February 13th, 2013
‘What happens in Vegas’ is a successful campaign…but as far as the Home Furnishings industry is concerned, what’s happened in Vegas last week should most definitely NOT stay there.
Since their inaugural conference July 2005, this semi-annual event has steadily evolved into an event that is not just about new product, but reaching out to and embracing the new clients, the new marketplace, and the new merchants.
High Point, NC’s April/October Markets are still considered the standard for product (at least for now!). Yet-as a bricks and mortar gal from way back, my focus has always been on the translation for the individual, end/local user; and I very much like the supporting role the Vegas Market has created, and made their own.
Along with workshops on color forecasts and trends what happened in Vegas were some very consumer-centric symposiums: Best green/sustainable practices from BRAVO’s Thom Fillicia, creating simpler, more transparent marketing, customer service expectation ins 2013, and musings from Yankee Candles’ President & CEO Howard Kent, on his experiences of being an “Undercover Boss”
Synopsized product: the lines are clean, and scale is generous-but not oversize, like the sectionals and tables on steroids look we saw a few years back. Combined with simple, and clear colors, the results are alternately fun and upbeat, or classic and confident. The materials are a blend of organic and manufactured, sometimes within the same product-like these: Resin and glass is used to fill in the space of reclaimed wood to create a fun and functional stool.
There are signature pieces that will bring the right amount of ahhh to a space, either with a touch of shimmer, or some whimsey, like this simple and elegant ceiling fixture…or this over the top (but nonetheless awesome!) bed.
Only clunker in the group I find is Emerald Green-the annointed Color of the Year. Like last year’s Tango Tangerine, even in small doese, it’s more like the Color of the Next 15 Minutes, and IMO should stay in Vegas.
Don’t despair-or rail against what you see here as being so wildly inappropriate for your cozy condo, or your simple split.
Home Furnishing Markets-like NYC’s Fashion Week, the Boat and Car Shows, for that matter, the long-gone Sears Christmas Wish Book- are meant to inspire and entertain. They set the bar-a point at which looks and ideas will trickle down and work for most of us. So stay tuned-what retailers saw this week will start showing up online in the near future, and in the marketplace sometime late spring.
December 16th, 2012
Buying Upholstery Is A Lot like Buying Underwear (Part Two)
There are a lot of little choices to make when it comes to choosing both upholstery and underwear, most not covered by either HGTV or Victoria’s Secret… so here are a few other tips on what to consider in evaluating fit and feel for the former.
If you’re good on proportions and the pitch, let’s move onto the arms.
- If you’ll be reading, working on the laptop, or crossword puzzles in your new upholstery-bring said products to the store. Spend a few minutes using them… are your elbows and shoulders both relaxed and supported at a natural height? If your shoulders are hunched up-arms are too high; if you are forcing your shoulders down, arms are too low.
- Will you be laying down on the sofa at all? Make sure you are wearing good socks, clear it with your salesperson, and stretch out. This comes up under ‘arms’ because a low, gently rolled arm is MUCH better to lay your head on-to wedge a pillow against- that a wide flat track arm.
Natural materials-latex foam, down feather, and (ok, many years ago) horsehair were all common upholstery materials. Latex fell out of favor a few decades ago-it’d dry out and ossify; then urethane foam became uber-pricey overnight, post-Katrina, when the refineries were wiped out (it’s a petroleum-based product). Down and horsehair have little body and no resiliency, but it’s what Nanna knows to ask for.
For a nice blend of support and cush, The Refreshed Home likes cushions with a spring embedded in the dense foam core, then wrapped with Dacron fiberfill to make them pretty and full. But one word: ALLERGIES. If anyone in your household-or regular circle of visitors-has allergies, ask a lot of questions about all the construction materials.
This post came about because Aunt Lucy was asking my advice about surprising her son with a recliner for Christmas. My advice-DON’T. Lucy is about 4’9, and likes to see dainty, pretty things. My cousin Joe is about 5’10, all arms and very very leggy.
- In addition to all the above, if the footrest on a piece of motion furniture is too short, the weight of your unsupported foot will stretch the tendons and ligaments in the ankle.
- Similarly, it’s the weight of the upper body that allows the sitter to open, close, and keep the recliner steady. And when you lean back, the head and neck need to be supported so you can read, watch TV, etc without undue strain-all things only the sittee can determine.
