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By Sherri Richards, Published January 10 2003

Pieces of 'junque': Hawley woman gives old items new life in decorating business

Hawley, Minn.

Kriss LeCocq Pederson grew up in a home filled with fine antiques.

"They were beautiful and they still are beautiful, but they're all in glass cases," she says.

Now her home is filled with older items, but she doesn't refer to them as antiques.

To her, they're junk.

They're also her business, Funky Junque, which specializes in home decorating with older items.

LeCocq Pederson started decorating in a junk style in her first house, a rambler in Moorhead.

"It was just fun to decorate with cool, old stuff," she says. "I just got into it so much it's taken off."

She started having shows in her four-bedroom home outside Hawley two years ago, and also consults for interior design.

Many of the pieces she sells can be found on abandoned farms or salvage yards. But with branches, flowers, greenery and a little imagination, LeCocq Pederson turns them into décor.

In her dining room, glass battery jars serve as vases and are filled with branches. Two French doors flank the window and an infant tub sits in the corner.

In the basement "log cabin" room, wooden shutters frame the window.

"It really enlarges the window," she says. "It really makes the window look grand."

A wooden fireplace mantle serves as the headboard in this bedroom, while picket fencing is used as the headboard in a little girl's room.

Old windows turn into tables, mirrors and a chalkboard; a metal chicken feeder into a towel rack and a wire fence into a picture collage.

"I just see things in things," she says. "I never knew that was a talent. People would look at things and say, 'Oh, I would have never thought of that.' "

LeCocq Pederson says she doesn't care about how old the piece is, what kind of wood or fabric it is or its history.

"It's all in the look for me," she says.

Several of the pieces are weathered. Distressing furniture by banging it or sanding away paint is a popular technique, but LeCocq Pederson says she doesn't touch many of the pieces.

"It's never as good as it looks in a natural aging process," she says.

LeCocq Pederson says she finds many of her items at flea markets, which she loves.

"I drive in and my adrenaline starts pumping," she says.

She also scouts auctions and antique stores. She says finding the right kind of junk at antique stores can be difficult, as they carry more than just home furnishings.

"You can go to antique stores … but you still have to have the eye and pick it out," she says. "Fortunately I do and I love it."

And she says people often buy the pre-determined decor set up in furniture stores and their homes lose a unique flavor.

"Nobody in the Fargo area has what I have," she says. "They might have this couch or that couch, but they don't have what goes around it."

LeCocq Pederson says her style of decorating gives a comfortable feeling to a home.

"There's so many new homes, you walk in and they're stark white," she says. "I think when you walk into a room that has funky junk, or any kind of junk, it gives the room soul."

But where is the line drawn between junk and art?

"It's all in how it's displayed," she says.

The correct wall colors can make or break a piece. LeCocq Pederson suggests natural colors that can change with the season. She redecorates her home four times a year.

The pieces often are functional, useable for seating or storage. She says benches are her biggest seller.

"I would say to start with several pieces or a large piece that has the look that they're wanting," she says. "You can mix new with old and it's going to give the room character."

Tammy Holland of West Fargo has purchased several items from Funky Junque, including a 5-foot-long white bench, a cupboard, wagon, rocking horse, shelves, clay pots and tin cans.

"I have so much fun when we go out there," she says. "You get so many good ideas."

Holland says the décor brings her back to her roots, growing up on a farm.

"It's functional, and yet I look at it and I see some things from my past," she says.

Holland also had LeCocq Pederson design a window treatment for her kitchen.

"She really has some neat stuff," Holland says. "She has a real knack for doing this."

LeCocq Pederson hopes to expand Funky Junque into more outdoor décor. Already, in front of her home, flower carts and washtubs are filled with greenery.

She also would like to move into a store, but says it's difficult to find the right space.

"I really want to give it the same rooms look," she says.

Although her mother's home is still adorned in a Victorian style, LeCocq Pederson says her mother and brothers help her find junk.

"My grandpa would be very proud of me," she says. "He was the kind of person who never threw anything away."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525

Show and sell

- Funky Junque's five in-house shows each year are by invitation only, although anyone interested can make it onto the guest list. Visits and consultations can also be scheduled by calling (701) 238-8796.