House + Home Q+A

Studio 1404: Your source for shabby chic

Updated: 2014-01-26T02:00:19Z


The Kansas City Star

“When I was a little kid, my grandmother was an artist and a junker, and we went to garage sales a lot,” Amanda Curtis says. These days, Curtis practically lives in a garage sale, surrounded by vintage and hand-painted goods at Studio 1404, a West Bottoms shop she opened last spring with her husband, Brian Curtis.

What’s the setup here?

We’re a vintage market, open on First Friday weekends, and starting this month we’re also open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We started in April 2013, but the first store in this area opened about six years ago. Now there are more than 20 shops. We have 35 vendors here, but some places have as many as 100.

What are your specialties?

Vintage, handmade, repurposed, repainted. An example is this old table with a repainted base and a top replaced with old barn wood.

We have a new vendor, Honey Hush Boutique, who specializes in clothing: printed T-shirts and vintage flannels, probably picked up from thrift stores and yard sales. They’re given a special wash to make them look more worn, and they smell wonderful.

We also have jams and jellies and handmade candles.

How did you get started?

Brian worked in a casino. I was in marketing and had also been a nurse. We began painting and repurposing furniture seven years ago. We started in our basement, selling on Craigslist and Etsy.

Do you have any of your work in the shop?

My husband and I painted this dresser to make it feel new and fresh; it’s probably from the 1920s or 30s. We replaced the hardware; we collect old hardware and reuse it.

You use a special paint?

The paint comes from a new company in Kansas City, Mother Earth Paints. It’s “chalk-enhanced” paint, created by Robin Hammond, an artist who does furniture painting and used to own the Junkfest Studio in Mission.

It requires no sanding or priming and can be applied directly over varnish. One coat usually does it. It’s eco-friendly and water-based. We’re the exclusive West Bottoms retailer for the paint, and it can also be ordered through our website,

It’s also available at the As Time Goes By shop in Greenwood.

Where are your vendors from?

Most are local, but we have some from northwest Missouri. The shoppers come from all over the country with trailers.

Tell me about some of your vendors.

Michelle Donnelly specializes in textiles with image transfers. She covered a wood chair with fabric that has an image transfer from an old French soap ad.

She also makes handmade pillows and repurposed furniture and carries frames and antique linens.

Kevin and Kelly Keller carry shabby, small vintage items. They also repainted that big vanity from the late 1800s, which Kevin titled “Fit for a Queen.”

How would you describe the Studio 1404 atmosphere?

Shabby chic. It’s light and bright and clean. Our aisles are much wider than most, and the store is well lit. We have great vendors; some have exhibited in this space since they started. We work hard to find a good fit of personalities.

And what about the prices?

Our prices are reasonable. Rather than go to a big box store and spend hundreds or thousands on mass-produced furniture, you can buy things with history and character and quality that might have gone into the trash. Sometimes a vendor will come in here with something beautiful and say, “I found it on the side of the road.”

How do you account for the whole repurposed trend?

It’s been a big push for the past five to seven years, thanks to a combination of environmental awareness and the recession. And people want something that reminds them of their childhood and what their grandma had.

A paint primer

Studio 1404, 1222 W. 12th St., will hold a Mother Earth Paint class from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 22. The cost is $50 and includes one 4 ounce paint sample, a basic brush and refreshments. Participants should bring a small piece of furniture, such as a bench, nightstand or end table, they would like to paint. Pay online at to reserve space. For more information, call Amanda Curtis at 816-287-0404 or send email to

To reach Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4783 or send email to

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