Not sure what Aunt Lucy is going to, but here’s what I suggested: As lovely as it might be to see the actual something in the house on Christmas morning, you’ve got a good chance of guessing wrong…and that can be a pricey proposition. Instead, stop by the hobby shop, and buy the doll house version instead. You’ve got thoughtfulness, surprise and good intent all in a nice small package; chances are you’ll get some nice January sale prices as well as exactly the right piece!
December 14th, 2012
Buying Upholstery Is A Lot Like Buying Underwear (Part One)
There are three ways to look at buying upholstery: How it’s made, and how it looks get the most press, but let’s discuss the third-how it fits.
Which is why buying upholstery is a lot like buying underwear: Simply-seriously-you spend a lot of time in it, and it needs to provide the right amount of function, intimate comfort and support to your unique body.
I will leave you to your own decisions on the former, but whether re-working, or replacing -helping clients have fun while making their own best decisions is what I do, so here is the first of two posts on how to road-test upholstery.
Close your eyes. Sit in it. Do not be distracted by the fabric, the toss pillow with weird fringe, the price tag (for now), or the argument the couple across the room is having. Sit all the way back.
For the record-women tend to be proportionally leggier, and men tend to be more torso in their height. But there are leggy men, and long-waisted women. And regardless of gender, leggy can be lower-leg leggy, or more-upper leg leggy. So listen to the Decorator.
If you are short-do your feet touch the ground? If you are taller-does the cushion hit the back of your knees? Ideally, your knees should form a right angle, showing the height and depth of the seat match your proportions.
Is your posterior at the same height as your knees? Teeny bit higher would be ok, but if it’s lower/severely angled, you will always struggle to overcome gravity and get yourself out of it.
Now lean back (still keeping your eyes closed). Now is the time to think about how you are going to use this: will you be reading, watching TV, napping (tell the truth, it’s for your own good-this Westchester County Decorator will already know the answer, anyway!) socializing, or all of the above?
How is the pitch? Are you comfortably upright (important for reading)? Can you relax, or is your midsection tensed, holding your torso upright?
Are your shoulders supported? Is the back wide enough? How about tall enough? Backs with steep pitches should be high enough to support your neck and head-especially if TV watching is high on your list.
Is it the right amount of cushy? Take more than .87 seconds to think about it, remember, there are no wrong answers!
Part Two: Arms, filling materials, ‘special’ circumstances, and sharing!!
December 3rd, 2012
Broad tables laden with fine table linens and bed coverings…well-organized shelves, full of all things tabletop….unusual accent pieces of every price point imaginable, filling in whatever space is left….If you enjoy big warehouse sales with a wide selection of products for the home, get thee to the annual Casafina Holiday Warehouse Sale, starting tomorrow, Tuesday December 4th.
Importers of hand-decorated ceramic and glassware, stoneware, and such, Casafina Warehouse Sales have been a local and easily accessible treat for about 25 years now I think.
We live in an area where there are a lot of shoping choices, so if you’ve never been, let me tell you why a trip to Casafina will be worth your while: First-it’s a great physical set-up. The space itself is like a set of those Russian dolls, just when you think you’ve seen it all, you turn the corner, and there is something else to see.
It’s well-lit, and from the parking to the wrapping station, well-organized. No clawing around, hunting for whatever. Product is laid out by type, then color and patterns, and attention is paid to keeping it orderly, and replenished. Everything is sold separately, but there is usually enough of everything that you could purchase a complete set of something, if that’s what you wanted.
The merchandise is both current, and retired patterns of stemware, tableware and serveware. And the assortment is wide: there are things like hand-painted glass tumblers for the powder room, ceramic pet bowls, piggy banks and wall clocks. And cement statuary…and handmade throw rugs…and hostess gifts of every caliber. And OHYES< nice pricing, too!
Sale is rain or shine, 9am to 6pm Tuesday 12/4 through Saturday 12/8, and 10am to 5 pm Sunday 12/9. Minutes off exit 8 of 684, click here for directions. And make sure you sign up for their mailing list, to get future notifications and special offers!
November 26th, 2012
What’s the neatest way to immediately, easily and fairly inexpensively snazz up your living space? It’s over your head. Literally.
