Monday, 16 April 2012

The Story Behind the Distressing: Guest Post by Leanne from Apple Box Boutique

Good Monday morning!  I am thrilled to host the first ever guest post here at To a Pretty Life.  Leanne from Apple Box Boutique, the artist behind countless pieces of painted and distressed furniture is here to share what it is about old furniture that she loves.  Enjoy!


To begin, I would like to thank Joanna for inviting me to be a guest writer on To A Pretty Life. I love that every day this blog holds a new and personal perspective intermingled with creative ideas.  I am excited to be a small part of it.

Joanna suggested I write about distressed furniture and why I like it.  That made this post stress-free to put together, because I really do love it -- and live it (mostly)!

Contrary to general belief, my own home is not completely shabby chic.  It has modern pieces, things that have been handed down, vintage items and even Ikea has infiltrated here and there. This picture was taken while we were still finishing our family room but everything you see is still here; just surrounded by more stuff.

What ties it all together is the fact that nothing is a perfect match and yet it works for us.  The uniqueness of what our family has created is what we love about every room... the distressed pieces add interest, they have a heritage and that is what helps make it a home.

Whenever I obtain a new item to refinish, I like to find out its history.  Not just the date it rolled out of the manufacturer's shop but who owned it, where it is from, if it has travelled and how it came to be for sale. Because in the end it's not just about furniture; the children in our life are learning there are people and stories connected to each piece.  It teaches them to value the past and makes it real for them.  It allows them to understand why caring for the things they receive or work for is important.  It is more than just decor, it is a life lesson.

So when we find something like this:

...we can share that it belonged to one of the first female professors at a Canadian university who decided that instead of working to be more like a man in a 'man's world', she would celebrate her femininity and start a ballroom dance club at the school.  She went on to be highly respected in her field and personal life.
Or something like this:

...that once belonged to a woman in Saskatchewan who worked tirelessly to raise and educate five of her own children and 3 more belonging to an ailing friend, all by hand-washing other people's laundry.  This is the only piece of furniture she ever purchased for herself and she loved it dearly.
Maybe one of those examples will make a difference in their lives, or ours.

All things do not come with a narrative, but when they do, it makes them even more special.  It is worth something to the heart as well as the eye.  When I acquire an antique or a vintage item, I know it has been well-loved or ill-used, cared for or abandoned, or perhaps made someone's life a bit easier by being functional.  If a little paint and sprucing up is all that is required to give it new life and continue its story -- well, what's not to love about that?


Thanks so much Leanne!  I love the stories behind those pieces of furniture.  For me, if I don't know the story, I make it up!

You can visit Leanne's charming store if you're in the Edmonton area, and you can read more at her blog, On the Apple Box.


  1. Oh my goodness...these are beautiful and I love the stories behind them too! Joanna, I just found your blog today (I'm a Canadian blogger too!). Looking forward to following your posts:)

  2. What lovely anecdotes to go along with these pieces. I love that she does this. It makes the furniture pieces "more important". In a world filled with new, we need to remember what's gone before us.


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