THINK OUTSIDE THE OX

by STACEY MARCUS / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

I “ALWAYS WANTED TO BE an interior designer,” says Lili Batista, owner of The Painted Ox, Florida’s go-to destination for fabulous reimagined furnishings. She joyfully pronounces that she possesses a knack for taking something ugly and making it pretty—a special set of skills that came in handy when she was flipping houses before she opened The Painted Ox in 2012.

What began as a seed of an idea to repurpose furniture has blossomed into a 6,000-square-foot enchanting emporium, where all the design work is done in-house. “Every single piece is unique,” says Batista, who calls her colorful showroom “Lilly Pulitzer meets Jonathan Adler.”

Batista began with an upholsterer, a seamstress and a painter. Today, she has an array of in-house experts helping her cherry-pick furnishings, paint, sew and help customers create bespoke furnishings that add color, comfort and cheeriness to their lives.

Whether you select a piece from the showroom or bring one from home, The Painted Ox team will help you pick the perfect paint technique, such as lacquer, hand painting or limewash, and select fun and fabulous fabrics from their design center, which houses thousands of fabrics from top designers.

“Nobody else is doing what we are doing at The Painted Ox,” says Batista, noting that she will curate six different fabrics to sew together for an artful celebration of a particular hue.

Batista shared with us her inspiration for recycling furniture:

  • Look at the dominant color in your wardrobe for a clue. Paint and upholster your furniture in colors that bring you joy. (Batista’s own wardrobe is black and white, but she always paints her nails and colors her lips with a pop of hot pink.)
  • Think about the mood and natural light where you live—every state is a little different.
  • Anything goes! It is lovely to mix modern with a bit of vintage. Every home should have some vintage elements in it to add homey character and charm.
  • Matchy-matchy sets are so yesterday. There is enormous joy in coloring outside the lines of convention. Variety creates a lived-in, curated feel.
  • Don’t limit yourself to one pattern.
  • Take a piece of furniture you have and brighten it up. Start with one thing at a time. You will get addicted!

 

Batista, who is in South Florida, is seeing trends such as navy blue and white, all greens, limewash, light driftwood and tiger prints. People are loving the planet by saving old furniture with good bones.

Batista loves life at The Painted Ox and is eager to help people design their homes in any way possible. “We’re fast!” she says. “We can make pillows in a couple of days.”

She likes helping seasonal residents enjoy the color wheel. “They still have a lot of brown in their homes up North,” Batista says. “When they come to The Painted Ox, they are inspired by the fresh, bright showroom. People get excited at The Painted Ox.”

Batista beams, noting that one client remarked that The Painted Ox was better than sex. A grandmother makes weekly visits with her granddaughter.

“She calls The Painted Ox her happy place,” she says, smiling. “This is Florida; you can’t be boring!”

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Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based  freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in  Art New England, Boston magazine,  Boston Common Magazine, Modern  Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home  Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com  and many others. A lover of big  words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s  simple moments.