Ceilings-usually constrained to off-white palettes-are the new WOW, now seen in any of the other 95% of the colors. Trim isn’t just about the size or detail, and lighting fixtures are just a whole lot more fun-and affordable!-than this Westchester County Decorator ever remember them being.
This look is so appealing, so refreshing for many reasons: It’s adaptable to most any space, personality and pocketbook. With all the possibilities, you are pretty much guaranteed a truly unique statement, AND-it genuinely changes how we look, and feel at a space.
Unlike the rest of a room, ceilings don’t have a lot of other things to consider when planning a change. You can add a bold accompaniment to what you already have/like, pick something you love as a starting point, OR like the paint commercial-visually open up, and make a purple ceiling the whole point of a small unremarkable hallway.
Troll around some paint counters, be inspired by what’s out there. Consider:
- Special effects paint: Rustoleum’s Hammered Metals on ceiling moldings; Benjamin Moore Studio Effects Glaze for a subtle, sophisticated look, or their clear Glitter Effects over a color to glam up a powder room, walk-in closet or your very own princess bedroom
- Wallpaper the ceiling, finishing it off with painted molding. Especially striking in a Dining Room, where there is usually more wood than color or pattern anyway; and very pretty in a Bedroom… (Nothing too directional, though-a texture, like grasscloth, or allover floral, abstract or paisley tend to work best).
- Do both! Paintable embossed vinyl wallpapers come in white, and in designs from the traditional tin-ceiling grid to the more contemporary abstracts and textures.
Our eyes are always intrinsically, immediately drawn to color and light; choosing a fixture with personality enhances, and adds more OOOOHH! to a decorated ceiling. Creative is the new pedigree, as traditional materials are mixed, re-worked, and new ones are introduced.
Seen at this years’ Architectural Digest Show, these two fixtures struck me as perfect for over a dining table. One used pressed glass medallions to diffuse the harsh glare of the bulbs; the other a very fine, stiffened linen over a thin wire frame. BONUS: the latter also provides acoustic benefits.
Some ideas that add more than just function:
The Refreshed Home is in the good idea business. Looking for your own, new WOW? Let’s talk today!
October 10th, 2012
Channeling Mark Twain here, and NO, not talking about me, but rather a store.
The rumors started this spring, when a tractor-trailer backed into the front of Stickley Audi on Tarrytown Road in White Plains.
The sign came down, boards went up, and the whispers started.
Then there was the Clearance Sale. SIGH. Where herds of professional store-closeout
bullies salespeople did little to dispel the rumors.
But alas, the truth came out…a long-needed facelift had been in the works, the tractor-trailer just got it on the fast-track.
The store has remained open during the renovations, and they still have a while to go, but the early reviews-OK, my early review-is that it’s great.
A very welcome change is evident the moment you step into the lobby: Look up (fabulous bubble chandelier), look down (sleek leather upholstery), then look all around (a serene oil over the sofa in muted tones, and a truly wonderful, very fashion-forward color on the walls).
Wander through the rooms and although many are still in the throes of being rejuvenated, you will like what you do see. Three of my favorite things:
A really neat drafting table/desk (with a big cogwheel to adjust the angle!)-under $600.00!
A spacious, professional Design Center.
And this sofa!! My goodness!
As I had written about earlier in the year, the big messages at this springs’ Architectural Digest Show was Sexy! Metallic! Organic! and this sofa is IT.
The lighting wasn’t in place yet, but even from this snippet of a rear view, I think you can see where this is going…
The curvilinear frame, in a shimmering pewter velvet, complete with shiny nail head trim and YES those are genuine mirrors attached directly above the skirt.
You can tell by even just this small amount of detail that this console table is something special…a sophisticated burnished finish, and a mirrored top.
It’s not certain when the work will be completed, but hopefully it will be soon. But if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and take a walk through-you will be delighted, and like me, be impatient for the rest of this beautiful package to be complete.
September 20th, 2012
Fairfield County residents-sorry, I’m letting the cat out of the bag…
Moments off exit 8 of I-95 in Stamford CT is Juliska, one of the most lovely gift and tabletop stores I have even been in. Even better-this Saturday starts their annual warehouse sale!
