Natalie Wells is a thrifter. Buying quality pieces for cheap and giving them a brand new contemporary look is what gets her excited.
Wells opened her furniture refinishing and home decor store — The Chalky Chic — in September 2020 inside a renovated early 20th century home in downtown Newburgh, Indiana, after garnering interest in the space from her friend Tammy Kollker, the owner of Honeysuckle Finds antiques and a former tenant in the more than 100-year-old home.
The decision to go brick and mortar was easy for Wells after spending 10 years refinishing furniture on the side while she was working as a medical assistant.
“I just got tired of packing stuff up to go to shows and constantly moving things in and out of my garage,” she says.
Wells has a special talent for making just about anything brand new again, from kitchen tables to dressers and chairs, using Fusion mineral paint and also doing some simple reupholstery. She also has her own pieces she acquires from antique stores and online auctions that she refinishes (and sometimes leaves unfinished) and sells in the store.
“Just taking old things and trying to flip it and do something decorative for the home seems to be what people are really looking for,” she says. “Because a lot of times people aren’t necessarily in here looking for new furniture, they’d rather have more home décor just to kind of give their house a little bit of flair.”
Wells does most of her business through Facebook, where she’ll commonly conduct online auctions for recently refurbished pieces. Open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., she says the Chalky Chic has been plenty busy this past year despite opening in the middle of the pandemic.
The four-room store is overflowing with stylish décor and furniture. Wells estimated she has around 1,200 pieces throughout the store as well as several others she keeps on the back patio.
A typical day for her consists of working on at least three to four dressers or other projects as well as helping in-person shoppers find the perfect accent piece for their homes.
Despite the consistent workload and increased inventory, Wells has no plans to move out of her storefront at 115 Plum Street.
“This kind of makes it all feel homey and realistic of what putting this sign or putting this piece of furniture will actually look like in your home,” she says.