THE search for an affordable and unique piece of furniture set Ann Cope's life on an entirely different path.

Now her popular upcycling venture has taken off in a big way and, as a result, just moved into a larger premises, leaving Mersea Island where she started and heading to Colchester.

One of the main reasons for this seismic shift is the fact Ann, and her businesses ShabbyAnd, is now the UK distributor and trade counter for respected Dutch Chalk paint manufacturer Autentico.

The product is a major component of the business of upgrading and injecting new life into much-loved items of furniture which may have seen better days.

Gazette: Shabbyand... Ltd, trading as Autentico Paint Uk in Colchester..Carol Fillary in the workshop class.

And with the trend showing no sign of slowing down Ann is busier than ever with workshops and customers wanting to emulate the look.

Having opened at larger commercial premises at Moorside Business Park in Colchester Ann has also taken on four new staff members as well as increasing the number of classes teaching people to upcycle their own furniture.

Ann, who has three children, says : "This is a huge move for us but a really exciting one.

“Upcycling has become a really popular hobby for people as it gives them a chance to breathe new life into tired looking furniture.

"It’s cheaper to upcycle and it’s something you’ve created. That’s a great feeling.

Gazette: Getting creative-  Ann Cope leading one of her workshops

Ann Cope leading one of her workshops

"We teach people how easy it can be when they use Autentico paint, offer some tips and tricks and of course, a great range of colours to choose from."

Ann opened ShabbyAnd... five years ago, selling furniture she had transformed using the very paint she know stocks.

Starting online, it quickly grew so she began to look around for a shop in which to showcase her products.

Classes soon followed after requests from others who shared her passion with weekly classes now offered at the new premises.

Ann explains the paints from the Dutch company can be used on a whole range of things - not just for furniture.

She says being chosen to sell their products was a major coup for her as the paint brand is big news in the world of upcycling.

"Autentico is a really respected paint manufacturer and is the best one if people are painting their furniture as it has great coverage when you use it.

"It works for any look… vintage, shabby chic, or a more contemporary, modern look.

"It’s great for listed buildings as Autentico has a range of heritage paints.

"The paints are high quality, eco-friendly and child friendly, which is so important if people are using it in the home."

Gazette: Shabbyand... Ltd, trading as Autentico Paint Uk in Colchester..

It has been a huge moment for Ann and her upcycling venture.

"I never thought ShabbyAnd… would become the UK distributor and be able to offer a trade counter, so it’s a really proud moment.

"It’s definitely keeping us busy"

It's something of a leap from her previous life running her own estate agency business.

But her love for refurbishing and giving furniture a new lease of life began with a personal project and grew from there.

Now she is passing on her expertise to a new generation of people looking for a unique piece of furniture for an affordable price.

"I was looking for an ideal table for my hallway but the one I found was too expensive so my mother-in-law gave me a table to paint.

"Once I started, I knew I had found my passion."

Since then she has taken part in the popular ITV DIY television show 60 Minute Makeover, trained in traditional upholstery and studied for a number of qualifications including her interior design certificate.

She explains giving previously loved items a new lease of life is something she gets a huge amount out of.

Ann adds: “I love upcycling furniture, creating something new from old.

"My classes are always full so it’s great to be able to increase them and offer more from our new premises where there is more space for people to work and learn."

Gazette: Shabbyand... Ltd, trading as Autentico Paint Uk in Colchester..Mary Houlden in the workshop class.

And there is even hope for those who like the look but don't quite have the confidence, or time, to pick up a paint brush and give it a go themselves.

Ann explains : “Not everyone wants to paint their old furniture but they like the look.

"If so, my team and I can help and take commissions.”

Gazette: Shabbyand... Ltd, trading as Autentico Paint Uk in Colchester..Jeanette Licken in the workshop class.