One look at Dirty Girls Restoration’s Krrb corner and you’ll know that they have some serious style. The Mid-century loving duo made up of Amy Sams and Anna Hoam, certainly know a thing or two about restoring authentic vintage pieces. From art to sofas and everything in between, this team has an excellently curated shop and the design experience to back it. We had the opportunity to chat with both Amy and Anna about what inspires them, their style and of course about Dirty Girls Restoration!
Hi Amy and Anna! Where are you two from and where do you currently live?
Amy: I am from New Albany, Indiana which is just across the river from Louisville, Kentucky. I currently live in central Ohio but have done a lot of moving in my life and have lived in places such as Nashville, Las Vegas, Cape Coral, Tampa, Knoxville, Asheville—just to name a few!
Anna: Bellville, Ohio and Reynoldsburg, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus).
What is the most awesome thing in or about the neighborhood you live in?
Amy: Columbus is an interesting area, it’s very eclectic in parts and very urban in others. Amish country is just an hour north and river cities are a couple hours south. I have only lived here about two years and everyone seems great, however my heart is in Tennessee.
Anna: I like that it feels as though I’m in the city and the country at the same time. I can drive only a few minutes and be either surrounded by every retail store and eatery possible or surrounded by corn and soybean fields.
I love every single piece we have had in our showroom, well, except for maybe a couple items Anna found (Ha Ha!). I want them to go to the right home so I don’t mind letting them go. Plus, it’s pretty great to have an ever-evolving showroom and house.
How often do you go to garage sales or flea markets? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
Amy: When are we not picking? We are always searching, always. We do a lot of our own deliveries and travel back roads just to find ‘out of the way’ thrift shops or garage sales. The best places are not advertised and not on the highway routes.
Anna: At least two or three times a week. I love to “pick” and my tip is to always flip it over!
Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?
Amy: Oh, we are not above dumpster diving for the right piece. I’ve picked up lamps mainly, some smaller furniture as well. Most people in Columbus know what they have so you don’t see quality items being thrown out often around here. I do, however, grab any type of lamp—junk or otherwise because I do a lot of rebuilding and rewiring of lights so extra parts are always needed. Also, if we see an open garage or door with something interesting inside, we will stop and see if they will sell it to us.
Anna: Yes, several times. The piece I remember most is an old, tall cupboard from the 1880’s that I found in a barn that was going to be torn down. It was laying on its side and being used as some sort of animal cage. I enlisted the help of my father and a friend to pull it out and take it home. It doesn’t fit in very well with my Mid-century house so it’s sitting in my parents 1820’s farm house.
What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
Amy: I have a tie here, being an audio engineer for 20 years—all things audio are in my blood. We came across a KLH Model 20 plus stereo and speakers on the tulip bases at an auction, all original. That might not be leaving our shop. The other is a fabulous bentwood double lamp we bought from a couple in northern Ohio. It had been in his mother’s home since the 1960’s. It was in perfect condition and we really did not want to sell it, however it went to a famous music studio in Manhattan so we can’t complain.
Anna: A Mid-century original oil on canvas painting and 12 concrete screen/breeze blocks. I am currently obsessed with screen blocks.
What’s your favorite piece that you’re currently selling?
Amy: Right now I love the Jack Lenor Larsen velvet sofa and chair set we are selling. All original, the lowest profile set we have ever seen and they are so incredibly comfortable. Makes you want to put on some Hendrix and never get up.
What items do you find to be the most difficult to sell? The easiest?
Amy and Anna: That’s easy, the easiest thing to sell is either a Mid-century bar cart or a long and low Mid-century dresser/credenza. We can’t keep them in stock. Hutches and dining sets go pretty fast as well. I think the shortest time we have had something listed to date is two hours. The hardest thing to sell is usually the art just because it takes the right buyer with the right space, but what good is an awesome Mid-century house with bare walls?
Do you ever get attached to a certain piece and don’t end up selling it?
Amy: I love every single piece we have had in our showroom, well, except maybe a couple items Anna found (Ha ha!). I want them to go to the right home, so I don’t mind letting them go. Plus, it’s pretty great to have an ever-evolving showroom and house. Our showroom looks completely different from week to week and sometimes day to day.
Anna: No, I don’t get attached to things.
Do you have a storefront or are all of your sales done online?
