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Life’s Patina: Celebrating the Past, Present & Future

Life’s Patina was born ten years ago this coming February. It was born out of a love that developed while utilizing old, cast off objects in the restoration of our two hundred year old farm that we had moved into 4 years prior. Whether you’ve been following us since our inception or you’re new to joining us, I wanted to share with you our story – our beginnings, where we are now with this organic, grassroots business, and where we are going in the future.

 Willowbrook Farm was much more than we had been looking for when we were house hunting 14 years ago but its stone walls, eclectic style of a farmhouse that had been added onto generation after generation, massive stone bank barn, stone walkways and all of the other fascinating accoutrements, lured us in and called to us to make it our home.  To be honest, it certainly called to me much more than my husband or our five children, then ages 5 to 15 for they were sure that it was haunted, but upon each visit back, the stones began to talk to them too. And I, being a bit of a persuasive personality when I believe strongly in something, probably hit them with a brick or two from those same walls… a proverbial persuasive brick mind you. 

I had always been a junker, since my indoctrination into it much to my chagrin, as a teenager who on family road trips, would refuse to get out of the antler laden or whatever had been found on the latest trip, family car, when we pulled into a rest stop or anywhere else for that matter.  You see, my dad could neve refrain from stopping at wherever there was a treasure to be found… on the side of the road, in an old barn, bar or restaurant. 

Much to my unwilling mind, I was silently taking this all in while protesting loudly to my parents, as I felt that was my role of course – that of the naysaying teenager. Again, unbeknownst to me,  I was also soaking up the history laden places that we had visited while on those family trips; From Monticello, Williamsburg, The Grand Ole Oprey, Mount Vernon and Valley Forge National Park to the wooden clad house that sat upon the sea in Maine and New England, they had all had a profound effect on me. That coupled with moving into quite a “work in progress” farm of my parents’ dreams when I was 14, fostered and grew this love of the old. While we may eternally discuss the effects of nature vs nurture…The letter writing of my mother and her fetish for old china, collections and her inability to part with no longer needed objects as well as my grandmother’s love for a celebration and making things combined with the aforementioned experiences formed the perfect storm, and have become to me, something that is deep within. All of which I have founded Life’s Patina on.

The behemoth barn that sat on the property that we were now calling home was filled with lots of cast off treasures when we moved in. Fortunately for me, many were collected by the former owner who I suspect has the same love of the old as I do. Upon restoring the interior of the house, I often hauled these and other treasures inside to present to the builder who would silently cough under his breath, “crazy lady”, as I would ask them to be installed here or there or made into this or that, especially when I asked him to keep the rust on these treasures or the chippiness of the wood finish.

Soon my dreams of turning old things into new began to seep into my mind for a business. The connection between this beautiful historic barn that stood just mere feet from my home and this business that I was forming in my mind began to take literal shape. Supported by my husband, after writing him a very lengthy letter as to why I felt that I needed to take this business on even with the caregiving of the kids and this property and assisted by the experience of a very dear friend in the business world… both aptly named Chris…I traveled totally out of my comfort zone and took the leap of opening Life’s Patina.

 In preparation, Chris and I designed our website with a web designer that I had found in the creative inspirational pages of the magazine Where Women Create founded by the phenomenal Jo Packham. I hungrily digested magazines like this and other websites which told stories of women who had followed their passions and their calling, like Sharon Santoni’s My French Country Home whose magazine we shall be carrying at the Mercantile. We designed the logo by going back and forth over email with the web designer who resided in the state of California.  The conversations would look something like this:  Me: “Can you please use an oval and this script and this color blue and brown and use this tagline”… what the heck was a tagline? “Can you please (I still say please to google when asking it to do something in the kitchen much to the amusement of my family)  insert a topiary which will refer to growth and life?” Very professional sounding terms they were not, just an expression of what I could see in my mind. Back and forth we went until we had come up with our logo. 

One of which I have loved dearly since the beginning. Chris knew of a sign guy who could create a label that we could affix to an old door that I had found that would hang from an architectural salvage item that I had hauled home from Pheasant Run Antiques in my Dad’s open trailer. That trailer became an appendage to my mom Suburban, that I soon would grow very adept at driving in order to haul things home out of state places like Virginia and Massachusetts and the states in between. 

