Joe Del Tofu pictures
Visit this charming Centerville store to grow your own personal style, find décor inspiration and upgrade your Delaware home.
When Kim Busby Reynolds and her husband moved to Hockeysin from New Jersey seven years ago, they settled on a traditional farmhouse from the 1890s. “All the cherry wood furniture we had in our old homes wasn’t gone,” says Reynolds. “So, we got rid of all of that.”
She searches for new furnishings at area antiques fairs and estate sales, and begins painting a few to suit her tastes. It eventually became a hobby that made money on Craigslist. “Then they banned me from selling cars – I learned that a lot of competitors would do that [falsely] Reynolds says sarcastically. “So, I gave up.”
But soon after, a “For Rent” sign posted in Centerville caught her eye as she was driving through town. “I thought this was a nice little building…I had a gift shop with my mom several years ago and decided I’d maybe open another one,” she says. Additionally, her collection of painted furniture had outlived her residence and needed a new place to sell it.
The beehive (in honor of her late father, whose nickname was Buzz, and her mother, Honey Busby) has two floors. Upstairs displays traditional antiques and found objects – tables of various sizes and uses, a secretary, a tufted ottoman, framed mirrors, and double headboards. Some are marked with an “as is” and a “stained” price, giving customers the option to buy it in the original wood form or have Reynolds paint it for them.
Others have already been updated with a fresh coat of paint or simple upholstery. She references a white wrought-iron bench with a vibrant floral Sunbrella cushion. “I kept the broken paint, which gives it personality,” notes Reynolds. And the pattern makes it look more ‘a French garden.’ ”
Downstairs, larger pieces display decor inspiration (lamps, lanterns, dishware) or gift sets such as candles, soap, and jewelry. “Of course, it’s also become a gift shop,” Reynolds says with a chuckle. She has the poise and rhythm of someone from the formal south, but she’s from West Chester, Pennsylvania, her native land.
The beehive attracts Delaware residents, and there’s a distinct north-south flair when it comes to interiors. “When I started, black was the big color. It’s now navy blue and white,” she says, also referring to the contemporary farmhouse craze. “On beaches, colors like palm green are more common.”
And there are sometimes atypical. “I have one customer who has red, white and blue [motif] Reynolds says. “I painted her seven pieces red, and she looks great.”
For larger furnishings, Reynolds mostly relies on earthy tones (grays and beige) so “it’ll go into anyone’s home,” she explains. “If you use blue or green, it limits your customers. … but the little pieces that you can have fun with because anyone can use them as an accent piece.” She nodded to the Demilon nightstand in turquoise “perfect for a hallway, powder room, or nursery.”
Reynolds also enjoys experimenting with different painting techniques.
Take, for example, what was a basic cherry oak sideboard. After applying two coats of dull gray flat paint, she sanded the carvings and edges to make them more prominent. “Then I rubbed white wax over it, and when I loosened it, it reflected in all the grooves,” she explains. Bright gold hardware elevates the look.
Reynolds also plays with 3D pop. “I took this workshop in Georgia from the lady from whom I buy the paint,” she says, holding a sample of ivory and gold-plated crown moldings. “How beautiful is this look around the mirror?” The most dangerous experiment was a water base layer that appeared when the white topcoat cracked.
While auctions have become virtual with COVID-19, limiting stock — or at least confidence in purchasing high-quality pieces that can’t be inspected in person — there is no shortage of treasures in a region where antiques-related older generations are downsizing homes. It’s sure to keep Reynolds buzzing — and shoppers happy.