CHERRY ACRES - The House of the Unusuals
“What an amazing place!”
“This is a fantastic assortment I never expected to see.”
“The prices are unbelievable!”
I was standing at the store counter waiting for Marcy Arbanas to be ready to have her picture taken for this article, when some customers, who had been browsing through the store, stopped to ask a question about the tin 5 foot rooster in the window. I took the opportunity to ask what their impressions were of this “house of the unusuals” , a truly eclectic mix of bright Mexican pottery, hand made furniture from the best barn wood, wrought iron décor, paintings, and antiques. As you can see from the reaction above, they were undeniably enthusiastic. But this store began with the seeds of an idea 20 years ago.
Craig Wolf, who was brought up in Lancaster County, was tearing down old buildings and selling the lumber for extra money. As is so often the case, one thing led to another. Seeing some pieces of wood he liked, Craig took them home and made several pieces of furniture. He thought he just might have something that other people would buy. He didn’t have a shop, so he began selling his furniture at shows. Soon he was selling at over 30 expos, antique fairs, and design shows from Massachusetts to Texas.
With the success Craig’s own line of furniture on the show circuit, A fun hobby became a full-time business. Craig and Marcy Arbanas, his partner, thought it would be a great idea to open a store where customers could browse comfortably and see more choices. They found a shop on Main Street in Lititz in northern Lancaster County. It seemed the perfect choice in such a charming town. “An unexpected nice surprise has been the number of loyal customers from out of state who travel to Lititz to visit our showroom.” While they have reduced the number of shows to less than half, they still sell at shows like Brimfield, Massachusetts and Chantilly, Virginia.
So how, exactly does wood from old barns get transformed into beautiful wood furniture? First, you have to be selective about the wood you choose from these old buildings. This lumber is referred to as reclaimed lumber and can range from barn siding, to barn or house floors, to large beams and joists.
According to Craig, “The primary species used are white pine, yellow pine, hemlock, fir, poplar (generally used only in shelving), and oak, which is the most expensive and hardest to find and work with. These species, when naturally aged for 100-200 years in old buildings, give great character and originality to the furniture.”
Cherry Acres offers a stock line of furniture, along with one-of-a-kind specialty pieces. You can also order variations of their stock pieces or they will custom make a piece just for you. “Our furniture is created in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In addition to our shop, we work with a number of Pennsylvania Amish craftsmen to produce our furniture.”
Finishes available include their own “natural” stain, as well as a wide variety of paints with antique glazes. All the design and finishing is done solely by Cherry Acres as well as all marketing, sales, and customer service. In other words, each piece gets handled from start to finish with plenty of TLC, for a piece of furniture that is truly special, because the wood used in each piece is unique.
There is quite a variety of furniture available for all rooms of your home. What you will see in the store is everything from servers and kitchen islands, to farm tables, benches, bookcases, and corner cabinets. For the bedroom and bathroom, you’ll find night stands, dry sinks, armoires, vanities, and dressers.
For something truly special, check out the Shutter Cabinets. Here you’ll find wonderful Pennsylvania Dutch designs carved into the wood panels. “Starting with old house shutters, we build the cabinets to fit the doors. Carvings are all hand-done by a local Amishman, whose wife also does our decorative painted pieces.” You just can’t find something like this in a commercial furniture store. And no two pieces are ever exactly alike!
While selling at antique and interior design shows, they began to pick up items that seemed unusual, or might go well with the furniture. These included beautiful ornamental iron and pottery from Mexico. (One of my favorite pieces is an open shelf style vanity with a Mexican Talavera sink. The dark and white wood colors and the rustic pottery make for a lovely piece of furniture to show off in any room of the house.) At the Lititz store, you’ll now find a garden decor area, with fountains, planters, baskets, etc. Craig and Marcy promise new discoveries are sure to follow.
Cherry Acres is located at 23 E. Main Street, Lititz, PA 17543 (Telephone 717-626-7557). For those who may not be able to visit the shop, you can track Craig and Marcy down at one of their shows. You can also explore the many styles and varieties of furniture by visiting their website www.cherryacres.com, which has photos and descriptions of their furniture (with accessory lines coming soon), along with their show locations and dates.
Who knew that wood from old barns could be transformed and find new life in such evocative, rustic creations? In so many ways, the lovely furniture from the folks at Cherry Acres makes for a very special treasure from Amish Country.
--- by Laura Karam
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