On the show today, I have a very special guest. It is someone that has inspired me immensely on my own DIY journey and I am beyond honored to be able to have this conversation with her so that she can hopefully inspire you as well. Today I am sitting down with Amy Howard who is a powerhouse when it comes to furniture restoration and furniture flipping. Amy has a background in art history and teaches furniture restoration. This conversation is really special because flipping furniture is how I initially got started with DIY.
Amy has the next-level version of this which is full-on restoration, really refined, finishes, and techniques that have been around for so many years. She just has a beautiful perspective and that really good artful eye for how to take pieces and make them into something magical. She does this through her product line, courses, and just showing up as an inspirational teacher day-to-day on social media across her platforms. I am excited to be able to deep dive with her into a little bit about furniture flipping and just get her perspective on designing spaces you love through creating pieces of furniture that you are obsessed with.
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in this episode:[03:38] Amy’s journey & how she fell in love with furniture refinishing [07:24] Educate yourself on the background of the piece [10:40] Start simple [14:22] Her process of creating & launching new products [18:43] New techniques & finishes [22:46] Focus on one area and become the best [26:13] The right paint or the right paintbrush [32:24] Milk paint – Why is it different and a good choice? [37:46] Next steps for taking furniture refinishing to the next level as a business [40:47] What Cara’s obsessed with this week
[03:38] Amy’s journey & how she fell in love with furniture refinishing
I think it’s a place where so many of us start and we fall in love with a piece of furniture or we have a need but it doesn’t specifically meet our need in the way it looks or the finish or the color. So when I was in my late 20s, I loved to go to flea markets, tag sales, estate sales, and garage sales. I loved the fact that I was able to get a bargain but I would find things in the state that would not look cute or fit our space. I started seeing how I could strip it or put another finish on it to be able to fit the piece into whatever room that I wanted to be able to put it in.
[07:24] Educate yourself on the background of the piece
Start to educate yourself on the background or the manufacture of the piece. Was it an American piece? Does it have an English descent? What period does it come from? Is it more Italian, French, or Scandinavian? Then go back, dig in, and say, “All right, so if I brought this piece back to its original glory, what finish do I need to put on it or what do I need to do to be able to incorporate it into my space?”
[10:40] Start simple
My advice is always to start simple. If you’ve never done it before, then let’s learn how to clean it. Let’s stay simple. Then let’s learn how to use the tools and correctly paint them. As soon as somebody is comfortable, I then want to bring them into the gateway and introduce them to milk paints, lacquers, distressing textures, all those types of things, but it is definitely a journey so start simple. Let’s start with the one-step paint first and then go from there.
[14:22] Her process of creating & launching new products
I will not and I cannot compromise on the quality of the products, especially if some of the ingredients are more expensive or if it’s going to affect the final result. So I feel like I’m also on that journey. I’ll listen to some of the things my community wants but I make sure that I do it without compromising. I’m always going back to my roots in art history. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I have a lot of knowledge. So it’s a little combo of both creative expression and current trends.
[18:43] New techniques & finishes
We all have seasons in our life. One season leads to another and we go back to our roots. I believe that my true gifting is to be able to empower women to become who they were created to be and also to teach. I am now giving myself the opportunity of a mental sabbatical to create.
I am developing new finishes and new techniques that I am putting into a new finishing course and through that, it even creates new products. I’m also developing a new business course to be able to teach people about branding, understanding their creativity, what that looks like, and then helping them turn that into a solid business that can leave a legacy. The six-module business course will take them from idea to completion.
[22:46] Focus on one area and become the best
You have to find one area that you love, focus on it, and become the best. Be known for that. I always tell my students, you’ve got to have a repertoire and you’ve got to be able to have a whole lot of different finishes that you love and are experienced and well versed in. It’s definitely a journey, and it’s even a life journey. It all builds up into what your style and look are and what it is that you love.
[26:13] The right paint or the right paintbrush
For me, the right paint is most important. To be quite honest, many times, I use my hands as tools. The tool is important but I would definitely say you’re going to have to start with great paint or the right ingredients. If you want it to be optimum, adding the right tool is going to make it that much better. So we really need both but if I had to choose, I’m going to say the right paint.
[32:24] Milk paint – Why is it different and a good choice?
You have to look at everything with the end in mind. Finishes sell furniture. You’ve got to go back to how it is made and what is the quality of the product. I will not compromise on the pigments. With milk paint, it all goes back to the pigmentation and the color.
[37:46] Next steps for taking furniture refinishing to the next level as a business
My Old World Finishing Course is hands down the next step. We have such an incredible tribe that supports one another. It’s so positive with tons of teaching and sharing. About 60 to 75% of the people that take that course launch a business from it and are making really good money from the pieces that they’re doing. I am launching my new season of the course in July.
[28:46] Take the time to think about your partner
It really is important to take time to think about your partner and what they like. Make a real effort to think about how he is going to feel on this sofa. How is he going to feel in this space? How is he going to enjoy eating a meal at this table? Having a relationship takes work and this is a very, very big thing. If they don’t feel that they were a part of it, comfortable and enjoying it, it really takes a toll on the relationship. It’s a subliminal toll because they feel that they are left out. And we have to include them. We really need to consider how they’re going to live with the environment that we create.
[40:47] What Cara’s obsessed with this week
I am obsessed with Amy’s cerusing wax. This is one of the very first things I ever tried that was not stain or polyurethane for furniture finishing. So essentially, it’s a white wax and you buff it onto your wood. It kind of settles, you let it sit a little bit, and then you buff it out. I really love this because it takes away a lot of the yellow in the wood and gives it kind of this lighter tone that feels worn and has a lot of character to it. It’s really easy to use and a really fun product. If you’re just branching out on your DIY journey of wood finishing, it’s something that you can try instead of a stain or paint and gives your piece a little more dimension and interest. I totally recommend checking out this cerusing wax. She also has a ton of videos on how to use it, which is what I love about her approach. She doesn’t just provide products, she provides instructions as well.
connect with amy howard:
- Make Space Podcast Website
- Cara on Instagram
- Cara on Twitter
- Color Curator Workshop
- Amy on Facebook
- Amy on YouTube
- Maker’s Guide Book
- Amy Howard at Home – Before and After Facebook Group
- A Maker’s Studio
- Amy’s Cerusing Wax
let’s talk about it!
What do you think!?