Taking old things and giving them new life is the idea behind Anne-Marie Eddy’s business ReFabulous.
Using a specialized type of paint, she transforms old furniture that was originally in outmoded colors and finishes into beautiful distressed country living items. So you could say that she’s taking the old and making it new — or actually older, but more contemporary.
This past June, Ms. Eddy opened a small workshop/shop in Vineyard Haven where she sells a selection of upcycled rustic pieces along with the tools that people need to create their own refurbished furniture and housewares. The line that she uses is called Chalk Paint, a decorative paint by Annie Sloan that is distributed solely through independent stores that are equipped to instruct customers in the painting techniques. Ms. Eddy is the sole Island distributer of the paint products, she said.
According to the Annie Sloan website, “Chalk Paint® is a unique decorative paint in 30 decorative and historical colours made specifically for painting furniture, painting floors, and for giving walls a completely matt, velvety finish. Chalk Paint® sticks to just about any surface… wood, concrete, metal, matt plastic, earthenware and much more, inside and outside the home.”
Ms. Eddy quickly developed an addiction to upcycling furniture after she was introduced to the distressed look by a friend in California. Shortly after setting up shop, she transformed the look of an entire Edgartown home by giving a shabby chic look to more than 20 pieces of furniture and cabinets. “There was a lot of old dark wood pieces,” she said. “They wanted a lighter, brighter look.” Ms. Eddy now has a number of clients for whom she does custom work and she also transforms thrift shop and yard sale finds to sell to the public.
The new shop, located across from the Black Dog Tavern, is full of beautiful antiqued pieces in a variety of colors and different types of finishes. During a 10-day workshop in North Carolina, Ms. Eddy acquired a variety of techniques: “You can use two layers. You can have a rustic look or a washed out or stained look. You can use clear waxes for a fresher look or use dark wax to get that antique rustic shabby chic look.”
For those interested in creating their own upcycled pieces, Ms. Eddy gives lessons every Saturday morning at the shop. She has set up a paint bar where people can try out the Chalk Paint on pieces of scrap wood. In the fall, Ms. Eddy plans to offer more in-depth workshops. She also encourages people to come by any time she is in the shop for a hands-on demonstration.
Complementing the rustic furniture, ReFabulous also features a number of home decor lines as well as items made on the Vineyard. There are decorative candles, pillows and linens, decorative hardware, and a variety of other items in either Parisian or nautical looks. Ms. Eddy initially wanted to have a French theme to the store but segued into a maritime look to suit her locale and clientele.
Local products include gorgeous pillows and wall hangings made from vintage cloth by Minor Knight, Scrubby Neck Soaps, Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt, and jewelry from various Vineyard Along with her husband, Jim, Ms. Eddy has owned and operated Big Sky Tents for the past 17 years. Prior to that she worked in the corporate world. Now, with her new business, she is finally able to pursue an artistic venture. “I’ve always had a creative bent,” she said. “I started making jewelry about 10 years ago. When I turned to painting furniture it just clicked for me.”
She now devotes herself full-time to her custom painting and shop. However, there is some overlap between her two businesses since she has been able to repurpose some of the Big Sky furniture stock. “We’re upcycling a lot of the rental items that we no longer use. We have 450 folding chairs that I’m painting in sets and using old table linens to change up the cushions.”
This Thursday, July 24, from 5 to 7 pm, Ms. Eddy is hosting a trunk show featuring the work of local artists and artisans including jewelry by Sissy Yates, Moroccan bags by Phoebe Styron, and photography by Marilyn Roos. And, of course, people will be encouraged to try out the Chalk Paint. But be forewarned, as Ms. Eddy has discovered, upcycling can be addictive.