Rising from the Ashes
Tawnya Farwell’s triumph over tragedy
By Lacey Bennion
The phoenix is a creature often found in fantasy novels. It’s a beautiful and noble bird who bursts into flame when it’s time to die, and is later reborn from the ashes. The phoenix is a fitting symbol for the story of Tawnya Farwell and her shop, Out of the Ashes, a European antique and decor shop in Rigby.
Walking in the Out of the Ashes shop is like walking into a treasure trove. There is so much wonder to behold. Luxurious wardrobes, desks, chairs and so much more can be found, and every intricate detail is the product of human handiwork. Each piece has stood the test of time for a century or more and is hand-chosen by Farwell on regular trips to Europe. It’s a fascinating place to explore, and more so to collect from. But Farwell’s story doesn’t begin here. It begins miles away from the shop’s threshold.
“I grew up on a small farm in Paul, Idaho, and lived there for nineteen years,” Farwell said. Her husband, Mark, came from a military family who had lived all over the world. “I had never seen anything like European antiques until I met my husband’s family. They had lived in Turkey, Germany, the Philippines… It was like my world expanded, and I loved it. I appreciated where I came from, growing up on the farm and working on the farm. But I needed something more.” The couple was married four months later, and Farwell’s very own fairy tale began.
Farwell’s husband was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They moved frequently for military assignments and lived in places that many people only dream of seeing: Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, France, Italy, Spain, and many more. The Farwells wanted to make their home, wherever it was, comfortable and beautiful, so they built a “living map” of their travels. They collected pottery, furniture, carpets, ironwork, linens, and much more to create a familiar and elegant living space. Each piece was considered a part of the Farwell family’s history. “My husband’s motto was ‘When you buy quality, you only cry once,’” said Farwell.
The family later moved to Stuttgart, Germany. “I spent a lot of time looking for a nice rental; we did not like living on the base,” Farwell explained. “We were living in a foreign country, we didn’t want to live in Little America.” She eventually happened upon a rental home in Reutlingen, a mansion that had 44 steps to the front door. “We would be carrying our groceries up the steps and Mark would look at me and start smirking and say, ‘Can you believe we live here?’”
Tragedy later struck the family with the death of Farwell’s husband. “His mission was to train new pilots, and get people where they were supposed to be. One night, he went on a routine training flight, and he never came home. We had been married for nine years and ten months.”
Farwell returned to Idaho with her three young children to be closer to her family, unsure of what to do now that her life had turned in the last way she’d expected it to. “I wanted to do something that made me feel like I had found my dream job. One day, I just thought: I love European antiques; I’ve never seen them anywhere in this area. I would love to bring them to my home state,” Farwell said, “If I can do this for a living, I would be happy. I decided to take the leap and try it; you never know if you don’t try.”
Today, Farwell finds European treasures for other families in East Idaho who are in search of beautiful additions to their homes and to their own family history. “One of the most amazing things about antique furniture is the craftsmanship that goes into building it,” said Farwell,
“Some of the pieces that are older don’t have any screws. It’s amazing how it’s put together, it’s almost like a puzzle. When everything is stacked together right, they go together and they’re solid and sturdy.”
Though Farwell’s fairy tale took an unexpected turn, she has risen from the ashes and now passes her passion for beauty and art on to others. “My home is a canvas for my life story. No one else can tell it. Everyone and everything has a story to tell, whether they have a voice or not.”
Steve Smede / Smede Lightworks
w/ Glacier Marketing
Phone: (208) 557-3408