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Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Like Yesterday Shop, 204 N. Jackson St. in Auburn, features repurposed pieces of furniture.

From trash to treasure

Auburn mother gives new life to furniture

Owner Amy Wilges started out refurbishing furniture for her home.

Amy Wilges admits that most of the items in her Auburn store started out as garbage.

She finds items that are headed to the landfill, she says, and then does what she calls a “re-Frankenstein” on them.

Anything goes. Most items Wilges finds are missing legs or drawers and are in need of repair. She takes them to her garage and repurposes them, she says.

Wilges started fixing up broken down furniture about five years ago. She was a stay-at-home mom and needed some furniture. Because she is frugal, she says, and creative, she decided to repurpose pieces instead of buying newer, expensive ones.

Family members loved the pieces and began asking her to make similar ones for them. That eventually led to her opening her own store, Like Yesterday Shop, at 204 N. Jackson St. She now has a long list of customers requesting particular items.

Her business has grown so much that she is now planning to move into a barn just outside of Auburn so she can have more space to create, she says. She also will be able to do custom work.

Wilges’ husband, who enjoys woodworking when he is not working on the railroad, helps with the construction part, and she is the creative side. “I have so many ideas in my head that I don’t go online” for inspiration, she says.

Wilges, who has three children, is too busy to do much staying home these days. But her business has become a family affair. In addition to her husband, her daughter and son help out at the store, and her 9-year-old accompanies her frequently to work.

Wilges offered these suggestions for people who are interested in repurposing their own furniture:

•Sand items down. Wilges says she sands all the way to the wood. This helps for paint to adhere better to the furniture.

•Wilges says to prime before painting.

•And finally, she puts a professional clear coat on her items to make them durable. Wilges uses a clear floor poxy that stands up to such things as water rings.