Cindy Wrisinger has plenty of antique items to pass down to her adult son, but perhaps the most valuable thing she has imparted to him is a passion for all things vintage.
“I don’t want disposable stuff. If I really like something, I’m going to keep it and use it,” says Wrisinger, standing in the kitchen of her white farmhouse on an overcast October afternoon. “My daughter-in-law, she doesn’t have a clue about older pieces of furniture or pottery or anything. But my son appreciates it.”
One look at Wrisinger’s living room and dining room reveals plenty for the eye to appreciate indeed. She collects American and Western European items exclusively, among them a wooden dining room table and matching cabinet, both with intricate figures carved into each. The table and cabinet, she says, came from Great Britain in the early 20th century.
“When I bought the furniture, it needed a little TLC, so I gently cleaned and lightly re-stained each piece,” Wrisinger notes.
It’s a process, she adds, that takes time but is well worth it. Wrisinger should know – she owned her own home furnishings business for 16 years, opening Lee Andrew Interiors in 1993, shortly after moving to Blue Springs and moving into her farmhouse, which itself was built in 1911.
“In 2000, I built my own my own building on the acreage next to our house,” she says. “In 2005, I changed the name of the business to Lee Andrew Hall and Gardens. I designed extensive gardens for outdoor weddings as well as other events.”
Wrisinger sold the business in 2009, but she continues to work alongside her son in his business, Plant Life. The two select and pot plants in attractive containers that have the right look for certain rooms in one’s home or office.
Speaking about her life before her business, Wrisinger smiles and chuckles. “I have lived with antiques most of my life,” she explains. “When all my girlfriends had matching bedroom furniture and ruffled bedspreads, I had a brass and iron bed with a washstand and bedside table, and a side-by-side secretary for my clothes. Lots of handmade quilts and rag rugs, too.”
Wrisinger began working in her family’s antique shop when she was just a teenager.
“My parents had an antique shop in the 1960s and ‘70s,” she recalls. “I worked the shop after school and on weekends. We all loved going to auctions and estate sales on the weekends.”
Wrisinger’s grandmother has supplied Wrisinger with some of the pieces she proudly displays in her home, including a 100-year-old wooden end table in her living room and a few pieces of Flow Blue china, which Wrisinger still collects to this day. Though many items have passed through the doors of her home and her store, some from her family and some from her own collection, Wrisinger says that one of her favorite pieces can be found in her son’s home – a wooden pool table from 1884, the name and the year of production having been carved on the table’s underside.
“I told him, ‘I don’t care if you’re penniless. Don’t sell that pool table,’” Wrisinger laughs. “I get a lot of offers for it, but I always say, ‘No, I’m not letting that go.’ So, I’ve got people who are waiting for a phone call. … But I think the older he gets, the more he will appreciate that I kept it and I wanted him to have it.”
She didn’t have space for the pool table in her own home, but says she is glad her son is able to enjoy it – besides, the table’s absence leaves a bit more room in her own home for antiques that might catch her eye as she strolls through Kansas City’s City Market and its antique stores.
It’s only in one of the metro area’s many antique stores and flea markets that Wrisinger knows she will find those special treasures that one day will belong to her son. In the meantime, she continues to be proud to know that her home has a special style all its own.
“I’m pretty content with what I have,” she says, “and I don’t want my place to look like the person next door who went to Nebraska Furniture Mart and bought the same thing, only in different colors.” ^
Writer Corbin Crable will choose antique stores over Nebraska Furniture Mart any day. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.