Many shops are continuing with the theme that everything that is old can be refined to be new again.

You may not find yourself on HGTV doing a show with your skills, but as we know, flea markets, garage sales, auctions and thrift shops are great places to find inexpensive items to refurbish to your liking, including accessories like pillows and upholstered furnishings.

I have found hunting for items to be fun, but with so much cast-off junk on the market, I just like to go to shops where someone else has done the hunt and refurbished the items. Time is money.

One new shop is The Refinery Co., 216 E. Third St., Winona, where owner Jenna Lubinski has opened her shop in December.

Not only being inspired by her mother, Renae Vinton, owner of the Urban Shanty, in Alma, Jenna says, "Honestly, Martha Stewart was an inspiration. I've been reading HGTV magazine since I was 4 or 5 because my mom always got every issue every month, and also watching my mother change our Dutch colonial house through the years.

"As to my experience, I went to school for business and marketing and helped open The Urban Shanty with my mom, but I'm still learning," Lubinski said. "I just started working with different paints and furniture where it has just became second nature with my love of mid-century modern. I call my look modern farmhouse and shabby chic that's different from my mom's style."

This month I will take you around to a few shops that have either done the work for you or that can help you with your new-found item and show you how to do the refurbish in a do-it-yourself paint workshop.

"I just hosted a workshop for the first time at my shop," Lubinski said. "I actually thought if people wanted me to come to their garage and teach painting, it could get really fun! With my about 1,800 square feet, I use the space half and half; a small false wall separates my workshop space where I paint and host classes and the other is the shop space. And yes, I could always use more room."

Moving into an older building in downtown Winona can be a challenge. "I lost count on how many people I have to thank for helping me paint false ceiling tiles, or peel up vinyl floor tiles with a heat gun, scrubbing, dumping, vacuuming, you name it," Lubinski said. "I still have family involved, since I'm always looking for ideas and advice. But I'm on my own when it comes to furniture and home decor. My longtime friend and sister Casey has the handmade jewelry in our shop and she has been my biggest support in making sure both of our dreams can be reached. Casey hand-makes one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces in California and sends it home for me to put in the shop."

Lubinski's decorating is displayed seasonally.

"The shop changes every few months for season change," she said. "I'm always testing out new colors I see in Country Living or HGTV magazine. I hear, 'I saw that on Chip and Joanna's show on HGTV!' Hence this is why Joanna's Seaglass color is my featured color of the month. I do the changes because I want people to picture the items I have in their house, and I want their house to feel more like a home. Everything is bought with heart and reason. I want everyone to come to the shop and find something they can't live without."

I see so many shops and folks into this recycling, repurpose and reusing, from furniture to fabric-covered items, and sometimes I think we are becoming overwhelmed with too many of these shops

"I asked this same question to a few gals from Iowa who stopped in," Lubinski said. "I asked if they have a lot of these shops in Iowa. Their response was, 'Nothing like your hometown feel of you and your space, the items you have out in here and not to mention your prices are out of this world.'

"I like to think no matter what, I started four years ago and my experiences have been amazing," she said. "I also hear from folks that stop if I will help them paint something or if they can hire me to just come to their house. This is total satisfaction, and when I get to see the faces of people who see something they can't live without in their home and run up to it because they know exactly where it belongs in their home, it is all worth it."

Sandy Erdman is a Winona freelance writer, dealer, speaker and workshop appraiser. If you have an antique shop, hobby collecting anything or restoring antiques or collectibles and want to share within this column, contact Sandy at

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