From Habitat magazine - issue 34, doing it
Meet an Auckland duo whose creative outlet involves furniture in need of a facelift and tins and tins of vibrant Resene paints.
There's a room in Jeanine Oxenius' Auckland home that's an organised confusion of colour. It's where Jeanine and her business partner, Heike Rzehulek-Schmitt, repair, re-imagine and reinvigorate furniture – and it's just as the pair want it.
“Our workshop is quite messy, but it's a very productive mess,” says Jeanine. “We have sandpaper everywhere, brushes and rollers, and at least 50 colours of Resene paint.”
Jeanine and Heike have been upcycling furniture together for nearly four years, three or so formally as their business, Bye Bye Love. Wholeheartedly embracing the ‘reduce, re-use, recycle' ethos, they take wooden pieces in need of a fresh face and use their artistic skills to turn them into something beautiful.
But forget any notions that their ministrations represent a mere flick of sandpaper and a lick of paint. The pair turns humdrum drawers, wardrobes, tables and chairs – whatever, really – into works of art. Gorgeous designs in vibrant colours are expertly painted on, taking advantage of the wood's innate beauty while masking any faults acquired with age.
“When we see furniture that's old, broken and ugly we say, ‘Give it to me – I want to make it pretty.' Then, we sand it back and see the potential in it,” says Jeanine.
Although they sometimes find and finesse furniture for sale, most pieces in the Bye Bye Love workshop are commissions. “Customers come with a piece they want to be made beautiful. We talk with them about what they want and what they like. Ideally, we also visit their home so we can make sure our designs will fit in with their space, their other pieces and soft furnishings,” says Heike.
Top tip: Resene Quick Dry is a waterborne primer undercoat which is ideal for redecorating pre-loved wooden furniture. Apply prior to painting to even out wooden surfaces damaged by wear and tear.
Both women are from Germany. While Jeanine has lived in New Zealand for more than three decades, Heike arrived in 2015; and it was Heike's eye for beauty and need for furniture that led to the formation of Bye Bye Love. Heike had admired Jeanine's new house in a magazine and, when she happened upon it, she was so pleased she stepped right into Jeanine's garden. “I looked out and saw these strangers staring at my house, so I went out and said, ‘Excuse me, can I help you?'” says Jeanine.
It turns out; she could. “Heike and her husband had arrived with suitcases and nothing else. They needed furniture, and as we'd just moved into a new house, we had furniture we no longer wanted. Heike could have it, but first, we wanted to make it pretty.”
Together they began to refashion – simply at first, adding nicer handles or a new stain. Then, as their confidence grew, they ventured into paint. Friends started requesting pieces of furniture and so Bye Bye Love began.
From the very beginning, Resene was the paint of choice. “Resene is good quality. It's durable, for starters, and our furniture is designed to be used,” says Jeanine.
“And, of course, the colour choice is incredible. Colour is absolutely everything to what we do,” says Heike.
While Heike and Jeanine use colours that please their customers, they certainly have their favourites. They say clients tend towards shades that reflect nature – our oceans and native bush – Resene Deep Teal, Resene Hippie Blue, Resene Surfie Green, Resene St Kilda and Resene Guru are popular.
Heike says her own colour choices are generally relatively restrained compared with Jeanine's, and she particularly loves Resene Wax Flower and Resene Juniper. Jeanine tends towards Resene Scrumptious, Resene Adrenalin and Resene Sushi. “Heike is quite refined, and I'm quite bright. She brings me down a little bit, and I bring her out a little bit, so we complement each other,” says Jeanine.
“We do have different styles – we are two different individuals – but we work together really well,” says Heike.
“We can argue over different shades of red, blue or green for hours. But it's good fighting, and often we find a middle ground or come up with something neither of us might have expected,” says Jeanine.
That's all an advantage as the pair usually work on a piece together. Starting with the fixing, preparation and priming – using Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat – before moving onto the “fun stuff”, with the design and painting with Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel. Since founding Bye Bye Love, Heike and Jeanine estimate they have “prettied up” at least 100 pieces, working up to six days a week. That's about 100 pieces into which they've poured their sweat, creativity, artistic vision – and litres of Resene paint. But it's 100 pieces that, after all that work and love, they have had to bid farewell.
Thus, the name, Bye Bye Love.
To see more of Heike and Jeanine's work, visit their website.
words: Lee Anne Duncan
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