Teacher works on side gig of restoring vintage furniture

With school out for the summer, special education teacher Mikki Angerman will now focus more on repairing and restoring vintage furniture for her growing side business on Case Avenue called Forget-Me-Not Furniture. "'Furniture flipping,' I guess you can call it," she said.

She hopes her business will grow even more this summer, as residents continue to show interest. "It's nice to have that kind of support from the community."

Angerman first started working on furniture out of boredom during the COVID pandemic, looking for a creative outlet. While shopping for a piece of furniture for her house, she was not satisfied with what she found in stores. She thought they were too expensive and lacked the style and character of vintage products, so she decided to restore an old hutch instead.

At first, husband Aaron Angerman, who hauled the hutch to their home with his brother's help, had some doubts about his wife's ability to restore it, given that she admittedly had no experience in woodworking.

"It turned out pretty good," he said. "We still use it to this day."

After years of working out of her home and using several storage units, Mikki Angerman lined up space in December at the old Crossings Building on Case Avenue, which has room for the many pieces of furniture now stored there that she has come across over the years for free or cheap.

They are all shapes and sizes, including cabinets, bookshelves and tables, in various states of repair. A few chairs hang from one wall while an assortment of tools, brushes, paints and finishes are kept on the opposite side. She said she dreams about remaking the front of the space into a storefront, "but we'll see."

One of her main tools was a gift from her husband: a power sander connected to a shop vacuum. "So I can sand and there's not sawdust everywhere," she said, adding that it enabled her to sand items in her living room for a while, which wasn't ideal from her husband's perspective.

"My husband was like, 'Get it out of our living room!" she said.

Despite that, she said her husband has been very encouraging with her newfound passion. "I want to do things myself, but there are times when I've asked him, like with the bigger power tools, to come help and he's been very supportive in that way."

Even though Mikki Angerman came to the craft only recently, lumber and woodworking were always in the background of her life. "My stepfather, when I was growing up, he worked at a lumberyard. He was a manager there, so I spent a lot of my childhood running through his lumberyard. I would pick up old nails for like, I don't know, five bucks or whatever it was."

She said she always liked working with her hands, but initially wasn't quite brave enough to try woodworking or furniture restoration. All changed when the pandemic hit. "During COVID, we had all the time, so I thought ... 'Whatever, I'm just going to try it.'"

She quickly became skilled, self-taught through trial and error, as well as other resources. "I bought a few books. I watched a lot of videos."

Angerman said one of the many things she loves about restoring furniture is "you never really know what you're going to get. I don't know if people realize all the steps it takes."

She also gets very connected to the different pieces she works on, like when she uses a specific type of cleaner. "When you're washing it, you find every little nick or ding, anything that you have to fix."

While some people have told her how they dislike sanding down pieces, she doesn't mind that kind of work. "I'm diagnosed ADHD, and I feel like that is almost a superpower in this realm, because I can hyperfocus," she said. "I put on headphones, I can turn on music and I can just zone out, and it ends up being relaxing."

Angerman enjoys working on all kinds of furniture, but she does have a fondness for a particular type. "I love dressers," she said. "I feel like you can get really creative with a dresser. Dressers are a hot commodity here."

She displayed one such dresser on wooden wheels she found last summer. She relined the drawers with decorative wallpaper, polished the handles and used black chalk paint to give it a glossy, textured finish.

Although none of Angerman's kids have shown any interest in learning her mother's craft, they are eagerly looking forward to one of her current projects: an old poker table that she's refurbishing into a table for board games. "I've tried to get them to see if they want to learn how to do any of it, but I don't think they're quite there yet."

The inspiration for her business's name came from her desire to fight against the current trend of a disposable society. "I feel like every piece has a story," she said. "It's had a life. It's had kids on it, maybe, or grandparents, and I feel if there's a way to restore that and keep it, it won't be forgotten. ... It can live on for another generation. 'Forget-Me-Not' fit."

She encourages people to check out her work or contact her via Forget-Me-Not Furniture's social media pages on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.


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