This is a small story about a couple of small projects.  

One was for a client, and the second one was for me personally.

Several months ago, I took on a small living room project.

The focus was to replace the client’s sofa, so my job was to source a new sofa, and select appropriate fabrics that would complement an existing color scheme.

Something I always love to do!

Oh – and to custom design a couple of seat cushions for an adjacent window seat.

I managed to snag a fabulous sofa on Sale at our local Seattle Design Center, which made for an especially rewarding experience.

It’s truly amazing how a new fabric can totally transform an existing sofa or loveseat, as there’s really no need to replace furniture that already has “good bones” as we in the industry like to say.

The window seat cushions, however , were another story.

It was a very simple formula:  one long window seat, two cushions designed to fit snuggly in place.

You can imagine my dismay when the upholsterer delivered two enormously L O N G seat cushions – not what I had in mind at all.

Even more disappointing was the realization that the error was mine, a simple matter of providing less than clear instructions. In my many years of handling interior design projects, this was a first for me.

The experience was humbling indeed.



“It’s better to buy well, than often.” Jim Caughman, Baker Furniture


The ‘Ride’                                                          

We’ve all had the experience of sinking into what appeared to be a comfy chair, only to find ourselves sinking further than intended.

Beyond what might be considered reasonably comfortable.

Of course, everyone has different expectations of how we’d like a favorite sofa or chair to feel.

While some prefer soft cushions, others prefer firm support.

It’s all a matter of preference.

At the same time, we are usually keenly aware when something doesn’t feel right.

Ask yourself this question:  “How does the seat receive you?”

In other words, with good upholstery, it should be a gradual settling in. Cushy, with lots of padding, especially at the sides.

It’s also important to listen.

Yes, that’s right – while you’re being super attentive, listen up. Odd crinkly noises, or the sound of air escaping are never a good sign.


Choosing A Fabric

The sky’s the limit here, although fabric quality varies widely.

Choices range from sturdy and functional, to high-end opulence, and plenty in-between – including sustainable textiles that have been manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals.

Selecting fabric is a little like being a kid in a candy store, there is just so much to choose from.

The best guideline is to purchase a textile that is appropriate for upholstery as opposed to, say – window treatments. The latter is designed to drape elegantly at a window, while the former needs to hold up to everyday wear and tear.

There is a world of difference between the two.

If you go to a big box store, you will likely have a selection of fabrics that have been pre-selected for that particular chair or sofa.

Likewise, any high-end showroom or interior design firm would provide the same service, making certain that your fabric choices are appropriate.

Bottom line:  you want fabric that will hold up well under repeated use, and won’t stretch out of shape or pucker at the seams.

Pay attention, also, to the texture of the fabric, and how it feels against your skin.


The Finishing Touches

Do you prefer a tailored look with a tight seat and back?

Or do you prefer something more relaxed & laid-back – like the style known as Shabby Chic?

Once you’re clear on the style of seating, you can move on to the finishes.

If the finish appears tacky or poorly applied that signals a lack of attention to detail. Chances are the chair you’ve set your sights on is of inferior quality that will not hold up well over time.

Details such as buttons & fringe are often reserved for the seat back (buttons) or throw pillows (buttons and/or fringe). Another common decorative touch – what’s referred to as ‘welting’ – adds a narrow band of the same or contrasting fabric along the edge, giving a crisp, tailored appearance.

Nail heads are another great option for adding a small decorative touch to the final look, especially in traditional designs – although you are by no means limited.

Yes, these details might cost a bit more, yet they are usually a drop in the bucket compared to the overall expense of your new sofa.

Remember to think long-term – buying well means you are investing for the future. It is not a quick fix.

Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for the level of quality and comfort you truly desire.



A few weeks ago, I attended an innovative & enjoyable interior design event, held at the Theo Chocolate factory in Seattle.

If you’re wondering what chocolate has to do with design, this struck me as such a fun concept I couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn more.                                                                    

As it happened, the chocolate fest was held in tandem with the viewing of a locally owned fabric collection from O’Ecotextiles.

What these two companies – and their products  – have in common is an environmentally conscious footprint. In other words, from start to finish, both the chocolate, and the fabrics, are sustainably manufactured!

On their website, Theo’s Chocolates boasts they are “the ONLY Organic, Fair-Trade, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory in the United States!”

O’Ecotextiles describes their fabrics as “Opulent, Yet Organic” and “Sensuous, yet Sustainable”.

Tempting, yes?

Well, I’d like to share some sobering statistics about the many fabrics, luscious and otherwise, that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.

What most of us don’t realize, is that there are over 2000 chemicals used in fabric production.

That’s right – 2000!

You can be sure that most of them are highly toxic, and harmful to both your health and the environment.

Yet the average person has no idea.