• Custom Order Info
  • Custom Order Process

    Em & Wit Furniture Design-Seattle areaPieces in photos 1, 3, 4 and 8 are in the shop-the rest have sold

    Where did the time go? It’s been 2 months since I last posted. Things got busy here folks. Good busy. This post is truly about how the custom order process goes with us, but first, here’s what we’ve been up to in the last few months.

    We’ve worked with a number of clients on custom pieces. We recently released our fall collection. Most of our summer collection has sold, one dresser remains, and the pieces have gone to tremendously great people. Thank you Seattle area for that support! Our first 4 months have been wonderful.

    Greg and I are also working on a few of our own pieces. There’s an antique daybed we’re re-caning, a vintage library table that is going to be an island, a few old wood chairs are getting reupholstered, another buffet, and we have a few dressers we’re simply going to clean up and leave natural. I’ve obviously been ecstatic about our recent finds if you keep an eye on our Instagram account.  I can’t tell you when these projects will be finished as we are about to start remodeling our basement. Have I mentioned we also design and remodel houses? We like to keep busy.

    Em & Wit Furniture Design-Seattle area

    Currently for sale

    Em & Wit Furniture Design-Seattle area

    The holiday season is fast approaching. Apparently the entire month of October is now just considered Halloween. And I’m ok with that. We plan to still work on custom client pieces up to nearly Thanksgiving (November 23rd-27th is our anniversary/vacation time. Then we’re off again for Christmas December 23rd-27th.) Our shop will still be open by appointment (minus those days).We are still taking orders if you’d like us to refinish something for you. Painted, oiled, stained, just repaired, reupholstery-we got you covered. (Get it…upholstery joke. A bad one.) Anyway, below you will find more info on how the process actually works when you desire a custom piece of furniture from us.

    custom order Em & Wit Furniture Design-Seattle area

    Client order for now friends, Sasha & Cole 

    I find myself sharing the same information when we receive emails. So I thought I’d tell you about the typical process for a custom order. This first, we do not work with laminate. I should say we no longer work with laminate-just solid wood and wood veneer. We also no longer do a high gloss finish because, to do a proper job of it, we believe you need a spray booth and our current studio does not have such an area. I am also a perfectionist and gloss can be tricky. There are refurbishers who specialize in this finish I can recommend. Everything else usually goes here at Em & Wit Design.

    So yes, custom order info. Let’s say you don’t own the piece you’d like refinished. You just have an idea of what you’re looking for. I get a feel for what it is your heart desires through email (I want a matte gray antique dresser with gold hardware etc.etc.etc.) then begin to scour Craigslist, shops and other resources. Typically our clients help search for “the one” and we go back and forth by email (we can also meet). You tell us your budget. Once the piece is found, we arrange its transportation to our workshop-you can grab it and bring it to us, but usually we do the hauling. Yeah, we’re cool like that.

    We ask for a deposit to cover the initial cost of that piece. (Now, if you do have a piece, you can bring it to us or we can come and get it from you.)  At this point, I ask that you send me inspiration photos (a Pinterest account comes in handy here but not necessary), perhaps links to hardware you like too. At this point you don’t have to have your ideal hardware picked out. I can also find it if you give me some guidance. I have an addiction to hardware.

    Once we have the exact piece in our hands we further assess the repairs and communicate our finds with you by email or whatever you prefer. I review what you want and don’t want to be perfectly clear. We go over the costs and make sure you’re good to go with said costs. We start on the repairs and sand the piece in prep for whatever look you want. Prep work differs depending on what you want done and the previous condition of the piece. For example, if a piece has a shiny previous finish, stripper might be needed which tacks on more time and will tack on a bit to the cost. If it merely needs sanding with our orbital/by hand it won’t cost as much as stripper + orbital sanding. You get it. Yours truly sends updates about the progress.

    When it’s finished, we write or call you to schedule our delivery to you or your pick up from our home shop. You can pay ahead, pay at our shop (if by card-we accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover through Square and we also have an Etsy shop you can buy from) or have cash upon pick up/delivery with the remaining amount owed. Tax is included in the price.We do charge for delivery and, if you have the piece in your possession, for pick up. Custom pieces, say a dresser, credenza or buffet, tend to range from$300-$600. We then hope you send us photos of your beloved piece of furniture. We smile then go on to help someone else with their custom order.

    Easy peasy.


