FRONTENAC — In the middle of the room sat a century-old bathtub no one wanted.
The Sukraws took in the rusty old bathtub and gave it new life.
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, the tub has been sanded, a new coat of paint has been applied and the original faucet was shined and installed. It now sits in Leah and Jim Sukraw’s shop called Homestead Gifts and Collectibles in Frontenac.
Leah said they take in items which have seen better days because it saves pieces of the past from going to the dump, and Jim added it also brings people pleasure from them once again.
The husband and wife duo refurbishes, repurposes and redecorates antique items.
Leah was a kindergarten through 12th grade teacher in St. Louis and after marrying Jim, she moved to Pittsburg and taught people how to paint in a shop in Pittsburg, and “one thing led to another,” she said.
“I’ve always painted and drawn pictures,” Leah said. “It’s what keeps me happy.
“I think everyone needs a creative outlet, it’s good for you.”
Jim is a retired PittNaz pastor and he has kept busy with refurbishing antiques. He sets up shop at a table in the back of the store.
“He takes them apart and pieces them back together,” Leah said.
A dresser he rescued from his parents’ “bunkhouse” sat in pieces until he refurbished it. He sanded the wood and gave the dresser a new finish.
Many of the items, like the dresser, came from his family’s old barn in Nebraska. Some of the items are nostalgic for him, but he doesn’t mind letting them go, he said.
“You would like to keep all the stuff but I can’t,” Jim said. “I’ll fix it up pretty and give it to someone else to get pleasure out of it.”
The Suckraw’s have stored the antiques from the farm for 48 years — jars, bottles and more that they’ve dug up from his family’s property. Jim said he occasionally is sent more items as more things are cleared out of the farm. Leah’s brother also goes on a hunt for items and gives them to the couple so they can refurbish them.
At Jim’s childhood home, sat an old structure. It was falling apart, but treasures were left behind by another family.
Jim said he would walk to the site in search of a small piece of history. As a result, the Sukraws have many antique jars, some of which have turned purple because of the age of the glass.
They called their store the Homestead Gifts and Collectibles because so many things in the store came from the farm in Nebraska.
The Sukraw’s refurbished items include a sign which reads “family” and it was made out of scrap wood and an engine gasket. Leah also creates things with antique buttons and cloth.
“You can take a piece of junk and make it to something pretty a lot of times,” she said.
Many of the collectibles are painted by Leah and they become decorative pieces. For example, an old chair was sanded and then was painted with a snowy Christmas theme.
Homestead Gifts and Collectibles is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The store is located at 1018 N. Highway 69, Frontenac, Kansas.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.