Alisa Woods' A Beautiful Life Furnishings
By Kimberly Boney
Story by Kimberly Bonéy
Photos by Sunshine Rush
“NEVER BUY THE ART TO MATCH THE SOFA.” A young Alisa Woods heard her mom, Frauke Woods, utter these poignant words to her so many years ago. It’s a phrase she carries with her every day, one that is at the heart of what she imparts to her clients at her shop, A Beautiful Life Furnishings in downtown Chico. There, in a space abound with vibrant color – free-flowing with style and whimsy – the art doesn’t have to match the furniture. Every day, in word, deed and example, Woods inspires those who enter her store to create a life they love, a life that is aligned with their own sense of joy and comfort.
Woods, who had fallen in love with interior design after taking a class in high school, ultimately pursued a career in the realm of graphic arts in college. Finding that graphic arts just wasn’t her passion, she went back to school in her early 30s, this time to follow her first love. “Interior design has so many different avenues – in that realm, there just isn’t any space for boredom,” says Woods.
She put her passion for interior design to use for 25 years. She worked as an outside sales representative of furniture and fabric in The Bay Area. She lived in Maui and worked as an interior designer, furnishing lanais in the second homes of Maui residents. “I was trying to decide whether to continue working for other people or to work for myself. I had always had a dream of opening my own furniture store.” In mid-December 2015, Woods got a chance to make her dream a reality – and she took it.
But A Beautiful Life isn’t just a dream for Woods. It’s a place where the creativity of local artisans is given the space and opportunity to flourish. A Beautiful Life has become a dream for them, too. “Art goes hand in hand with interior design. You can have those spectacular moments with art. Local artists need venues to be able to showcase their work. It can show people how easy it is to incorporate art into your home. It’s not set up like a gallery. It makes it easier for clients not to have to worry about whether the art will work with their sofa or décor,” Woods says
you love the art, you love the art – and it’ll work. If you love this piece of
furniture and that piece of art, they can and will work together,” Woods
continues. An artist in her own right, Woods began painting with watercolor
long ago. Over the years, she painted many a fine art piece. Then her life
changed and her creativity shifted gears along with it. “I’ve always been
inspired by nature. Nature has a way of creating its own patina and I try to
recreate that color, texture and sparkle within interior spaces,” Woods says.
Ever the up-cycler, it’s no surprise that Woods’ latest medium is furniture painting. At her shop, she teaches classes in furniture painting, showing her clients how to create pieces that speak directly to them.
“There is a lot of crafty painted furniture on the market, but what we do at A Beautiful Life is a bit more elevated in that it involves layering the paint to create a unique texture. When dealing with fine art, I always try to figure out how to make that piece fabulous. With the furniture, I try to let it speak to me. I look at a piece of furniture and ask it what it wants to be. A lot of furniture painters think about what sells. I think about what makes that piece amazing,” says Woods.
A Beautiful Life Furnishings specializes in casegoods like accent tables, sideboards, cabinets and accessories. Woods is always in search of one-of-a-kind items that her clients won’t find anywhere else in Chico. Some are curated items from estate sales and others are specialized items like sculpture, unique lighting options, conversation-sparking décor pieces, scented candles, locally made jewelry and accessories, and of course, art that isn’t required to blend in with the furniture. What you won’t find is anything that is mass produced.
“Just about every day, I get a new customer that comes in and says, ‘This place is amazing!’ It comes full circle for me in that moment. All of the random talents that I’ve had in my life come together in a single, cohesive environment. That’s the proudest part of it for me,” Woods says.
Loving her business doesn’t come without some struggle. One of the hardest things is getting a continuous flow of customers into the shop. “Marketing isn’t my favorite thing to do,” she says. Her biggest battle, however, is helping customers overcome their own objections to purchasing something that truly suits their own tastes.
“So many people have pieces that they have inherited from family members or friends, or ones they acquired during a transitional period. Somehow, they got ‘stuck’ with these pieces. It’s hard to get people to break the pattern – to clear out their clutter, to get rid of junk, to part with pieces that don’t bring them the most joy. That’s what you’ve got to do to make a beautiful life. You own the memory. You don’t have to keep your grandmother’s dresser to remember your grandmother,” she says.
Although the business is primarily a one-woman show, Woods’ mom, Frauke, who laid the foundation for A Beautiful Life within her daughter so many years ago, is still an integral part of the shop. She works behind the scenes, helping her daughter with the accounting, organization and clean up. “My mom keeps it all going as I move on to new projects,” Woods says. “She’s the voice of reason. I’m so grateful for the beautiful, creative driving force that my mom is to me.” •
A Beautiful Life Furnishings
250 E. 1st Street, Chico
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