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Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing: Upcycling vintage furniture

This week’s Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing is all about Indigo Lakehouse Interiors, a furniture refinishing business.

Lindsay McColm started Indigo Lakehouse Interiors two years ago, when she was finishing up her maternity leave after the birth of her son. “I just needed something creative to do,” she says.

She had always been creative; she enjoyed drawing and painting throughout her childhood, but that got pushed aside when she decided to pursue Environmental Science at Lakehead University.

During the work week, she is a species-at-risk biologist, focusing on caribou in particular. When she’s not at work, or busy taking care of her son, she enjoys finding, refinishing and selling vintage furniture such as dressers, nightstands, buffets and hutches.

All of her furniture finds are local - she checks out thrift stores, listings on social media and estate sales. Many of the sellers are middle-aged people selling furniture for their parents. “Usually the furniture has only been in one house for the entire time since it was purchased,” she says. “Sometimes these houses are like a trip back in time, they’re very retro.”

McColm works with mid-century furniture; pieces that were made in the 50s and 60s before particle board became ubiquitous. The items she chooses are of higher quality and made from solid wood in southern Ontario or Quebec. “It’s nice because it’s made in Canada furniture that gets recirculated and given new life,” she says.

She describes her aesthetic as simple, clean and modern. “Mid-century furniture almost dictates what I need to do with it. I dont want to add a lot of extra stuff to it, because the lines of the furniture are simple and clean,” she explains.

The refinishing process is not as easy as slapping on a coat of paint. First she cleans and sands the whole piece down, doing little repairs as necessary. After prepping, she puts on paint, stain or wood finishing products. Last but not least, she stages the furniture, takes photos, and puts them up on Instagram and Facebook. “And that part is almost as important as making the product,” says McColm.

She sells almost exclusively through social media, where she has more than 2,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook.

Having a home business is a balancing act. McColm does daydream about making Indigo Lakehouse Interiors her full time job, but she also loves her job as a biologist. “Conservation and recovery of species at risk in Ontario is important work that I’m proud to do,” she says.

She is also afraid her hobby and creative outlet might feel like “work” if she did it full time. “That’s my whole motto - it has to be fun, I don’t want to ruin it for myself.”

Right now, she has found a sweet spot - she can continue feeding her creative side by refinishing furniture, “but it’s not all piling up in my own house,” she laughs.