Shirley Whiteway-Matheson started out her business with the goal of saving old furniture from the landfill.
With a zeal for everything historical and a jack-of-all-trades father who taught her how to tackle do-it-yourself (DIY) projects from furniture reconstruction to painting, it was only natural she became an expert in showing some love to old wooden furniture.
The founder and owner of Lily Pond Vintage Furniture Home Décor’s passion for restoring, painting and reviving old and antique furniture evolved into a business.
That ambition will soon see said business expand to Kentville from its birthplace in Enfield.
“I buy furniture most people would consider kicking to the curb,” she said.
It was Kentville’s walkability that led her to Kings County.
“It’s a walkabout town, charming and busy with all sorts of historic buildings, and it lends itself to what I do,” Whiteway-Matheson said. “It’s a great vibe, and people are drawn into it from the surrounding area to shop.”
She is in the business of selling furniture – particularly that of an antique vintage – but also restoring and painting that furniture and sharing her passion for such things with others.
If there’s one thing Whiteway-Matheson aims to teach people, it’s that they can take a new home and make it feel more like home by incorporating “those old pieces like grandma’s old China cabinet, old solid wood dressers, those kinds of thing.”
“You can refurbish them, paint them, make them unique,” she said.
Whiteway-Matheson quickly became proficient in all things antique after purchasing her first house with her husband at the age of 24 – a historical property built in 1860.
The couple restored the house with some much-needed TLC over the course of 12 years.
“I was always painting,” she said.
Something that pains Whiteway-Matheson is when people end up discarding or dismissing old furniture with potential.
“I’ve heard so many people saying ‘I have a piece like that in the barn or the basement or the shed.’ They’re not using it, and they’re not loving it,” she said.
In her classes, she teaches people to love that furniture, often with a litany of painting techniques at her disposal.
“There is definitely a big demand for DIY projects. Workshops are popular,” noted Whiteway-Matheson, adding that she already has people from across the province joining her workshops.
Whiteway-Matheson views old furniture as durable and made-to-last.
“Even people in a younger generation want to learn how to paint furniture. All the older furniture is made of solid wood, versus everything available now, made out of particle board with a veneer finish,” she said. “People don’t want that anymore. People are realizing old furniture, solid birch, walnut and oak, is better-quality furniture.”
She anticipates Lily Pond will open its doors at 38 Cornwallis Street in October.
Before it opens, however, she’ll need three employees on staff.
“We’re looking for two full-time staff and one part-time staff person for that location.”