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10/9/2003

Old building is reborn

By Susan McCann
Times-Call Correspondent

LYONS — Chairs the color of fresh garden tomatoes, tables the colors of the ocean and cabinets the colors of fresh spices and summer flowers all stand in neatly displayed sections of the new furniture store, Rabbit Mountain Cottage Furnishings in Lyons.

The colorful little furniture store opened Sept. 5 in a small building that has stood vacant for years at the end of Main Street. Owners Jamie Hart and her husband, Thomas Forrest, have been in the furniture business since 1986, but the idea of opening up her own shop came to Hart quite unexpectedly.

“I had been trying to come up with some type of job I could do while caring for my two small children who are in grade school,” Hart said. “My husband and I drove by this building on Main many times and I often said to him, ‘Someone should open up a bookstore or a coffee shop there.’ It seemed like a good location for something.

“Then I went to Georgia to visit my parents, and when I was out for a walk I started looking around this small town for a little building where my husband and I could retire and sell and refinish furniture. I thought this would be a perfect location in the mountains. All of a sudden I realized that I have that same perfect location in Lyons and this empty building popped into my mind. I started getting really excited about the idea when a large rabbit ran across the sidewalk in front of me and I knew that I had to have ‘rabbit’ in the name of the shop.”

Hart immediately called her husband back in Colorado with her idea, and he loved it. So the two began working on the little building that used to be a gas station. Several years ago it was a motorcycle shop and then was used for storage. The hydraulic car lift still sits in the middle of the floor in what used to be a car bay. One of the brightly colored beds now sits over the lift.

During one incarnation the building was painted bright, psychedelic colors. The business died and the building stood once again in disarray. Some local merchants got together one evening and painted the building tan, erasing the psychedelic decor, which they considered an eyesore.

The store is now painted blue and green, the colors of some of the furnishings inside. Tall lights stand on poles where the gas pumps once stood and a tiny, bright red rocking chair hangs up in the frame of the old sign. Pots of flowers decorate the outside and a trellis arch adorns the entryway.

The shop carries handmade furniture by Angela Camarillo from Westcliffe. Camarillo makes hutches and sideboards in old world styles. “We also have some antique pieces of furniture,” Hart said.

Hart said that they buy furniture from a variety of companies around the country and that Forrest, a professional wood finisher, does much of the furniture refinishing.

Forrest has his own business, Thomas Forrest Finishing, in Boulder where he does custom wood finishing including a wide variety of stain and paint finishes.

“I make my own stains,” Forrest said. “I have done so many different finishes on furniture, and then they would go into homes and I would never see them again. Now I can show people a whole array of finishes and have them on display here.”