A Scrappy Take on Furniture Restoration

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By Kim Howard, CAE

What does a retired US Airways/American Airlines flight attendant have in common with a crafter and furniture restorer? If you are Amy Raftery, you are one and the same. After retiring from her flight attendant job in 2014, Raftery was looking for something to fill up her day while decorating her home without breaking the bank. She launched Craftery Girl after a friend told her that she was crafty and eventually started calling her “Amy CRaftery.”

A scrapbooking teacher who took her love for creating and turned it into indoor decoration and furniture restoration, Raftery is a self-proclaimed “lover of many crafts.” She said that her loving and patient husband fully supports her new business, which has now expanded into furniture restoration and repurposing.

“I have large totes full of ribbon, fabric and enough scrapbooking supplies to open a small store. My current obsession, I mean favorite creation, is anything to do with rescuing and repurposing furniture and other objects to decorate our new home in Manassas,” Raftery said.

“It probably sounds crazy to the average person, but I usually have three to four completely different projects going at the same time,” she continued. “I have discovered that as a creative person, I sometimes need to let a project sit for a couple of days until I find just the right way to complete it. Sometimes this inspiration hits me at 10:00 p. m.”

Raftery, her 19-year-old son, and husband, a U.S. Marine, moved to Manassas in August 2016 when he was transferred to the Pentagon.

Stop the Car!

Raftery fell into furniture restoration by accident, which also turned into a necessity after several military moves when their belongings sometimes got dinged up.

“As a military family, we move…a lot. Occasionally, things get damaged or broken in our moves. When we were living in Twentynine Palms, California, I would go to Palm Springs to do all my major shopping. One Saturday we were driving down a major road in Palm Springs, and I spotted a beautiful white wicker desk in front of the local Salvation Army. I immediately told my husband to stop the car!” she recalled. “After he had recovered from the mild heart attack I gave him—he thought we were about to be involved in an accident—he obliged me by going to the store. We ended up taking the beautiful white wicker desk home with us. That was the beginning of what evolved into my love of rescuing and repurposing furniture.”

Raftery’s inspiration comes from everything she sees. “We previously lived in Kansas City, and I had the honor of being a vendor at an amazing store in the West Bottoms called Restoration Emporium,” she said. “It was a 100-year-old five-story building that used to be a tractor factory. There were 40-plus vendors at Restoration Emporium and just walking through that store would give me so many ideas!”

“I also follow other amazingly creative people’s blogs. Amy Howard at Home, Jennifer Allwood with The Magic Brush, Allison@refunkmyjunk.com and Re Nue Home Studio are a few of my favorites,” she continued. “And I am ‘old school’ and enjoy reading many different print magazines like Flea Market Style, HGTV Magazine, Country Living, etc. I also have created several boards on Pinterest.”

Despite all the crafts and furniture restoration she completes, one project remains her favorite.

“My favorite project so far would probably be the very ugly 70s style nine-drawer dresser I rescued and repurposed into a TV media center. It was in bad shape with cigarette burns on the top, and two of the drawers were broken. It had big hardware and was very dark in color. I had three pieces of wood cut and created a place for the cable box, gaming box and Blu-ray player where the top three drawers once were. I sanded down the top of the dresser, re-stained it a beautiful dark walnut color, and then painted the rest of the dresser with Amy Howard One Step Paint in linen. It looked completely different when I was finished,” Raftery said.

Despite her success, Raftery does have challenges in recreating her masterpieces: “It feels like there are challenges with almost every piece. Some pieces have odor issues that must be taken care of before anything can be done to them. Others are broken and need repair, and there is always cleaning to rid the pieces of spider webs, old gum, dirt, etc. I can almost always figure out a way to finish a project. Sometimes I must completely repaint it in a different color or strip the wax off and use a different sort of finishing product. My most challenging project so far is the chess/checker board table I created out of an old restaurant/pub table I found at a garage sale. Painting the chess and checker board and making sure it had sharp lines that were perfectly straight in the proper size was the biggest challenge.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Try

Despite the challenges, she encourages the novice crafter or furniture restorer to start by taking a class. “If you are a beginner and want to tackle a project that you have never attempted, I suggest a class at a local store,” Raftery said. “Simply Beautiful Spaces in Stafford offers several classes each month, as does Love, Charley in Historic Manassas.”

“YouTube also is a great source of information,” she continued. “For example, Amy Howard at Home has several videos that show how to use her amazing products. I would tell a beginner to go for it! Don’t be afraid to try! Find a small, inexpensive item that has simple lines—an end table is a great beginner piece. Lastly, I would remind readers not to judge themselves harshly when creating. Some of my favorite memories are from teaching scrapbooking classes a few years ago and seeing how each person put their spin on the same item that I taught. For me, it is as much about the joy of creating and the fellowship of getting a group of friends together for a night of crafting as much as it is the finished product.”

Because Raftery is new to Virginia, she is still searching for a space in a store to sell her creations and is currently looking for a local vintage market where she can rent a booth. She is currently booking custom finishing of furniture or painting kitchen cabinets. To view Raftery’s creations or contact her, visit fb.com/CrafteryGirl.

Kim Howard, CAE (khoward@princewilliamliving.com) is the editor in chief of Prince William Living and often jokes that anything remotely crafty in her home has been created by a family member or purchased from someone like Amy.


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