A company store year round, Juliska is nestled pretty much in the center of Stamford’s antique shop district. Carrying primarily their own lines of china, crystal and other tableware, but augment it beautifully, seamlessly with product from other vendors. The displays are creative and engaging, full of unusual finds, at very reasonable prices. Under the best of circumstances, it takes me about an hour to go through this shop….I just don’t want to miss a thing.
For the sale, they are expanding into the parking lot, filling a 5,000 sf tent with all sorts of product-ceramic, table linens, lighting and more. Some seconds, but many retired designs as well.
All I can tell you is it’s a perfect place to shop anytime, but if you have gift-giving occasions coming up, be there when they open at 9am, you won’t be disappointed.
Juliska-465 Canal Street, in Stamford. 203.316.9118 Have fun…and make sure you hit Barry and Fred’s next door while you’re there!
July 2nd, 2012
(Fill in the noun) for Dummies has been one of the most successful franchises in publishing history. Since the inaugural DOS for Dummies launched in 1991, there are over 250 million of the the trademark yellow and black softcover books in print 1800+ titles, in 30 languages.
The self-deprecating title almost kept the first one out of bookstores, but that was its genius: take a complex, confusing, intimidating, anxiety-provoking topic; distill it into layman terms, add some yuks and cute drawings, and you’ve got a read that is helpful, effective and entertaining.
Like it’s look-alike and predecessor Cliff’s Notes (seriously, named after it’s inventor, a guy named CLIFF) the goal was convey vital info in the simplest and clearest way possible, so it could be quickly read and easily remembered.
But instead of procrastinating teens who’ve put off the reading assignment, we buy these books because we are now accomplished, busy adults, secure enough to acknowledge what we don’t know, AND seriously focused on the business of learning it, so we can get on with our life.
EXACTLY the premise of the shopping service offered by The Refreshed Home. Simply-you become informed, and comfortably prepared to make your own best decisions, quickly.
Let’s say you need to buy some upholstery for your family room. When most people have that realization, they drive around, wandering through furniture stores, waiting for inspiration to strike, muttering to themselves ‘I’ll know it when I see it’. Worse, they purchase out of frustration, only to find it’s too big/uncomfortable/poorly made/wrong color/etc.
BUT- how cool would it be- if when you went into a store, you had already thought out the option of a sectional vs a sofa and two chairs?
Already understood what a woven fabric was, and why it’d be a good choice for you?
Already realized your preference for three separate seat cushions, a rolled arm and no skirt, and knew that cushions with welting will keep their shape longer?
What if someone who knew what they were doing asked all the tough questions and was negotiating on your behalf?
Diagnosing where clients are stuck, setting a strategy, then putting tools in their hands is The Refreshed Home’s specialty. Structured for people who need to make changes, want to understand, and actively participate in the process, but:
- Don’t know where to start
- Aren’t sure of what they need, or like
- Don’t trust their taste
- Can’t visualize
- Have no time
- Hate to shop, or haven’t shopped in years
- Dislike dealing with “salespeople”
After the inital consult, here are some ways we could proceed:
- Wish List: I create a detailed shopping list, even a scaled floor plan for your own shopping experience. Included: suggested sizes, colors, or styling details, as well as shopping tips; floor plans clearly communicate the dimensions/details of the space
- Reconnaissance Mission: After we define your needs and explore ideas, I lay the groundwork by speed-shopping through various stores, showrooms, websites and other vendors on my own, then provide you an itinerary of places to visit, with photos/links and pricing
- Accompanied shopping: We meet, and look for specific product/solutions while reviewing any market or manufacturing info that would be helpful. You might make decisions then, but if not, you will know what you’re looking at, and be comfortable making good decisions later, out on your own
- Online: We review the merits of products and looks online together; point being you know what to look for, what to ask about when you go out shopping on your own.
This Westchester County Decorator and Home Stager is always open to finding new ways to make things work better for her clients, so if you are stuck, just call and start the conversation, we’ll figure out what you need and the best way to get it done.
Sofas (or colors, lighting, draperies. rugs, mattresses, home offices, wallpaper, dining tables, etc) for Dummies? Not after we work together!
June 7th, 2012
Increased activity in the housing market has increased confidence about updating our homes. In my business, that’s translated to a lot of questions about the wisdom of buying new vs. re-upholstering, or just slipcovering.