  • What We're Up To
  • What We’re Up To: July/August 2016

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~emandwit.com

    Here’s the first edition of “what we’re up to.” Another section for those times I don’t have a finished piece of furniture to share, but want to let you know we’re still here. That’s the gist.

    emandwit.com~Seattle couple refurbishing homes and furniture

    The last few months we’ve been collecting more and more pieces to refinish. For those of you who like non-painted wood furniture, you’ll be happy to hear we picked up 3 dressers we do not intend to paint! I’m not promising that on all 3 because when we dive further into those projects, something could be an issue. But still. The photo above depicts our reorganizing our workshop (garage). More of our workspace is back for furniture refurbishing. (Soon after this photo the back of the house was painted.) What’s not shown are the 5 pieces (a spindle bed and 4 dressers) in the garage and at least 3 pieces in the house. All needing some love.

    All eventually getting treatment like this…

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com



    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~emandwit.com

    One cute table full of rustic charm, perfect for an urban farmhouse look, will be coming out of the shop and into the photo area. (Hint: it’s that one in the photo.)

    A few awesome couples bought dressers in the past month. Can’t wait to see those photos!

    We finished painting the house and Greg built a new front porch this summer. That’s a freshly painted salvaged front door from Second Use in Seattle. Our houses always have salvaged elements to them because we’re not just about salvaging furniture, ya know?

    emandwit.com~Seattle couple refurbishing homes and furniture

    emandwit.com~Seattle couple refurbishing homes and furniture

    emandwit.com~Seattle area couple refurbishing homes and furniture

    Now to figure out landscaping for more curb appeal on our 1949 home. And do something with that sidewalk.

    emandwit.com~Seattle couple refurbishing homes and furniture


    As easy as it is for me to decide what color to paint furniture, I do not have the same ease in our house, inside and out. None whatsoever.

    emandwit.com~Seattle couple refurbishing homes and furniture

    Our choice was Benjamin Moore’s Intrigue. A green/blue beauty. Greg and I are very happy with it.

    Lastly, I started using our old facebook page again. (I have a love/hate relationship with it. Greg doesn’t care about any form of social media.) I revamped the page…still not great at utilizing it, but the page is there and you can find updates in somewhat real time if you want to follow along. Been there, done many of the social media options with other sites and found them to be unimportant time sucks. But that’s just me. Instagram (2 of those accounts), Facebook and Pinterest are the only ones I’m sticking with after 8 years with 3 blogs.

    What have you refurbed for me lately? Ooh ooh ooh yeah. Janet Jackson, ah childhood…I was 4 when it came out but whatever.  Wish Greg a happy 32nd birthday next week!



  • Before and After
  • Before and After: Light Blue Antique Dresser

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~before and after~emandwit.com

    We pulled that dresser, the one with the red arrow pointing to it, from a barn in Northfield, Minnesota along with a few other dressers (as you can see). It had the usual issues that come with being stored in a barn for that long.

    The dressers were collected by the seller’s father and left in this barn for something like 20 years. He meant to fix each one, but as the daughter mentioned, with a smile, he said that about a lot of things around their property. He had since passed away and all of his ramshackle, treasured items were left. I think we all know someone like that and if you don’t, it’s probably you.

    The seller’s son mocked us saying that we were paying for wood best fit for a fire. We had to take a trip to pick up each dresser and with each trip this teenager rolled his eyes while his mom ran her garage sale and left us to dig around inside the barn.

    Granted, we did not get to work on this piece immediately because we were close to finishing that first Minnesota house of ours and listing it. On our way to achieving our big goal of moving to the Pacific Northwest. The house quickly sold, so each piece was shrink wrapped in order to hold them together for their long haul across the U.S.. We actually sold our own furniture to bring these broken, glorious beasts. These types of pieces mean that much to us. You should see the collection I have in the workshop, my own ramshackle treasures waiting to be restored.

    As you have gathered, we repaired and refurbished that dresser. The one fit for firewood. Here it is today.

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    Not firewood now

    I don’t have, or couldn’t find rather, photos of this dresser in the early stages of its makeover. Which is odd. I take a lot of photos around here. But what often happens is that because we split our time between remodeling our house and refurbishing furniture, I was probably in remodel photo mode and it didn’t dawn on me to switch gears.

    I truly had hoped to keep the original charm of the piece and simply clean it-that mix of raw wood and chippy white paint was kind of neat, but the repairs did not allow for it.

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    The dresser needed the works. It’s a fairly large chest of drawers by today’s standards-39 1/2″ tall by 41 1/2″ wide by a little over 18″ deep-not even close to the largest pieces we’ve done, though.

