Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Upholster Bench Corners

Remember the not-so-vintage bench I was going to reupholster in the spotted leather? I finished it before we went on vacation. I used my favorite corner method and thought I'd share. It's an easy approach.
First I laid out the hide to figure out the pattern placement.

I used these new AMAZING heavy-duty scissors to cut the edges of the piece and make a clean, straight edge.

You want about three inches of overhang with bench tops or drop seats for chairs. It's enough fabric for you to be able to pull nice and tight, but there won't be leftovers peeking out from underneath.

I like to stagger staples in two lines, one about an inch set in from the edge and the second line running along the inside edge of the fabric.

Once all four edges have been stapled (don't forget to pull very tight!), it's time to tackle the corners. There are a few different ways to approach corners, but this way there are almost no folds or bunching (which is tricky especially with thicker fabric and leathers).

You just bring the fabric or leather together in the corner and run staples in lines on either side of the fabric, at a 45 degree angle. Leave about an inch or so loose without staples near the outside edge of the corner.

Using heavy duty scissors, cut the fabric or leather very close to the staples, but stop cutting right at the corner.

Then trim the edges down so that the flap still connected to the corner is about two inches wide.

Then pull the flap very tight and lay it down and staple it on top of the other staples you put in at a 45 degree angle.

If you have been pulling tight the whole time, the flap will lay very flat and the corner will be very smooth and professional looking.

All finished! I love this spotted hide so much more than the taupe velvet.

See just the two tiny folds on either side of the corner? If I had just pulled and stapled around the corners like most upholstery jobs call for, there would be all sorts of bunching and really heavy-looking corners. This method makes the fabric lay almost as flat as sewing the corners (which is a pain to me).

PS The winner for the Jessie Mackay painting give away was chosen and she was emailed, so please check your inboxes! As soon as I hear back from her I'll update the post. Thanks for entering!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Copy Cat Design: Caitlin Wilson's Dining Room

Colleen is on fire - I love seeing what she is up to on There Comes A Yes. Also, did you hear that she is now the head graphic designer for Lonny? She is so talented and I feel really lucky that she works with me! She's joining us today with a copy cat version of a room designed by another lovely friend, Caitlin Wilson. Here's Colleen:

I really love Caitlin Wilson's dining room in the July issue of Matchbook. It's a pretty mix of traditional and feminine pieces!

It's pink, but the shape isn't overtly girly, so it works well in a dining room.

A fresh, light wash of blue on the walls enhances the navies and pinks.

Chintz makes me happy. That's all.

A very traditional and formal chandelier--it's best paired with a mix of furniture styles.

To stuff with hydrangeas, of course.

Dress up a run-of-the-mill buffet with glam lucite knobs.

A basic sideboard perfect for customization.

Scour church garage sales, thrift stores, and fleas for a framed oil painting--you'll get the best deal!

Rarely can you go wrong with a vintage dining set. If you're searching Ebay or Craigslist, try adding "regency" to your search terms.

To get that Regency look, search for high back chairs and caning.

Upholster the dining chairs in a navy and white/cream stripe!

Use wing back chairs as host chairs--it breaks up the matchy-matchy look of a dining set.

Tie the room together perfectly with this floral fabric.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Facebook's business problems are symptomatic of many large digital firms

Facebook is wrestling with a business challenge more traditionally found in legacy media: how do you translate consumers that don’t think they have a commercial relationship with you into relationships that that other firms will pay for?

Despite 955 million active users and increasing revenues, the company has lost a third of its share value since its IPO in the spring.  The exuberance that surrounded its IPO and overpriced its shares has worn off and investors are realizing that being big isn’t enough to ensure business success. Its latest earnings reports show the firm lost money, $157 million, in the second quarter on income of $1.18 billion.

Facebook’s challenges are symptomatic of a long line of “successful” digital firms that are experiencing monetization problems, including Yahoo, You Tube, AOL, and Twitter. Despite large numbers of users globally, they still lack effective business models to generate revenue levels congruous with their size. They may provide great communication functions for users, but they are not transforming very well from innovative users of technologies to highly profitable commercial enterprises.

Part of their challenge is that they have to focus so much effort on non-paying customers and those customers think of the services as personal communications—making them resistant to many efforts to monetize them. This problem has long plagued traditional media, but they are conceived as mass rather than personal media and have been around so long that many people are now used to a certain level of commercial exploitation. They also have a proven track record of return on advertisers’ investments that digital media have not yet been able to deliver for many types of advertisers.

Large digital players will continue to evolve and can be expected to improve their financial performance over time, but it will take a good deal of innovative thinking about the business rather than about the technologies and social value of their services.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Making Curtains Out of Drop Cloths

Using canvas drop cloths from the hardware store is a super economical way to make thick, light-filtering curtains. There is magic happening in the interwebs, and all sorts of creative bloggers have come up with great methods for jazzing up the panels - paint, dye, trim, you name it.

Check out a lovely assortment of links and ideas for drop cloths HERE on my latest post for the Better Homes and Gardens blog.

images via BHG

PS Remember this project we used drop cloths for? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Upholstered Chair Legs

Right before we left to go out of town, I stopped into one of my favorite stores, Canvas, to pick up some glassware for a shoot. While I was there I fell in love with this petite wingback chair.

