Local Author Sue Whitney Releases “Junk Beautiful: FURNITURE ReFRESHED”

Do you junk? If not, after looking at all the amazing things that Sue Whitney has created and restored from junk, you will want to. Whitney is a celebrity in our midst, having appeared multiple times on NBC’s “The Today Show,” as well as HGTV’s “Country Style.” She has published three books, served as editor-at-large and columnist for “Country Home Magazine” and as a contributing editor for Better Homes and Garden’s “Country Gardens” magazine. 


In short, Whitney is a trusted author, and her new book “Junk Beautiful: Furniture Refreshed” will not disappoint. Learn how to refinish antique furniture or create a unique piece out of a thrift store purchase. Whitney says, “We’re a throw-away culture,” and this book will teach you how to reuse and recycle to avoid buying cookie-cutter items from big box stores.


Whitney loves to “inspire others,” and this book is an introduction as well as a refresher, geared toward everyone—those who are brand new to furniture restoration, as well as those who have been around for a while. Readers will get exact steps for projects, with step-by-step instructions.


If you like the “junk” look but don’t know where to start, this is the book for you. Whitney says, “People don’t think they’re creative, even though they really are. Usually they’re just nervous.” Even if you use the book to copy an exact project, it will turn out differently, with your own style. And collecting “junk” does not equate with cluttering spaces or hoarding. You can make it match your style, whether that’s shabby chic or vintage or something more modern.

Whitney has some helpful tips for refreshing furniture. She says, “Only buy things that you truly love, [and] you’ll find out what to do with it. Don’t put it in the closet or garage where you won’t see it. You need to live with it for a while.” 

All the projects in the book take under a weekend, but lots are even less than that. Whitney wants to give people the feeling of success and accomplishment.


Whitney says, “Paint is not screws or nails. A new color might make a piece look better, but make sure the piece is structurally sound before painting,” otherwise it will still look like junk. She advises researching what should and should not be painted, and the book is a great tool for learning more. 

Learn about the basic tools that you need to buy, as well as basic craft materials to have around. She advises exercising restraint when making purchases, “Don’t break the bank by buying things you won’t use. If you’re not going to use it, don’t buy it.” She also provides “assemblage projects” which don’t require any tools at all.


Whitney does not have a storefront, but her home base is in Lanesboro. She says, “It’s a great place to work and be creative.” She enjoys the “camaraderie of people in Southeast Minnesota,” saying they “had my back all the way, opening their stores for me during off hours,” so she could get what she needed for her photo shoots.

Photos for “Junk Beautiful” were all shot in the Lanesboro, Rochester and Chatfield areas. All of the how-tos were shot in Whitney’s loft in Lanesboro, and every project was built in her workshop.

Looking for a gift for a DIYer? Look no further than this book. It will serve as a reference for a long time. You can find it at major bookstores, Lowe’s and local vintage and antique stores, as well as online at Amazon and Target.

Whitney is hard at work on her next book about she sheds, due out in 2018. She will be featuring sheds from Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and California.

Emily Watkins always has grand plans for turning trash into treasure, but naps are just so much easier.