Helping clients make thoughtful and value-oriented decisions is what The Refreshed Home is all about; so the first step here is to understand what each is really about, and to think through their needs, and expectations.
- Fit over-on top of-existing piece
- Not a lot of middle ground: available very custom-(time and $$$), or very generic (quick, inexpensive, but few choices)
- Will adapt to piece by velcro or zippers (very custom) or by fabric ties, stretchy fabric, or elasticized overskirts (generic)
- Usually unlined, and in a light-weight fabric-to fit, and drape well over original fabric
- Fabric not attached to frame-can shift with use, or not lay as flat as on upholstered piece.
- Can be washable
These craftspeople still exist, but cost, and modern lifestyles have nudged this look out of mainstream favor. Readers of ‘a certain age’ might remember Gimbel’s shop at home service, where someone would come to your house and measure/make a pattern while you chose a fabric cover.
Some furniture retailers offer another choice: they sell both new muslin-covered sofas, and a selection of matching slipcovers separately. This allows them to mass-produce several options of reasonably well-fitting covers at a pleasing price point.
Think about the wear this will get, and your expectations of how long it will last. And because fabric rests on the frame, reflect on your fondness for a more casual look-or your threshold for straightening seams.
New is…well, new! Almost anything you’d hope to find is available, or could be made. Which could be a good thing….
- Used to mean gutting, then repairing/replacing
- Upholsterers today will just replace cover, gut, or do anything in between-depends on condition, and what client wants to spend
- Design details (like piping, trim, skirt, nail heads, tufting) can be added, removed or altered for a truly different look
- Fabric choices are endless
- Modern padding materials can be non-allergenic (instead of down, petroleum-based foam, latex or horsehair) and green (soy-based foam and shredded pop bottles)
- Heavier-more durable-fabrics can be used
Unless a frame has genuinely been lightly to never used, re-covering might not be a great option. The insides of a sofa age as much as the outsides do, putting money into covering shrunken latex cushions, or one that’s not sturdy is a waste.
Do you have pets, small children-or messy big ones? Do you get bored easily, or hate a perfectly good hand-me-down sofa? Maybe you’re just cash or time-challenged at the moment? All good reasons to think about a generic slipcover.
The answer to new vs. re-upholster is not as clear. Age is not always reliable marker of quality, or suitability to be re-worked. Cost of new can be more fabric than quality of manufacturing. And a sofa that is undersized, or that sits at an uncomfortable angle is not going to feel much better with new fabric on it. Even quality, older pieces can have frame damage if say they spent time in direct sunlight, or in front of heating elements.
If you’ve got a piece where the loose cushions are stained or worn-but arms, and rest of frame looks good-replacing inserts, and covering them in a totally different fabric can be both inexpensive and stylish.
Easy to go back and forth, but don’t expect to choose based solely on cost. A solid re-upholstery job will probably run a similar amount of money as the same quality of new.
Instead, first ask yourself if the piece has actual or sentimental value. Do you like it? Is it an unusual size that fits well in a specific space? Even just wanting new-OR-not wanting to cut down another tree-all valid, that will help you more clearly evaluate pricing.
March 16th, 2012
…or Dining Rooms…or Family Rooms.
In a decision process-most* thought processes consider previous data gathered: What were the actions taken, what were the results, and what did we learn?
*While these probing questions and their revelence might be brushed aside when one is considering, oh-say another slice of pizza…another ‘new and fun’ hairstyle…or re-connecting with an ‘ex’… it arises mightly when it’s time to re-think a previous decorating decision that went badly.
Yes, indeed-Ghosts of Living Rooms Past come flooding back with a vengence!
DISCLAIMER: Trendy does have a useful lifespan, so if ‘trendy’ was at the top of your list, by definition it will look cool and wonderful for a while, then it will look old, and you need to know that going in.
But what about paint colors on the wall that looked nothing like the 0.25″ square in the paint store, that ivory damask sofa you vowed to keep up, the dining room table or sectional that engulfed the room, the canopy poster bed with while lace your little-league loving daughter hates…the ‘whatever’ because it was the ‘newest and latest’, or that ‘everyone was doing it’.
I had a client once who even channeled her mothers, her mother-in-laws’ and her neighbors’ past decorating misdeeds!
