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Transforming designs are a ‘blessing’ for new store

By Staff | Apr 1, 2015

PHOTO BY BARB BARRET/The Luminary Owners Joni Johnson and Jackie Heitmann held an open house Saturday afternoon at their new store, Blessings By Design, at 29 S. Main Street in Muncy. The store features refurbished furniture, pottery, handmade soaps and lotions, home accessories, and jewelry. Both women are chaplains at Geisinger and part of their proceeds goes towards the Water for Life Foundation.

MUNCY – It wasn’t by accident that Joni Johnson and Jackie Heitmann opened up their new shop in downtown Muncy. The two women, who reside in Muncy, are chaplains at Geisinger Medical Center and have a love of the arts and historical artifacts. Using a chic country French theme, the ladies spent several months setting up their quaint shop, Blessings By Design, at 29 S. Main Street.

Formerly, they were located at the “Street of Shops” in Lewisburg, but according to Heitmann, it was hard to keep up with inventory.

Items, especially refurbished furniture, would go fast. Heitmann likes to take vintage pieces of furniture such as old desks, chairs, and dressers and redesign them to a more “modern look.”

She uses a special kind of paint known as “chalk paint” that is made in England to give the furniture a charming facade then stencils designs for a personal appeal.

Color is also important. Johnson said they choose their pieces carefully and she is especially fond of the embellished linens, pillows and table coverings.

Jackie Heitmann, co-owner of Blessings By Design in downtown Muncy, shows how she refurbished a vintage dresser with "chalk paint" from England and some stencil designs to give the furniture a newer, more modern look. She will be offering classes soon using the technique.

Hardware and accessory pieces can also be purchased through the store to help transform an old piece into a more contemporary style.

Heitman said she will be using the rear of the shop as her studio and will be teaching classes and workshops on painting and distressing furniture. “I like to work on metal too,” she said and will be instructing techniques on waxing and brushing to bring out the natural sheen and color of the applied paint.

“If you don’t wish to do it yourself, bring in your old furniture, and we will do it,” said Johnson. “We like to find vintage pieces that have been throwaways,” she added.

The women are also using local talent. Lois Madoire from Muncy made the embellished pillows by hand. “Her work is exquisite,” Jackie said, “and she also does gorgeous monogramming.” Jeffrey Overman from Wyalusing provides the pottery and lip balms, soaps and lotions are from the Zarm Farm in Unityville.

The most unique part of the whole operation is their non-profit status, because part of all proceeds gets donated to the “Water for Life Foundation” to drill water wells in Africa. Johnson said she has been there 10 times so far and in 2008 had a well drilled in Zambia in memory of a long time friend. Both women do short term mission work and have traveled all over the country of Africa since 2000.

PHOTO BY BARB BARRETT/The Luminary These detailed decorated petite cakes were a special treat at the open house on Saturday afternoon at the new shop, Blessings By Design.

The new location is next to the Sweet Memories sweet shop owned by Lois Velkoff who was grateful to accommodate her new tenant. The women said they looked at other places, but when they saw Velkoff’s place, they knew it was the perfect location, and just what downtown Muncy needed. They took possession on January 16 and painted walls, decorated the ceiling and polished the flooring.

An open house with wine and refreshments was held Saturday afternoon. “We are blessed to be a blessing. It is something we need to share, making throwaways more beautiful,” said the women. “We can help transform those who are in a crisis to a more beautiful transformation.”

The store is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 to 5.