'Most everything has some sort of story': Former teacher finds new passion restoring treasured home goods

NOW: ’Most everything has some sort of story’: Former teacher finds new passion restoring treasured home goods

SHOREWOOD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Upholstery is not an easy business.

“Chairs that get the full-on treatment maybe get stripped all the way down to their wood frames,” said Kristina Bruggeman, Owner Home Again Fabric and Furnishings.

It takes hard work and a lot of pieces to hold everything in place.

“Reglued and screwed if they need it,” said Bruggeman.

Kristina Bruggeman never expected to be where she is today. 10 years ago, Kristina went onto the Buy, Sell, Trade page of Facebook and made a connection, one that would change the course of her career.

“Someone was looking for a headboard and I had just seen one at Restore in Tosa so I sent her a picture and she said "Oh its cute but it's all beat up can you paint it," so I said 'sure' and that was kind of my first real piece and from that is where all the business came from,” said Bruggeman.

She re-invented herself, becoming a one woman show with a passion for fabrics.

“I did everything out of this little work room in Grafton it was literally a free-standing building no running water, a wood burning stove for heat,” Bruggeman recalled.

She breathed new life into the pieces and heirloom she reupholstered.

“Most everything has some sort of story, everyone has a piece of furniture or a smaller little something that means something to them because who gave it to them or who used to use it,” Bruggeman explained.

After years of putting everything she had into her custom pieces, Bruggeman was told she had to stop.

"I had kind of burned my body out. I was diagnosed with two really degenerative forms of arthritis, so the doctors basically said if you keep doing this, you're going to just completely ruin your body,” said Bruggeman

For anyone else, this would be a wake-up call to rest and maybe reevaluate what she should do next. Instead, Kristina got to work…this time repairing her body.

"I had two carpal tunnel surgeries, a spinal fusion and two-foot surgeries in the course of just a couple years and I was pregnant for part of that time," Bruggeman recalled.

This self-taught upholsterer didn’t want all her efforts to be for nothing.

"Learning all of these skills for one thing and developing the tools and the supply chains, the customers and I thought if I give this up what am I going to do," said Bruggeman.

So, she had a choice.

“I was told you either have to shut down and call it a day because you can’t physically keep doing this ... or I thought, or I could expand,” said Bruggeman.

Kristina chose the latter. In the past two years – she's hired 11 employees, opened a brick and mortar and has given countless furniture pieces a new life.

“We had a rocking chair and it had been her grandparents or great grandparents and when we opened it up to reupholster it, it was actually stuffed with clothes from her great great grandparents so there were men's long johns and women's aprons and bonnets and that's what they had used and they used what they had and it was literally clothing from the 1800s so we were able to give that back to her and it was literally like a time capsule inside of her chair,” Bruggeman recalled.

She has had some pretty incredible adventures along the way.

"This couple had a home built by one of the architects from the Frank Llyod Wright School and she had all of these built-ins made in the Frank Llyod Wright style. She wanted all of these cushions made and they were kind of out in the country and she didn't know who to get so she hired me to do it. I said you are kind of far away, there's going to be a lot of travel involved. Turns out, her husband is a private pilot, and she was like I think it would be a lot faster if he picked you up and flew you out. You can take all the measurements and do the templates you need, and he can fly you back, you can make the cushions and we will come pick them up. So, I did that which is not something I ever dreamed I'd do," said Bruggeman.

It’s a rewarding process for Kristina, knowing her custom pieces leave a lasting mark on her clients.

"We get to create the connection with them and then when the piece goes home, I think it's neat that they have something that they will probably never get rid of that we have been able to put a little stamp on,” said Bruggeman.

In August, Kristina plan to move the Home Again storefront down the street to a larger, newly renovated retail space that is connected to the workshop. You can find the new shop near Fratney St and Nash St.

If you have a family heirloom or vintage piece given new life visit Home Again here

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