In the 200-year-old farmhouse nestled on the border of Cedar Grove and Verona, Patty Cain is engulfed by the old Amish country.
The space, crammed full of one-of-a-kind pieces handmade from 1800s reclaimed barn wood from farms in Lancaster County, displays Cain's original designs and handsome, custom-made farm tables.
The business Cain started more than a decade ago of transforming antique wood into handcrafted, custom furniture has established Cain as the local expert on architectural salvage, Amish antiques and custom vintage creations.
Travels back to Lancaster
As an interior decorator who grew up in Lancaster County, Cain's work has always been influenced by her childhood memories. Although she left Lancaster to pursue a career in Manhattan and Montclair, where she now resides, she found herself frequently bringing clients Amish antiques from her travels back home. Their popularity among her clients convinced Cain to go into business for herself.
“All my life I’ve loved beautiful farm tables,” said Cain. So when Cain opened her business she said, “I built my store around them.”
Now she travels to Lancaster once a month to “crawl around” in barns searching for treasures for her store, Gypsy Farmhouse.
And Lancaster County has never led her astray. The county as Cain pointed out is the oldest inland settlement in the country, and as such they have some of the oldest barns in the U.S.
“I love old, worn wood,” said Cain, adding, “I’m proud to help these old barns live on in cherished pieces of furniture.”
The furniture favored most by Cain's customers are her farm tables and for good reason, according to Cain. “Kids grow up around them, and they are a great family heirloom to pass down.”
Cain's farm tables are made to the customer’s exact specifications, Cain explained. Customers select the length, width and thickness of the wood for their tabletop as well as the style of leg made from sturdy barn beams. They also choose from five different finishes and can add leaves and drawers.
“The customer makes all the decisions,” she said.
Aside from all the custom features, something else make’s Cain’s farm tables distinct—the craftsmanship. Each table has a hand-rubbed and hand-waxed finish.
“There are nine different coats that go into them,” Cain emphasized. “They have a wonderful feel to them.”
More than just farm tables
While farm tables are her main business, Cain noted she also makes 50 other pieces of furniture.
“We do everything,” she said.
Wandering through Gypsy Farmhouse customers will find her statement is true enough. Every room is piled high with sideboards, hutches, coffee tables, desks and vanities. She also builds custom kitchen islands, designed to fit any space and can include such custom details as shelves, wine-racks or even a built-in bottle opener.
Cain’s own furniture line, Red Farm Girl Furniture, is made from antique barn wood and old, found objects. Just recently she made a sideboard from the base of an armoire using 1800s ceiling tin for the top surface and industrial pipe for legs.
If it’s authentic antiques customers are after, Cain’s store has those, too.
“It’s full of antiques from Amish farms,” she said, pointing to the worktables, cupboards and dry sinks, the type used before running water, hidden among the custom furniture packing her store. She also carries tons of architectural pieces from corbles and brackets to windows and shutters.
“We’re like the idea people here,” said Cain, who uses her 30 years experience as an interior decorator to help clients convert cool architectural details into unique pieces of furniture. If customers can’t find a use for her reclaimed pieces, Cain will suggest one. She recommends converting old shutters into sofa tables or using an old window frame for a mirror or as a picture frame.
If it’s a headboard a client is looking for Cain will show them the door. She has tons of them and says old doors make perfect headboards or tables. With a woodworker on site customers can have the door trimmed down into a coffee table, kitchen table or desk the same day.
“Each door is different because it has the original paint and key holes in it,” Cain explained.
New use for outhouses
As unusual as door tables are, Cain carries another item that even more unique. Outhouses. Approaching the store’s entrance from the small parking lot in back, one strolls down a path lined by outhouses. While the outhouses are the largest item Cain carries, they can go unnoticed as the eye is overwhelmed by the bounty of old fences, gates and bird baths scattered about the yard. But passing by an outhouse would be a missed opportunity.
“Gardeners love them as potting sheds,” Cain said, explaining that once outhouses are painted over and adorned with a wreath they make lovely additions to landscapes. The other modern use for outhouses, Cain remarked, is as a poolside cabana. She noted four of her outhouses have found homes right next door in Montclair.
With all that Gypsy Farmhouse has to offer, if customers still can't find the piece of furniture they had in mind, Cain will make it. Customers are welcome to bring in a picture from a magazine, and Cain will reproduce the piece for them.
It's doubful customers won't find a gem among Cain's finds and creations. Interior design shows certainly have. HGTV recently visited Gypsy Farmhouse for a new series the network is filming called Mom Caves. While Cain’s not sure if her store will be featured on the show, she did note the producers bought several pieces. Even if Cain’s store doesn’t make the cut, her store has turned up on other television shows like Trading Spaces and the BBC’s Moving Up.
But community members don't need to wait to see if Cain shows up on T.V. They have the good fortune to be able to walk right in and see the goods up close.
106 Pompton Ave.