Looking for a ‘project’, Karen Carlin decided to dip her brush in a paint pot to spruce up up a bit of furniture.
Brushing up her skills and more than 2,000 pieces of furniture and 800 litres of paint later, Karen’s project turned into a passion, and now her livelihood running Peppermint Cottage in Leyland.
The shop specialises in mixing the old with new, giving tired furniture a new lease of life, working on a wide range of large and small real wood furniture.
Home and giftware is also sold, while projects can also be commissioned on an individual basis or larger scale.
Karen describes the shop, in Hough Lane, as an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ for homeowners looking to add a unique piece or twist to their home.
She is constantly thinking up new ideas to restyle and re-work people’s furnishings, who just don’t have the time themselves.
Her work has quite a following via her Facebook page and customers travel from across the district – Chorley, Bretherton, Croston, Much Hoole, New Longton, Longton, Preston, Walton-le-Dale, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Blackpool and St Annes.
She says her most enthusiastic clients are mostly women. Karen, 45, adds: “The shop is definitely an Aladdin’s cave for the ladies.
“Once I had a couple in the shop, she loved it, but he wasn’t so interested, so she sent him to the pub across the road and he gave her his bank card….what a couple!
“Our core business is furniture. Be it items for sale in the shop or customers wanting to bring in their very own furniture to be painted, it’s such a popular and inexpensive way to update homes these days. So the days are mostly filled with painting furniture, in-between serving in the shop of course.”
Karen, who is completely self-taught in the art of furniture painting, opened the shop, named after her own home, in October 2011, offering a unique service of allowing people to bring in furniture to have painted and brought back to life, assisted by her joiner husband Martin.
She says: “If someone has a unit that fits a gap and it does everything they need it to do, but they don’t like the look of it anymore, rather than get rid of it and replace it with a similar item, we can paint it up and breathe new life in to it, to take pride of place.
“We have so many repeat customers who love this service. We put so much care and attention in to every piece, working closely with customer, to ensure we deliver exactly what they want.
“It has become a passion and when passion is your job, it’s not like work at all.”
The shop is open six days a week from Monday to Saturday, but Karen often puts in 70 hours weeks, sourcing new items of furniture when not in the shop. And when she is not painting furniture herself, she is teaching others the ‘know how’ with regular workshops.
“Do what you love, Love what you do’ springs to mind, she adds: “My day starts usually painting customers’ pieces, then whilst that’s drying, its paperwork and marketing, whilst serving customers.
“I’m a complete Jack of All trades, which is a vital requirement when you are running your own business. I can often be found at the back of the shop painting away, which is great for customers to see exactly what it is we can do.”
Karen is now also offering clients room re-style consultations.
“Some customers struggle to pull a theme or a room together and so we visit their homes and provide ideas and solutions. We also help people ‘stage’ their home in readiness for pictures when they’re selling their house.”
And if you’re stuck for an emergency chair or two this Christmas, be sure to pop in.