In this month’s Behind The Brush interview, we’re getting to know Elizabeth Turner, the face behind Etsy shop Elizabeth Dot Designs, selling beautifully restored mid century furniture with a modern finish.
I always have an early start at my laptop with a cup of tea, replying to emails, booking couriers and catching up with the admin side of things. After breakfast I make a trip to my workshop to continue with the furniture I’m restoring. Any finished items need to be dressed, photographed and wrapped ready for delivery. I’m always on the lookout for new furniture, so a few times a week I visit sources to find new stock. Evenings are usually spent back at the laptop, editing photographs, listing items and posting on social media.
I love that it doesn’t feel like a job! I really enjoy being creative and that’s something I’m now able to do every day. Even when I’m not working on items to sell, I’ll be in the workshop fixing up something for my own home.
I have always been interested in art, craft and design. When I was a child, I used to make cards and set up a website to sell them. As an adult I worked in a creative industry, but craved my days off, which I spent working on my own creative projects. People always told me ‘you should sell this!’ but I knew I had to find a craft that I would enjoy doing every single day. I found that in transforming furniture.
I decided to use my name Elizabeth Dot, when starting out as I knew that I would want to be able to evolve and change my business to keep up with trends. Using a business name that doesn’t tie me to one niche gives me flexibility in the future.
Be ready for the business take over your life! At least for the early stages, you will most likely need to manage every aspect of the business yourself. Be prepared to answer a question from a customer while you’re cooking dinner, or miss a party because you have to pack an order. If you love what you’re doing then it won’t matter and the reward of doing it for yourself makes it worth it.
Working with vintage furniture can present a lot of challenges. Wood can warp and change over time and there’s often damage to repair too. My first task is always fixing what needs to be done, but even then problems don’t always show themselves straight away. I spent a week fully restoring a wardrobe, painting inside and out, when it came to rehanging the doors on their original hinges it felt impossible to get the doors to sit right!
Even as a child, I loved the idea of taking something old and putting my own stamp on it. At the age of 10 my parents bought me a tatty, Victorian metal bed frame from an auction. I had the best time choosing colours and repainting the frame. This was the first of many items that I transformed for my room.
I can’t spend more than a few minutes on Instagram or Pinterest without feeling the urge to go and be creative in some way! There’s so many brilliant ideas for craft, DIY and upcycling projects with steps to follow.
I’m obsessed with looking through interior design blogs, Pinterest and Instagram. It’s not often the furniture that I’m looking at, but the colours, patterns and trends. I think it’s really important to keep up with what’s relevant and incorporate it into my own work.
I would say that it starts once I’ve sourced a piece of furniture. Usually this involves a lot of searching and rummaging. As soon as I see an item I like, I’m full of ideas on how I could revamp it. I like to create a few designs in Photoshop to help me visualise the finish. Work begins with fixing, filling, sanding and priming before I can start adding colour, which is my favourite part. When the piece is finished, I dress it with props and take photographs for my online listings.
My favourite piece is a chest of drawers, which I painted white, leaving a large triangle of wood exposed at the top, as well as the legs to pull it all together. It’s a really simple piece but I love the clean, modern finish. I couldn’t resist painting the inside of the drawers in bright coral pink, for a pop of colour every time they’re opened.
Currently I only work on vintage furniture, but I’d love to design and build my own furniture in the future.