Thursday, May 30, 2013

Everybody Loves Reupholstery

Transformation is such an exciting process. Whether it is a personal change, such as a new haircut, weight loss or a fashion makeover, or a design change, I seem to be drawn to marveling at all sorts of before and after photos. I know I'm not alone, as TV shows and magazine articles on this topic abound, so I thought I'd share some of my recent reupholstery projects.

This is a little stool that I found on Craigslist a while ago. I really liked the shape of the base and the brass feet, but between the ivory vinyl and shape of the top, it was a little lackluster. I initially was going to paint the wood, but on closer inspection it appeared to be walnut and had a great burl to it, so once I cleaned it up and applied some Restor-a-finish I decided to leave it be. I stared at the stool's top for a while, wondering how I could spice it up a bit, and then saw a photo online of a pleated and tufted stool that I loved. So I called the upholsterer...and....voila! The fabric is by ROMO, made in England,  and this cute little stool will hopefully be featured on the One Kings Lane Vintage & Market Finds site soon.

Project number two is a very groovy 1950s slipper chair. Coincidentally, it was also upholstered in ivory vinyl, like the stool, but they were purchased some time apart. (I guess those midcentury furniture manufacturers were all about practical upholstery!) I loved the shape of this chair and the petite size. For this piece I chose a Lacefield Designs (made in the USA!) cotton blend in a zig zag pattern, with a contrasting turquoise welt. While I really liked the nailhead detail on the original chair, I felt that it wouldn't work with such a busy pattern, and I wanted the contrast welt to define the unique shape of the chair.

On a philosophical level, I wonder why these before and after projects are so eye opening. Why can't we see these possibilities more clearly in our mind's eye? I'm not sure, but maybe it is because we get complacent looking at something or someone, stuck seeing that object or person in a certain way. Whatever the case, I think it is a good lesson to try and see the possibility for positive change in people, furniture or animals!

Monday, May 20, 2013

La Cienega Design Quarter Keynote: Buy New or Buy Vintage

A week or so ago, I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion called "Integrity vs. Ingenuity: Buy New or By Vintage?" It was hosted by Beth Brenner of Traditional Home and featured three panelists: Thom Filicia, Molly Luetkemeyer and Oliver Furth.

My first thought was that the title was a bit off. I mean, an antique or vintage piece not only has integrity, but also ingenuity, and the same logic can be applied to certain new pieces as well. Confusing title aside, it was interesting to hear these designers speak of their love for vintage and antiques as well as how they incorporate them into their projects.

I thought the most interesting line of thought came when Molly said that homes should tell the story of the people that live there. I think this is something everyone should keep in mind, whether they hire a decorator or design themselves. It is the reason why I find visiting people's homes so interesting. You get to see a bit more of their personality, at least most of the time.

I like to think this is why it is taking me so long to decorate my own house. I don't like to buy things just to "fill a space," and I also don't like buying something cheap just because I need it right away. I'd rather wait for the right piece or the money to buy the right piece. This is why I still have the too-small dining table and chairs I bought ten years ago in my dining room. I know WHAT I want;  I just can't afford what I want right now. :)

This idea of keeping the interior true to the people that live in the house is huge design challenge. I  often see a final vision for clients that doesn't include the 1980s blond wood dining table the client's mother in law bought them, but sometimes these items are non-negotiable. (This is when refinishing or reupholstering comes in handy - "We're just going to "freshen this up" I say.")

The other, opposite end of the spectrum are those people who seem to only want "sets" of furniture that can be purchased as shown from a catalog or showroom. Luckily, with the advent of Pinterest, Etsy and the wide array of images now available for consumption on the internet, I think this way of thinking is going a bit by the wayside.

To summarize, I found this speech inspiring me once again to try and design from a place of true expression, and to help guide people to furniture and decor that really speaks to them and illustrates their tastes and lifestyle.