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Friday, July 31, 2009

DIY to the Rescue: Custom Cushions

I recently purchased some new chairs for the kitchen table. I'd been on the lookout forever for some chinese chippendale inspired chairs at a more reasonable pricepoint than Jonathan Adler's, and finally found some locally at Miss Pixie's on 14th Street here in Washington (their "window shop" feature on the website is very handy!).
However, as with all decorating projects, there was just one hitch: the cushion covers were heinous. They were well made, and seemed fairly new (the chairs themselves are vintage and in excellent shape), but there was no escaping the fact that the fabric was not my cup of tea. It looked like something you'd find in the $2/yard remnants bin at the fabric store along with the 80's pastel florals. Case in point:

The print, with its blue and white flower vases on a geometric scroll background and its awful mauve flowers, took the Asian inspiration of the chairs a little too literally.
When I unzipped the covers to remove the cushion form inside, I had an Indiana Jones moment and unearthed the original cushions, which I actually liked a lot more!

The 70's inspired green and white bamboo-style graphic is totally chic! But for all I know the fabric was actually from the 70's, as it definitely showed signs of age. Plus, as Teresa from the Real Housewives of New Jersey would say, when it comes to sitting on used cushion covers of unknown origin, "I skeeve, I skeeve"! (Come on, you know you watch it too).

I'm a pro when it comes to cushions with a wooden bottom- pop the seat off the chair, whip out the staple gun, wrap the fabric around the bottom and cushioning, staple, and call it a day. However, these box cushions required a little more effort; namely, the sewing machine.
Using the old cover as a template, I cut out two 18"x18" squares for each cushion to serve as the top and the bottom, then a long, narrow strip that would go around the middle (which I had to piece together from two strips since I did not have a 72" continuous piece of fabric). Then, it was just a matter of sewing the pieces together. It really couldn't have been easier.

Remember, no sewing project is complete without ironing!

In an ideal world I would have added zippers to the back of the cushions, but being pressed for time (and patience) I opted to just leave part of one seam open in order to stuff in the cushion.

After inserting the cushions, I quickly stitched the openings by hand with a basting stitch to close the seam- no need to be fancy, as this seam will be placed on the bottom at the back of the chair and thus isn't visible.

My trusty assistant admires his handywork.

The before(s) and the after:

New cushions are the easiest way to freshen up a piece of furniture. For the same price as buying those generic seat cushions from Target or World Market, why not put in a little extra effort and really make them your own? You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fashion Underfoot

We were thrilled to read in the latest Traditional Home that rug atelier Elson & Company is creating a second installment of their Fashion Underfoot collection. This collection reflects a collaboration between various fashion designers and Elson to create fabulous carpets. 10% of the sale of each carpet will benefit the CFDA's Breast Cancer Initiative.
These rugs definitely aren't cheap (around $90 psf), but they are so gorgeous!
Here are some of our favorite rugs in the collection, as well as their fashion counterpart.
Peter Som's Inspiration Outfit:

And rug:

We absolutely love this pattern of this Peter Som rug! The colors are stunning! Red and white is such a beautiful combination.
We think the rug would be so perfect in this room? Nothing against the flokati, but we think the added layer of color is just what this room needs!

Marchesa's Inspiration Dress:Marchesa Rug: We love the Morrocan-inspired navy and white! Great for a bedroom like this one below!

Lilly Pulitzer's Inspiration Outfit: Lilly Pulitzer's Rug:Giraffe print with hot pink trim is adorable in the right room. Maybe a teenage girl's bedroom like this one? (although you really must love your teen at $90 a foot!) Barrie Benson for Domino
Oscar de la Renta's Inspiration Dress: (this inspires us too!) Oscar de la Renta's Rug
We love the diamond pattern of this rug. Yes, Pottery Barn, Ballard, et al., love it too. But this is the real deal! Wouldn't it look pretty in this room (maybe w/o the zebra ottoman)? Photo courtesy of katiedid
Cynthia Rowley's Inspiration Outfit (the model sort of scares us): Cynthia Rowley's Rug
We LOVE this rug! It reminds us of feathers or butterfly wings or oyster shells. Or maybe an art project with paint and string that we did as children. But we love it. We could see it in a living room with neutral furniture- it is like art on your floor!
It reminds us of the color scheme in this room.
Photo courtesy of Decor8.
Thakoon's Fashion Inspiration: Thakoon's Rug
This rug is just stunning. It is so unique and feminine (like his dresses). We would happily use this rug anywhere in the house. We love a floral rug that isn't so traditional. And we think it could be a fun way to make the room below a little less symmetrical (swap out the geometric rug for the thakoon one).

Tory Burch's Inspiration Tunic: And her rug:
This would be so pretty in a dining room. We love the cream and gold together- we would add a piece of lucite furniture somewhere in the room to keep things from being too formal/ stuffy. We think it would be a good way to warm up this "cool" dining room! What do you think? Worth $90 a foot? Maybe not for us anytime soon, but we can always dream!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Have a Cow

Ever since returning from Buenos Aires, where leather shops peddling cowhide products are as as ubiquitous as Starbucks are in the U.S., I've been debating the merits of the cowhide rug. In principle- love them. I love how each one is slightly different, how they add texture and interest to a room, how their irregular shapes can soften a room that is otherwise angular, how they add an organic feel to decor that otherwise might look slightly cold.
But in practice, cowhide rugs strike me as hard to decorate with. You've seen the pictures- is a barcelona chair a prerequisite to purchasing a cowhide rug? Do they make you buy them as a set at Design within Reach? Cowhide rugs don't just seem like something you buy on a whim and add to your current decor; they seem like something you have to decorate around.
After looking at all the pictures I could get my hands on, I've come to the conclusion that, well, there is no right answer. What makes a cowhide rug great is the same thing that also makes it very stylized. But there are more creative uses for them than plunking down new Barcelona chair and calling it a day. Let's take a look!

