A keen eye and a creative flair lead artist Tovi Heffron to give old things new life, one paint color at a time.
By JENNIFER GLATT Photos by JENNIFER SIMPSON
Undecorating after the holidays can often feel a little anti-climactic for me. The tabletops seem barren, the furniture looks a little worn out and tired in the stark light of January, and redecorating is simply not something I’m ready to tackle, thank you anyway. If you find yourself feeling much the same way, it turns out that a post-holiday overhaul may not be needed. Maybe all we need is a fresh approach from someone with artistic, objective eyes.
“Furniture speaks to me,” Tovi Heffron says with a laugh. As a self-proclaimed artist, painter, and “recreator of things,” she has turned what was once a hobby into a burgeoning business.
“I’ve always painted for myself. As a mom on a budget I would buy things and redo them for myself,” she explains. “My grandmother and aunt were silhouette artists, my grandfather was a furniture maker, and my parents are creatives, too, so I learned from them.” Heffron could very well be a furniture whisperer, given her inclinations. “When I see something, I always see what it could be,” she says matter-of-factly. “I might find something that’s totally beat up or neglected, but if it has pretty lines, with a can of paint I can totally transform it.”
Heffron has been in the transformation business for more than two years. The genesis of the business came from realizing she was at a point where she needed to generate income, but wasn’t willing to be away from her four children (whose ages then ranged from 9-15) and take a full-time job. A friend, who had seen Heffron’s handiwork in her home as well as work she had done for others, sent her an encouraging email. “It basically said, ‘You need to be doing what you love; you have a gift—you need to do this for other people,’” Heffron shared. “It was scary to go out on a limb and put myself out there,” but she says she started slowly, collecting and refinishing pieces over the winter months. When spring arrived, she hosted a backyard show with her sister, local glass bead artist Lissi Rabon, owner of LuLoops! jewelry. “People came and they bought stuff,” she says. “It was an affirmation that this could really work.”
Utilizing social media to promote her business, Simply Tovi, Heffron says she quickly ran out of room to put everything. As a frequent shopper at Recollections Vintage Resale Village, she saw the opportunity to become a vendor there, renting a room and filling it with a trailer load of goods, from trinkets to trays, headboards to doors and more. Recollections proprietors Quazi and Dina McNabb maintain the on-site business transactions, so Heffron is free to work from home and come in to restock her space as needed. She credits her husband and kids for giving her the extra help she needs, from priming to repairing to hauling and sometimes even building, and for helping make sure the space is always full of treasures.
“My friends have been amazing as my first clients and buyers for this part of the business,” she says. Word has spread so well that Heffron was able to move to a larger space at Recollections at the end of 2014. She also participates in pop-up shops with Seaglass Salvage Market in Leland.
Heffron frequents yard sales, Goodwill, thrift stores, and has even been known to pick up finds on the side of the road—pieces just waiting to be reimagined. A well-loved sweater of Heffron’s became the seat fabric for a refinished chair; jello molds become objets d’art with a coat of chalk paint. “My mom is Swedish, and the Scandinavian look of blues, creams, whites and grays has always been very soothing to me,” she explains. Her shop reflects this influence in muted colors that do, indeed, soothe.
Heffron also does custom painting, staging, and decorating for clients. “If a client has a dining room table and chairs and a hutch that they are tired of but they don’t want to go new, then I’ll come in and we will consult and pick a color. I’ve repainted whole dining rooms, chairs, tables, hutches, chests, and beds,” she notes, and says she loves to help clients discover their styles.
“People might see things in the shop or online but they won’t know how to fit them into their existing space, so I can go to a client’s house and help rearrange or change up a color, use what they have or maybe add a few new things just to make it fresh.” Heffron also helps clients choose paint colors for houses both new and lived in, as well as accoutrements like countertops, fixtures, and furniture. “I’m a little different from other designers and decorators,” she says, smiling. “I try to be more of a guide and let your style evolve.”
Contact Simply Tovi on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SimplyTovi or visit her shop at Recollections Vintage Resale Village, 5935 Carolina Beach Rd.; 910-550-4831.
Simply Tovi’s Tips for Decorating in the New Year
Fresh pillows are always a quick fix
If there’s something in your home you don’t love, take it out
A new rug can do wonders
Lamps are affordable and provide better lighting than overheads
Less is more—decluttering goes a long way
Group items together for a cohesive “collection” look
Rearrange! You can always put furniture back if you don’t like the new look
Favorite all-time trick: a can of paint. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you can always paint over it.
Use your special things, like heirlooms and wedding gifts. We deserve to feel special using our “good” stuff simply everyday.