through Oconomowoc on a scooter, Leanne Rische scours curbs for
tossed-out furniture. She returns in a van to scoop up the finds. As
one of a group of women behind Green Garage, which was founded in
2008, Rische works tirelessly to curate wood furniture with unique
lines and architectural interest that are just in need of a little
restoration or embellishing, these pieces are good as new; some even
feature an intentional distressed or shabby chic look. Every piece is
affordable, with chairs costing between $20 and $50 each, tables as
low as $30 and dressers ranging from $45 to $250. "There are no
two alike, not even close," says Mary Jo Hultman, one of the
founders, about the variety they find. "It could be the same era,
same piece but they’re different."
expensive items tend to be dining-room table sets, which range from
$200 to $500. Jacobean table sets — two triangular pieces featuring
three legs on each — are in highest demand. "They’re
basically in their original state when we get a hold of them. We sand,
prime and paint — usually white — and we distress them. We only
take the paint off in certain areas," says Hultman, who started
rescuing and retrofitting furniture in 2000. She retired from an
occupational-therapist career to devote more time to her passion. In
fact, it was all of those home visits that introduced her to curbside
rummaging. "People throw away some nice things that shouldn’t
be going to the landfill."
suggested I sell some of this on my dad’s front lawn," says
Hultman, who soon took her advice and now hosts outdoor sales each
summer at her 98-year-old father’s home in Genesee Depot along
Highway 83 two blocks south of Ten Chimneys. (Check
GreenGarageFurniture.com for sale dates.) "People love to shop in
that festive, outdoor environment where they don’t have to go
through a door and can come and go," Hultman says. "They’ll
come and say they have a lake house and end up furnishing the whole
Mary Jo Hultman
When the weather
cools, Green Garage’s wares are sold at local shops, including The
Pink Shopping Bag in Genesee Depot, Motif in Pewaukee, Restyle Studio
in Waukesha and Harvest Home in Pewaukee.
furniture is the biggest challenge, but it’s also the most
rewarding. In addition to Rische’s scooter runs in Oconomowoc, other
furnishings are scored from Craigslist.org ads, curbside trash in
other communities, flea markets, auctions and yard sales. "White,
architecturally interesting pieces, if they have carvings, are
extremely popular," says Hultman. "People just die for that
stuff." Storage pieces, like armoires or cabinets, are also in
biggest clientele has been 20- and 30-year-olds. "A lot of these
kids buy houses that were overly done in oak in the 1980s or 1990s,
and they’re all sick of it," Hultman says.
including La Merenda, a tapas spot in Walker’s Point; Mama D’s
Coffee in Wales; and a doggie day-care facility in Pewaukee — have
proven to be solid customers too.
out the art vote
help choose the next artist in residence for The Pfister Hotel
vote is open until noon Feb. 14 through The Pfister website and
social media. It will count as one seat on the selection
committee, which is comprised of members of the Milwaukee art
finalists have been selected by the committee: Pamela Anderson,
Stephanie Barenz, Tonia Klein, John Kowalczyk, Sue Lawton and
Pfister’s artist-in-residence program features a working art
studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and visitors.
The program encourages the public to interact with the artist
and witness the evolution of each piece first-hand. The current
artist is Timothy Westbrook; past artists are Shelby Keefe,
Katie Musolff and Reginald Baylor.
go to The Pfister’s website, www.thepfisterhotel.com;
to The Pfister’s facebook page, www.facebook.com/thePfisterHotel;
or via twitter by tweeting the artist’s first name and first
initial of last name to @poll.