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April 2014 Print Issue

Sister takes over furniture business 

DrawersAmongst the autobody shops of Calgary's Ogden community is a small treasure for DIY'ers and lovers of one-of-a-kind pieces.

Lauren Lane Decor, originally started by Tara Jamieson in 2011, sells refurbished furniture and offers hands-on classes.

Jamieson died on July 7 after she was hit by a drunk driver in an ATV accident, leaving Lauren Lane Decor to her sister, Avery Lane.

Lane dropped her construction job to take over Lauren Lane Decor.

"This was our place," Lane said. "I couldn't imagine anyone else taking it over."

Lane has changed her life to take over her sister's shop, going from working as a full-time roofer and sider to running the shop.

Lane said she acted as a part-time "slave labourer" to her sister during her spare time on nights and weekends, going along to do most of the heavy lifting.

Now that she's changed from casual helper to being the owner, Lane said she has found something she loves to do and wouldn't give up.

Lane started out as a social worker, before moving on to roofing, whereas Jamieson began as an accountant in the oil and gas industry of Calgary. Both sisters later moved on to refurbishing furniture and Lauren Lane Decor — with the moniker combining Jamieson's middle name with Lane's surname — was born.

Lane said it turned out to be something they both ended up loving.

Hands-on classes

Jamieson claims she isn't a businesswoman — that she is all about the hands-on. But she must be doing something right with the do-it-yourself classes offered at the studio because they are just as full as ever.

Classes are usually limited to around eight to enable Lane the ability to offer each individual the help they need.

The business offers a variety of different sessions — from beginner chalk painting classes to advanced embellishing classes, and everything in-between.LaneLane loves to work with her hands and bring new life back to furniture.

Photo by Laren Pritchard

Lane is now teaching these classes, something she is able to do in part from her sister's teachings, but also from her own experience and trial-and-error learning techniques.

Classes have resumed since Jamieson died.

Lane said she looks forward to adding a new class to the schedule as well: A session in which people can come in, pick a chair she already has, and refurbish it.

Lauren Lane Decor also does furniture refurbishing for customers.

Lane said she's done everything from refurbishing a single piece, to doing multiple pieces for some businesses. Lane also goes out "treasure hunting" to find pieces to refurbish herself and sell in the showroom.

"Refurbishing furniture will never go out," she said. "The styles may change, but we just need to adapt to that."

Arlette Kent, a first-time user of the Annie Sloan chalk paint, took the class from Jamieson a few months before she died.

She said she enjoyed the class so much she has already signed up for one of the advanced classes to improve her skills and to work on a particular piece.

Kent said the class was perfect not just because of the products, but also because of Jamieson's helpful tricks of the trade and her kindness.

"She was kind, helpful and even packed up a tool box for me with all the stuff I needed and sent me on my way," Kent said via email.

Adding on to Lauren Lane Decor

Lane has now added an online site called Found to sell some of the furniture she refurbishes.

Found was started by Lane's friend and photographer Kristen Shima. It offers Lauren Lane Decor the opportunity to have a wider variety of customers, since it allows customers from places other than Calgary to see the furniture and purchase it.

Shima said her favourite thing about refurbishing furniture is watching people create because everyone creates differently.

"I am just taking the business down these different paths that Tara would've done if she had had the chance," said Lane.

Lane has found peace of mind simply by something she found on her sister's old Lauren Lane Decor blog.

"I read on her blog the other day something that makes this all a lot easier: 'If something happened to me tomorrow — I would be OK because I'm the girl that went for it!'"

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