    We had to make several replacement parts, many you can’t see (all important parts for a functional storage piece), including a top and base board. There was a lot of cleaning and sanding to top it off. Parts were stripped with Smart Strip (no affiliation or freebies from the company btw). It is the third stripper I’ve used in my life and worked the best of the 3…but I hate using stripper. If I were to use stripper again, I would pick this one. Biodegradable, water-based, remained wet for a longer time than other strippers we’ve used, needed only 1 coat for most of the dresser and it quickly worked compared to other products with easy removal using a putty knife. (We were former fans of Soy Gel Stripper-which is now called Blue Bear-and our first trial was using Citristrip.)

    I even tried to find reproduction pulls to fit the look and had a few bad experiences bang in a row. The quality differed, the grain did not grow at the same rate and so some finished differently from the others, some were just horribly carved and didn’t look like the other pulls.  The second batch, after I gave up trying to get replacements without paying extra, was lost in the mail. So I ended up ordering yet another set, a third set, hoping that of the 24 I purchased (8 lost and later refunded), I could get 8 that looked similar to one another.

    Then, after all of that, I had to try to match them to the custom milk paint I had on the body. Freshly mixed milk paint, or milk paint kept in the fridge for a day, will be fine, but this was weeks later so I had to mix this custom color all over again and sometimes the ratio you write down still doesn’t cut it. My tip would be to have all of your parts ready to go when you mix up a batch of custom paint. Probably a dur. Or NSS (No sh** Sherlock.)

    At one point I decided to throw in the towel, highly unlike me, and bought 8 other iron pulls…that just didn’t do it for me. Eventually I went back to the wood pulls, put my big girl pants on, got the color just right, waxed them and slept better that night. (I won’t mention that when Greg went to add them he had to make new holes on the actual pull since they came pre-holed.  Ok, so I will mention it. That was aggravating…then I saw it and went yep, that there is a classic beauty and danced around in victory.)

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    I also attempted to match the base board to the older wood which meant dark wax coating, followed by a white wax, then trying to match the body color on top because it made a difference on this piece being a lighter glaze (more water in the milk paint) with some wood coming through.

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    I distressed some points, not too much, my favorite way if I do a distressed look and topped it with Fiddes & Sons wax. (Again, no affiliation or freebies from the company. This is our preferred brand of wax.)

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    The top is tulip poplar I fell in love with at Rockler Woodworking even though, in the woodworking world, it’s not very pop-lar (hehe pun fans). I should say its popularity depends on your project because some people love to use it on projects like guitars (fun fact-Greg used to build base guitars and was this close to doing it full time after college). It is known as a mineral stain called “rainbow poplar” with tones of blue, purple and yellow on this particular piece of lumber.

    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    The marks were high spots and glue that needed to be sanded down. That is mineral stained “rainbow” poplar.

    The top was cut and glued at Greg’s place of employment and brought back to me to finish. To cut the vividness down, it was a tone of yellow I would call neon and not something that went with this dresser. I started with a white wax coat, followed by time in the sun, more white wax, more sun, some oil and it turned into this gorgeous top. Greg knows the most about wood and I’m pretty good with finishes.  Teamwork!


    Em & Wit Furniture Repair and Design~Seattle area~emandwit.com

    I wanted this piece to represent our versatility to the new PNW crowd. We can do modern, fun, sophisticated, distressed (shabby some will say) and everything else. Sometimes we don’t paint furniture at all.  Crazy, I know. I often have no idea what something is considered and just enjoy it. Makes it difficult to advertise, but if you’re like me, you just see something and like it (or don’t).

    Can I say this piece is gorgeous though? Of course I can. Sure my photos are not great. I still walk by on my way to the kitchen and tell myself damn, woman (and husband Greg), good work.

    The color is hard to describe. Light blue with a hint of green and almost off-white and the drawers work and the top is lovely….oh yeah, we are looking for a special buyer who will continue to take care of it. If you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area or are willing to come to us, this one could be for you. Check out our “For Sale” page to see if it’s still available.

    P.S. That aggravation board, marbles and dice belonged to my grandparents. I would play for hours with my grandpa. When he passed away, I inherited those precious items, so it’s my nod to my aggravation partner. I also made those fabric ornaments after my mom and sister taught me. We’re all crafty in the family.