All of you who have visited have seen that Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm sign and logo upon entering the barn… and let me assure you that you will continue to see that logo and sign as you enter the barn for it is near and dear to my heart and symbolizes our beginnings.

But as we grow and expand our business towards our dreams, we realized we needed a logo to reflect both our past, present AND future… Branding that celebrated both our achieved dreams from the past and the future dreams we’re working towards. And thus, we are very excited to share with you, our updated branding, a new logo and a newly designed website that reflect the direction in which we are moving. One that reflects our direction for the next decade if we are going to be continued to be blessed by our faithful supporters, followers and visitors.  You see…  this hobby of turning someone else’s junk into a new treasure, that turned into a business that turned into a way of life has slowly crept into every aspect of my being. That interest in history and wondering who walked these floorboards that we now tread has created a passion in protecting and revitalizing such buildings and spaces. A fervent obsession where every old crumbling building that I gaze upon, I feel, has an important story to tell.  A story that is based on the lives of people, of people that although have passed from this earth, have left their imprint, as all of us do. Their imprints are often wiped away by the passing of their descendents as has been so obviously enforced in the countless nameless photo albums, family bibles and family heirlooms of these faces of the past that we find on our picking trips. These stories are told in the gilded chandelier that we find in an old barn.

 In the cracked and distressed mirror leaning against the wall of an old home.

 In the uneven crumbling stone wall of a farm.

One can only imagine the savings and the pride that the past owner had felt when gazing up at their newly installed chandelier… the emotions that have been portrayed by the faces that have gazed into that cracked mirror… and to the sweat, labor and means of survival that were poured into constructing that stone wall. Yes, these are only objects and old homes that have been discarded to make way for the new and it is never a good thing when we are too attached to our things but I feel strongly that there are lessons learned in the study of these old things, in the admiration of how they were created and even how the simple home kitchen tool was created with longevity and a craftsmanship that has long ago been forgotten for speed and the “latest and greatest.” We live in a disposable society where both the stories and the objects no longer have relevant meaning. 

It is our intent to continue to give these objects a platform for their stories to be heard. For these buildings to hear the sound of laughter within their walls again. For adaptive reuses to be created and assigned to these crumbling and often overlooked structures. To give a platform for the relevant meaning to the stories of all who have gone before us… who have celebrated life, in its simplicity and in its decadence… In its laughter and in its sorrow… In its past and in its present. We aim to protect these and other footsteps on the floorboards that while we tread on them, we are not erasing.  We also intend to create new footsteps to be layered on the old, creating new stories and celebrations to speak of, to enhance the stories on the outline of the old.

We are thoroughly thrilled about the direction in which we are moving and to celebrate we have been in the rebranding phase of our little business over the last year!  While our current atmosphere of living within the confines of Covid-19 have imparted difficulties, we are moving full steam ahead with the opening of our second location, The Life’s Patina Mercantile & Cafe in Historic Yellow Springs Village.

To reflect the expansion of our little grass roots enterprise of Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm with the opening of our new Mercantile & Cafe in the Village of Historic Yellow Springs… talk about a place whose past inhabitants left indelible footsteps…we have updated our logo to reflect our direction and our expansion. A logo that encompasses our humble beginnings as well as our dreams for the future. One that prompts us to look back at the past as well as take a hopeful look forward at the years to come.

In order to encompass both our Willowbrook Farm location as well as our coming soon location at Historic Yellow Springs, we decided to add the simple word, “Co.” to our name and transition from Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm to Life’s Patina Co. This simple update allows us to encompass both of our locations and any other growth that we might experience in the future (we have some exciting plans and possibilities up our sleeves!). This new logo will allow us to share our information and our happenings at both of our locations with the least amount of confusion and the new designs will be appearing in product that we are collaborating on with some of our artisanal makers to bring to you!

We have also been working on building a new website that will incorporate both our Willowbrook Farm location and our Historic Yellow Springs location in one place. One that can be home to all aspects of our business – from workshops & events to private gatherings and venue rentals, barn sales to vintage rentals, our new Mercantile & cafe to our blog and online shop. One in which you can find the information that you are looking for and reach out to us in a localized place and enable us to work more efficiently with requests, inquiries and information. One in which we can easily disperse our content that we have been creating all along to celebrate the beauty of life past and present. In that vein, do not worry, for you will see many elements of our past melding with our future in our rebranding. We are not changing Who we are, our mission remains the same. We are rather making room for our little business to grow. We’re honoring the milestones that led us to where we are today, but also taking the opportunity to consider the things we want to strive for as we move forward. The launching of the new website is planned for early November and we cannot wait to share it with you! We will be doing lots of giveaways, promotions and fun stuff in the weeks leading up to its reveal so stay tuned as we post about those happenings!

