Archive for the 'Sofa' Category


Design Past, Present and Future

It took a 19th century near death experience to get him there, but once Ebenezer Scrooge finally caught his clue he declared that he would keep Christmas past, present and future always before him. In the interior design world I get the impression that most people are a combination of past, present, and future with an emphasis on one more than the others.

I love contemporary design, I really do. Clean, spare lines and an emphasis on materials totally enchant me in public spaces. But for some reason I can only live with a little of it at a time in our home – a danish modern coffee table in our hearth area, a sputnik lamp, which I have yet to hang in our guest bedroom (makes me wonder if I’m subconsciously resisting it even when I love it), and our newish sofa.
New Sofa

The first two of these could hardly be considered contemporary since they were made in the 60s. And the sofa has traditional, even if spare lines.

Sometimes I wonder why I can’t shake a traditional bent. Not that I’m unhappy with our home. Quite the opposite, I love it. This Saturday John and I were sitting in the kitchen drinking our morning coffee, Sam (our wood stove) quietly blazing before us.

We were talking about how we’d rather be hanging out in our house than in any hotel we could possibly think of (at least at that particular moment), which is a good thing since we pour our spare change into the house and not into big vacations. It is full of stuff that means something to us – family treasures or finds. Auction scores, those trophies from furniture safari’s with John’s mom.

But I like to think of myself as progressive–socially, spiritually, politically. Even when I work in art museums, though I love the earlier pieces, I prefer to spend the bulk of my time with art less than a century old. Why then, when we built our new house five years ago, did we look at southern, country antecedents? Am I a closet conservative?

I suppose part of the answer can be found in how I was raised, not just the regional influence (the Arkansas Ozarks), but the people who did the job. We never had a ton of money so we learned to value the things, fine or not, that we saw at our family gatherings. Plus the 70s had that whole “back to our country’s roots”, folk thing going, which my Aunt Judy turned into a subtle, but elegant homey art form that totally worked.

Then there was my friend Felley’s mom, also named Judy. I know it is a chronological impossibility, but I’m convinced that Margaret Mitchell based Melanie Wilkes on my friend’s mother, who even looks for all the world like Olivia de Havilland, I swear. In addition to her sweetness, charm and patience (I always showed up at her house after school ready for a snack and was never, to my recollection, rebuffed or disappointed), she also had an incredibly refined, but remarkably approachable sense of style.

She was never self-conscious enough to speak in such terms,  but I learned from Miss Judy to think of interior design as one of the three essential tools of hospitality–the other two being good food and genuine thoughtfulness, two things my mom could have written the book on.

For Miss Judy, every furniture purchase or placement choice seemed to be with a visitor’s comfort and timeless style in mind. Those two things became fused together in my psyche because of her, I think. One of my sweetest memories is of sitting on her fabulous, dark blue chintz Chinois floral patterned sofa with her as she talked me through my smorgasbord of adolescent problems.

Then there is my own mom. She also has great design sense, but the most valuable lessons I learned from her were to keep it fun and to never be afraid of color, especially red. And when you get stuck, call a designer (luckily she has a friend and next door neighbor who is one). And never apply your lipstick with the aid of a compact mirror when you’re in public. Oh wait, that was what my sister learned. Sorry.  

So maybe it’s because I’m so attached to these people, ideas and memories that I keep my feet rooted in a traditional style. From a design point of view the south is frequently criticized for being retardataire. I suspect my own observations may point to why that is, if it is. I guess for me the past is a vital part of the present and the future. Maybe there’s nothing I can do about that, and maybe I should stop feeling the need to apologize for it.           


Living Room Touch Ups

Picked up the reupholstered side chairs from T and H upholstery (cost to upholster 2 side chairs and to make three pillows from leftover fabric=$165.00). The chairs, along with the rug, the new sofa (the one on the right), and a few accessories finished the touch ups to the living room.

Living Room After

A before shot:

Living Room Before

The infamous sofa:

New Sofa

Here are the pillows T & H made for me.

Tulip Pillows

I’ve ordered down inserts, but T and H was kind enough to put some fiber fill ones in them so I could still pick them up and enjoy them. The trim is from JoAnne fabrics, and I bought all they had, which wasn’t much. Jean at T & H told me today that a new fabric place has just opened up in Indy- Heritage Fabric and Design Center at 6951 E 30th St. She said their selection is really good. I’m pretty stoked to have a new fabric resource since I’ll probably avoid Calico Corners for awhile. I’ll try to visit this new spot and post about it soon.

I originally bought the tulip fabric for the chairs, but the pattern was too big so I used the stripe leftover from the bedroom wingback instead. Even the stripe is a bit too big, but I needed to use up some of my supply. Every once in a while I have to throw my practical side a bone.



The Letter I Didn’t Send to Calico Corners

Probably should have. I changed the actual names of people in the letter to Helpful and Buzzkill.

I came into the store this morning with a friend who was helping me select fabric for two chairs. As we shopped I noticed a sofa that I liked by the entrance. Helpful, who was helping us with fabric selection, also gave me information about the sofa. I mentioned that I might like to buy it if my partner, John who was not with us at the time, also approved. Helpful told me to call her if I needed her to put a hold on it.

After I described the sofa to John he said he wanted to see it. So I called Helpful and asked her to put it on hold. She said she would, so we drove back to the store from downtown Indianapolis where we live.

Not long after we arrived and sat on the sofa to try it, a woman whom I recognized from the sign next to the store entrance as Buzzkill, the in-store designer, approached us.

With something of a sneer Buzzkill said, “That sofa is sold.” I thought she might be referring to the hold that was placed on it and explained that I was actually the person Helpful was holding it for and pointed to the tag pinned to the sofa that had my name and contact information on it. Buzzkill said something to the effect that her customer had held it at noon. Then she asked me when I had asked Helpful to hold it. I told her that when I called Helpful at about 2:00 she said it was still available. I also mentioned that if it were not available when I called I would have appreciated knowing because that information would have saved me another 25-minute drive to the store that day. There was no hold tag on the sofa other than mine.

Annoyed, I went to look for Helpful to let her know that there was a problem, something Buzzkill should have done first rather than arguing with me over when the hold was placed. Helpful was unaware of any other hold and said so, at which point, Buzzkill said she was holding it for her daughter and that she could let me know Monday whether or not it was still available. Disappointed and unbelievably angry, John and I left.

Later, I called Helpful again to say that I was not happy with the way Buzzkill had treated us and that we were interested in the sofa but only if we could purchase it today. Helpful called back to say that she had just been told holds were not allowed on sale items after all and that I could purchase the sofa today if I wanted. I gave her my credit card information and let her know we would pick it up shortly, which we did. Helpful was, as she always is, friendly and accommodating. A third associate was also helpful and even kind enough to deliver the sofa to our home, which we very much appreciated.

Miscommunications understandably happen, but I must say, Buzzkill seemed to go out of her way to make my partner and I feel like trespassers in your store. I will not speculate on the reason for her behavior, but her tone was accusatory and condescending until I approached Helpful to discuss the matter. Even then, I found it insulting to be told by Buzzkill that a mind-noted hold for her family member was priortized over a customer hold that was actually recorded and tagged.

By the time the purchase was complete I felt like an inconvenience rather than a paying customer.

I appreciate the quality of your product and have been very satisfied with past purchases. As I mentioned, other members of your staff are very helpful. Today’s transaction, however, has me feeling ambivalent about a future trip to your store.

Believe it or not, the sofa is worth the mess we went through to get it. (Picture to come.)