    ~Annie (Em)

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  • Before and After
  • Before and After: Tribal Dresser

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape~emandwit.com

    While this website is fairly new, over the years we’ve documented most of the repair and refurbishing process furniture goes through in our workshop at thewitsblog.com. Actually that blog turned 5 today. Whaaaaaa! (It doesn’t beat my food blog, thedabble.com, which is over 7 years old.) I’ve provided tips, talked about tools, shared resources for collecting pieces, wallpaper, hardware, paint/oils, anything that deals with the ins and outs of repairing wood furniture and painting furniture.

    This just happens to be the first official entry (beyond the intro) on this new website, so I thought a “before and after” post would be a good way to kick things off.  (We have 6 dressers and a few vintage pieces on the market right now and, if I am on top of things, there will be another “before and after” in the next week or two.)

    Before that, I feel I should explain ourselves a little more regarding this confusing information about other websites and identities. Or maybe you don’t care and you can scroll to the photos of the before and after, be my guest. Do your thing. I’ll continue for those that are curious.

    We spent years as the Wits in the Midwest. The Wits refurbished furniture and houses. We split thewitsblog.com between furniture and home talk then the Wits became more the side of us that design and remodel homes with very little talk about furniture. (I’m your lady if you also want to talk home design btw.) After college, about 2007, Greg was hired to work as an engineer in Eugene, Oregon…then it all fell through. The economy tanked, we were swimming in student loan debt, and just trying to get by in our home state, Indiana, while helping out family. I worked in social work, things were quite different for us.

    Em & Wit~ our move from the Midwest to the PNW

    Our house in Northfield, MN sold quickly in 2014 and we hit the road with our dogs in a matter of days. Many of the dressers and vintage furniture we brought with us here to Washington were packed in that truck. I sold some items and left behind others…things I wish I had now. We got by for weeks with only what was in the cargo carrier on top of our Forester. After visiting family and friends, we stopped in well-known cities, parks and sights across the United States. We loved it. 

    Instead of PNW, we moved to Minnesota in 2008. It broke our hearts when that job in Oregon was a no-go, but it also gave us a goal. We’d fallen in love with the PNW, it was too late, so the two of us vowed to get here someday.  It took 7 years of hard work and here we are, still working on our dreams, still moving and shaking. We saw the change of scenery as a chance to separate the two and that’s when Em & Wit was born. Well, born after spending a year focusing on fixer upper house #2 in the Seattle area and neglecting our furniture passion. Should you come by our home shop you will probably walk in on one of our home improvement projects. It’s the norm around here. And 2 barking dogs who really want you to toss a frisbee in our yard…for hours. Don’t worry, that is not required, and we’ll take care of our adorable, knucklehead pups.

    Em & Wit Design~our move from the Midwest to the PNW

    We went the opposite direction after our house sold, going to visit family in the Ft. Wayne area of Indiana, then we made our way, on a spectacular trip, to the Seattle area.

    Recap: Em & Wit is about furniture. The Wits is about home improvement. Midwest->PNW. #lifegoals

    Let’s start on this first before and after. There are almost always before and afters to share when it comes to our work. Those are some of the best parts, right? I think so.

    Tangent-I am a home improvement blog buff, as well as, stalker supporter of other furniture refurbishers. You can’t beat the here’s the awful looking thing and now here’s the same thing but waaaaay better. My usual reaction spans from that can’t be the same thing?! Amazing!…to simply clapping in approval and bewilderment like a weirdo or saluting. Can you tell I still high five? Of course you can.

    But yes, there’s a great community of refurbishers and I like to think we inspire and support each other. It’s not just slapping paint on something. Contrary to what some have said to me, I don’t think we see each other as competitors either. Gotta stick together. I bet we would bond simply on the number of times we meet those people who tell us they don’t like wood furniture painted (how dare us). Some of my favorite furniture refurbishers include Barb Blair of Knack, Amanda from Ferpie and Fray, Marian from Miss Mustard Seed, Jelena from Poppyseed Creative Living, all the people at Chairloom, and probably a dozen others. Who inspires you?

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape


    This dresser.  Come on, Annie. This is a piece that came from an area not far from where Greg’s engineering day job is. It belonged to the parents of the craigslist seller. It needed some repairs for it to function as storage, i.e., drawers no worky. We typically have to spend some time adjusting the drawer glides so it functions and slides well. Every piece gets a little wax on the glides to help as well as a good cleaning with oil soap.

