Archive for the 'Chairs' Category


Upholstery Lessons Learned


 Though I watch HGTV I hate that it dooms real life interior designers by creating the impression that an entire room can be properly redesigned over a weekend.   I do believe a weekend redo can happen IF:


  • The clients agree to disappear and chuck their opinions.

  • You live in a place like LA where quality materials stores are on every street corner.  And they have a million selections, all of which are in stock. 

  • You have a traveling troupe of carpenters, painters and upholsterers following you waiting for something to do.

   But for us schmoes living in the Midwest trying to do it ourselves or with a single professional who has several other projects on the table it takes much longer. 

  And here is a perfect example of how it happens for the DIY’er like me. 

I’m trying to redesign our bedroom on a budget, actually on almost no budget—2,000.00. (The 500.00 you see on Design on a Dime never takes into account labor costs.  How does that sweet Joan Stephan sleep at night?). 

  I’d hoped to use fabrics leftover from other projects for the three chairs I’m having upholstered. 

The two fabrics above will go on the front and back of a rocker and a Victorian arm chair (large print on the front) I have. 

  John’s mom gave me a perfect wingback auction find from her garage.  It’s beautiful and this is the fabric I was GOING to use.  It’s a light gold matlasse. 

Fabrics 2


   Here’s the snag I ran into: Not enough of the gold fabric.  4.5 yards is all I had.  I forgot I originally bought it to cover an ottoman I was going to have made. 

  Learn from Troy’s Mistakes Tip 1:  When having a custom piece made, have the piece finished or at least ordered before you buy fabric for it.   If you are not at that stage, you may not be committed to the project, and obviously I wasn’t.  So I still don’t have that ottoman, but I do have fabric I can’t use.  


  Learn from Troy’s Mistakes Tip 2:  Know how much yardage you need.  My upholster says it will take them 7 yards of a small print or 9 yards of a large print to finish a wingback chair.  Don’t think I won’t be filing this away for future reference.


  So in addition to the 250.00 it will cost to reupholster the chair.  I will spend probably another 110.00 (conservative estimate) for 7 yards of a small print fabric. 

Some of you may be asking, “Troy, at  $360.00 (before tax), why not just buy a new chair?“  Good question and one I always ask myself before I pay to recover something. 

  To match the quality of the chair Linda is giving me I would probably have to spend a minimum of $1,200.00 (upholstery included).  The construction and form of the auction chair are that good.  It isn’t fancy, but a good, classic chair costs that much.  

  So there you have it.  Now I have to find time to go fabric shopping, something I love to do, but not something I have a lot of time for right now.  Oh well, Calico Corner, here I come. 


New Beginnings- Benjamin Moore – Colorado Gray

Sunday as I lay on the sofa in our bedroom staring at the ceiling, listening to Claire snoring on the floor next to me and a lawn mower hum down the street, I finally made some decisions.

I think a soothing blue will allow me to use the mocha colored silk drapes I already have. This means I can keep our cheap red plaid comforter that I still like even though it’s old.

Behind the drapes I’ll use matchstick blinds.

I’ll keep two comfortable chairs and a rocker and reupholster them with fabric I have already.

We need new carpet. (Thankfully John agrees!)

I’ll replace the two over head light fixtures (word, try to avoid putting overhead light fixtures on a gabled ceiling) either with some shapely milk glass ones that disappear or with two old gold chandeliers. These days Home Depot is making some that are nice.

This is a color I will test for our walls. It is actually much lighter and softer than it appears here. Otherwise it would be too heavy for the space. Of course, it could look all wrong once it goes up. I never know until I try it.
Colorado Gray


A Store I Love: Country Friends

If you read this blog much, you’ll realize that while I’m crazy about all kinds of design, our own home tends towards the “not new” (I stopped using the word “traditional” during an episode of the Sopranos when Carmella used the term to describe the white leather and chrome-gilded mobster haven she and Tony called home.)

Outdoor Table and Chairs

(Outdoor table and four chairs I have my eye on. $199.00.)

I don’t know why I like what I do. I could try to figure out why old furniture, flowers, lots of color, gardens, cushy chairs, woodstoves, holidays, etc., appeal to me, but I don’t really care. I’m a big fan of metacognition, but over thinking design is one of the easiest ways I know to kill a good look.Fortunately though, there is a store made for people like me: Country Friends. Saying the name embarrasses me, but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t the first place in Indianapolis that I go when I need a perfect “something”—for a gift, to fill a floral container, for the front door, to help set the table.

Bird Bath

(A bronze birdbath we bought for John’s dad. I liked the forked base that makes it easy to relocate.)

Dave, another Friends-o-phile, and I typically make four official pilgrimages a year—Easter time (for spring and summer), early fall (Halloween and Thanksgiving), before Christmas and after Christmas. And then there are a few trips for random gifts or decorative dilemmas.Many people I know won’t go there. John refuses to darken the door. The place is PACKED with stuff, a look and shopping experience that a lot of people don’t enjoy. And there’s no shortage of kitsch, which doesn’t bother me. For whatever reason, I have a healthy respect for kitschy things as long as they’re sincere.

Michael and Sheila

(Michael and Sharon)

Plus the owner Michael, who started the business 22 years ago in Muncie, is a little manic and loud, but I love him. He buys fun stuff constantly and a lot of it, so if you are willing to spend some time you can usually find what you need. The staff is super friendly. They asked about my mom three months after she came to visit one time. I like that in a store.


At WS Home

Dave, Ken and I tromped through the snow for a Williams-Sonoma Home fix. I love this store because even though it is small, the number of chairs that actually feel as smart as they look is impressive.

Once John and I went to Kittles, an “upscale” furniture store here in Indy with a sales floor so large they must measure it in acres. Aside from being exhausted from the walk (we never did find the tram), I sat in fifty chairs and the most comfortable one was a folding metal number near the sales counter.

Dave is a fluffer

This highback mini-sofa (not full length, yet not a love seat either) at WSH was quite nice, however (wish I’d gotten a profile view). It hits you in all the right places. I sat all over it. Dave, good retail guest that he is, fluffed the pillows back up after I squashed them.

As I took this photo the sales person told us about a family that came in at Christmas time. They had someone take their picture in one of their designed room vignettes. She could tell they were going to pass it off as their family’s holiday card (“… such a great year for us.”)

I was horrified that someone would do this. Then I decided Ken and I should have our picture taken in one of their designed vignettes. I chose a couple of chairs (again, SO comfortable) with David Hicks-ish fabric. For effect I picked up a candle holder to sub as a pony glass and closed my eyes to make it look completely candid. No one would believe we weren’t “at home with Ken Paul.”

At home with Ken Paul

The next time friends send you a photo holiday card in which they look suspiciously prosperous you may want to look for the price tags.


Just Enough

Writing Room

I bought Martin Wood’s Nancy Lancaster – English Country House Style with a Barnes and Noble gift certificate Jim and Linda, John’s mom, gave me for my birthday. It has a lot of painted or printed illustrations (I often like these better than photos of interiors–I think the eye creating them sees the space better.).

This is an illustration of a closet at Ditchley Park that Lancaster turned into a writing room. The view from the window was of a lake and part of her garden. Cream and green everything, down to the tiny vases filled with flowers on the riser at the window, creates an uninterrupted connection with the out of doors for the lucky writer at the table.

The flowers and the wacky chair keep things from getting too serious.