Interview with Knack Studios' Barb Blair

Interview with Knack Studios' Barb Blair

Laure Joliet
Jul 24, 2008

One of our favorite ways to revamp a piece of furniture is to paint it. Barb Blair seems to have it down, check out the interview and some really inspiring pieces below the jump. And tell us what you think!

Barb Blair, owner and designer at Greenville, South Carolina's Knack Studios, realized her calling just seven years ago. She had moved into a 70's ranch home with lots of dark wood built-ins and cabinets, and since she didn't have the budget to tear it all out and remodel, she came up with a solution to make things look better: start painting. "I started painting out of necessity and found out I really enjoyed it," explains Barb. "The rest is history." Barb was nice enough to take time out of her day to answer a few of our questions.

She started doing business a few years ago, showcasing her gorgeous resurfaced furniture and repurposed found objects at home shows hosted in her house with the help of a friend. Last December, Barb opened up Knack Studios in Greenville, her very own storefront where she "offers an eclectic selection of furnishings that are sleek yet warm, detailed but relaxed."

What was the first piece of furniture you resurfaced?

The first piece I did was actually my kitchen cabinets. I know - crazy! It took me three weeks, and I've come a long way since then, but when I was done I was hooked.

What's the most important thing to remember when resurfacing furniture?

Have fun with it! It's paint, so if you make a mistake it's totally fixable. Often the most challenging pieces turn out to be the best. Proper tools are key.

So what are the proper tools?

I'll list everything I can think of: Sherwin Williams contractor series 2" and 2 1/2" angle sash brushes for latex paint (I won't use anything else) Foam rollers Sanding sponge, orbital sander, belt sander Wood filler Putty knife Chip brushes (for applying waxes and stains) Lint-free cloths (I always buy the boxes from Home Depot) Of course, if a piece needs A LOT of work, like a new back or any kind of hefty repair, I pull out the big guns and use my 12" miter saw, skill saw, nail gun, and compressor. I love putting on my pink tool belt and using my saws!

Have you ever made something that you weren't willing to sell once it was finished?

Yes, my orange hutch. It's going in my bedroom.

What inspires you?

Books and magazines. And the color combinations and patterns in nature provide endless possibilities. Also: New York City (especially the East Village), trips up the coast of California, and local artists. I totally hang my kids artwork all around my house and at the studio, and I have always been inspired by it.

Be sure and check out the Knack Studios blog and Flickr stream.


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