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape

    Sometimes we have to take things completely apart and put them back together. Glue, nails, screws, clamp action, replacement wood pieces, but not this one. The dresser had a number of dings and things you can expect over time-it’s over 40 years old-dings and scratches mean wood filler to us. Oh, and sanding. There’s always a lot of sanding. #somuchsanding

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape

    I loved the wood pulls spanning the drawer fronts with a deco-ish look.  I love picking out hardware, but it’s also nice not having to do a garsh darn thing in that area. Each piece usually speaks to me about the look early on. Did you imagine me holding my hands over a dresser trying to feel its aura or summon its spirit? Basically. Ha, I kid.

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape

    I really wasn’t sold on the direction for this one, then it dawned on me a few days after picking it up to stencil the fronts. But the stencil didn’t arrive, the seller didn’t even recognize my order, and I was ready to go. So I took out my tape and ruler/yardstick with a similar design in mind. It took a full afternoon getting it just so and then a few paint touch ups the next day where the tape peeled some of the paint off.

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape


    I wanted more of a light glazed look under the design to play off of the body color. I mixed a few custom glazes, one in the gray family and the other in the blush pink/coral area. A subtle background color you may not even notice. Brushed both on, wiped it off after about a minute, followed by a light sanding with a sponge until I got the desired look. The body is our custom paint blend in a matte, green-gray (maybe even considered dusty mint). I don’t have an exact process for the coats, I just pay attention to how each piece responds. If the piece of furniture requires you to strip it with chemicals versus just sanding with an orbital sander, it will make a difference in the appearance of your finish. It depends what kind of finish was on the piece before, a super glossy hard-to-remove finish versus something you can pretty much rub off and…oh, there are different ways to address each piece. It is truly one of those things you get a feel for the longer you do it and we’ve done it through trial and error. We started off in a waterless, powerless garage in Minnesota, doing everything by hand, which wasn’t new to us, but sounds impressive. Remember, Greg is a wood ninja (wood product engineer who studied dendrology-study of trees- while working on woodworking projects, making his own furniture mostly, in college).

    I finished both the body and drawer fronts with tung oil. We heart tung oil around here. We used dark tung oil on our butcher block countertops in our last 2 houses.

    Em & Wit Furniture Design~Before and After: Tribal Dresser using Frog Tape

    I’m extremely happy with how it turned out. It’s in the shop now $450 + tax to those in and around Seattle/Tacoma.

    *I promise my other posts won’t be this long and/or I will try to get to the point faster.

    ~Annie (Em)


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  • Coming Soon
  • Furniture: Collect, Repair, Refurb, Repeat

    Em & Wit Design

    Hey there, we’re Em & Wit. We are a couple who collect, repair, salvage, design and refurbish furniture and housewares found at estate sales, craigslist, the curb, barns, garage sales, things from your home and everywhere in between. Vintage, mid-century, retro, mod, modern, deco, antique, primitive, rustic, atomic ranch, and on and on. 

    We have a curated shop with unique items from our travels. If you see it in the photo, there’s an excellent chance the item is for sale. Just ask. You can purchase through our website or in our home shop using cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover.  (Tax will be added) We are open by appointment on the weekends.

    For years the two of us had a successful business in Minnesota, many of our clients were located in Minneapolis and its metro area, but we’ve moved and set up shop in the Pacific Northwest. It was our dream and we’re happy to finally be here.  We often take on client work, feel free to ask.  If you are interested, send an email to emandwitdesign at gmail.com or go to our contact page at emandwit.com.  You can also arrange an appointment, ask us a question, safely shop, find out more about us, get how-tos/tips and read the stories behind the furniture we find at emandwit.com. 

    A few bits to note:

    -If you do not care for the hardware we use, either we or you can switch it out. No problem. We can take it off, just let us know.

    -We try to use natural products whenever we can.  Milk, chalk, non-VOC paints with hemp, tung and other natural oils or waxes for finishing.  We do a custom mix for both durability and desired finish based on our years of experience.

    -Repeat customer?  You get a discount. Buy more than one piece? You get a discount. Your support means the world to us and we like to show our appreciation. 

    -Sorry but we no longer ship our pieces due to the likelihood of damage. 

    -Delivery is available for a fee or you can schedule to stop by and take it with you if it fits the bill. Please arrange an appointment by email.

    -We are located in Auburn which is 25 miles south of Seattle and 15 miles north of Tacoma. We accept cash and debit/credit cards. No checks. Tax will be added. All sales final.  Them’s the rules.

    -These are vintage and antique pieces, so there will still be some aging and wear beyond our control.

    -We are not responsible for damage you might incur or accidents you cause while on our property.