05 March 2012

The Beautiful World of Amy Howard

image

A reader emailed me suggesting I write a story about Amy Howard – the uber talented furniture and interior designer and artist.   I’ve loved Amy’s work for a while now – so I was thrilled when the reader said she could talk with the powers that be and maybe get them to send some special photographs to show on Cote de Texas.   I love my readers – especially those bearing gifts of high res & huge photographs.  Those are the best kind.

Amy is a southerner – from Memphis Tennessee.  She is an artist by training and began in the business teaching decorative arts, along with painting murals for clients.   In 1991, Amy and her husband started their company, The Amy Howard Collection, by painting room divider screens which they then sold to antique shops and individuals.   The business quickly expanded and new pieces were continually added.  Their motto became:    “If we can’t find it, then we’ll make it.”  Today, she has over 300 pieces in her collection which is sold around the country in decorative showrooms.   There is also a retail store in Memphis, along with an outlet store in Nashville.    The Amy Howard Collection is diverse and represents many different design eras – from the 18th century to Moderne, 30s Glamour, and even Belgian inspired.  

 

 

image

The invitation to an Amy Howard At Home seminar

 

An artist and teacher at heart,  Amy continues to give seminars in her field and has branched out with a second company, Amy Howard At Home. This collection is for DIYers and professionals and includes materials for different applications such as antiquing mirrors, gilding, zinc applications, stripping, and a host of other products. Her seminars are hugely popular and quickly sell out.

 

 

image

This photo in a design magazine showed two of Amy Howard Collection’s chest – Serpentine.

My first awareness of the collection was with the Serpentine nightstand which I had seen in a magazine.  In fact, a lot of people took notice of this piece.  The blogger Things That Inspire wrote a lovely story about the collection HERE.   I thought these were the prettiest chests I had seen, and even encouraged a friend to buy them for her own bedroom. 

 

image

The Serpentine chest – such a beautiful finish!!

 

Despite having an extensive catalogue, The Amy Howard Collection still does custom work – in fact 70% of their business is custom.  Here is a drawing for a custom cabinet for a client.  And, all furniture is made in their factory in Memphis – 100% American made, which is a rarity in the furniture business today.

 

image

And a snapshot of the finished cabinet.

 

 

image

Interior designer and blogger Tobi Fairley used the Darnell Demilune Commode in this entrance hall, as shown in House Beautiful.

 

image

Not all product is fancy or from the 18th century -  here is a Belgian inspired coffee table with a zinc top.  This Sonoma table is also available as end tables.

 

image

The outlet store in Nashville gets great merchandise – here the Serpentine chest was for sale at a significant savings.  I wish we had an outlet store in Texas!!!  Such a beauty!

 

 

 

image

The Howards live in this gorgeous French styled house in Memphis.  The elegant house is filled with antiques and furniture from The Amy Howard Collection, of course! 

 

 

 

image

Close up of the front of the house, decorated with gourds for Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

image

Entering the house, there is a long hall that runs from one side of the house to the other.  The living/dining room is in the middle of the hall – just past the arches by the potted urns.  Notice the stone statue at the end of the hall.    The floors throughout the house are Campania stone, about which Howard says she has never regretted the choice of this flooring – mainly for the ease in keeping them clean.

 

 

 

image

Blogger and designer Brooke Giannetti and her husband architect Steve stayed at the Howards’ house during their book tour.  They took this photo of the house decorated for Christmas.   Here you can see the statue          flanked by Italian altar sticks – so beautiful!!

 

 

image

Looking the other direction, you can see the stone staircase with its iron railing.  I love stone stairs!  So elegant.  The Salon – half living area and half dining area – is through the arches on the right.  For a beautiful view, these arches are lined up with the arched French doors in the grand hall and the Salon.

 

 

image

The Salon is an oversized room that fits the living area and the dining area.  It is divided into three sections – the dining area, under a gorgeous chandelier, is in the middle of the arm.   Decorated in creams, ivories and golds, the furniture is from the Amy Howard Collection, along with antiques the Howards have bought in Europe.  The door to the right of the fireplace leads off to the Howards’ master bedroom suite.

 

 

 

image

The dining table, set for dinner.  The pair of trumeaus seen here flanking the sofa are from AHC.

 

 

 

image

Notice the crusty garden urn mixed with gilt finery.

 

 

image

Notice the sconces on both sides of the room.

 

 

image

Taken from an antique putti that Amy found in Paris, the collection now carries these beautiful sconces.

 

 

image

Close up of the trumeau and fireplace. 

 

 

image

The powder room is an old fountain.  Where do you turn on the faucet?

 

 

image

Do you see the foot pedals on the floor?  That’s how you operate the water flow.  This picture is from a magazine photoshoot – quite dramatic compared to the first picture of the powder room!

 

 

image

The library has dark painted walls.  This is how the room was decorated several years ago.  It’s totally different today!

 

 

image

Before, there were chartreuse curtains, like the velvet settee.

 

 

image

Today, the library is done in whites – with an antique rug replace the sisal one.  The curtains are Schumacher’s Kelly Wearstler’s fabric, which Howard adores.

 

 

image

So pretty – I love the white against the black here – and all the fine antiques in the shelves.  Nice juxtaposition of the contemporary fabric against all the antiques!

 

 

image

In the front window – a desk made out of pedestals.    More of the Wearstler fabric.  Gorgeous altar sticks.

