While her sisters played with dolls, Allison Griffith played with furniture. “When I would play Barbie with my sisters, I would make all the furniture and rearrange the rooms,” she recalls. “I would rearrange my bedroom all the time, find different ways to make it my own space. I think I always liked to do that.”
Young Allison probably wouldn’t be surprised to find that she grew up to be at the helm of a DIY empire that includes her own website, book and appearances with local and national media. Still, even with her love to create and reimagine (including a self-described horrendous dresser she painted in college) furniture, her current career sometimes takes her by surprise.
Banking to Painting
“I was a cheapskate banker when my husband and I got married in 2007—we didn’t want to buy new furniture, so I started painting stuff,” says Allison. She started blogging about her projects in 2010. But when the house was full, her interest wasn’t satisfied. “Once I got done painting all of our furniture, I would buy stuff at garage sales, paint it, blog about it and sell it on Craig’s List.”
People started to take notice and soon the demand far increased Allison’s available time to create. Blog commenters would ask for classes so they could learn her techniques.
“I posted on my blog that I was going to teach a class and it filled up overnight. I would meet blog readers when I was out and they would show me pictures on their phones of things they created that were inspired by projects I had done.” A national paint company approached her to sell their new line of paint. The blog was booming, the workshops were filling up and soon Allison was being invited to appear on television and contribute to national websites.
“I had a one-year-old and a hectic travel schedule at the bank. My little side hustle was completely out of control. My husband told me that I needed to quit the bank and do this full time when I was just ready to shut it down because it felt out of control.” That was in 2012. Allison took her husband’s advice and has been the full time owner of Refunk My Junk for the past four years.
Refunk My Junk
Allison sells her one-of-a-kind painted pieces and paint and supplies in Edmond at Serendipity Market and at the Feathered Nest in Oklahoma City, along with her own studio, The Paint Bar in Edmond where she also works on her projects.
She teaches a variety of workshops that include introductory and advanced furniture painting, all about milk paint, and a variety of Pinterest-worthy projects. Workshops are an important part of Allison’s business because she wants everyone to know that they have the ability to do what she does.
“I’m just an average person who has figured out how to make her home beautiful on a budget. I think if I can do it, anyone can,” continues Allison. “I’m not an interior designer, I’m not anybody fancy or special. I’m just someone who’s cheap and wanted her house to look good.”
Even though she knows this now, it was not an easy concept for Allison to embrace about herself. “I think I resisted it for a long time because my identity was a professional in a corporate environment for fifteen years. It was such a stretch to think that I would be a self-employed artist.”
For others trying to make a go of a creative business, Allison recommends to take it one day at a time. “It’s a lot of little baby steps—your ultimate goal is to work for yourself, get paid for your passion. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I have a million things to do and I ask ‘what’s the bite-sized thing I can do today?’” Say yes to the things that fit what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to say no. And be yourself.
“My blog is a DIY blog, but I talk about being a work-at-home mom, about depression, about pregnancy—there’s tons of things I’ve talked about, not just painting furniture. You have to be authentic.”
30 Minute Lamp Revamp Project
Allison recommends if you are new to painting furniture a small project is a great way to gain confidence and get your paint brush wet! Snag an inexpensive lamp from a thrift store or garage sale and in less than 30 minutes you can create custom lighting perfect for your decor!
Step 1: Clean the lamp using Simple Green. This will help the paint to adhere and clean off any grease and grime.
Step 2: Paint two coats of paint over the entire lamp. Allison recommends using a chalk type paint because it does not require any sanding or priming. Her go-to brand of chalk type paint is Heirloom Traditions Paint.
Step 3: Allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 4: Seal with furniture wax. Furniture wax will protect the paint finish and also give the item depth and dimension, adding interest to your piece.
Step 5: Buff the furniture wax with a lint-free cloth to add a sheen and help the wax to cure properly.
Find Allison online at RefunkMyJunk.com. For Outlook readers, use the coupon code OUTLOOK for a 10% discount on classes through August.