A Good Home, Afternoon Tea, Architecture and Design, Canadian Women, Following your dreams, Unique Businesses

Serendipitous Old Stuff

It’s no secret: I love small towns and villages. Love their main streets, small stores and annual events.

Blog Photo - Warkworth Credit VisitTrenthills.ca

Warkworth, a charming Northumberland County village that’s famous for its many artists and cultural events, is one of my favourites. There’s always something going on in this village 90 minutes east of Toronto  — arts shows, the Lilac Festival, the Long Lunch (below), the Maple Syrup Festival, the Perfect Pie Contest, and others.

Blog Photo - Warkworth Long Table

Blog Photo - Lilac Festival in Warkworth

Our friends who live there often spoke of “Justine”, who ran a painted-furniture business. Recently, they decided it was time for us to visit Justine’s business and meet her in person. So off we went.

Blog Photo - SOS Sign

Justine Vikse’s place isn’t just a painted-furniture store. “Serendipitous Old Stuff Lounge” is an unusual business, inspired by a place Justine “wandered into” while visiting New York state.

Blog Photo - SOS Justine MCU

“I was indeed looking to purchase a building to house my already established painted furniture/design business Serendipitous Old Stuff”, she says.  “Ironically, I drove by the business’ new home everyday, but never entertained its purchase because I always thought of it as a restaurant. I came back from that trip newly- inspired, and consulted a realtor friend to begin the process.”  

And this is Justine’s place on Old Hastings Road today. Enter through the front door and to your left is a lounge and bar:

Blog Photo - SOS Lounge Wide shot

Blog Photo - SOS Bike on top of bar

Step to your right and you’ll find a gift shop and tea store:

Blog Photo - SOS Gift and Tea section

Blog Photo - SOS Tea containers on shelves.JPG

Beyond these spaces is the room where we had a delicious lunch:

Blog Photo - SOS Dining table and chairs

Justine refers to her overall business as “the Lounge”.  She calls it a comfortable gathering place with an unconventional aesthetic. “I wanted the Lounge to be like a canvas for art. Light, airy, elegant, and it had to smell good.”

Blog Photo - SOS Seating area 2

“It’s also homey.  I get to showcase my antiques, painted furniture, and gift items in an environment where patrons/friends can feel as though they’re in a living room of sorts, and get together over a pint, or a glass of wine, and perhaps a great Charcuterie platter.”

In every space, many pieces are for sale.

Blog Photo - SOS Green cabinet

Blog Photo - SOS wall lamp

Blog Photo - SOS Black cat on counter

“When I initially started out in design and refinishing, I didn’t have a lot of money to allocate towards high-end antiques.  I had to be intensely creative.

“I realized that I could pick vintage pieces that were relegated by the homeowner for the ‘ dump’ or auction and I could acquire them fairly cheaply.

Blog Photo - SOS Cigar man

“I studied and honed the art of transformation. Poured myself into art books, read up on techniques, and through trial and error, learned what was appreciated by the discerning eye, and what was not.”

That knowledge came in handy when Justine renovated the new space. Her contractor Wayne Shaw did all the plumbing, electrical and flooring.  She did the rest.

Blog Photo - SOS Justine and Wayne

“I did all the physical artistic labour involved in actualizing the space. Extraordinarily long hours of blood, sweat and tears were extended, but as exhaustive as it was, it was a labour of love.”

Her daughters help in the business.

“The blessing of this biz for me as a woman, is being fortunate enough to have my girls all within reach, and vice versa.


“It’s wonderful to know that they can step into the back door at any point during the day, and we can converse about what’s transpired throughout their day, and that two of them actively help me out with working here as servers.”

Justine dreamed of creating a cozy and elegant place for her patrons. With the many artistic touches and personal involvement, she believes she’s achieved her dream.

Photos by Hamlin Grange











53 thoughts on “Serendipitous Old Stuff”

  1. What an inviting space, Cynthia! I had to look twice initially, because there is a Warkworth and it’s castle not too far away from us in The English county of Northumberland. 🙂 🙂

  2. I enjoyed my visit to Warkworth, Canada Cynthia, but you confused me for a moment as we also have a Warkworth in Northumberland, which is just about an hour up the road. Our Warkworth is a small village with a castle near the sea.

  3. There’s also a Warkworth here in New Zealand 🙂 Being part of ‘the colonies’ I guess we have many place names in common. The shop is glorious. I should love to spend some time in there!

    1. When Warkworth Ontario was twinned with Warkworth New Zealand, many of us from the village in Ontario went to New Zealand. It was their 150th anniversary and we have memories never to be forgotten!

      1. How wonderful that you came! I did not know the towns were twinned. I was living in the UK when our 150th was celebrated – I know it was a big deal and I’m sorry I missed it.

  4. This is a fantastic shop in a lively and friendly village. I admire people like Justine, who have the energy and courage to realise their dreams despite setbacks and exhaustion. And to manage to get her daughters involved too! What a woman!

    1. What a woman is an understatement in this village. Justine’s heart is as big as the village and she works in very quiet ways to help everyone in need. Her ability to serve others has been passed on to her daughters as well.

      1. What a lovely comment about Justine and her daughters, Brenda. Thank you for it. I once again have to thank Wayne and Carol for introducing us to Justine. They got this feature story rolling.

  5. I can only say that this place has an awesome vibe. One you can only feel when you visit.
    Justine and her family are wonderful hosts and her food so out of the norm.
    Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite places in Warkworth, ON

  6. I love Justine’s place. Luckily she’s on the other side of the world or I would be in there every day (and broke!) But you never know, one day I might just get there 😉

  7. I love places like this, and how clever of Justine to combine the sale of antiques and collectibles with someplace to sit down and eat. In today’s economy, one has to be a bit more clever at things. Thanks for sharing; I enjoyed the mini-tour. 🙂

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