Shabby chic sea change style with a distinctly Australian vintage feel characterises Dee’s Funk ‘n’ Junk shop in Ulladulla.
Vintage, retro and ‘grungescent’ décor is arranged in vignettes that use every last centimetre of the old shed that contains the shop’s treasures.
Music from a vintage collection of LPs for sale is always playing in the shop, setting the atmosphere for stepping back into the past, where life was harder, things took longer to make, lasted longer – and greater care was taken to make things look beautiful.
Unnecessary waste was frowned on back then. People kept the same furniture for many years until it was broken or worn out thoroughly. Changing fashions didn’t seem to have the same huge influence even a few decades ago on home furnishings as they do today.
Packed to the rafters, with things hanging from the ceiling, arranged on high shelves, or displayed artistically inside various styles and eras of furniture, Dee’s Funk’n’Junk is a feast for the eye and a trip down memory lane – if you’re old enough to recognise that stuff!
It’s like a private museum where everything you see is on sale, with its own personality-packed Curator, Denise Joy (Dee), who can tell you the stories behind each item.
Dee was born and bred in Ulladulla and has lived in nearby Burrill Lake too.
Dee’s Funk ‘n’ Junk started 11 years ago as a hobby, and after a while, Dee gave up nursing and dental nursing to follow her dream.
“An old man once said to me that when you do something you love doing, you never work a day in your life,” Dee says smiling.
“So I made that choice!”
Dee has always loved recycling and making things. She can see treasure in old worn things that just need some work to bring out their beauty.
The stories told by generations of different colours painted on a piece of timber furniture are like a gift that Dee unwraps, revealing the secrets of changing fashions in its past. The traces of each colour layer are often left as part of a piece’s character.
Appalled by cheaply produced chipboard furniture and the IKEA imported style, Dee loves old solid pieces.
She enjoys recovering sad upholstery and refinishing worn old timber furniture. Items beyond restoring might get a coat of shabby chic style chippy paint to restyle and resurrect them for another family’s use. Dee is proud to be a keen recycler.
“People look for something unique, something one-off and special – not mass-produced and spiritless. Like this broken old grandfather clock made into a timeless china cabinet. These pieces go to their new homes to be loved and treasured in a new life.”
“I really want to encourage people to stop importing rubbish chipboard furniture from overseas,” Dee says.
“Stop and look at what we have here, things you might have walked past because they are the wrong colour – instead, try to re-style, repaint or remake a solid timber piece. It doesn’t have to cost the earth!”
Dee’s favourite product for bringing out the natural wood finish is Mastertouch Carnauba Wax, which has an orange citrus smell. It rubs on and leaves the timber refreshed but not shiny, keeping the vintage patina while protecting the surface.
With a sense of decor quite eclectic and unique, and busting at the seams, the shop is always changing its face as furniture is sold and replaced with more vintage or fantasy pieces.
I quipped to Dee, “Does your house look like this too? Is it full to the brim of beautiful stuff of the past?”
“It’s even BETTER than this because I do take some favourite things home,” she says.
“But I’ve had to make a rule for myself that there’s only so much you can fit into your living space, so if I’m tempted by something, I have to sadly let go of something else. I try to limit myself, but there’s often a special thing that I don’t have and it’s so tempting!”
Dee has an artist’s eye for seeing beauty in things many might overlook, and a knack for displaying a ‘story’ through her vignettes of found treasures.
Rust, chippy paint, worn and shabby surfaces and faded colours are proud badges of honour.
The only thing left for you to do now is to explore Dee’s Funk ‘n’ Junk for yourself. Drop by South Street, Ulladulla, Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm.
Jesse Rowan is based in the Batemans Bay area and also publishes to the Lace Age Girl blog.