One of the most common questions people ask Amitha Verma, the owner of Village Antiques, is how they can re-create the look of the antique painted European furnishings found in her store. For a long time, she didn't have a good answer.
"It was an uphill struggle the old way, between stripping, sanding and painting a piece of furniture took 12 to 16 weeks of lead time," says Verma. "I tried to tell customers that you can't get the same look at home, you have to hire specialty painters. If they could see what went into it... The end result was amazing. The process was not."
Verma, who worked as an attorney before following her passion to become an interior designer, and then, four years ago, a store owner, had long dreamed of developing her own line of wall paint, but soon realized that a furniture paint would better fit the needs of her client base.
A year of experimentation followed, working with chemists to come up with the perfect formulation to fit multiple design needs. The resulting paint and product line, Amitha Verma Transform Chalk Finish Paint, has been a hit with the Village Antique customers since it launched in the store two years ago—Verma says she struggles to keep popular hues like Chantilly White and French Grey in stock. Now it's been picked up by national hardware store chain True Value, which started stocking the line in select store locations in December and is continuing to roll out the products in more stores throughout 2016.
"I love to organize, so that's what we've done, we've created a system," says Verma. "There's so much information out there that a lot of people get intimidated when it comes to painting, but it's very simple. You can watch our YouTube videos online, but all the instructions are on the can."
Verma's system is a three-step process that consists of painting, sealing and antiquing/distressing, with no stripping or sanding required beforehand. Each product in the design trinity is designed to be used together, but can be used individually. In formulating her paint, Verma thought about all the places she uses paint in her store, from cabinets to concrete, and came up with an exacting checklist to make sure her line would work for each type of project.
"What we were looking for number one was coverage, for one coat to cover at least 90-95 of a project—not 100, because some people want the colors underneath to show through," says Verma. "We didn't want thin, watery color—you're not saving anybody any time if you have to do four coats to get coverage. Secondly the consistency of the paint is a little thicker, which translates to better results on other surfaces. Wood is pretty easy to cover but you can also use our paint on a concrete planter or a brass lamp. Third was the texture of the paint. Sometimes there's a sandy or gritty feel to it, that's the difference between a garage sale find and a high-end antique store find. A lot of DIY projects look and feel DIY, but most people aren't trying to announce you did it yourself. A lot of our antiques come from France and I wanted it to be comparable to those finishes. I wanted it to have that luxury look," says Verma.
Amitha Verma Transform Chalk Paint is available at Village Antiques, 1200 Blalock in the Memorial Villages area, and at select True Value locations. Paint is $13.99 for a 4 oz. tester; and $39.99 for a quart (which covers three to four typical pieces of furniture, says Verma). Sealer is $29.99, antiquing/distressing glaze is $34.99 and paint brushes range from $9.99 to $39.99.