Part boho, part shabby chic, plus a pinch of farmhouse and a dash of glam, Windham’s My Sister’s Garage vintage shop is a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind finds.
It all started in a carport. Sarah Tringali, then working as an event coordinator, and her prop-stylist sister, Jenn, transformed their Naples garage into a cute cottage from which they sold vintage furniture, clothing, and accessories for a couple of months in the summer. Ten years later, My Sister’s Garage is located in a 2,500-square-foot antique farmhouse in Windham with a shell-pink door that has become something of a local landmark. Hundreds of items from different eras in a range of styles and price points are arrayed in elaborate and eclectic room vignettes. “We like to mix everything together, because that’s truly how people live nowadays,” says Sarah.
Customers come in every week when the shop is open, Thursday through Sunday. On the days that it’s closed, Jenn, Sarah, and their employee, Holly Morrill—who was one of their first customers and is now “like a sister”—are scouring sources for intriguing finds, hauling pieces out of storage, and repairing and painting furniture. “We do everything ourselves,” says Jenn. “Guys will come in to pick up a piece such as a dining room table, and they’ll ask, ‘Are you sure you’re OK carrying the other end?’ And we just respond, ‘Well, how do you think it got in here?’”
Beyond pluck and prowess, the owners offer a particular brand of design daredevilry. “We always like to have something a little bit unpredictable, because that’s what intrigues you,” says Jenn, who, with Sarah, once built a full-size bed out of salvaged doors and secured it to the ceiling with rope. The sisters also change out merchandise frequently. Go one week, and a room might have a vintage camp theme: a 1930s college class photo hanging above a school-red bed made up with a buffalo plaid blanket. Return the next, and the same space might be reset as a romantic dressing area with a 1920s white silk dress dangling next to a curvaceous vanity on which a pink hyacinth is set in a milk-glass dish. “Not only can you come here to find something that you want, but you can go back home and use something that you have in a new way,” Jenn explains.
And when customers can’t make it in? My Sister’s Garage has a cult- like following on Facebook, where refurbished pieces are posted several times a week—and often sell quicker than one can hit “Like.” The shop also keeps a “wish book” in which patrons can write down whatever it is that they’re looking for. When a potential match is discovered, that customer is contacted for first dibs. “We constantly find stuff for people, and they’re ecstatic,” says Jenn.
Like a Pinterest board come to life, the shop delivers a curated blend of inspiration and ideas with a personal touch the Web can’t replicate. “I’m so proud of what we’ve built, and that my sister and I have become so close and bonded from it,” says Sarah. She pauses for a moment, welcoming by name a customer who walks in through the blush-colored door. Jenn continues, summing it all up: “We both need the creative outlet. We love who we work with, we love what we’re doing, and we built it ourselves.”
Garage Girl Decorating Tips
- Keep larger furniture pieces neutral and then layer in easily updated— and more affordable—accessories that reflect your personal style and favorite hues.
- Don’t be afraid to reinvent family hand-me-downs. A fresh coat of paint can be transformative. The piece should bring you joy to look at while still connecting you to your past.
- Add a mirror. It’s simply the best way to make a room feel bigger and brighter.
- Incorporate natural elements. Manufactured reproductions can’t match the smell, touch, or beauty that is found in the wild. Bring the outdoors in with full branch cuttings, fallen antlers, or tree-stump stools.
- There’s a fine line between familiar and stale. Your home should be comfortable but always evolving. You can instantly refresh an entire room by simply rearranging furniture. Never stop trying new things.