Building a family tradition
The family that antiques together stays together. At least, that’s the Farnsworth family way. “It’s a family affair,” said Craig Farnsworth, looking at his wife, Karyn, and two young daughters working alongside him in their boutique, which opened in January. Farnswood, located in the warehouse space behind Higgins Armory, is a store packed with industrial-style artifacts and antiques, salvaged and restored by Craig.
“Everything in here has character,” he said. “They’re not perfect. But they are one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces.”
Last winter, Craig and Karyn started selling reclaimed wood products ~ small goods like wine racks, benches and shelves created from barn wood and pallets ~ at the Canal District Farmer’s Market at Crompton Collective in Worcester. After a month, the Farnsworths started showcasing their pieces at Counting Sheep Antiques in Berlin. When the shop closed for two months in the winter, they were left with what Craig calls “a borderline hoarders situation.”
The couple found 100 Barber Ave. and moved in. The warehouse space fits the Farnswood theme perfectly; the wood ceilings and weathered floors foster a rustic, creative environment. “We get excited to come here every weekend,” said Craig, an electrical engineer for commercial buildings on weekdays. “It means a lot of late nights and seven days a week for me, but I just love it.”
Craig has always been around antiques. “My parents used to bring me to auctions. I would sit there for hours and just take it all in,” he said. “I love working with my hands, love building things. And now, I’m passing it down to my kids.”
Craig and Karyn bring daughters Graycie, 8, and Kendall, 5, with them when antique hunting. “They go with us to flea markets and learn how to haggle pricing,” he said. Graycie even has a few things she’s found that are now for sale at the store, including her line of homemade earrings, Little G Designz.
The Farnsworths find their pieces all over New England, from barns and warehouses to estate sales and Craigslist. “We try to go for unique things and put our own spin on it,” Craig said. “I hate to see this stuff get thrown away. That’s what usually happens with this stuff; it gets scrapped.”
Craig also builds marquee letters. He taught himself to weld and creates with sheet metal. In fact, these custom letters are one of his top sellers. He’s created letters for a new Las Vegas restaurant, The Sandwich Shop; an entertainment lawyer in Boston; and is a currently working on some for a company in New York City. He’s also done work locally: The big red tomato hanging at the Canal District Farmer’s Market is Craig’s handiwork.
“You can go to Restoration Hardware and get this kind of stuff, but this is original, custom work,” he said. “I make everything. They’re not bought overseas like some of these other letters you see being sold. They’re made with my hands in my basement.”
And the old stuff always has a story: On display at Farnswood is an antique trunk, which Karyn researched and discovered belonged to H.P. Hoar, a woman from a prominent family in Concord. “Anything local like this is popular,” she said.
But popular isn’t what the Farnsworths are going for. “This isn’t just part of the industrial trend,” Craig said. “Some of it’s bizarre and kind of weird, but it’s intriguing to me. I don’t ever want to build stuff just to build stuff. This may limit us sales-wise, but the reception has been pretty good so far.”
Craig said they’re hoping to build on the momentum with appearances at the Vintage Bizarre in Salisbury and Boston’s SoWa market. They also want to get into commercial interior decorating and bring their ideas to restaurants and hotels.
For now, the Farnsworths are enjoying their time working together. “Doing something you love definitely spills over into the other parts of your life,” Karyn said. “Our moods have changed. We are happier, more positive people.”
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