A Rough Draft of one of the hand drawn maps on our new website…

We have been working with a dear friend and new team member… Suzy… to create an interactive map for the new website whose artwork will grace the pages of many of our new images and branding. We are so very excited to share all of this newness with you while maintaining the core value of what we have developed at Life’s Patina over the almost ten years that have passed. Time sure does fly when you are working really hard and when you love what you do! Although… in this climate…does anybody really know what time it is and does anybody even really care?

I know that it is time to give wholehearted thanks to my little team. A team that works either part time or full time to further the message of what Life’s Patina is all about and helps bring it to fruition… I couldn’t do it without you. Our working schedule has looked different in the months since this pandemic entered all of our lives, but we have forged ahead, working so much behind the scenes to make these changes to reflect our future. From Maggie to whom the main communication has been happening with the new website designer and is assisting in all things related to the rebranding. To Julie, who is my daily partner in the operations of this business who has been accepting, unpacking and pricing all of the new orders in the barn while holding this fort down. To Lynda, who does the behind the scenes bookkeeping and accounting while running her own business. To Suzy, who has just joined us in helping to procure the health department requirements in the opening of our new Historic Yellow Springs location and whose artistic abilities you will see in a variety of offerings at Life’s Patina Co. To Brett, who alongside our son Christopher, has helped to install some of the vignettes in the barn at the last sale and who is working on some of the construction at the Mercantile in Yellow Springs. All of these people working together have enabled me to focus on the renovations of our new Mercantile & Cafe, the direction of this business and the design and installation of the past Fall Barn Sale and upcoming Holiday one. We are a little team that dreams of big things… and works together to fulfill those dreams.

So without further ado… I give you Life’s Patina Co! We’ll be sharing progress updates in the coming months, so stay tuned. We are truly so glad you’re here to join us on this continued journey! 

~ Xoxo, Meg

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  1. Barbie Volpe says:

    The new logo is absolutely beautiful Meg! I am so excited to see the new mercantile and cafe, and everything you have planned! Congratulations!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thank you Barbie! Change is sometimes hard but it was time! Glad that you like it and we too are excited to share with you the new mercantile in the spring days to come… hopefully!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  2. Kendra Nestor says:

    I love the new logo! Meg, you are so creative. It must take a village to help your ideas and vision become reality – I can testify that one walk through the barn doors beckons and inspires the creative mind. I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to visit the new mercantile.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thank you Kendra! I have an amazing small but mighty tea, who respect each other and work together very well! Im going to do a post about each of them soon as we unveil the new website, hopefully later this month! I am so glad to hear that you are inspired when you enter the barn for that is my goal!
      Along with the new website, we hope to be sharing the mercantile with you later this spring! Cannot wait for you to visit!
      I hope that you are all well as this new year is upon us. May light fill it!
      Meg

  3. June Zampolino says:

    Love shopping in your barn. Such a tranquil treasure trove. I have to check out your new yellow springs location.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thank you June! We Love that you Love shopping the barn!
      We cannot wait to share the mercantile with you as soon as we can open her doors!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  4. Linda says:

    Very exciting news indeed!! Congrats!!
    One small request to please change the color of the print in your newsletters to something with more contrast. It’s very difficult to read with my old eyes and a simple fix with a darker shade of brown perhaps would make it a more pleasant read for many of your customers. Thanks and see you soon!!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Linda,
      Thank you very much for both reading and for your comment! We are putting the finishing touches on our new website and hopefully that will be rectified for you are not the only one who has suggested that.
      Thank you for your support!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  5. Colleen hanna says:

    It all seems so ‘right’- congratulations on all of your growth! Can’t wait to see the next ‘branch and blooms‘…

    • Meg Veno says:

      What a beautiful sentiment Colleen!
      Thank you for commenting and we look forward to showing you that new blossom soon!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  6. Kiki Ade says:

