. It’s been a labor of love for the last 6 years, always ongoing.
So…lots of never ending favourite renos ongoing.
Sharon: What is your favourite place to be?
Wendy: I have a few places that make my heart happy and relaxed: in my workshop, when the sun is shining and the jazz is playing while I paint; teaching workshops fills my happy bucket BIG TIME. I think I love teaching and inspiring others more than painting (and I LOVE painting) – teaching retreats and at conferences is a huge happy place for me. Being surrounded by creative souls (and like minded women) at conferences and workshops is probably my favourite.
I also LOVE being anywhere my whole family is gathered, on the deck of our seaside cottage at 6am wrapped in a blanket watching the sunrise; on our big porch in a rocking chair chatting about the day with my Mr; and on an airplane travelling someplace, these all make me happy.
Sharon: Do you have a favourite blogger or up-cycler that inspires you?
Wendy: Number one on my list is my good friend Marian Parsons (Miss Mustard Seed) she is my queen of inspiration for my creative business, for how she handles life and business, for her style and panting ability.
“Some of my favourite up-cyclers are my customers, I truly learn so much from them!”
Sharon: What would be your favourite product or tool at the moment?
Sharon: Care to share one of your favourite “tips of the trade” with our readers?
Wendy: A couple of favourite tips that I share with all my students and clients is to be ok with perfectly imperfect. Painted furniture is not lacquered perfect spray paint. It’s meant to look relaxed, only YOU are going to see that little drip or brush mark. Relax and enjoy the process, it’s JUST paint, repaint it if you don’t like it, it’s meant to be fun. Relax and have fun.
Another favourite tip is to try a look or technique on a sample board before you tackle your grandmother’s china cabinet. If you are unsure if you want a certain look, or trying a new technique, just take a small board and fool around on it. THEN tackle that piece.
Sharon: Wendy thanks so much for taking the time to share some of your life and passion with us!
Wendy: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, I love what I do, I love inspiring others to be creative and inspiring others to take the initiative to make their home a home that gives them joy.
If you missed the other Furniture Fanatics interviews so far, you can check them out here:
If there are other “Furniture Fanatics” that you’d like to hear from, let me know in the comments below. Who inspires you to create, up-cycle and make the impossible possible in your home?
Till next time,