Project Transformation

March 7, 2014 

Rebekah Hoffmann
Contributing Writer

Sometimes tired old furniture just needs a beauty makeover. Enter Luckenbooth Too in O’Fallon.

Opened almost a year ago by Pauline McAllister, Luckenbooth Too is the place to see old and ugly cast-offs transformed into fresh and fabulous finds for the home with the aid of special paint techniques and other creative touches.

The store even has “before” and “after” areas. Showcased in front are the “afters,” artfully arranged in seven different room vignettes along with carefully chosen accessories. Then, in the back, are the “befores,” dubbed by McAllister and her style-savvy staff “the racked, stacked and uglies,” awaiting their own chance for a makeover.

Customers are then invited in to drool over the afters, gain inspiration and, if they so desire, purchase the completed pieces, accompanying accessories - or opt to buy one of the backroom pieces and undertake their own transformations.

Open for business

If this is sounding more like an event than an everyday store, you’re absolutely right. Because gathering the pieces, transforming them and styling the displays take countless hours of frenetic preparation, Luckenbooth Too is only open for business six different weekends in 2014, roughly every six weeks from March-December. However, today is your “Luckenbooth” day because it marks the start of one of those special weekends, with hours from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. tomorrow.

If today is like previous Luckenbooth Too weekends, expect to see people lining up before opening time to get first dibs on the offerings, which are kept super secret until then.

However, buyers are asked to delay pickup until the final hours of the weekend if possible, to allow others to be inspired by the intact displays.

“We don’t do any classes, but we want people who enjoy the painting to get inspired, and we are happy to share information and help the best we can.”

And, for those so inspired, it’s a short trip to the untransformed, backroom furniture, also for sale.

“It’s a really fun time; we’re blessed with the support we’ve had from customers.”

‘We never go halfway’

Luckenbooth Too is an offshoot of McAllister’s Luckenbooth Consignment Gallery, also in O’Fallon.

“It’s one of the most fun parts,” McAllister remarked. “And as with most awesome things, it came about by accident.”

That happy accident was sparked by Luckenbooth consignment store’s participation in the O’Fallon Design Challenge fundraiser for the O’Fallon Food Pantry in February 2013. For this, the store staff took charge of furnishing and decorating a couple of rooms in the design house - a challenge to which they committed 110 percent.

“We never go halfway on anything,” she said, laughing softly. And though the task was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun, and they got a lot of positive feedback, she noted. “Everybody just loved it.”

Around that same time, McAllister leased another nearby building space that had become available, “mainly because we needed the storage in its garage. But since we had the space, we started painting some pieces there, and, before we knew it, we had a new store.”

A group effort

McAllister is quick to credit her staff for making Luckenbooth Too a reality.

“I have three employees who paint (two of these have an art background) and four more in the store. They’re all awesome. I couldn’t do it without them.”

The painting staff turns out 50-60 pieces a month, with no two ever the same. The same thing goes for the different vignette themes she and her employees dream up for Luckenbooth Too, she said.

“We find inspiration everywhere,” she said, noting that a consignment store customer’s purse once inspired a whole Luckenbooth Too vignette. “Looking at that purse, I could just see the colors and design of a whole room in front of me.”

What’s a luckenbooth?

The term “luckenbooth” has Scottish origins dating back centuries. Originally a luckenbooth was a stall or a workshop. Nowadays, it’s the name of a brooch featuring an entwined heart and crown, symbolizing loyalty and devotion. McAllister, originally from Troon, Scotland, chose the name to honor her heritage.

Knowhow from years as military wife

She left her native Scotland decades ago after marrying a member of the United States Air Force. During her husband’s military career, the family moved multiple times, which allowed her to hone her own decorating skills.

“One of the things we as military spouses learn to do well is ‘move house’. You do with what you’ve got and make it look amazing. You get very creative.”

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