In a former life, Anne-Marie Eddy worked in corporate sales. Today she spends her days reimagining new life for vintage finds at ReFabulous Decor, her retail store and studio in Vineyard Haven. And she’s busier than ever.
Fresh from moving the store for a second time (originally located at Beach Street Extension, and then on Cromwell Lane near Tisberry Frozen Yogurt), she’s settling in to her new digs at the corner of Main and Union streets, the former home of the eclectic gift shop Mix. The artist, mother, and wife to Jim Eddy of Big Sky Tents (the two married on Martha’s Vineyard, and started the business after recognizing a need for a service-oriented rental company), took some time out of her hectic schedule to tell us how she came to be the Island’s go-to upcycler, and what keeps her excited about it.
When did ReFabulous Decor first open?
It was June of 2013 that I first opened, down by Black Dog Tavern.
What’s your background?
My husband and I were living in Boston for a long time; my husband was an attorney and I was in corporate sales, and we decided to start a business on the Island after we got married here. We started Big Sky Tents in 1998, so we’ve had that for 20 years now.
What inspired you to create ReFabulous Decor?
I helped him with the business for a number of years, and then I just started getting into more creative things. I started making jewelry several years ago, and I was selling some in the shops here. Then I discovered this Annie Sloan Chalk Paint about five years ago, and I just started painting everything in my house. (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint can be used without priming or sanding, has no paint smell, dries in 20 minutes, and is nontoxic).
Do you rent any of your pieces through Big Sky for events?
There is a natural symmetry between the two companies. I have painted and sold to my husband at Big Sky a lot of the vintage, rustic furniture that he was wanting to rent out for events. I even taught his crew how to use the Chalk Paint to paint the bars they make!
Where do you find your upcycled pieces?
I find a lot of pieces at yard sales, and the best place is the Chicken Alley Thrift Store in Vineyard Haven. People also contact me at the shop to see if I’m interested in purchasing old pieces from them. In order to keep my prices affordable for Islanders, I am looking for pieces that are good quality but with a low price point. I also love the Rush & Fisher auctioneers, and try to get to a lot of the estate sales that they do. Last, I have a few loyal customers who are always “picking” for me.
Do you have any interesting stories about any particular pieces you have acquired over the years?
I can’t tell you how many times I look at a piece and wonder what its history is. Sometimes I get the background if I’m buying it directly from the owner, or the owner’s relatives. Maybe in the future, we’ll have tracking chips hidden on furniture, and then we can learn their interesting stories. I do find a lot of hidden treasures in drawers … like one note dated from the 1940s, a lot of old pictures, and pocket change — I’ve even found a locket with a picture in it.
Do you ever think of your furniture projects as saving Island castoffs, or giving a new life or purpose to these pieces?
A lot of the pieces have definitely done the “Island shuffle,” but by giving them a new beauty, they might find a permanent home with someone who really appreciates them. Many local people come in to buy Chalk Paint in order to give new life back to tired, old pieces they have in their homes. The products I carry offer an affordable option for Islanders to have beautiful furniture that they don’t have to buy off-Island.
What is your most popular product or aesthetic right now?
The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is still my hottest seller. The neutral colors seem to be the most popular, but many people are getting more adventurous by mixing colors to make their own custom look. Old White and Paris Grey are my most requested. The “driftwood” look is probably the most popular aesthetic that customers want to try — which is easy with the blending of various neutral tones and a damp cloth. I’ve also recently added more lines of decorative finishes, top coats, metallics, glazes, and colored waxes, which allows for more customization that’s easy to achieve.
What about Martha’s Vineyard makes this an ideal place for ReFabulous Decor and the work that you do?
I have been so lucky to have found this path, as I am able to share with others how to update their own decor with minimal investment. It’s definitely a niche market, because as we know, there are limited resources on the Island. My locals are my biggest customers, but I also have a big draw with people who own vacation homes here — whether they are renting them out or not. My store has also become a place for some local artists to display and sell their art.
What advice do you have for people who are looking to change up their decor or reimagine a new piece?
Stop by! We love to help people visualize how they can restore a piece. My entire staff is fabulous, and I couldn’t do it without them. Everyone paints, creates, sells, and consults with customers — we have a blast! Most interactions with my customers takes anywhere from two minutes to an hour. I love consulting with them. They’ll show me a picture of their furniture on their phone, and I’ll try out various paint samples with them.
I am also a big believer in using social media for educating people on the ease of use of the paint and accessories. Customers can check out my videos and tips on Facebook, Instagram, and on my website. I also love to pore over Pinterest for new ideas … there’s a million out there!
What DIY tools do you have available for people to refinish pieces themselves?
In addition to Annie Sloan, we carry Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, a powdered paint that has been around for thousands of years; Saltwash, a powder for a layered sun-and-salt-wash look on furniture; Prima Marketing mixed-media supplies; Iron Orchid Designs decor stamps, transfers, molds, and rollers; as well as the General Finishes line of glazes, pearlized finishes, and other topcoat sealers to enhance your wood or painted furniture. We also sell a variety of unique stencils and brushes, and offer hands-on instructions for all your stenciling projects. We also rent out various stencils for your projects. We have an entire line of DIY products, and encourage customers to come in anytime for a free demo.
ReFabulous Decor offers custom furniture orders, handcrafted jewelry, and one-of-a-kind gifts and home decor items. ReFabulous Decor, 65 Main Street (corner of Union Avenue), Vineyard Haven. refabulousdecor.com.
This story by Angela Prout originally appeared on mvtimes.com.