Tanya Owen: Pillow Talk

Shortly after the Il Dolce Far Niente Espresso Bar opened on Elm Avenue in Wolfville, a lady dropped off some beautiful decorative pillows to us. The pillows, one bearing the company insignia and the other showing our signature coffee mug and saucer plating, have been displayed on the comfy red couch since drop-off and have been a huge hit with patrons. They caught my eye instantly when I walked into work on the day they arrived. This lady’s gesture was a spur-of-the-moment way to welcome us to Wolfville and it was very much appreciated. The comments we receive about the pillows range from “stunning” to “original and fun.” One lady asked, “Did you have to order those from one of those specialty online companies?” The answer is NO. These striking decorative accessories were designed, stenciled and hand-painted by Kentville resident Tanya Owen. Let’s do a little pillow-talking, shall we?

Tanya Owen is from the Valley and lives here with her husband and two furry “kids”. She had dabbled in a little bit of everything over the years, but was always told she was in the wrong job and should be doing something with interior decorating or design work. She had done some renovating and decorating work on the side and had been painting things for as long as she could remember, but last year, after helping a friend renovate some rooms, she offered to paint some of the furniture and was surprised and overjoyed with her friend’s reaction to her work. This sparked the idea of starting to buy up some furniture pieces, paint them, and sell them. From there, things have really taken off for Tanya.

But what about these pillows? Well, Tanya’s friends have always called her the “Queen of the Pillows.” With every new decorating job that Tanya assisted with, pillows ALWAYS had to be involved. As she puts it, “Pillows are such an easy way to help give a room a quick makeover, change a room from season to season or just a fun way to add some personality to a room. I can even remember making pillows back in junior high as gifts for my friends. Clearly I’ve always loved them!”

One day last summer, Tanya decided to do some stenciling work and then paint one of her pillows. After making a few prototypes, she thought they looked great. She was hooked on a new adventure and, like the furniture painting, the pillows have become a fast-selling product for Tanya.

She says, “I like to change up the looks as much as I can. I don’t enjoy repeating the same designs: mixing it up makes me feel more creative. The dog pillows have been the most popular, because people love their dogs, but it’s endless what designs you can put on a pillow.” Her photos show pillows with business logos, animals, sports equipment, quotes and quips, birth announcements (what a smart baby-shower gift or wedding present!) and even hand-painted portraits. They are quite spectacular.

I know you’re all wondering how you can get your very own Tanya Owen pillows. Well, here’s how. Anatolia in New Minas was the first store to take on Tanya’s pillows, which was exciting for her. Since then, the pillows have become available in Dartmouth at Kept Gifts and Housewares, at several Halifax locations (Bellissimo, Inkwell and Down Home Dog), in Lunenburg at Jenny Jib, in Mahone Bay at the Dog Shop, and in Bridgetown at Firefly Makery. Custom pillows are Tanya’s specialty: she can do just about any design that’s thrown at her. You can go to her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/girliture, view her work, and message her about your own unique pieces. You can also email Tanya at girliture@hotmail.com with pillow or furniture related inquiries.

In her spare time, Tanya is caught up in her own home renovation. She and her husband bought a 1954 mid-century modern house, and the renovations never seem to end. And continuing to promote her work takes up a lot of Tanya’s time. Her pillows were recently added to the website www.madeinns.com, which is a great resource for finding some astonishing things made right here in our own province.

I am one of those people who can barely make his own bed, let alone a unique, hand-painted pillow, so I am always fascinated with the wealth of creative and artistic people who live right next door to me. Thanks, Tanya, for producing these very special pieces. To write about someone who enjoys her work so much is just as special as the finished product. It has been a pleasure pillow-talking with you!

~ Mike Butler