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Smart Solutions: Woodworker to share her tips at home show


Winter can be a great time to get some decorating inspiration and gather ideas for all those spring projects to come. There will be lots of creative options at the Novi Home Show that runs from Jan. 21-23. One of the featured speakers will be Katie DeVries, artist and owner of Katie & Company in Newaygo and Out of the Barn in Allendale, who will also have a booth there.  

DeVries has an inspiring backstory that began when she was a stay-at-home mom going through a divorce. “I found I had a passion for working with wood and I was told I needed a real job,” she says. Luckily, she followed her heart and started her wood wall art business, Out of the Barn that became her full-time profession in 2018.

First, she sold her work at craft shows before adding expos like the Novi Home Show. DeVries also began selling wholesale. In 2019, her wall art was being sold in 30 shops in Michigan and she did 40 shows in the Midwest.  

Then came COVID, and shows and shop orders were canceled. So DeVries began advocating for small businesses like hers and thinking outside the box. She set up a tent outside her home, which led to a very successful day selling her wood art made from reclaimed boards just from people driving by. “I needed some normalcy,” she says.  

Her pop-up events soon grew to include other artists and makers who would also help each other network. “We built this community,” says DeVries.   

In the fall of 2020, she said to a friend: “I think I might be crazy, but I’m thinking of opening a retail shop in the middle of a pandemic. What do you think?”

After more than a year in business, her shop, Katie & Company now features unique pieces from more than 70 artists and makers. Items can also be purchased online through her website: katieandcompanystudio.com.

Her most popular pieces have Michigan and Great Lakes themes and come in different sizes. DeVries also enjoys custom orders that incorporate sentimental items like family heirlooms into her work.

“I have always been artistic, ever since I was little,” she says. “I was always sketching or painting, and I’ve done pottery and quilting.”

When it comes to working with wood, she appreciates the process. “I love using a nail gun and being covered in sawdust,” says DeVries. “I get so excited when I get a new tool.”

She also likes the history behind the reclaimed wood and the flaws. “I love the texture, tone and character. An old board has a story, like people. To take the broken and the beat up and find the beauty just makes my heart happy,” she says.

At the Novi Home Show, DeVries will share artistic tips during her “Decorating From the Heart” presentations to help others enhance their homes with unique pieces. “It’s about different textures and visuals that are eye-pleasing; what feels right and what looks good,” she says.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.