Talking Shop

Some people just bask in the golden glow of old stuff; Jeanne Connolly’s one of them. A New Jersey native and former Crate & Barrel visual designer, Connolly, who longed to learn the ropes of upholstering, had one of those turning-thirty moments and moved west, on the advice of a friend, to enroll in the well-regarded upholstery program at Emily Griffith Opportunity School. And that, along with a renewed appreciation for antiques gained during her stint at Eron Johnson’s on Broadway, was enough to give her the courage to completely overthrow her corporate past and start her own business, Vintage Renewal, which features one-of-a-kind recycled furniture pieces reupholstered in unexpected vintage fabrics. For Connolly, it’s more about the creative redesigning process than about the technical craft, and the results are spunky, feminine and tons of fun.

“I’m just truly a thrift junkie,” Connolly says of her auspicious career change. “I was always seeing interesting pieces that needed a makeover," she adds, noting that she finds her fabrics everywhere: estate sales, eBay and in the trash. Throw in the green, recycled upside of her concept, her discerning eye for fabrics and furniture shapes that work well together and a laissez-faire attitude toward cutting up a vintage curtain or bedspread in the name of creativity, and you’ve got something totally unique: a near-new chair or stool that could quickly become the centerpiece of any room. Among her favorite pieces are chairs finished with appliquéd or screen-printed designs, or trimmed with vintage pompoms.

Find Connolly’s finished wares at Rejuvanest, 3719 West 32nd Avenue, or online at www.vintagerenewal.com and vintagerenewal.etsy.com; most online items are currently on sale for the holiday season. Or visit her Platte Street studio by appointment; call 720-984-7914.
Starts: Nov. 19. Daily, 2008

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd