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Morgantown duo reinventing the table, chair and desk

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Liza Heiskell and Emily Kurth founded furniture reinvention company Coco & June in Morgantown and launched their business in early February. They spruce up dingy old wooden furniture with bright paint and new hardware and sell it. Liza Heiskell and Emily Kurth founded furniture reinvention company Coco & June in Morgantown and launched their business in early February. They spruce up dingy old wooden furniture with bright paint and new hardware and sell it.
Photos courtesy of Coco & June Photos courtesy of Coco & June
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By CYNTHIA McCLOUD
For The State Journal

A couple of Morgantown women have crafted a brand new business from giving makeovers to real wood furniture.

Emily Kurth and Liza Heiskell are longtime friends who recently launched Coco & June in Morgantown, which sells "creatively reinvented furniture."

"Our style is a combination of shabby chic, mid-century modern and eclectic vintage pieces updated with bold and bright colors," Heiskell said.

"We typically just take an old dingy piece and give it new life with paint and new hardware," Kurth said.

It's not furniture restoration to its original finish, although if that's what a customer wants, Kurth knows a guy.

"We consider ourselves more of a furniture revitalization company," Heiskell said. "There is an abundance of really good quality furniture that gets put by the wayside, and we have made it our mission to find it, fix it and sell it. 

"We consider this to be the ultimate in recycling — creating less waste and re-using what is already available."

The older pieces Coco & June make over are of higher quality than some new furniture sold cheaply today.

"A lot of our pieces are from the '40s and '50s and you can just tell such a difference in the quality from things you'll buy today," Heiskell said. "We feel we're doing people a service."

"And it's reasonably priced," Kurth said. "It's good quality, sturdy old furniture that's not going to fall apart if your kid accidentally karate-chops it.

"Part of what is fun about finding old furniture is picturing it when it was used initially," she said. "I can picture old Hoosier cabinets in old kitchens with 10 kids running around and some lady with her hair back cooking. It's amazing to think how many lives these pieces of furniture have been through."

The pair usually buys furniture from thrift stores and estate and yard sales, but they're not shy about picking up something that's been set by the curb.

Kurth scored a sewing machine table that way. It was missing its machine, so she nailed the top down and turned it into a side table.

The first piece Heiskell ever sold was a kidney-shaped desk for $350 to a friend who's an executive at HGTV. Coco & June's furniture is sold for local pick-up but for her friend, Heiskell is making an exception and delivering the desk to New York. Made by Maddox Colonial Reproductions, Heiskell painted the kidney-shaped desk gray and slightly distressed it. She gave the drawers cream-colored, floral-shaped knobs painted the interior drawers a happy melon color.

The women are also open to accepting projects on commission.

Since the pair began Coco & June earlier this month, they've sold pieces mainly through their website, cocoandjune.com. The signs Kurth paints also are for sale on the site.

The pair has plans to set up some furniture as vendors at two community events: Mom's Night Out, from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 28 at Suncrest Middle School in Morgantown and Ladies' Night from 6:30-9 p.m. March 19 at The Beauty Bar, located at 3484 University Ave., Morgantown.

Recently they secured a physical location at 160 Pleasant St. in Morgantown, across from Huntington Bank. 

"Dale Sparks of All-Pro Photography has agreed to share some of his space with us so we will have an actual gallery to display and sell our furniture," Heiskell said.

Designing home décor wasn't the women's first careers, however.

Kurth, a Morgantown native, was an elementary school teacher and Heiskell was a TV producer in New York City for a number of years before they started having children. Heiskell worked on many different types of shows, including a few design/decorating shows. It was her work on those shows that really got her interested in DIY projects and refinishing furniture.

Now both full-time mothers, the friends met in college through their boyfriends who are now their husbands. The women were at a cookout last summer when they decided to go into business together. 

"I had been painting a lot and she had been painting a lot, and I had this epiphany: I want to do this, maybe not for a living, but as a business," Kurth said. "That evening Liza said to me, ‘Hey, I have a business proposition for you.' It was meant to be."

Each woman chose part of the name. Coco was one of Heiskell's beloved childhood pets; Kurth has always liked the name June.