Abrams/Quentin Bacon

Off the page: ‘Rescue, Restore, Redecorate’

Amy Howard loves a good comeback story. Like watching the home team return the ball for a game-winning touchdown, when Howard walks into a flea market, estate sale or Saturday market, she sees the movie-quality potential in each worn-down chair, mismatched headboard and outdated dresser. And, just like a coach in one of those inspirational tales, Howard has taken it upon herself to unlock each piece’s hidden potential.

Amy Howard. Photo by Allison Rogers.

“The world is full of promising items that have been discarded,” writes Howard in the introduction of her how-to book Rescue, Restore, Redecorate (published by Abrams). “You just have to look a little further than your coffee table catalog.”

And Howard has looked much further, traveling to Paris and other far-off destinations with her husband Gene to have a chance at not only finding a new piece of furniture, but creating a new story.

“Can you ever have too many stories?” asks Howard, who holds each rehab project as a special piece of her own personal history. “When you rescue, restore and redecorate a vintage piece, you not only bring a new chair or table or dresser into your home. You bring in a new story as well.”

Now, with a passion to share her personal stories and help others create their own, Howard has taken to the pages of her new book to lay out her go-to tips for finding, refurbishing and even creating furniture and accessories that bring to life the stories that underlie each piece and its creator. From bold color choices to gold leafing to out-of-the-box patterns, Howard draws inspiration from a variety of styles and demonstrates that the key to creating the perfect piece is your own imagination.

“If you’ve never rescued a flea market find or an heirloom in need of attention, it may feel like a challenge to know where to begin,” writes Howard, whose step-by-step guides make even the most impressive result seem attainable. “Here’s the good news: You can start small, quick, and cheap. It’s likely that the design styles you love most are right under your nose.”