It all started with a hutch and some end tables.
The shabby chic look was in its heyday when Katie Lyons of Maple Grove—like DIY-ers coast to coast—decided to grab a bucket of white paint and try her hand at some accessories to freshen up her home. A few years and design trends later, she listed the distressed furniture pieces on social media and, much to her surprise, they sold immediately.
A few major life changes later, and she found herself with a summer off from teaching, a lot of pent-up creativity and a need for some side income.
“I’ve always loved painting, so I thought I would give it a try. With five dollars, I bought a small accent table, and so it began,” Lyons says. She enlists her husband Don to help with stripping, sanding and staining, and Katie keeps an eye on trending colors and décor styles to apply to the vintage furniture and accessories she began bringing home as future projects.
Starting small, selling one piece at a time on a social media selling site and then a few retail shops, the fledgling business grew and officially became KT Lyons Design. Now the couple are official sellers through The Artisan Markets Minnesota, a Facebook-based collective of vetted furniture artisans. They have access to 15,000-and-counting members of the closed group and it’s become their primary source of business.
There’s no physical showroom and visitors scroll quickly through options, so a lot of attention is given to styling and photographing pieces to highlight their character, shape and potential uses—alongside meticulous measurements and descriptions.
Peruse the listings on any given day, and you might find a mid-century modern buffet painted gunmetal or a reclaimed barn wood table top attached to an industrial base made of pipe. KT Lyons has been specializing in custom dining room sets of late and is dabbling in blending paint colors to give a gradual, ombre effect. It’s a painting technique that’s a far cry from its shabby chic predecessors.
“We create and transform quality, unique, one-of-a kind pieces for our customers: handcrafted, painted and up-cycled pieces,” Lyons says. “We’re basically an online catalog of vetted sellers and—truly—artists.”
Ready or not!
Don’t look now, but the holidays are coming. Here are a few of Lyons' top suggestions for warming up a space and upping the “wow” factor before company comes.
- Create a warming station. Stock a coffee cart or side table as a DIY coffee (or hot chocolate … or hot toddy …) station, with DIY mugs and colorful, seasonal treats so you’ll be as hands-off as possible when the crew heads indoors.
- A new dining table or buffet makes serving a crowd easier—and cuter!
- Add an entryway bench, with ample storage for mittens and hats. “A rich color tone can brighten up the space,” Lyons says.
- Add colorful new end tables or a coffee table to change up a tired room.
- Looking for a family gift? A new media console will store the television, electronics and media with style.
Browse item listings—or commission a special piece—at the KT Lyons Facebook page.