Home & Family

Antique Restoration Expert, Amy Howard, Transforms a Settee


Amy Howard is one of Memphis, Tennessee's leading interiors and antiques experts. Our dream would be to go to the Paris Flea Markets with her, because her eye for finding treasures amongst the tin is unbeatable. She has the unique ability to transform someone's discarded objects into works of art. (We have a hard time folding paper into an envelope, so we truly appreciate her skills.) The kicker? Her nails are always perfect. We don't know how she does it, though she was nice enough to walk us through this amazing transformation of a boring settee into a beautiful one.

Establishing an unshakable repertoire with my clients has been a steady focus of mine throughout my years as a refinisher. If you aren’t meeting a need, and doing it with excellence, I say, why do it at all? Recently, one of my most faithful clients purchased this beautifully shaped settee at an antique shop. To date, I have made or refinished every single piece of furniture in her home! When I received the call asking if I could “Amy Howard” her newest find, I was honored to oblige. In my eyes, the beautiful shape and intricate carvings were getting lost in a sea of monotone mustard. I thought a clean white washed finish would do just the trick.

My Process: Our Toscana Milk paint diluted down by half, gives a perfectly authentic wash of white. Diluting a thick paint is the actual process that would have been used by the old­ world artisans! Using sea wool, I applied my formulation over all of the wood surfacing. This process took two coats, breaking for 20 minutes in between, to allow the layers to dry.

I then used a clean sea wool sponge to apply an even layer of our antiquing glaze. I didn’t have to drag or scrub the surface. By simply patting the glaze on, the half­strength paint began to pull up.

After my previous treatments were completely cured, it was time for the waxing process. First came an even layer of my light antique wax. I made sure to allow it a 15 minute break for the carnauba to cure to the tacking point. Once tacky, I applied the dark wax to the raised carvings. Less is always more with this step.

As soon as I completed the accents, it was time to dust. My dusting process might look slightly different than yours. With a firm pouncing motion I applied my Dust of Ages to the entire waxed surface. I made sure to get into the grooves of the carvings where it could adhere to the waxes.

To complete the process, I then buffed the dusty surface with a handful of lint free rags. I always use the same shoe­-buffing motion that has been around for ages.

This settee is now FULL of depth, character, and ready for some amazing vintage pillows. It is transitional enough to lighten up any room or any decor style. Enjoy the bragging rights!

Amy is full of tips and tutorials on how to do these magical transformations at home. Check out her site for more. 

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