Decorating is about fufilling dreams…but it involves dollars as well. Dreams not met will often involve introspection of some degree, but when dollars are lost in the process it stings doubly.
When ready to make new decisions after a bad experience, hesitation and self-doubt is natural, but not productive. Here are my suggestions for what is valuable in this process, what to toss, and why:
- An open mind.
- The opinion of A trusted friend. Ask 10 people, you will get probably that many different opinions, not so helpful. A friend who is trusted will answer your fears and thoughts with stuff that is relevent to you and your life, and not look at this as a ‘test run’ for their own space.
- What you need/want TODAY in the forefront of the process. Chances are your life-needs-tastes are all different now. Give yourself that. The past is the past, move on.
- Perspective. Surely SOMETHING good came from your alleged horrible, horrible lapse! Maybe a great story, a new ‘inside joke’….or just maybe with that monster Dining Room table you got to host the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner ever.
- The negative emotions you’ve put on this bad decision. Look-no one died, and trying to re-write history just because you can will get you outdated solutions to problems you no longer have.
- The notion this room is a personal challenge. Decorating is about making good plans and wise decisions so you can get on with your life, and fully enjoy your space. Focusing on the past keeps you from making decisions, and living your life.
- The sense that second-, third-, even fourth-guessing yourself will guarantee the result you want. Trust me, it will not. It WILL make you unhappy, nervous and unsure of yourself…not how to make good decisions.
- The idea that you must find all the answers at once. For most rooms, it’s the shortcut to not getting anything done, or making bad decisions. If you are doing a kitchen or bathroom over, yes, you will need to decide on many of the elements prior to the start of the work. But maybe not all, like the backspash, a wall color or a ceiling fixture. In a bedroom, what you put on the bed makes a big statement, but is not critical to the room’s function.
And if “worst comes to worst” <imagine mischievous smile> you could always start a conversation with a kind and confident decorator.
January 29th, 2012
There are three elements I find that absolutely flummox most people about their home. They realize it’s important, but can’t visualize-or rationalize spending money on-anything beyond the basic.
Which is really too bad, because none of these elements need to cost a lot of money, and the right choice can go a long way, no matter what your goals.
Lighting is one of the Big Three most get stuck on. Not only is there rarely enough of it, what’s there is usually outdated, out of proportion, or looks just like what everyone else has…because it’s what the local big box store shows.
No matter if you are staying in, or getting ready to sell a property, if it’s well-chosen and with personality, it will add function and be engaging. It may be counter-intuitive, to spend money on something that will stay when you are selling but think of a small, well-defines area, and remember:
- Engaging buyers in a way that other properties don’t is a big component of a well-prepared property
- When YOU’VE figured something out for the buyer that no other seller has, that is value-added
- You can always have the sales contract written to reflect the fixture is coming with you
- Unless you are buying a close-out, you should be able to purchase another within a reasonable time frame
A solid, overall lighting plan will be unique to each property. In the case of task (end-table, vanity, desk top) and accent (sconces, buffet lamps) lighting-much will depend on the taste and existing furnishings. For our purposes today, I will just share a few scenarios I’ve come up against recently, and what I found that worked.
Chose this (left) fixture for a contemporary bathroom, in a modern apartment. It was a generous-sized room, with darker toned wood vanity, double sinks in a granite counter top and marble floors.
It had been a bachelor pad, new owners wanted to make it a little prettier. Did three of these fixtures, one at either end of the vanity, one in between the two sinks, $185.00 each.
This (right) was chosen for the entry of a 1928 Arts and Crafts home. Many A&C homes are often dark, harsh and austere.
As a design element, stars are signify luck and hope. Antiqued copper was the right material, and the clean lines agreed with the nature of the space, but these curves warmed and softened it.
Smiles from the first step inside the house, $218.00
In a contemporary colonial, there was a pass-through area off the kitchen. It was designed to be a butlers’ pantry, but owners decided to make it a wet bar.
We found this to be exactly the right ‘mix’ of fun and function, $225.00
Money spent on the right lighting is always money well-spent. Materials, scale, lines and light it gives off-both amount, AND direction!-are all to be considered first, but seriously, have fun with it, too.
NEXT: Window Treatments Made Easy