New life given to old things in Nappanee

NAPPANEE — Furniture ages. Seat cushions wear out; tables get scratched up; and doors and windows are replaced. Styles change — so do our tastes — and you end up with something that just doesn’t fit in any longer. You can leave those useless items out for the trash man, stuff them in an attic, basement or garage, donate them or take them to Becky Tice who is bringing new life to vintage items making shabby things … well … chic.
“Someone may have a furniture piece that doesn’t fit in with their decor or something that they really liked but it doesn’t work with their color scheme,” Tice explained, “or maybe they’ve inherited a family heirloom but it looks rough or outdated. I make changes to it with different stains, paint or fabrics, and bring it back to life. I can make it more contemporary, more fresh, or more to the person’s tastes.”
She said she has always enjoyed painting, ever since she and her sister assisted their mother with her interior decorating business (Pat’s Painting and Papering) but her creative passion was muted for awhile with raising children (she has three sons — two biological — and a stepdaughter) and tending to other responsibilities.
The “shabby chic” (and “distressed” furniture) style originated in Europe and became popular in the U.S. in the 1990s — and though she liked it, Tice felt she would like to put her own spin on it — her ideas changing with the seasons, the styles, and even her mood. “I might be into the darker colors and sharper angles and then get go toward the brighter, more whimsical colors and patterns,” she said of her projects.
She continued to dabble at furniture and item restoration periodically and first unveiled her works at this year’s Apple Festival. The reception of that display was one that led her to seek use of the building her shop is in to show her creations and she opened the doors to Shabby 2 Chic Oct. 1.
And it isn’t just antique beds, chairs and tables that catch Tice’s eye either — she finds uses and brings new life to all sorts of things like cabinet doors, closet doors and windows — even yardsticks — painting them or affixing them with stylish motifs and giving them unique uses. Her business’ sales counter alone is something that caches the eye, made of wooden pallets, like a couple tables in her showroom. Her niece even got into the idea of recycling things for continued use.
“I made a piece for my niece with a magnetic paint,” Tice said of the former cupboard door now a stylish, hanging, note board. “I call them ‘Maggie’s Doors’ because of her. You can make them out of anything really, a cupboard door or door panel … and I also used blackboard paint too.”
Tice said she looks at how things are stained or painted or designed for inspiration and sometimes looks at websites or magazines or other stores, often perusing auctions and estate sales, to come across “just the right piece or pattern” that gets her inventive juices flowing.
“I love doing this,” Tice said of her restorative work. “I see something and I know I want it and kind of see in my head where I want to go with it. I want to make it more than beautiful.” Some pieces she said take longer than others — like the darker woods, or using chalk paint that can only be specially ordered from where it’s made in Peru, Ind. — but regardless of the time or effort she puts into each piece, it is a creation that becomes as unique as it is useful.
“I don’t have large reams of fabric so even reupholstering something makes it a one-of-a-kind,” she explained. “You will never see exactly the same piece and what someone has me do something for them — it’s something I can’t copy for someone else. Because of that I think what I sell has a lot more character than whatever you can pick up at the store. You won’t find any ‘cookie-cutter’ pieces here. “
Of course, she can also coordinate pieces and themes to existing items of furniture and offers her decorative productions at affordable prices which encourages shoppers to visit the store to either choose from her one-of-a-kind items or to bring their own styles and requests her way. “I might take a little time to create something because you have to prep and seal it right so that it will last,” Tice explained. “I want it to be what they want and I also want it to be done right.”
Also in the building her business is in is a nail salon owned by Tami and Sara Urick, and upstairs her sister Missy (and husband Jay) Fisher owns a gym. “This used to be a hair salon but when they moved out the girls that did nails stayed,” Tice explained. “We have different hours so it is a little confusing but it all works out.”
Shabby 2 Chic is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. but hours may change with the seasons and to meet customer’s demands. To learn more call 574-354-0177, email Tice at, visit the Facebook page at Shabby 2 Chic Nappanee, or visit the store at 104 E. Lincoln St., Nappanee.