OAK CREEK - An apartment full of art, some pieces finished, many still to start.
That's the best way to describe where Oak Creek resident Melissa Geib, owner of Simplistic Farmer Decor, both lives and works.
Nearly a dozen wooden ladders line the back of her couch, ready to be painted. Geib said her family has learned to live around her projects.
The blanket ladders are her most popular project, but they're far from her only offering.
Re-asons for work
Some pieces are repurposed, such as a few sets of windows made into picture frames or a dresser drawer becoming a wall shelf, while others are simply restored.
Geib said it depends on the piece and its condition whether she repurposes or restores it.
One of her most prized pieces is a cabinet she restored. It has become the family entertainment center.
"I am by no means rich with three children to take care of," Geib said. "Yet I loved the look of the shabby chic items. A few years back I picked up a brush and began recreating a table I had, (and) wouldn't you know it, it turned out great."
She continued creating with project ideas coming from many sources, such as seeing something in a magazine or online she liked. In addition to her own designs, Geib said she does custom work as well.
Many pieces she works on are quite large and were a challenge to get up the stairs to her apartment, but her passion gives her strength. In the summer she sometimes uses her father's garage.
Geib said she often finds projects through sites like Craigslist and OfferUp. She spends a good deal of her free time hunting and hoping an item is still there when she can finally find the time to drive out. She said there have been times she drove three hours for the perfect piece she couldn't pass up.
"Every piece of furniture has a story," Geib said.
Smiling, she said an ideal vacation for her would be to take a U-Haul down south to find more projects.
Eventually, she had too many creations for herself and began selling them.
"My love poured into my furniture art is being displayed proudly in people's homes," Geib said. "A home is your prized possession, your sacred place. To have people enjoy my art enough to place it in their sacred space is beyond words."
Geib gets pretty busy. Holding down a job in the Aurora Cancer Center while also going to nursing school can create a lot of stress. Geib said her art is a release as well as another means of income.
"I have always had a passion for art and to get to do what you love is amazing," she said.
Working during the day, Geib spends her nights painting, staining, waxing and sanding multiple projects for customers and, most recently, for sale at Copper and Pearls, 37 E. Ryan Road in Oak Creek. Her work can also be found at the Lulu Birds gift shop in Kenosha.
Her work is also sold on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/simplisticfarmer.
Geib said she donates some of her custom decor to auctions and participates in community craft fairs whenever she can.
"Everyone has their small contributions to the world," she said. "This is my gift and I am sharing it."