By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(April 12, 2018) For Ashley Abell, co-owner of newly opened Attics of My Life in downtown Berlin, breathing new life into old objects is a family affair.
Abell grew up on the western shore of Maryland, and the inside of her childhood home there was largely made of reclaimed lumber her father salvaged from an old barn. It even was used to make the stair steps and banisters.
Today, her business operates under the same spirit, an approach she has begun teaching to her 15-year-old son.
The home décor shop Attics of My Life opened in Selbyville about three years ago and then moved to 11 South Main Street, formerly home to a Bayside Gazette sales office.
Abell and her partner, Brad Sonczewski, renovated the space in about three weeks and officially opened on March 18.
“All my friends have businesses here and I love the community, and I love the mission that they want to keep the small-town charm,” Abell said. “That’s what we do – we’re not really a wholesale store … most of it is custom woodworking and we sell a lot of DIY products for the DIYers.
“Everything in here is us or something we’ve designed with another artisan,” she continued. “If you see it now, you aren’t going to see it again. We don’t keep the same inventory [and] we try to stay fresh and stay new.”
Abell said the business has a design aesthetic unlike any other shop in Berlin.
“We’re very hands-on with everything,” she said. “[Sonczewski] is a custom woodworker and he’s amazing … we have a sawmill and a kiln, and he does a lot of beautiful work.”
Virtually all of the materials used are reclaimed.
“We salvage homes, so it’s not that somebody just comes and gives us lumber,” Abell said. “We have literally salvaged it, picked it up, cleaned the wood, used our sawmill and our kiln. We know everything about it … it’s how I was raised.”
Attics of My Life has also done custom design work for homes and businesses, including several local bars and restaurants. Salon 16 in Berlin is a client.
Since opening the shop, Abell said the community has been warm and welcoming, and several costumers from the Selbyville area have also made the trip.
“The whole town has been fantastic,” she said. “Ivy Wells [the economic development director] has been an absolutely pleasure to work with and the Historic [Commission] has embraced us, because they know our mission – we are salvaging and making it new.”
Custom items currently in the store include an antique dry sink converted to a modern bar area, and an old door reimagined as a table decorated with vintage Maryland license plates.
Attics of My Life also carries a large selection paints and finishes for do-it-yourself projects.
“It’s such a technology-driven society and these old arts are being lost. It breaks my heart that we have no cobbler here anymore – I used to always get my shoes done by [Jesse Turner],” Abell said. “There’s such beauty in it and it’s just fun to hunt and transform something.
“I hope that people start embracing it more,” she continued. “It’s not that difficult for a DIYer to come in and paint a piece instead of throwing it away because it doesn’t match their décor. There’s so much you can do with simple things and that’s the joy – helping people.”
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Three workshops are scheduled this month and a “mommy and me” class is in the works for next month.
For more information or to inquire about workshops, call 410-430-0413 or visit www.facebook.com/atticsofmylifellc or www.atticsofmylifellc.com.