A night out with the girls usually consists of drinks in hand, satisfying snacks, a little bit of gossip and a lot of laughs. Add power tools to the mix and you’ve got a typical evening at AR Workshop, a boutique DIY studio brand offering hands-on classes to create custom home decor from raw materials.
The newest Northern Virginia location can be found in the Reston-Herndon Business Park. Opened in February, it’s co-led by Waterford residents Jacqueline Maglione and Michelle Shepard, who also own AR Workshop’s two-year-old Loudoun County location. “We realized that this area did not really have anything like it,” says Maglione. “We both grew up in Fairfax County, and always had our eyes on this area.” In total, there are five AR Workshop franchises in Northern Virginia, including Fredericksburg, Alexandria and Bristow.
AR Workshop’s classes are not the typical sip-and-paint events you might find elsewhere, with just a canvas and paint. Here, workshop attendees build their home decor items from scratch, which includes using power tools to put the wood together. “Some people come in and they do not want to use the nail guns at first. Jaqui and I had never touched tools [before opening the business],” says Shepard, who, along with Maglione, DIYed all of the store’s decor. “It’s about empowering people, women especially, to be confident when they leave. They walk in here saying, ‘I’m not crafty, I can’t do this,’ but it’s really foolproof.”
A typical class begins with the registration process online to select the project guests want to make, as well as any customization details, like adding last names to a design. AR Workshop prepares the materials beforehand. (“We cut our wood in-house, as well,” says Shepard. “We actually love cutting, and I love wearing my ‘wood’ clothes,” adds Maglione.)
Once class is in session, instructors lead the projects—there can be up to 30 different projects per workshop—and participants build the decor from scratch before painting and staining it.
Available items to make include Lazy Susans, framed signs, pillows, chalkboard calendars, chunky knit blankets, wine trays and more, all of which take an average of three hours to make. Plus, the lineup of projects is constantly changing per season. “AR Work-
shop is very much about being on trend and paying attention to what customers want,” says Shepard. “Nothing feels stale.”
Maglione and Shepard, who have a total of seven children combined (Maglione has four sons; Shepard has one daughter and two sons), both have twin boys and met over a decade ago while registering their children for kindergarten. They were both stay-at-home moms before deciding to open their business together. “We’re showing our children that we had that season of our lives where we stayed at home, but now we’ve reached a point where we’re going for our dreams, and I love that they’re a part of that,” Shepard says. “I hope that we’re showing other women that they can do that too.” // AR Workshop Reston: 315 Spring St., Herndon; projects $48-$85
Don’t want to DIY? AR Workshop also offers a curated collection of readymade gifts.
Gardening woes begone! This plant holder’s already heard your “please don’t die” prayers. Get the matching “So Thirsty” holder too for a quirky pair. // Please Don’t Die Plant Holder and So Thirsty Plant Holder; $22.50 each
What’s a home without a bunch of candles? “Candles are huge,” says Shepard. “We have two different collections.” Pick one out from the Commonfolk Collective brand for gifts. They’re named for all the loved ones in your life, including “Sister,” “Daughter,” “Friend” and more. // Commonfolk Collective Candles; $35
Don’t have time to make your own sign, but need a gift that expresses your affection? Grab a pre-made one off the shelf; all signs on the walls are available for purchase. // “I love you” Framed Sign; $94.50
Chip ’n Dip
Spice up your next potluck with labeled chip and dip holders, ceramic dishes included. “I personally like these little salsa bowls. And, the holders are washable!” Maglione
says. // Salsa Holder with Ceramic Dish, Guacamole Holder with Ceramic Dish, Chip Bowl; $26