Eco-Friendly Decor: ‘Rescue, Restore, Redecorate’

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Shannon Willey was a Benjamin Moore girl up until three months ago.

In April, the Southampton-based decorative painter and interior designer attended the High Point Market furniture trade show in North Carolina—as she does twice annually—and stumbled across the Amy Howard At Home paint collection and her “Rescue, Restore, Redecorate” program.

After meeting Ms. Howard and learning about her eco-friendly furnishings philosophy, Ms. Willey was hooked.

“She’s a wonderful inspiration to me because she’s actually a furniture manufacturer. The Clintons own several pieces from her collection,” Ms. Willey, who has a furniture finishing background, said of Ms. Howard last week during an interview at her Southampton Village store, Sea Green Designs. “This ties completely into what we’re doing with sustainability ourselves. How you can take an old piece of furniture and make a beautiful piece that works in your home, as is.”

The secret lies in the paint, Ms. Willey said, pointing to the Amy Howard At Home collection’s One Step Color line, which can be used on virtually any surface, she said. She will demonstrate how to use the paint during a Bastille Day celebration on Sunday, July 14, in the courtyard outside Sea Green Designs.

“It dries to this nice, chalky finish,” she said. “You can topcoat it with clear wax and when you burnish that, you can get more of a sheen to it. People can use that on their kitchen cabinets, people can use it on floors, you can use it on concrete, but it’s geared specifically toward furnishings. The colors make sense for pieces of furniture.”

Alternatively, the Amy Howard At Home Toscana powder milk paints and finish techniques can be used only on raw, or unfinished, wood, Ms. Willey said. Available in a range of colors, the powder is mixed with water and is sealed with wax.

“All of her pigments actually come from France for this,” Ms. Willey said of the Toscana collection. “They’ve been doing this kind of finish for over 200 years. It’s a more authentic look and you want it on a piece of furniture in good condition.”

The same is true of the High Performance Furniture Lacquer line. It is, easily, the collection’s most popular choice due to its glossy finish and modern look, Ms. Willey said.

“It’s great on pieces with straight lines. You don’t want to use this on anything with a rough surface because the whole point is to see the sheen,” she said. “And with the sheen, it will show any imperfection on the piece.”

Showing off age and flaws are essential to Amy Howard’s Antique Mirror kit, a solution and stripper that soften the look of a pristine mirror by adding patina and character, Ms. Willey said. To demonstrate this technique, she will hold a workshop on Saturday, August 24.

“Everyone wants to learn how to antique a mirror,” she said. “And after you learn how to use the product, you’ll eventually be creating these pieces yourself.”

Following the inaugural demonstration this coming weekend, Ms. Willey will host a series of two-hour-long workshops, which range from $150 to $200 each. The focus of each will be on breathing life into weathered furnishings by way of the Amy Howard at Home collection.

She recommended that workshop attendees gain a mastery of the products during the earlier workshops before moving on to the more advanced classes. But after investing the time, participants will acquire the necessary skills to rescue, restore and redecorate all the furniture they wish.

“This is something you’ll be able to say you did yourself,” she said. “So not only will you walk away with pieces of your own, but you’ll definitely enjoy the bragging rights.”

Sea Green Designs in Southampton Village will kick off its series of Amy Howard at Home workshops, “Rescue, Restore, Redecorate,” with a One Step Paint demonstration on Sunday, July 14, outside in the store courtyard. Admission is free. One Step Paint workshops will be held on Saturdays, July 27 and August 10, from 9 to 11 a.m. Fee is $150. Additional workshops will also be held from 9 to 11 a.m.—Antique Mirror on August 24 for $200, Toscana on September 14 for $150, One Step Paint on September 28 for $150 and Gilded Acanthus Wreath on October 12 for $160. For more information, call 259-3612 or visit seagreendesignsllc.com.

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