Amy and Anna: We sell online from our own website and we also list on some other online platforms as well. We have a Mid-century home in East Columbus, the top floor of which is our showroom where customers can view our inventory mostly at any time. We are by appointment only simply because we are not always around the shop and we work on a lot of the items in the showroom so it’s not always setup for viewing. But we try to accommodate appointments from 9am-8pm 7 days a week.
You restore historic homes and antique pieces, what’s that process like?
Amy: It might be a weird mix but we both love the history, character, and energy you find in 100-plus-year old homes, and we absolutely drool over the design of items made during the Atomic and Mid-century eras. We are extremely busy. Right now we are restoring a Gothic Revival house that was built in 1862. It is over 3000 square feet on the Muskingham river in Zanesville, Ohio and we do everything ourselves. From plumbing to electrical, drywall, tiling, landscaping, we get it all done. I think the worst was replacing all the cast iron sewer pipes in a 2-3 foot crawl space.
We actually got our name after ripping out 150-year old plaster made of horse hair. After working for several hours on a 90 degree day, I was sitting on the floor taking a break, looked at my arm that was completely black and said “I think this is the dirtiest I have ever been, we should start a company called Dirty Girls Restoration” That was how it all started. The picture of my arm from that moment is on the home page of our website. I think in general we both share a passion for reviving history, and there is nothing more satisfying than taking something damaged, that was discarded and making it beautiful and functional again.
It might be a weird mix but we both love the history, character, and energy you find in 100-plus-year old homes, and we absolutely drool over the design of items made during the Atomic and Mid-century eras.
Right now we are also working on a 1920’s house in Indiana, and restoring the Mid-century house where our showroom is located in addition to running the Mid-century portion of our business. We hardly ever take a break, we don’t hire contractor men to “help” us out, and we love what we do!
Anna: What she said!
Your focus seems to be on Mid-century modern (we love it too!. Who are your favorite designers from that period? What is your dream piece that you would like to one day have?
Amy: I really like the bold angles of Kagan as well as some Pearsall, although a lot of the Pearsall pieces are being reproduced today so we don’t like to find and restore something you can go to a modern furniture store and buy. Although the authentic, vintage pieces are made with such higher quality and attention to detail. We also are on high alert for Mulhausers. My dream piece is to find a crazy awesome Atomic Era television, the kind that looks like a robot or with huge shooting angles. Not many of those exist anymore.
Anna: Kagan, his designs are just sexy.
What’s the person styles of your homes?
Amy and Anna: We decorate our personal spaces with the same items we love—Mid-century.
What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
Amy: We like to look at homes, not only to get ideas but to see what is on the market. We are always browsing Realtor and Zillow in search of fantastic Mid-century or historic homes that need saving or are just incredible to look at. We are also on Auctionzip, Craigslist, Apartment Therapy, and other classified-type websites a lot.
Anything else you’d like readers to know about?
Amy: I think we are both really proud of what we have built so far and this is only the beginning! Anna has a background in history and business and restored a 100-plus-year old farmhouse on her own before we met. I restored a Mid-century house in Asheville and have done project work on several other homes. We both volunteered with Habitat for Humanity before we ever met. My background includes 20 years in television, 5 of which were spent at the launch of Scripps Networks (HGTV, Food Network, DIY), followed by several years as a professional real estate photographer in Las Vegas. I spent many years traveling the country shooting shows for the networks and I think that’s how restoration got in my blood.
I think in general we both share a passion for reviving history, and there is nothing more satisfying than taking something damaged, that was discarded and making it beautiful and functional again.
What makes us different is that we go over every inch of our pieces before they leave our showroom. Upholstery is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. All joints are tightened, missing hardware replaced, and all metal and chrome accents are polished. Wood pieces undergo a 5-step restoration process to clean, hydrate, and bring back the original finish. We have noticed that most Mid-century dealers don’t bother with details, and some don’t do anything to the pieces they acquire and sell. We do all of the dirty work, if you buy from us everything has personally and thoroughly been gone over inside and out. We only sand and refinish on extremely damaged items because we feel taking away the vintage finish and character of a piece only diminishes its value.
The other thing we will never do is paint a beautiful wood piece. Even though I had my hand in helping promote shabby chic on HGTV, I think it’s one of the worst things that can be done to a vintage or historic piece of furniture, just my opinion.
Thanks Amy and Anna!