We need a pair of very narrow armchairs in the brownstone. I'm planning to use these bergeres right now, but there's a chance they'll be just a hair too wide and not nearly deep enough for the long living room (we'll just have to see once we get in there next week). But these narrow and deep armchairs from Canvas just might be perfect for the space. (and how pretty would bright red pillows be on the blush pink linen?!)

The price on these is not that great, but maybe I could find something vintage with similar proportions? I think I'm mostly just crazy for the upholstered legs! What a great look (and something I could totally DIY).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gray's Rock Shop

This weekend my brothers and sisters and their families have been together at my parent's home in Snowflake, Arizona. After we were all burnt out from the lake, we decided to take a little day trip to Gray's Rock Shop in Holbrook near the Petrified Wood Forest. It was the coolest place, full of the most incredible gems and rocks. Mother Nature really knows how to put together a color palette!

I loved these crystals that looked like a cityscape.

Wearstler-esque petrified wood stump chair and gorgeous mollusk fossils.

The shop had the most beautiful agate all over the place. This little bowl was full of pieces already banded in gold and ready for stringing on a chain.

I wanted these petrified wood bookends so, so bad!

Malachite boxes and trinkets were everywhere!

They also had an awesome selection of brass and acrylic pieces for displaying your rocks. I liked these petal-shaped ones.

The girls helped me pick out this pretty piece of petrified wood and the minty green crystal to take home with us to NYC next week. I'm so crazy about the colors! And aren't the brass and acrylic stands great?  It will be fun to have little souvenirs of this trip and reminders of our old home in our new home.

PS Did you know petrified wood is estimated to be between 50 and 200 million years old! Amazing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hello from the lake!

We flew to Arizona earlier this week and we've been busy in full-blown vacation mode since.

Today's our last day at the lake. We are all sore and even a little sunburned (that AZ sun means business!), but we are all happy and feeling excited to be here.

Happy weekend! See you on Monday. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Give Away: Abstract Painting by Jessie Mackay

Michael and I have a goal of bringing more art into our home over the next couple of years. I've mentioned before how it can be a little daunting to know where to start looking for artists. But have you ever been searching, and then all at once an artist's collection or piece of art just sings to you? Your heart is doing backflips and your mind is racing? That happens to me a lot in museums, where I feel a connection with an artist, but it's (obviously!) harder to find that in the art market in a real and affordable way.

I'm so, so thrilled to share today's (HUGE) give away from acclaimed artist and philanthropist, Jessie Mackay, and artist who makes my heart sing. Her work has been praised by NYT art critics and hangs in celebrity homes (check out her paintings in James Carville and Mary Matalin's home featured in Architectural Digest). Here are a few of my favorites currently available on Jessie's site.

Today she is generously offering up this 24x30 gallery-wrapped abstract painting called 'Soft Thoughts.'

Here are some close ups of this lovely painting, just sitting in my loft, waiting to be shipped to your home!

I love the bits of bright, almost neon paint peeking through the soft grays and creams.

Lucky you, there are a couple of ways to enter your name into the pot.  
1) Simply leave a comment on this post sharing where you would hang 'Soft Thoughts' in your home. 2) Like Jessie Mackay Art on Facebook and leave a comment on this post saying so.
3) Pin your favorite Jessie Mackay art from her site and leave a comment on this post saying so.

The winner will be chosen at random from the comments here on July 25 at midnight. Good luck!


Monday, July 16, 2012

DIY Agate Trash Bin

I fell in love with this $190 trash bin featured in the June 2012 Elle Decor, but I figured I could make my own. I finally got around to doing the project this weekend using a $3 Target plastic trash bin that I randomly saw at a thrift store.

I actually had bought a round bin for this project a few weeks ago, but realized after the fact that the project really only works on bins with squared off sides, or else there's no fooling anyone that that marbleized paper could be real sheets of agate.

I bought the paper from Paper Mojo for about $5 ages ago and used it in a frame for a while, which was pretty, but I was fine with giving it up for this project.

When you're ready to get started, look at your piece of marbled paper (I only needed one sheet for my whole trash bin), and figure out which pieces of the pattern you want to feature. Keep in mind that it looks best if you can alternate the direction of the swirl on each side of the bin.


Use just a pencil to trace out the sides while holding the bin perfectly still. Cut out the pattern directly on the pencil line. Your cut pieces will end up being a hair to big, which is just what you want - a little overhang.

Use a soft brush to put down a layer of Mod Podge (no need to prime or sand first - just a clean surface) and then carefully lay the paper piece down. The top edge of the paper should be perfectly flush with the top edge of the trash bin, but the three other sides should have a little overhang.

When the top edge is perfectly centered, use your hand to smooth out the paper. Make sure there are no air bubbles. It's okay if there is a little mod podge spillage on the sides, that actually helps the extra paper on the side lay flat.


Don't forget to crease the bottom edge under too. 

I let the pieces dry for an hour or two and then I sealed it all with a top coat of mod podge.

One lesson I learned for next time: use a light or white trash bin. The paper is pretty thin, so my finished project is a little blotchy with the black base peeking through. A white base would have been clear and bright though. Bummer.

Still love it though and am glad I tried the DIY route and saved the $190! Plenty of other places to spend that money these days. :)

PS If you love marbleized paper as much as I do...