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[VIDEO] Meeting the artist behind the Empty Nest

Thursday, Jul. 24 | By Hannah Dellinger
Janet Metzger holding up one of her paintings in her shop.
Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
When you first walk into the Empty Nest on Main Street in Old Town Warrenton, you get a warm, nostalgic feeling from the plethora of laces, pastels and kitschy vintage decorations.

The woman behind this haven is Janet Metzger, arguably the Martha Stewart of Warrenton. An artist at heart, Metzger dabbles in painting, repurposing vintage pieces, sewing and refurbishing furniture. Her shop is a showcase of her creativity and knack for modern vintage style. The Empty Nest is a destination for local crafters and provides a soothing, happy atmosphere for the community.

“One of our customers came in one day and she seemed a little down,” said Metzger. “We asked her what was wrong and she said that she just came from the hospital. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She just wanted to come to the shop, because she said that this was her ‘happy place.’”

Metzger said that many new customers come in and proclaim that her store is like all of their Pinterest boards come to life.

“I want people to come in and say, ‘Oh my gosh I want to live here, this is fabulous.’ And luckily for us, we’ve had people say that,” she said. “When I hear that, I know that I’m doing it right. That’s what I want.”

Metzger moved to Warrenton in 2000. At first her crafts and artwork were given to her friends and family as gifts.

“Then I started an Etsy shop,” she remembers. “I sold things around the world.”

Because of her online success, Metzger got a booth at the Fox Den Antique Store in Warrenton. She eventually added a second booth. Soon she outgrew that as well.
“I got a phone call one day from a realtor and she said, ‘I understand you have outgrown your booths,’” she said. “Since I hadn’t been looking for a place, I didn’t know how she had heard that. But she brought me here [to the Empty Nest’s current location] and I fell in love with this space, loved the idea of being on Main Street in Old Town Warrenton.”

The Empty Nest just celebrated its two-year anniversary on July 19.

Metzger's appetite for the arts goes way back.

“My mom was very creative and crafty and I think I got it from her,” she said. “In elementary school I had a fabulous art teacher, Mr. Jansen, that was way ahead of his time. That kind of started it.”

For Metzger, art is special because it’s one of the few things in life that you can’t do wrong.

“There’s so many things in life now a days that no you can’t do it that way, or no you have to do it that way,” she said. “But Picasso gave women three breasts and two noses…look where it got him.”

The Empty Nest carries many of Metzger’s paintings, and even some prints of her more popular works.

Metzger likes to use high-quality craft acrylics and chalk paint by Annie Sloan for her paintings.

The Empty Nest is an official “stockist” for Sloan’s unique paints. They are versatile, fast-drying paints that can be used on almost any surface. Metzger gives workshops regularly on refinishing furniture with chalk paints.

Often when Metzger is painting, she’ll make the experience interactive for followers of the store’s social media accounts.

“I usually document [my paintings] on Instagram and Facebook,” she said. “People like to follow along.”

On top of painting, Metzger enjoys tactile arts.

“I love sewing,” she said. “I just love the sound of the sewing machine running. I’m a fabric hoarder. I love fabric. I love knitting and yarn.”

Metzger is a master of altered couture. She takes things like outdated sun dresses from the 1950’s and repurposes them into aprons.

The Empty Nest and Metzger have been featured in numerous magazines over the years including Green Craft, Altered Couture, Apronology and Art Doll.

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