One Saturday morning I received a phone call from a woman who had just read an article about me in the Sacramento Bee. She said she found the article intriguing because it talked about how I enjoy working my projects around some or most of my clients’ existing furniture, particularly antiques. That initial thirty minute conversation led to a mutually satisfying, four month project.
SERENA and LILY, above
Her house has the “good bones” you often hear about when discussing quality architecture. It is a 1940’s home built on a beautiful, tree lined street of old William Land Park. The client had all the furniture, antiques, artwork and mementos generally collected over a lifetime. Remodeling had taken place in recent years. Everything was as it should be except for one thing: the fabrics.
What she wanted was to recover all the seating in the home as well as have made new, custom window treatments to replace the store bought curtains with which she’d been “making do”. She also wanted to do custom bedding, upholstery and window coverings for the master bedroom.
via NEW ENGLAND HOME above
Custom fabric treatments like these are a passion of mine. I usually lean towards understated designs that visually pull together the client’s architecture and furnishings. I love mixing antiques and vintage furniture with new fabrics because I find homes age and evolve well with a mix of eras.
The client’s preferred color is that warm blue that verges on periwinkle. The color is a natural in bedrooms but is problematic when used in public spaces like the living and dining rooms. The challenge was to keep fabric colors in the common areas from being too “sweet”.
All her furniture is of excellent quality and merited re-upholstering. We covered the sofa in a textured Pindler and Pindler blue linen blend and dressed it up with throw pillows in GP and J Baker’s classic, Bird of the Nile floral. We had the legs changed to gain some needed seat height. A diminutive arm chair was covered in a sunny yellow, graphic, Robert Allen print and I designed a small, matching tufted ottoman which the client likes to refer to as a “tuffet”. A roomy club chair and matching ottoman were done in a Stroheim and Romann blue quilted fabric with a small yellow dot. Custom draperies were made from a crisp, tone on tone blue stripe fabric mounted on custom painted wood traverse rods that matches the other wood work in the room and perfectly flatters the room’s architecture.
via HOUSE and GARDEN above
Though the other rooms were also done in warm blues, they have their own distinct style. A little den off the dining room is where the husband watches television and does light office work. We recovered the sofa and matching chair in a textured Kravet upholstery chenille in a warm, powdery blue. Down filled, eighteen inch throw pillows were done in a Kravet, periwinkle blue, graphic print fabric.
via VANITY FAIR Simon Watson above
In the dining room, next to a beautiful, Hepplewhite mahogany dining set and sideboard we hung draperies in blue tone on tone stripe to match the living room. This provided a nice continuity from room to room. The brass chandelier hanging over the dining room table was an old reproduction from the client’s trip to Historic Williamsburg. They speak fondly of carrying it home on board the plane.
The master bedroom is a light filled room overlooking a quiet, shady street. On the windows we did floor length stationery drapery panels in a Fabricut Collier Campbell, periwinkle blue linen print mounted over privacy sheers. I couldn’t convince them to have room darkening window coverings of any kind. A mistake in my book but in the end, we must do what the client wants.
We recovered an adorable little arm chair that was the client’s grandmother’s in an off white quilted, Collier Campbell fabric with striking, contrasting blue welts. We were able to use the existing, pale yellow, quilted fabric headboard and I found a quilted fabric for the bed skirt that coordinated with it beautifully. The duvet, pillow shams and throw pillows were done in the same fabrics as the bed skirt and curtains.
THOMAS JAYNE above
I do my very best to work within the client’s tastes because if you take it too far from their own comfort zones, the project invariably becomes the designer’s and not the homeowner’s. The homeowner is much happier if their opinions are taken into consideration. It takes more effort to work this way because you have to do a lot of “tweaking” to get it to look right but it’s worth it in the long run because it means the client is really happy with the end result. Ignore their input, and it will often backfire.
There are many things that determine the direction of a design project: the architecture, the existing furniture you’ll be working with, the location/geography, the budget, the client’s personal aesthetic and their lifestyle. Whether I’m a fan of blue and yellow or not (I actually appreciate all colors), it’s helpful to realize that each homeowner has different frames of reference and unique ways of seeing color and style.
via ELLE DECOR
Shiree’s Style Sheet
When using “sweet” colors such as blue, lavender, pink or pastel yellow, offset them with masculine elements like dark stained or rustic woods.
Having the same color scheme running throughout a home is hard to “pull off”. Try alternating one color per room. In other words, instead of blue and yellow in every room, do a room in blue and green, and another in blue and dark red.
Upholstery fabrics are heavier than window covering and bedding fabrics. Make sure your upholstery fabrics are double rub tested for longevity and your window covering fabrics are lightweight enough to use on a traverse rod. Throw pillows and valances can usually be done in either type fabric as long as the welts are of lightweight material.
Never wash custom bedding, slipcovers, draperies or pillows. Dry clean only!