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AT WORK: Meriden sisters of upcycling business make old furniture new again

AT WORK: Meriden sisters of upcycling business make old furniture new again

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON – Nearly a year after their win on the HGTV show Flea Market flip, the Record-Journal sat down with Meriden sisters Paula and Darlene Charneco of 2 Sister’s Design consignment and upcycling shop in Plantsville to talk about their success and how they find unique pieces to redesign and sell.

Q: How did you start this business?

Paula Charneco: We started 10 years ago, August will be 10 years, we started off as Paula’s Unique Consignment and a few years ago we decided to go into painting more furniture and upcycling more. Kind of going with the times. We started doing 2 Sister’s Design and we carry a paint line now. We offer painting classes, we do custom painted pieces.

Darlene Charneco: My sister had a brilliant idea, she’s like ‘you’re coming with me,’ so I said ok, whatever you want I got your back. So that’s how I came to be, we’re connected there.

Q:  What is your background in the consignment and upcycling world?

Paula: Well I’ve been painting furniture close to 30 years, off and on. I started bringing in small pieces that I had redone and people were just drawn to my painted pieces so I said maybe we need to do that more often. So that’s how we started going into the paint line.

Darlene: I’m actually an artist, I like to do landscapes so I wasn’t really painting furniture. Then my sister was like, ‘you need to do it, you need to try.’ So now I paint. People actually bring me furniture to paint. We just come from a background of super crafty people. Our father, he’s really into using his hands and creating things from metal and wood.

Paula: Right, any repairs we need dad comes and does all of our repairs.

Darlene: We were definitely born into it.

Q: What kind of paints do you use for the furniture and other home decor?

Paula: We had played with a bunch of different chalk paint companies to see who we wanted to go with and we ended up going with Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint, which is based out of Florida. No (volatile organic compounds), no odor, it’s fantastic. We’re the largest retailer of it in Connecticut.

Q: How has that concept of DIY projects changed?

Darlene: People are loving the idea of upcycling and I keep telling the customers, don’t be afraid it’s only paint. I ask, are you using the piece? They say no. Where’s the piece? In the basement, I love it but it doesn’t go with my decor. Well there’s your opportunity to be creative.  

Paula: Paint isn’t permanent. If you wanted to get rid of it (paint) you could. 

Darlene: There’s no limit to what you could create. You just have to come up with a plan and just go for it.

Q: How do you start off a DIY project?

Paula: They can start off very basic, just one color. If they’re a little wild they might go with a dark wax or go with a glazing or start some decoupaging or some metallics. So you can be very basic to extremely wild with your piece. Just depending on what fits your decor. We’re there to help.

Q: What has been one of the coolest projects you have done?

Paula: We actually picked up a really cool metal bar that had no top on it and we were able to find some really cool 1950’s doors and make that into the top of the bar which was really cool looking. Another piece was fun, just an old French fireplace probably from the 1940’s reproduction and we just went to town with different colors and whites and gilded gold and waxes and that just looked very elegant. Very 1920’s when we were done.

Q: What is your favorite style?

Darlene: I love French Country, I like shabby chic and so does my sister. I just love the light colors, like the neutrals and just to add a little girly flair.

Q: Do people tend to bring in their own pieces to DIY or buy pieces here and then redesign it?

Paula and Darlene: Both.

Paula: We get a lot of custom orders. We’ll have people bring us furniture that was their grandparent’s and ask us to redo it. They’ll be pieces here, our DIY pieces here, that people will ask us to redo for them which is nice because everything we use we carry.

Q: What was it like being on the show Flea Market Flip last year?

Paula: We had to do the applications and send before and after photos to get the approval to actually do a Skype interview... it was stressful (laughs).

Darlene: It was super exciting. 

Q: How has it been since winning that episode?

Darlene: We’ve been busy. 

Paula: The paint has really taken off. 

Darlene: There’s a lot of people reaching out to us because we were on Flea Market Flip.

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