Trudy Spooner refinishes furniture with flair
The New Creative
by Cassandra Bernard
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so the saying goes. In a world where it is so easy to throw unwanted items in the dump or at the end of your driveway, Trudy Spooner takes pride in taking something old and making it new again.
T-Spoon of Sugar furniture is nothing like the modern buy-it-cheap furniture found in large box stores. Rather, Spooner refinishes mid-century items using bright, bold colours and straight lined designs inspired by geometric shapes and art.
After moving from province to province, from temporary apartment to apartment, Spooner and her family finally purchased their home in Charlottetown. “I had gotten rid of everything that we didn't need so by the time we got our house it was empty, but we were also broke,” she explains. Her in-laws own a farm in the western end of PEI where there was a collection of old furniture stored in the barn left from old relatives. Spooner took it upon herself, with the help of her husband, Peter, to refinish a couple of the dressers they so desperately needed. “I finished the first one and I was pretty pleased with the outcome. There’s a lot of pride in taking something that was crappy and making it look nice and being like, ‘Oh, I did that with my bare hands. I made that look nice!’”
She soon caught the bug for attending auctions where she gets amazing deals on quality items with unique features. “It’s like winning. It’s a competition and it feels good when you win, and you get a good deal,” Spooner says. “Once you do it one time and you’re successful, you get a little confidence.” Her Facebook and Instagram pages soon followed once she realized she could make money from refinishing and selling unique furniture. The very first item she bought at an auction, refinished and sold was a solid wooden table she knew she could work with. “It was the table that other items were actually sitting on top of, so it was hidden under, but it had these two leaves under on each side. I got it for $12.50, sweet deal. Took it home and it turned out to have solid maple and it had a branded stamp in it,” she says. She ended up refinishing it, posting it online and someone bought it within 20 minutes. “It was really rewarding to, one, have fixed it up and made it look not crappy, but also someone paid me for adding value to a product.”
Spooner not only wanted to take items destined for the trash and turn them into something beautiful, but she wanted her furniture to be different from anything on the market today. “I started trying stripes and brighter colours and people just really liked them. It’s always sort of risky when I do it because people buy furniture to match their colour schemes, and nothing I’m painting is designed to coordinate with anyone’s home,” she explains. In fact, the two items she refinished in more neutral colours were the hardest ones for her to sell. “So I’m just going to keep creating fun designs.”