By Misti Hollenbaugh | Photos by Makenzie Evans

Donna Benton, WaterHouse Market

When Donna Benton decided to start a furniture business almost nine years ago, she had $25 that wasn’t allocated to anything else – which she used to start WaterHouse Market. While her business began primarily as painting furniture, it has evolved over the years. Many of her projects now encompass a design element, often through building custom tables or repurposing vintage lighting. Ultimately, it’s all about crafting the perfect piece of furniture that matches the story the homeowner wants to tell.

“We take people’s dreams and make them reality – but we also take grandma’s furniture that someone cannot dare part with and bring it into something that they can use in today’s styling and décor,” Benton says. “We can transform it – that’s what we do.”

Benton’s creative spark flows throughout her family members, many of whom have been partners in past projects.

“My whole family is made of makers,” Benton says. “We’re always creating and reimaging, designing. We’re a family of makers – that’s what we do.”

While Benton loves the thrill and challenge of creating, for her it’s all about providing her clients the perfect piece – and at an affordable price.

“I know what it is like to be a young mother and not have any furniture or not be able to shop at the big fancy boutiques where everything costs a couple thousand dollars,” Benton says. “That’s what drove me to doing what I do.”

Benton transformed matching dining room buffets and gave them a new home in the bathroom.

When someone comes to Benton with a project, her first step is to look at their Pinterest board.

“I can tell so much about somebody based on the pictures that they’ve liked – right down to the kind of bedding they would enjoy, the texture and the feel of the room they want to transform,” she says. “I can get a lot just from a picture.”

She also tries to take some of the customer’s existing furniture and reimagine and reinvent it so it can transition to fulfill the new desired look.

“It’s easy for us to transition to farmhouse to formal to rustic to industrial because we have a grasp on what each room needs to fulfill the specific look,” she says.

Benton recently worked with Niki Thompson of Storybook Homes to furnish a manor in downtown Conway. While Benton has helped furnish many of Thompson’s renovation projects in the past, this was the largest to date. Thompson wanted the house to emanate a formal feeling, reminiscent of an earlier era. Benton stepped up to the task at hand, ready to deliver.

Check out some of the rooms in the completed manor to get a taste of Benton’s creative process.

(Left) WaterHouse Market designed and built this custom island for the kitchen with five kinds of wood. (Right) WaterHouse Market hand-built and stained the table to complete the manor’s breakfast nook.


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