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7/11/2004

Eclectic works at heart of Unique

By Paula Aven Gladych The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — The name of the street on which they live and work typifies the work ethic of Carl and Shannon Green, owners of a new shop called Unique, which opened Saturday in the Prospect neighborhood.

Living on Tenacity Drive, Carl is an artist who turns the grungiest antique or the walls and floors of a building into works of art. Shannon has an eye for design, as well as retail experience.

Together, the husband-and-wife team showcases Carl’s works along with modern metal and hand-made, mosaic-tiled tables designed by artists the couple found across the country.

And while the tables and sculptures from other artists are original, the antique pieces Carl paints are what capture the imagination.

Carl paints with various techniques, colors, styles and textures. For Unique’s grand opening, he painted tables that look as if they were inlaid in Italy, chests with a colorful Asian feel and trinket boxes that look like they are gilt-edged.

Originally from Portsmouth, England, Carl learned faux painting from his father, in Torquay, England. From the age of 16, he traveled across England with his father decorating hotels, restaurants and nightclubs with various textures and painted finishes.

“I’ve painted houses and wall-papered, but my heart is in creative finishes and furniture,” he said.

Other artists can do many of the finishes he has mastered, like marbling, but Carl developed most of his techniques himself. He is constantly teaching himself new styles through experimentation.

While Carl claims he can paint anything, he relies on his wife for her design and color expertise.

“We’re a good team,” he said.

A former interior decorator who also has managed retail establishments on Nantucket Island, Mass., Shannon said she is still amazed by what her husband can create with paint.

Standing in their new retail location, before the store was filled with inventory, she pointed out the various ceiling, wall and floor textures her husband designed to showcase his talents.

Most of the walls are done in a worn-linen finish, which makes them look as if they are draped in cloth. One wall is done in Venetian plaster, looking like the foyer of a European chalet. The checkerboard wood floor, too, was his doing.

Part of the ceiling was painted in a verdigris copper finish. Painted over English, textured wallpaper to look like a tin ceiling, it has the look of slightly dulled turn-of-the-century copper.

The couple, who moved to Longmont two months ago from Nantucket, dreamed for the past two years of owning their own retail business.

Carl has worked for himself for seven years, offering faux-finishing services, but he always had a larger vision to open up his own shop and sell some of the unique furniture he has painted over the years.

Tired of island living, the Greens dreamed of having Indian and Chinese food at their fingertips and easy access to a movie theater, Home Depot and Target Superstore.

At the invitation of Shannon’s sister, the two moved to Longmont.

When they saw the modern designs and downtown metropolitan feel of the New Prospect neighborhood in south Longmont, they fell in love and decided to buy a three-story living/working space with a basement workshop.

“We’re the third retail shop to open up here,” Shannon said.

The store already is fielding requests for faux-finishing services.

“I think Carl’s work will pull people in from other areas. ... It’s up in the air what will take off more,” Shannon said, the painted furniture and gifts, or his painting and design services.

“I think this neighborhood is going to be a nice destination,” Carl said.

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 211, or by e-mail at pavengladych@times-call.com.