||Vintage Pickin’ organizer and mastermind April Wilks of White Oak Farms lounges on an antique couch that is part of a one-of-a-kind set up of décor she staged to contribute to the ambience of her vintage and antique home décor show held May 20-21, 2016.
April Wilks' barn sale turns shabby into chic.
by Jade Sampsell
In recent years, shows such as HGTV’s "Junk Gypsies" and the History Channel’s "American Pickers" are making the hearts of self-professed junkin’ and pickin’ kings and queens flutter, inspiring average citizens without antique and vintage home décor knowledge to flex their proverbial creative and imaginative muscles, and reflecting a desire to preserve and return to the ideals of simplicity, quality craftsmanship, family togethaerness and a sense of time-gone-by community.
Thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines, who own the Waco, Texas, home furnishings shop, Magnolia Market, and host HGTV’s hit show, "Fixer Upper," America now knows that shiplap is out and skinnylap, the current hot home decorating tend, is the way to go.
Because of these down-to-earth geniuses, whom a lot of us desire to be friends with and whose farm plenty of us want to visit, Americans who are not in the home building, remodeling or interior decorating fields are now familiar with these technical terms.
|Mother/daughter duo Carol Slay of Shiloh and Taylor Jones of Rainsville hold up a few items they bought. They share a mutual love of junkin’ and pickin’.
Joanna’s knack for finding the most unique pieces at shows brimming with vintage and antique home décor to brighten up homes she and Chip restore in the charming Waco area is downright uncanny.
Southern innovator April Wilks of White Oak Farms in Fyffe, who has had a life-long love affair with junkin’ and pickin,’ had attended large venues and fairs brimming with the highest-quality pieces in places such as Washington, Texas, Georgia and Nashville, and saw a need to bring these premier, mind-blowing events to her home town and state.
In the past, a number of Alabamians like her who are passionate about antique and vintage pieces had to travel miles out of town and state to attend the barn sale meccas of our country.
Another issue with traveling to out-of-state shows is the hassle or inability of bringing your finds home with you if your mode of transportation entails flying.
In fall 2015, April Wilks held her first Vintage Pickin Barn Sale, an antique and vintage home décor market with 40-plus quality vendors at White Oaks Farm, her and her husband and two children’s gem of a haven.
It was such a success that vendors requested she hold her second show the following spring, May 20-21.
In addition to a select group of elite vendors, the event offered workshops to attendees.
Among them were the milk-paint class, the trash-to-treasure gardening class and a staging class.
In the trash-to-treasure class, attendees learned how to repurpose vintage pieces such as old gas cans and use them as planters for succulent vegetation as an alternative to throwing them away.
||Kerry Leasure of Here a Chick There a Chick poses with the unique neon chick sign in her booth.
Mallorie Griffith of Griffith Interior in Rainsville gave a demonstration on how to stage a dining room table.
Kerry Leasure of Here a Chick There a Chick sold her one-of-a- kind, repurposed jewelry at the show.
Leasure began as an antiques dealer selling vintage jewelry. She started to experiment and make jewelry out of broken antique and vintage objects.
"I just started to play with broken things to just see what I could do with them and people were so crazy about it that I just went down the rabbit hole," she enthusiastically related.
With an English-major background, she finds it necessary to tie in a story with her repurposed jewelry.
In general, those who have a fever for anything vintage and antique, whether they are makers or buyers, will tell you the connection and stories affiliated with the finds are what give them a certain je ne sais quoi and make them special and set them apart.
|David Rhea poses by one of his favorite pieces repurposed from vintage trucks that he and his wife, Lisa, sold.
April affectionately talked about the soldier’s Bible she displays in her magnificent home.
"I could go to Kirkland’s and pick up a little something for $15, but it makes me smile every time I walk by that little old soldier’s Bible, and I just think about who carried it and what it brought them through," she related.
With a good dose of humor and a hearty laugh, she revealed another one of her favorite repurposed items in her home, a piece in her dining room that a lady pulled from an old chicken house.
"And, when I got it, it still had the feathers in it, stuck to it and the paint was all worn off of it."
April’s family, especially her grandmother, who was a collector, instilled within her a love for junkin.’
"I started junkin’ as a kid. It’s something we did on Saturdays," April fondly reminisced.
"I kind of felt like I just saw the trash and turned it into treasure," April continued.
As she grew older, attended college, married and began decorating a place of her own, April began to further develop her gift of putting key pieces together and making a home beautiful. At this time, she started following a lot of home décor blogs.
A lady whose blog she was following posted life-altering information about a show in Nashville.
||Attendees enter the Vintage Pickin’ Barn Sale at White Oaks Farms in Fyffe.
"It was the first one I’d ever been to that was like this; there was nothing but vintage home décor and antiques."
April experienced love at first sight.
"I just fell in love with it, and I was just running from booth to booth like a kid in a candy store. It was like Christmas morning for a kid, and my husband was like, ‘you are going to have to slow down; you are wearing me out.’"
A tiny dream seed began to sprout within her heart, and in this moment, the path she wanted to pursue became crystal clear.
"All the way home we talked about it," she gushed. "I said I either have to be a part of it, or I’ve got to have one because this is everything that I love wrapped up in one. It was just that feeling inside that kept me up at night."
For two years, she mulled over the logistics of her vision, before courageously taking the next step to make it a reality.
"I’m not a big risk taker so it was scary to make that kind of investment, to go out and scout all of the vendors and try to get people to believe in your dream," she humbly revealed.
Sisters Ashley Doufexis, left, and April Wilks pose in front of a large chalkboard sign, part of the stunning decor April staged for Vintage Pickin'. Ashley wears many hats in serving as the show's communications specialist.
April spent a year working on her idea and driving to shows all over, just making connection after connection and handing out cards.
She tirelessly worked on developing relationships with vendors and in building the foundation for a spectacular show.
"It’s just so rewarding to see my sister living her dream," said Ashley Doufexis, April’s sister and right-hand woman. Doufexis is a gifted communications specialist for Vintage Pickin’.
White Oaks Farm is also an exclusive wedding venue, and April and her family aspire to host repurposing and vintage and antique related workshops outside of Vintage Pickin’, which will continue to be hosted each fall and spring.
Jade Sampsell is a freelance writer from Montgomery.