THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

I’m a big fan of multi-functional furniture, and ottomans certainly fit that description.

I think every home should have at least one.

In the world of furniture, the word ‘ottoman’ originally referred to a particular sofa style.

I kid you not.

Of course, this was back in the 18th century, and things have changed somewhat since then.

Furniture historians aren’t exactly sure why this one-time sofa morphed into a padded stool, but there you have it.

Now, you might be wondering what’s so great about an ottoman, so let me explain.

In my living room, we have a large ottoman that is roughly 4 ft x 5 ft in size.

This one piece of furniture can hold multiple stacks of books and magazines, thereby serving as a coffee table.

Yet it can just as easily fill the need for extra seating.

In addition, if the top surface is flat and sturdy, it can even hold a tray of food.

(more…)

IS DESIGNER IN A BOX FOR YOU?

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, then you know that I’ve been gearing up to launch my brand new Interior Design Program DESIGNER IN A BOX.

And I’m guessing you have some questions.

Perhaps the most pressing one – correct me if I’m wrong – is this:

How do you know if Designer in a Box is right for you?

Well, here’s a hypothetical scenario:

Let’s say you’ve decided to redecorate your living room and create a space that is invitingly cozy and comfortable and reflects everything you are passionate about.

So, you head over to your favorite big-box furniture store that is currently having a big Sale.

An eager and attentive salesperson comes to your aid, and ultimately convinces you to buy a beautiful white, leather sofa.

You are certain this is exactly what you need.

A few days later, the sofa is delivered to your home.

You’re surprised to learn that it is a little large for the space – you thought it was such a perfect fit!

And while you still think the sofa is attractive, you’re not quite so sure anymore that you’ve made the correct choice.

So you call your mother, and some friends.

(more…)

DOING THE RIGHT THING

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.

(more…)

HAVE A SEAT – PART 2

“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.

 

CELEBRATING BEAUTY

“Beauty …is a doorway to the next dimension.”  Sarah Susanka, architect & author of ‘The Not So Big House’ & ‘Not So Big Life’

Last week I fell in love.         

The object of my affection was a lovely little settee that I spotted in a designer showroom.

As it happened, I was in need of a new sofa, and had been looking for the perfect one for several months. What I’d envisioned for myself was a custom loveseat, perfectly proportioned to fit me like a glove.

Then suddenly, I found something else, that wasn’t at all what I had in mind. And yet…

This little settee was created by the high-end designer Barbara Barry and it was on sale. It was covered in fabric that I loved. Even better, it was available immediately, right off the showroom floor, which meant I didn’t have to wait three months for a customized version.

It was the sort of find that immediately makes your heart beat faster and puts a spring in your step.

So what did I do?

(more…)

THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

I’m a big fan of multi-functional furniture, and ottomans certainly fit that description.

I think every home should have at least one.

In the world of furniture, the word ‘ottoman’ originally referred to a particular sofa style.

I kid you not.

Of course, this was back in the 18th century, and things have changed somewhat since then.

Furniture historians aren’t exactly sure why this one-time sofa morphed into a padded stool, but there you have it.

Now, you might be wondering what’s so great about an ottoman, so let me explain.

In my living room, we have a large ottoman that is roughly 4 ft x 5 ft in size.

Here’s what I love about it:

This one piece of furniture can hold multiple stacks of books and magazines, thereby serving as a coffee table.

Yet it can just as easily fill the need for extra seating.

In addition, if the top surface is flat and sturdy, it can even hold a tray of food.

In fact, it’s big enough to accommodate all three at one time!

Better still, you can snuggle up in a chair and rest your feet on it, if you’re so inclined.

Clearly, the ottomans’ ability to combine three distinctly differently types of furniture (i.e. a table, seating, and a foot rest) into a single piece is an important consideration if you are in the market for new furnishings.

If your living room has the space to accommodate an ottoman, the 3-in-1 concept will certainly be easier on your budget.

Even if you live in a smaller space with limited options, the dual-purpose ottoman is ideal. Just be sure to stick with a smaller-scale that is appropriate for the size of the room.

How many other pieces of furniture can accommodate your needs this efficiently?

None that I can think of.