A wooden table so dark it’s nearly black stands in the corner of a Mattituck shop.
The table’s body and legs are very thick but still classic looking -— sort of in the British colonial style. At about two feet by three feet, it’s not very wide, but it’s nearly four feet high, making its use and origins quite the mystery.
But this table with an unknown past will soon be reborn as something else.
“That piece, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do to it yet,” says Joanne Paluck, owner of Repurpose Project, a new store on Pike Street.
What Ms. Paluck does is repurpose, refinish and revive old wood furniture like the table described above. The definition of “repurpose,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “to change something so that it can be used for a different purpose. To give a new purpose or use to.”
It’s also a popular term for recycling antique objects and furniture.
When most people stroll down Love Lane in Mattituck, they peruse the lovely shops and partake the fare from delicious restaurants, but they rarely wander off the beaten path onto the side streets. That’s about to change as Pike Street prepares to step into the spotlight.
Ms. Paluck’s small store sits on the south side of the street, across from the new Good Food restaurant and next to Agora The Little Greek Market, which is set to open soon.
“I’m not on Love Lane and that’s part of my problem, nobody knows to turn up Pike Street because nothing’s ever been there before,” says Ms. Paluck, who is also a designer.
For Ms. Paluck, the Repurpose Project began as a hobby. She and her husband, Michael, a professional cabinetmaker for a woodworking company in Calverton, work together out of their Yaphank home. The couple decided to go full-time with the business opening the store this spring. She is still putting the final touches on the shop, shifting a table here, tweaking a display there.
Mr. Paluck, who previously worked in the medical field, makes furniture by hand, while Ms. Paluck repurposes what she finds and buys at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales.
“I go up to Vermont a lot and buy up there,” she said. “I’m in a ski club and for some reason there’s a lot of really good furniture up there that’s fairly inexpensive. I take good quality wood furniture and, if it has good bones, either I revive it or I turn it into something else.”
Ms. Paluck points out a dramatic piece of furniture showcased prominently near the store’s entrance. It looks like a sink atop a small black wood cabinet. The piece could be considered retro chic and would fit right in at a Restoration Hardware store.
“This piece for instance, I have no idea what it was, but it was unique. I think it was a custom-made unit for a barber,” Ms. Paluck said. “They’d put their straight razors in there and lock them up. It has the metal, so the water doesn’t damage the wood. Sold as is, it would be $300; if somebody wanted it made into a vanity, we could retrofit it.”
During a recent interview, a few people wandered into the store to look at her creations. One couple said they’re big fans of the type of furniture Ms. Paluck offers. “We’re always looking for something unique and different,” said Penelope Sorenson of Michigan. “We furnished our whole house that way.”
An example of Ms. Paluck’s unique touch is a couch table in which she routed out a portion of and filled with pebbles, then covered with a clear resin. The look gives the appearance of a small stream flowing along the table.
“I try not to think what I’m going to do with an item when I buy it,” Ms. Paluck said, adding that the mysterious wood table caught her eye at an antique flea market for a different reason. “A lot of people were looking at it, which meant there was interest in it and I saw the potential to be something, I don’t know what yet. I would like it to be a kitchen island, maybe.”
Ms. Paluck’s design work will also be on display in August, when she will be among the designers participating in the North Fork Designer Show House in Cutchogue. But right now the Repurpose Project is taking up most of her time.
“I’m looking forward to people hopefully turning down Pike Street,” she said with a laugh. “The store is always changing, because it’s all unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, so there’s always something different here.”
The Repurpose Project, located at 610A Pike St. in Mattituck, is open Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit therepurposeproject.com.