I just want to live in Ferpie and Fray's world of hygge – a comfy cozy place surrounded by familiarity. Amanda's refinished furniture pieces are like therapy for the soul of your home. You don’t look, you have a conversation with them and afterwards feel calm and comforted.
When I look at her work I get a sense of something that's always been there – as if they always existed exactly the way she has refinished them. They are understated, statement pieces that are painted in gentle, rich and sometimes slightly daring hues. I often find myself immediately drawn to a piece and then looking back at it a few more times to discover all the little details that it posseses, each time seeing something new; subtle curve of the legs; intricate carved detail; or even the spacing of the knobs or pulls.
Keep reading and you'll see why Amanda's work makes you look twice. And wanting more.
Q&A With Amanda StanlEy
'Like Therapy for the SOUL of your home'
Q: How did you get started? And please do tell, we are so curious to know the significance of your company name?
A: I grew up thrifting with my grandparents, I remember loving the thrill of the hunt and was drawn to old stuff. Sort of a weird thing for a kid to love, but I did! I started painting furniture when my oldest daughter was born, that was almost 8 years ago. We were a young family just starting out, in our first home. It was a 1927 craftsman that had all the character but needed some updating. We were on a strict budget but I still wanted to create a space that was ours. I would buy things on my thrifting trips and paint them to match my home. Friends and family started asking me to paint their furniture and help decorate, from there it slowly grew into a full time business and storefront. I get asked all the time what “Ferpie and Fray” means and where it came from. My youngest was born with a muscle tone delay, we had an in-home therapist that would visit each week for 3 years. When his therapist would arrive, Audrey (my oldest) would yell “Aiden’s “ferpie” is here!!!!”. When thinking of a name for my growing business I asked myself what it meant to me, why was I doing this? My biggest drive was how it made me feel. It was MY therapy or my “ferpie”. Fray by definition means flawed or imperfect. So putting them together to form “Ferpie and Fray” just felt right. At the time, I had no idea that my little hobby would grow into what it is today. I am so thankful that people like it as much as I do!
Q: Your pieces have a simple sophistication and elegance. Where do you get your style inspiration?
A: I work best when my studio is really full. I like to have a good back stock of pieces to paint. Sometimes I will have a piece for over a year waiting for the right inspiration to hit, other times its almost instant. I love to have a lot of knobs, fabric, paint, wax, and paper on hand to pull inspiration from. I am a paper collector… I just love paper. I buy paper everywhere I go in hopes to build a design or use it on a piece of furniture. I even like to save scraps in case a project calls for something a little extra. I am drawn to neutrals and texture so I try to keep things simple with a focus on detail. I want my work to be special and thought out. Sometimes I will bring papers and knobs into the house and lay them out on the dining table all day. I will walk by them, move them around, see what flows well and compliments each other.
Q: Where do you find the best quality pieces and lowest prices to refinish?
A: I have to admit, I’m not always looking for a great “deal”. Depending on where you live and your resources it can be difficult to find beautiful antiques at a fair price. I usually spend a good amount on my pieces. I get inspired my beautiful lines and curves. I would rather find a gorgeous, one of a kind piece that really inspires me. I am not a furniture flipper but more of a furniture artist. I believe in spending time and money on the detail. Antique stores and estate sales usually have a pretty good selection, you have to look past the vintage project and see the potential.
Q: What is your advise to a first time DIY’er who wants to refinish a piece herself?
A: Have fun! Let go of the right way and learn to play with product and finishes to see what YOU love best. When I first started painting as a professional (about 4 years ago), I was given a great opportunity to be in a retail location. I had a few weeks to paint 20 pieces. I was so excited that I wanted to try something different, I wanted a challenge. So I bought traditional powdered Milk Paint for the first time and painted all 20 pieces using a paint I had never used. I messed up, horribly. But, I grew as an artist and learned more about painting in those first few weeks than ever before. In my paint classes I encourage the students to learn the basics of prep work and sealing. You really only need a handful of great products in your toolbox and the right simple steps to getting that perfect finish.
Q: What is your personal home style like?
A: I like to keep things simple. I think like most families, we are busy, it always makes me feel better when I can manage our space! So I like to keep our home simple and meaningful. We love neutrals with wood tones, a pop of green and a little texture. We have small kiddos, it’s important for them (especially my youngest) to have a basket of toys, Legos, and books accessible in our main living areas. I have found creative ways to store those things so that he can get to them, and I still feel like they can be put away and organized. We also live in a newer home that was built in a time when character was not priority. My husband and I have added farm gates, board and batten, shiplap, open shelving and so on… in hopes of adding as much simple character as possible.
Q: What’s new for 2017 in the world of refinishing?
A: Its hard to say, I definitely see trends of cleaner lines, more neutrals, playing with texture and bolder contrasts. A few years ago we saw a lot of aqua, teal, brighter blues, more of a cottage feel. Then we saw so much farmhouse style with distressed, weathered looks. I see things heading a little more modern and clean with still maintaining that vintage charm.
Q: Favorite refinishing products and projects you have used them on?
A: I think I have a toolbox of a few staple products that I couldn’t live without. I use paper a lot on my pieces, I like what different patterns can bring to the mix, I think it adds to the design element in a big way. I love Milk Paint! I think it’s one of the tougher paints to master but I like the finish I can get when using it, it seems to inspire me the most. I use a lot of Real Milk Paint Company. They have a huge variety of quality products, the largest color pallet and their pigments dissolve perfectly. With their new packaging, the cans come with a marble and mix the paint so nicely. They have a new soft wax in the works that they sent me to try and its my new favorite wax over Milk Paint for sure! I use a lot of General Finishes as well. Their paint is easy with a tough durability, satin finish and little to no brush strokes.
Q: Who’s your social media style crush/s and/or favorite blog/s?
A: oh let’s see! I love Layla from The Lettered Cottage. She is so fun to follow, her family melts my heart. Not only is her design and style right on point, I love catching up with her positivity. I find it so motivating and refreshing.
The Nester is a big favorite. Myquillyn is pretty original and seems to create beautiful areas with such ease! I feel like following her work, is ever changing and full of inspiration. It’s fun to watch her recreate her space over and over while still maintaining her classic style.
Q: What's next for Ferpie & Fray?
A: I have been digging deep on this one for a while now. I think up to this point I have let the business pull me in the direction that feels best in that moment. It has also been important to me that this stays fun. If I start to stress about an outcome or destination, I leave myself feeling uninspired and worn. I do have a few goals and dreams for this year, most are secret dreams I’ve had for years and would love to focus on making them happen this year. I have an (accidental) candle brand est. 2012 that really took off in 2016, so I plan to hone in on that a little bit too. Stay tuned, I’m sure it will be a wonderful year!