 

 

image

A close up of the desk in the window.  Amy loves flowers and says her house always has three things – music, lit candles, and flowers.  (Mine is the same, except instead of music my house is always blasting sports!)

 

 

 

image

Close up of the antique tie backs that Amy loves to collect.

 

 

 

image

Another item Howard collects are antique gilt laurel wreaths – once given as a trophy of sorts.  While Howard’s are 18th century, the company is now offering hand made replicas of the laurel wreaths!!

 

 

image

Howard also likes to collect documents and seals.  Love this vignette!!

 

 

 

image

From the magazine shoot, the back entryway shows a collection of Amy Howard Collection furniture.

 

image

Today, charming sconces and an elegant mirror replace the lamps and more casual mirror.  The console is gorgeous with its fluted legs and hardware.

 

 

image

The kitchen shares the space with a large family room.  Notice the screened  cabinet.  Bar stools have Lucite legs.  AHC has several pieces of Lucite furniture in the line.

 

 

image

Another view – showing the black subway tile backsplash.  Notice the fluted legs on the island!

 

image

The breakfast area – with a match to the kitchen’s cabinet.

 

image

Another view – showing the cabinet.  Table and chairs from AHC.

 

image

A few years ago, the room as shown in a magazine looked like this with white walls and dark wood console in the window.

 

image

Today, the walls are somewhat darker.   I love the set of prints framed and hung to act as one large piece of art.  The coffee table is beautiful with nailheads and mirrored.

 

 

image

Today, the walls are a bit darker.   Howard replaced the dark wood  c0nsole in the window with a Lucite one and industrial styled stools.

 

 

image

Closeup of the front window now.

 

image

On the console, garden urn, old book without binding, coral.

 

 

 

image

Picture from the magazine shoot.  There are two chests with sunburst mirrors above in this room.  Howard loves symmetry and it shows in her house.

 

 

 

image

The second cabinet fits snuggly in a small niche.   These are all items found in the AHC catalogue.  The lamps are especially darling.

 

 

 

image

Off the kitchen is the laundry room.  Perhaps they can hire me to be the maid?  This laundry room is beyond functional – it’s beautiful!!  Notice the mirrored cabinet doors and the antique French clock. 

 

 

image

The Howards’ bedroom is their private retreat – meant to be quiet and cozy.  The Juliet bed is stunning and is of course from  The Amy Howard Collection – as is all the furniture in this room.  The sitting area has since been completely changed – shown below.

 

 

 

image

The walls are upholstered in creamy linen – matching the curtains exactly.

 

image

Close up of the elegant mirrored nightstand – notice the fluted legs that run up the sides.  Just beautiful!

 

image

Today, the sitting area consists of the AHC backless sofa with a pair of Lucite contemporary tables.  Old world Fortuny pillows in gold add a classic touch.

 

image

Close up – notice the floor lamp!!!!

 

image

In the vanity – the skirted table and bench are covered in more Fortuny fabric!   The walls are covered in a raw silk.  Notice the antique Venetian mirror found in New Orleans.  In her blog, Howard adds these tips:  “Remember light floor and dark walls... or darker floors and lighter walls. That is what can create the most impact when you have monochromatic color themes. I also hung a very contemporary painting in this room for visual impact. I am very careful to not stay with one period of design. It is best to mix all styles and periods for the most impact.”

 

image

And the master bathroom – whoa!!!  Look at the mirrored vanity with marble countertop.  And notice the interior shutters.  The toilet is hidden behind a mirrored French door – while the chandelier adds even more sparkle. 

 

 

image

On the upstairs landing, Howard created a sitting area for her children to read and study  – something she says they never did!!   The walls are papered.

 

 

 

image

Close up view – taken from the magazine shoot.  More Fortuny pillows.  Fortuny is that kind of fabric that you can never have too much of!!

 

 

image

Howard took special care in the design of the bathrooms in her house.  This one is her son’s bathroom.

 

 

image

And off the family room, another old fountain – this one was found in Rome.  The wood door is also an antique. 

 

 

image

The back of the house is just as pretty as the front.  The Salon is seen in the middle of the house, under the covered porch.   The master bedroom is to the right. 

 

 

image

A side view of the swimming pool with its fountain on the right.  Notice the vine covered fences.

 

 

image

Gravel and box and topiary – so French.

 

image

Howard said growing the hedges and vines took many years – but was worth the wait for the privacy they provide from the neighbors.

 

 

 

image

And though Amy Howard concentrates on designing furniture for The Amy Howard Collection and giving teaching seminars for Amy Howard At Home, she still has time to decorate.  On Facebook, she recently posted this teenager’s bedroom she had just installed and I can’t resist showing it here.  Charming!!!  Notice the mirrored edge on the headboard.  Love the wallpaper and fabrics, too.

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Amy Howard’s world.  It is so gracious and generous of her to invite us inside her home.  Amy is so open with her knowledge – which  she shares at her teaching seminars and on her blog.  She is the true epitome of a Southern Lady!!!   Be sure to visit her web sites to see pictures of all her collection:  HERE.

 

To visit the Amy Howard At Home web site for all the furniture refininshing products and to read about her upcoming seminars, go HERE

 

AND, finally, Amy has several pages on Facebook AND she writes a wonderful and very informative blog, Amy Howard Daily HERE.