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Philipsburg store breathes new life into custom pieces

by on November 27, 2019 10:47 AM

PHILIPSBURG — “Re-gifting,” or pawning off something that was received as a gift to someone else as a “gift,” is a holiday faux pas. But what if you could gift someone something the person already owns and loves – only in a restored or repurposed condition?

That’s the idea behind Darla Karimushan’s store in downtown Philipsburg — Reflections of Sugar Hill.

Karimushan’s store is full of high-quality furniture — mostly country farmhouse with some primitive-style pieces — she’s repurposed or is in the process of repairing. The store also includes a mixture of antiques and vintage pieces, reproduction home accessories, pottery and giftware.

Reflections is going on its fourth year of operation. The Karimushans purchased the old Adelphia building on Front Street and spent a year-and-a-half refurbishing it.

“It was something I always wanted to jump in and do full-time,” Karimushan said. “I started working out of my shed at home, and I sold a few pieces. I kept getting more and more project pieces, and my husband wanted his garage back. I tend to not do anything in baby steps, so we looked at this building.”

Karimushan said she would not have tackled the building overhaul had it not been for her son, Ian, who’s a contractor. Together, they turned the second story of the building into two apartments and transformed the first floor into the inviting and functional store space it is today. Karimushan’s love of history is evident in the various layers of wallpaper she’s preserved on the walls. The shop’s tin ceilings are also original.

The store’s name itself is a throwback of sorts. It’s derived from the little community between Brockway and Brookville (in Jefferson County) where Karimushan grew up. Sugar Hill is also where she developed her love of antiques.

Karimushan says a great-aunt from Beaver Falls who was a “fabulous person” had “a huge influence on my love of everything old.” There was also an older woman in Karimushan’s town growing up who hated to live by herself, so as a teenager, Karimushan would sometimes enjoy slumber parties at the woman’s grand estate.

“Every square inch of that house was filled with history,” Karimushan said. “I’d go spend Friday nights there, sleep in a feather bed, have to climb out of the feather bed in the morning. She had a pump organ I would play. That house was, from basement to attic, just chock-full of antiques and full of family history.”

Karimushan would help the older lady clean her house, and “She would pay me with something old,” Karimushan said. “I have a doll from the Civil War-era that she paid me with one time. She paid me with a washstand another time, and the door was broken off of it. There was no top, and I was so excited! My mother said there was no way that thing was coming into the house.”

A 13-year-old Karimushan, with her dad’s help, build the washstand a new door.

“That was the very first piece of furniture I ever refinished,” said Karimushan. “My parents got me a marble piece for on top of it for Christmas. It sat in my mom and dad’s dining room then. After it was done, it was allowed in the house.”

Karimushan has since become a master craftswoman who can do it all – repairs, reupholstery, and repurposing. In addition to custom work, Karimushan collects pieces in her travels and has friends and a sister who help her buy things that meet her criteria (wood, not press board, and dovetails drawers).

Karimushan isn’t above dumper-diving or digging through mouse and bat dirt in ancient attics or long-abandoned basements for treasures, either.

“I’ve always loved old things,” Karimushan said. “My parents used to say I was born a hundred years too late.”

Reflections of Sugar Hill is located at 117 N Front St. in Philipsburg. For more information or to contact Darla Karimushan, visit the store’s Facebook page.


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