    Thank You for the update: As always the read was so U. All good things come to those who wait, the wait is exciting like unwrapping that special something that will have a new place & meaning. Treasures no matter the size will so B worth the wait.
    logo : very Lovely!!!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Ha! Ha! I have a tendency to write as I speak… a little long winded! Thank you for following along as you have for so long and for your always encouraging words Kiki! They mean a lot!
      Looking forward to sharing the Jenny with you soon!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  7. Donna Whiteside says:

    I cannot wait to see the “Yellowsprings Mercantile” location. Please keep me informed as to it’s opening. I LOVE everything you are doing and everything vintage.
    Thanks for keeping historic buildings preserved and breathing new life into them.
    all my best,
    donna

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Donna,

      Thank you for following along and for your appreciation of these old beauties!They are something to be preserved for future generations to enjoy! We cannot wait to share the Jenny with you when we are able to open in all of her glory!

      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  8. Judy Doyle says:

    Loved reading your story…I can relate completely. Our love (husband) and mine, has never faltered since our first auction 1968) – into a business (though small) it has lasted 36 years. It just doesn’t go away once the seeds are planted. Wishing you the best of luck in all your adventures can’t wait to visit –

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Judy,

      You know all too well the love affair that happens when you start a business from something that you are deeply passionate about! You and your husband should be incredibly satisfied and proud of what you have accomplished with creating that business and still loving and sharing what you do! We cannot wait for you both to visit and we look forward to sharing the Mercantile with you when we are able to open her as well!
      May your new year be filled with light!
      Meg

  9. Charlotte says:

    Oh so exciting!! Love your blog, your barn and can’t wait for the Mercantile!! Thank you for providing so much happiness !!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Charlotte,

      Thank you for enjoying what we do here at Life’s Patina! We appreciate you letting us know and we too cannot wait to share the Mercantile with all of you, hopefully later in the Spring!

      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  10. Susana Stevens says:

    Very exciting! It’s going to be wonderful! Congratulations!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thank Susana! We are so very happy that you are excited about it! We hope to share her with all of you in the late spring of this year.
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  11. Denise Yonchek says:

    So exciting! I would love to come work for you! I too, love old things! From the cobels I hand picked out of the demolished PAL Building at Broad & Vine to and antique meat scale found at a deserted swim club, I am forever seekng “trasure”. Can’t wait to see the new place, and remember me if hiring! Seriously…..Contact me via email, I could send my resume. Only seeking part time work. Best of Luck!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Denise,

      Thanks for commenting! We will be hiring to staff the new mercantile in the next couple of months, so if you are interested, you can email your resume to julieniness@lifespatina.com. We are hoping to bring people in who share the same appreciation for the old!!!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  12. Meg Moser says:

    Thanks for the history and the update, it certainly deepens my appreciation of your Creation! I look forward to the barn sale and the opening of your Yellow Springs location.

    Best wishes on all of the endeavors you have planned.

    Best,

    Meg

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hello Meg,

      I feel that the back story that all of us have, always deepens the meaning and appreciation of life!
      Thank you for reading and we too look forward to sharing with you all of the Jenny’s beauty hopefully soon in this new year!
      Be well and stay safe!
      Meg

  13. Margaret Naku says:

    This is so exciting! Thank you for the trip down memory lane:) Have followed You for some time& Always enjoy your blog,emails,and seasonal events.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hello Margaret!
      Thank you so very much for following along on our journey! You are the reason we keep doing what we are doing! Thank you for letting us know that you enjoy all that we do!
      May your new year be filled with light!
      Meg

  14. sandra fetko says:

    Consistently enjoyable at every visit. Looking forward to your future endeavors and how we will benefit. Wonderfully inspiring.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Sandra,

      Thank you for your support over the years and we look forward to sharing all the gifts of the second location hopefully soon in this new year!
      Stay safe and well!
      XX
      Meg

  15. Peter Manetas says:

    Meg,
    Congrats on all the wonderful updates and congrats as you approach Life’s Patina’s 10th anniversary. I grew up on a family flower farm in South Jersey and remember when we inherited a barn, too, – although modest in comparison to your treasure. Look forward to visiting again.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thank you Peter for commenting and sharing your invite and appreciation! We look forward to hopefully opening as we used to, sometime this year!
      May light fill your new year!
      Meg

  16. Melissa M says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, Meg!
    Looking forward to experiencing the mercantile and cafe!

  17. Cathy says:

    Can’t wait to experience your latest dream come true in person. What a journey!!