Clever Conversions
By Valerie Ryan
Published: 06/07/2011  Updated: 06/20/2019
Gary Hayes

Astoria is home to a handful of shops that give you a glimpse of the past and a real look at creative re-purposing, recycling and re-using.

Shopping is definitely a moveable feast. There is mall shopping, where there are few surprises, those upscale chain stores found in every city, as well as online, presenting the same merchandise. Then there are thrift shops, those collections of other people's castoffs that might be a perfect way to save money on everyday clothes or create a Halloween costume. Someplace in between there is the store that defies description: that storehouse of treasures, old and new. Are they funky, eclectic, offbeat, unique? Call them what you will; we all know them when we see them.
There are three such shops in Astoria that are worth a good long look, each bearing the stamp of their visionary, artistic owners. Vintage Hardware is a huge shop filled with relics from the past. Find a 1920s telephone, a faceted glass doorknob, or check out the collection of artistically re-purposed and re-designed furniture pieces. At Ambiance, you'll find an eclectic sampling of items for the home, some new and some with a bit more history. Farmhouse Funk is a treasure-hunter's delight, filled to the brim with one-of-a-kind antiques, gifts and finds you never knew you needed! Visit these shops and you will come away with ideas galore - and probably a few new things for your home.

VINTAGE HARDWARE
380 14th Street, (503) 325-1313
Paul Tuter and Becky Johnson are the owners of all the wonderful things in this store. The building they are in is elegant on the outside and crammed full of fabulous things on the inside, and it is huge! There is everything from a black velvet opera cape to old picture postcards, dishes, lamps, a gumball machine, hardwood chair and table legs, every kind of hardware imaginable and one-of-a-kind furniture made by Paul and decoratively painted by Becky. They have a spring and summer palette of soft pastels on armoires, side tables and chairs. Becky focuses on old chairs, refinishing them and adding funky upholstery - and a zebra-fabric-covered settee, old English style. Paul built a mantel out of reclaimed parts, some from an old piano; he has also built a working clock from vintage materials. These two envision possibilities that are not apparent to anyone else; re-purposing remnants and old pieces to make them new again.

AMBIANCE
229 14th Street (503) 325-9139
This shop immediately captures the browser's attention because of the color groupings: black and white along the west wall, beige and pearl gray as you move through the store, with splashes of bright color throughout. Owners Debra Cheuvront-Kelley and Londa Sarkie have gathered distressed picture frames, black and white aphorisms painted on boards, chunks of coral, polished seashells and found items like old seaside windows and clam buckets. Botanical seashell art, driftwood pieces, vintage green floats are beautifully grouped in a uniquely shaped recycled glass bowl. Ambiance also carries purses, jewelry, wine glasses and a line of cards: Trash Talk by Annie. They are naughty but nice!

FARMHOUSE FUNK
100 10th Street (503) 325-4474
This shop has been around for ten years, recently moving from Miles Crossing outside Astoria to downtown on 10th Street, right by the water. Antiques, gifts and one-of-a-kind discoveries line the shelves and fill the tables. Owner Denise Ness often spends time finding and refurbishing interesting old furniture pieces like chairs and occasional tables. A coat of paint or some new hardware can make a world of difference in bringing new life to a piece, according to Ness. But, you'll find more than home décor in this shop. Farmhouse Funk also carries a selection of western riding gear by Roper and Tucker Creek Alpaca products: yarn, scarves and stocking caps.
Clever Conversions