Christie Carter-Tokairin said people initially used to make fun of her for restoring vintage furniture.
Now entering her fifth year of business at ReVived Vintage in Qualicum Beach, Carter-Tokairin has seen a jump in popularity when it comes to restoring old furniture.
Carter-Tokairin even holds how-to workshops and project classes. When she opened her storefront, she said, people started asking her about her process in refinishing furniture.
“Before they would just say, ‘Can you do it for me?’ So that was really another accidental career,” she said.
With her how-to classes, Carter-Tokairin said she finds a lot of people don’t always have the confidence to get started on a refinishing project.
“I find that a lot of people just don’t know how to start and the idea of putting paint to wood is a really intimidating concept for most people,” she said.
That led to the start of the project classes, Carter-Tokairin said.
She said a lot of people would paint a piece of furniture and would want to continue but didn’t have any other pieces to work on.
“In our area, a lot of people came here to downsize so they don’t have furniture that they necessarily want to paint. But they still want to be creative,” Carter-Tokairin said.
Carter-Tokairin will be holding a how-to class on milk paint (more of an advanced class) on Feb. 23 from 5:30-9 p.m. Cost is $125 plus GST.
She will also be holding her “A Blessed Home” set project class, in which she shows people how to create a rustic set of three wooden houses. The class runs March 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the cost is $35 plus GST.
For a full list and schedule of upcoming projects and how-to classes, visit www.revivedvintage.com/upcoming-classes.
Carter-Tokairin said she has been holding her classes for almost as long as ReVived Vintage has been open, but she said the thought of teaching classes was initially “terrifying.”
“I never really went into it knowing how to teach anyone how to do it, she said. “I was all self-taught. It just took me sitting down and really paying attention on the steps that I use to get to the end result and then formulate a class plan.”
But Carter-Tokairin has some practice with refinishing and painting furniture. She said she remembers being six years old and painting furniture.
“It’s just been a lifestyle because I’ve always done it.”
Before starting ReVived Vintage, Carter-Tokairin, who was living in Calgary at the time, said she was working a different full-time job and wanted to start something new.
“After 10 years, my husband (Craig) said, ‘Why don’t you just quit and do something you want to do?” she said. “While I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I started painting furniture again just for something to do.
“Then people came over to our house and wanted my coffee table or wanted a China cabinet for Christmas and it just ended up being an accidental career.”
When Carter-Tokairin and her family moved to Qualicum Beach, she said, she decided to bring her work with her and open a storefront instead of continuing to work out of her garage.
Carter-Tokairin said since she opened ReVived Vintage, the community has been very supportive.
“It’s amazing how much they support local businesses; not even just in Qualicum” she said. “We have people come from Courtenay and Comox and Cumberland and Nanaimo. They all just come (to the store). I didn’t expect that to happen, actually.”
In the beginning, Carter-Tokairin said, people used to make fun of her for refinishing vintage finds.
“People thought I was super cheap or (people would say), ‘Ew, gross. You got that at a thrift store or you went dumpster diving,’” she said. “I’m really excited that it’s come back around because I am happy people can finally see the potential in really awesome things.”
Even now, though, her family will ocassionally make fun of the pieces she come up with, she said.
“I glued tin foil to a desk once and made it look like it was made out of metal. No one believed me that it was tin foil. They all thought I broke out a welder,” said Carter-Tokairin, who was working on the project in her kitchen.
“I just grabbed the tin foil and managed to see it differently. My family made fun of me for it. Once I was finished, they thought it was just as awesome as I knew it was going to be.”
Carter-Tokairin said she likes to be different when working on her pieces.
“I like furniture to be a piece of art in the room, not just a blank canvas. I just really strive to just have it be artistic and functional instead of just plain and boring.”