Book Review: Junk Gypsies Celebrate Pickin', Junkin' and Antiquing in Texas

You'll find yourself humming Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job and Shove It" and dreaming of road trips and small-town life after reading the new book by the Junk Gypsies, those Texas sisters with "an addiction to flea markets, wanderlust and Americana-inspired design."

It might be their debut novel, but it's not their first rodeo. In writing JUNK GYPSY: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder & Wander, Amie Sikes and Jolie Sikes drew on more than 17 years of experience.

Their journey began in 1998 when they said good-bye to the nine-to-five and set out with $2,000 and an old pick-up truck. The hits just kept on coming, with commissions from Macy's (designing junk couture), decorating (they did Miranda Lambert's Airstream and another for her mama), and successful television shows on HGTV and Great American Country. They dreamt big and it paid off: In 2013 they opened their flagship store in Round Top (go, Texas) and now have an online store, plus design lines for paint, boots and Pottery Barn Teens.

It's an image-heavy book, which is great, because the Junk Gypsy team (Mom's in on it, too) really knows how to make the most out of a beat-up old dresser or a rusty bench. The book is divided into three sections based on their inspirations: the road, the flea market and home, "where our hearts are."

We're especially fond of the DIY projects sprinkled throughout, handily labeled with one, two or more hammers for level of difficulty. Some of our turquoise-hued favorites include distressing furniture (which is where an earlier pro tip to invest in a good orbital sander pays off), dry brushing and – in the two-hammer category – an ombré wall.

Dad's in there, too. He coined a term for when you're in alignment with your surroundings ("funky shway") and they've included his recipe for buttermilk biscuits in a cast-iron skillet ("they're worth getting up for"). 

Mixed throughout are DIY tips, photos of junkyard finds, and behind-the-scenes looks at major design projects for Marcus Luttrell (the lone survivor of Operation Redwing), Airstreams for Dierks Bentley and Billie Joe Armstrong (word travels fast) and a Sweet 16 party for Internet sensation and Dancing with the Stars runner-up Sadie Robertson.

You probably won't adopt every style point in the book, but just pick and choose what feeds your soul. Maybe you're not a glitter-and-fringe sort of person? There's always farmhouse style, with its Mason jar chandelier, recipe card decoupage and reclaimed wood bathtub.

Whether you're new to the Junk Gypsy life, or ready to tackle a seven-hammer project (move your own house), this book – with photos by April Pizana Photography – is sure to inspire your own creativity.

The Junk Gypsy book tour includes stops on Saturday, October 8 (two hours before kick-off) at Texas A&M University Bookstore, 275 Joe Routt Boulevard, College Station; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, at Books-A-Million, 5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy. Tour dates are still being set with other stops planned in Texas, Georgia and Tennessee; visit for an updated schedule.

The Junk Gypsy Co. "world headquarters" are located at 1215 South State Highway 237 in Round Top, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with expanded hours during the antiques weeks, 979-249-5865,
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney