Bella Grayce Benches is run by Tom Papson and Kathy Reid-Papson, of Ooltewah. The Papsons began converting a stock of headboards into benches earlier this year and are now selling them at Chattanooga Market. [Credit: Kathy Reid-Papson.]
• What: Hand-crafted benches
• Company: Bella Grayce Benches
• Address: 6784 Crooked Cove Way, Ooltewah
• Website: www.facebook.com/bella-grayce-benches
• Telephone: 540-4033
• Owners: Tom Papson and Kathy Reid-Papson
• What's special: Anyone can make a bench out of wood, but a Bella Grayce bench, made out of used bed headboards, is one-of-a-kind, said carpenter Tom Papson. "My wife is the artist. I just build the stuff; she makes it pretty," said Papson, 60, laughing. "There are no two that are the same."
• The origin story: While visiting her mother in Virginia, Papson's wife, Kathy Reid-Papson, 58, saw a headboard bench in an issue of Birds & Blooms Magazine. Papson worked as carpenter for about 15 years after ending a career as a salesman. In June, he and his wife decided to try making their own benches and purchased 48 imported headboards from the Insyde Outsyde shop in Red Bank for $55 apiece. They began selling their work at the Chattanooga Market earlier this month.
• How long does it take to make: 9-12 hours to construct and add primer coat. Painting, if the design calls for any, takes another two hours.
• Where it's sold: The Chattanooga Market. Custom orders taken via phone and website.
• What it costs: $100-$200
• Future expansions planned: Papson said he has used about one third of the headboards he purchased in June. When that stock runs out, he will begin offering his services to those who want to convert their used headboards into benches.
• Lessons of the trade: "The carpentry isn't a problem. Building the benches is a challenge, but it's what I do," Papson said. "What I'm learning is what I don't know about the marketing end of it: how to display and how to price them. I have no problem dealing with the people. I'm still working on it."
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...