CUMBERLAND – The new Fresh Studio in Cumberland is the perfect pairing of old and new, say the owners, with restored furniture and décor showcasing the complementary talents of Chris Towle and Mandy Costa.
Costa and Towle started refinishing furniture in 2019 as a way to refresh their houses, and that led into a COVID 2020 project as a way to supplement income when employment was limited. It also kept the five combined teenagers in their families involved and off electronics, giving those teens their own source of income as they saved toward college.
Towle has a history of woodworking, furniture-making and general handiness, while Mandy does all of that, and, as they put it, “specializes in cutefying things” with unexpected flourishes, giving many old pieces a new and modern vibe.
Towle said he didn’t even realize at first, as he was looking to buy a home to live in at 3261 Mendon Road, that it was on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1700s Burlingame-Noon House, now with the Fresh Studio space attached to it, has its own Instagram account, @burlingamenoonhouse, so people can follow along as Towle and Costa, who have flipped other houses together, renovate it in the Fresh style in parallel with running the store. Vintage and antique furniture from Fresh is also featured on a separate Instagram account, @freshstudiofurniture.
An old-time garage at the end of the driveway serves as the workspace for much of the restoration work, with pieces coming from wherever Costa and Towle can find them.
For Costa, of Franklin, Mass., COVID brought with it the gift of time, and she felt like if she didn’t follow her dream projects with all that extra time available, she probably never would. Like many, she and Towle saw an opportunity during the pandemic to follow a new passion.
The Fresh Studio Facebook page promotes “high quality vintage and antique furniture made fresh for modern homes, as well as interesting finds and unique accessories.”
Towle and Costa said this has been a great location for them since opening in October, with traffic busy much of the time and backing up at the nearby red light.
They said they just never know what customers will be looking for. They switched in a restored dining room table at the center of the store space around Thanksgiving, and subsequently sold about six dining room tables in three weeks.
Each has their strengths, with Costa the more creative one. Both are good at painting, though Costa is much faster, said Towle.
“We work really well together,” he said.
Once in a while, their tastes conflict, meaning there are some pieces in the store that one or the other aren’t big fans of, but might be to the taste of a customer.
Almost everything at Fresh has been created or refurbished by the owners taking old items and making them new, from decorative wall word pieces with industrial details, to a reimagined ladder Christmas tree, to a vintage sewing machine or baby carriage.
One special offering at Fresh is a barn door kit, where Towle and Costa will remake a rolling barn door to the customer’s specifications and then show them step by step how to install it.
Both owners still work full-time jobs, so hours at Fresh are Wednesday and Friday, from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number to call is 508-446-2030.