Bright, tropical colors and balmy beach themes characterize the interior space at the west Bradenton art studio and boutique, A Room With a Hue, where owner and artist, AnnMarie Nicholas, designs and sells hand-painted furniture, art and murals.
Located just east of the bridge on Cortez Road, A Room with a Hue specializes in commercial and residential art projects, ranging from large-scale murals to faux finishing on furniture and décor — or, as Nicholas puts it, “anything that involves paint.”
Prior to opening A Room With a Hue in 2005, the Staten Island, N.Y. transplant made her living as a flight attendant for thirteen years, and before that, in the finance industry — a far cry from her current career as a full-time artist.
“I received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, but when I graduated from college in the eighties, finance was where you went to make money, so that’s what I did,” Nicholas recalled.
After relocating to Bradenton with her husband, Nicholas switched careers and worked as a flight attendant for Continental Airlines, but when the events of Sept. 11, 2001 led to an unexpected early retirement, she decided it was time to return to her artistic roots.
“When I saw this place was for sale, I knew it was time to seize the moment and start my business here,” Nicholas said of the charming space A Room With a Hue occupies next to the Cortez Bridge.
Nicholas’ wide array of interest and skill in the arts is reflected in the work that fills her shop and her portfolio. Although watercolor is her forte, Nicholas also studied faux finishing at Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design and is comfortable working in a variety of mediums and styles.
“I do a lot of furniture painting, and it’s always something different,” Nicholas said. “Someone might bring in a piece and only want the color changed. Other times, they want a crackled finish or maps or some other kind of unique artwork. This kind of work never gets boring.”
According to Nicholas, there is no limit to the items she is commissioned to paint. From full dining room sets to motorsports helmets, car spoilers and maternity molds, she has painted it all.
“It’s amazing to me that ever since I’ve opened, I haven’t really needed to advertise — even when the economy was in the worst of its slump,” Nicholas said. “People like what I do, and clearly there’s a need for it. As long as there’s something my clients want painted, I’m here to do it.”
When she isn’t working on furniture-related art projects, Nicholas said the majority of her other commissioned work consists of murals, for both commercial and residential properties.
“There’s a definite trend in Bradenton toward utilizing murals for community beautification projects, and I love it,” Nicholas said. “I think they’re a really great way to add some color and spruce up some of the areas that need it — particularly downtown.”
Although she says that her favorite subject to paint is horticulture — particularly flowers — Nicholas enjoys painting just about anything she is commissioned. Birds, seashells and other tropical themes are her most popular requests.
“I tend to prefer subjects that aren’t too whimsical or abstracted, but I’m happy to paint just about anything,” Nicholas said.
Her past projects include the mural in the children’s room at Manatee County Judicial Center, a mural for Hope Family Services, the outdoor mural at Mangrove Grille’s Pez Vela Bar, benches and sculptures in the Neal Communities butterfly garden, and three of the six-foot geckos for the Bradenton Gecko Fest.
Nicholas also volunteers her artistic services by making items for nonprofit organizations and community events, including the Manatee PACE Center for Girls, the Women’s Resource Center, the Anna Maria Community Center, the South Florida Museum’s “Vinology” series and the upcoming Bradenton Blues Festival at Riverwalk.
In addition to her commissioned projects and volunteer work, Nicholas has a retail space that is filled to the brim with furniture, décor, decorative signs and art pieces — all of which she individually hand-painted. Her most popular piece, she said, is a sign that reads “I wasn’t born on Anna Maria, but I came here as fast as I could.”
She is also passionate about maintaining a green business.
“Everything made here is repurposed ‘junk’ or reclaimed furniture from estate sales. I use everything I find out on the island, too: Driftwood, sea shells, old fishing nets and rope — they all make for some great art. I even use old fish hooks to hang pieces,” she added.
Business hours at A Room With a Hue are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, or by appointment. To schedule your appointment for a visit to the shop or art consultation, call the store at 941-798-9034.