Remember this rug from Monelle Totah's fabulous San Fran flat in Elle Decor? This is an amazing use of a cowhide rug. Her house doesn't look like a modern cliche; it looks welcoming and relaxed. Although, this does make us realize that cowhide rugs look best with monochromatic color palates.

Another "plus" for the cowhide rug after seeing this picture of Vincente Wolf's Manhattan loft featured in this month's Veranda. We love neutral-colored cowhide rugs; they tend to be less severe.

There is a lot going on in this room, but we do think the cowhide rug works. That futuristic table and chairs certainly benefits from the organic texture of the rug. House to Home, with cowhide rug by J & M Davidson.

This photo is from a (rather snarky) article from the New York Times (December 20, 2007) titled "Flash in the Can: Designs Soon Forgotten." Yes, the picture is deliberately staged to look like a cliche (we think), as the article decries certain "overused" elements of decor. It describes the cowhide rug as "a beloved and useful flourish to soften the hard edges of modern furniture," but then states that our beloved Celerie Kemble thinks the cowhide rug the flokati of today, "thanks to Design Within Reach — damn them!” Ok, we can sort of see her point.
But Celerie continues, saying, "'But I’m still inflicting cowhide on my clients...because it’s a beautiful organic form and I still kind of like it.” That makes us happy. Also, we would lend more credence to this article, but considering it also disparages lacquered Chinese chippendale chairs(swoon!) we are taking it with more than a grain of salt.
gasl_2nd_anniv_loved_31.jpg image by alive_in85
Here is a different twist on cowhide than we normally see. In Carolina Herrera Jr.'s dressing room, featured in Domino (via On Decorum), it's used in a downright feminine setting. Floral wallpaper, a baroque mirror, a pink and white striped chair....not the normal domain of the cowhide rug. But it works! This is very inspiring.
Emeco Phillipe Starck aluminum chairs on cowhide rug
In this photo via Trendir, cowhide is back to its normal environment when paired with an x-based table and Phillipe Stark "Hudson" recycled aluminium chairs (which we love!).
Modern touch
In this photo via Living, Etc we see the danger of too much cowhide. Is that a matching ottoman? Matching pillows? Is this Cruella deVille's house?

More neutral colored cowhide rugs, this time of the patchwork variety. Textile designer Jack Lenor Larson's Murray Hill apartment, via New York Social Diary.
Suzie
While this is not the ideal rug for those with children, pets, or messy spouses, the stark white rug is very striking. And again, we love seeing cowhide rugs in rooms that don't look like DWR showrooms. Photo via Decorpad.

We love the eclectic style of the cowhide rug in this photo via 3 Inch Heels. Someone is bold to pair a cowhide rug with leopard print stairs!

If you're looking for a cowhide rug of your own, you needn't spend a fortune to get exactly what you want. Apparently the most luxurious hides come from Brazil, but to be honest, we have a hard time really telling a difference between the super high end DWR rugs ($800) and the much cheaper ones you can find on eBay and all over the internet (for around $200). Let's take a look...

Zebra patterned cowhide rug, $290, Picked by Hand.

Detail of Parquet Rug, $336, Picked by Hand.


6-13-ikea-cowhide-1.jpg
Even Ikea has gotten in on the action. Ikea Koldby, $249 (below). Stack of rugs at Ikea (above), via Apartment Therapy.



Brazilian longhorn cowhide, $329, Cow Hides International

Where do you fall on the cowhide conundrum? Are cowhide rugs overused or something that will stand the test of time? Do you prefer the traditional cowhide shape or the patchwork versions? Natural colored or zebra? Tell us what you think!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Splashes of Coral!

Coral is one of our favorite colors! Yes, the coral plant (or animal?) itself has become a bit ubiquitous over the past few seasons, but our love for that perfect orangey pink is still strong. Whether a room features coral as the main color or just a splash here or there, it is such a warm and lively color that really works, regardless of your style.
We love coral and turquoise together. The gorgeous screen, upholstered ottoman, fabulous drapes, and requisite Cabinet of Natural Curiosities- this room is gorgeous!
Ruthie does it again! We have mixed feelings about accent walls in general, but we love this one! Once again, the coral and turquoise combo looks fab, and we love the perfectly mismatched art arrangements. Ruthie Sommers We fell in love with this room when we first saw it in a decor mag a few years ago. The coral upholstered ottoman-turned-coffee-table is fabulous, as is the pair of modern green slipper chairs.
Ruthie Sommers Coral is such a versatile color. Check out this Miles Redd room for a more subversive side of coral. Coral makes that masked bandit (at least that is what we see in this painting) alot less scary.
Miles Redd
From the Williams Sonoma Home spring catalog... The rug plus the chair plus the accent pillow plus the grasscloth walls plus the seashell prints is a bit much together. But any of these elements alone would be totally fab. And we think the walls are our favorite. W-S Home Turquoise and coral yet again! This room is amazing. The coral armchair provides the perfect warm accent for this room. And I bet no one else has an oil family portrait on a lacquered turquoise wall.
Melissa Rufty How gorgeous is this entryway in the home of a MoS family friend?! The coral Christopher Spitzmiller lamps, Cararra marble floors, the modern twist on traditional damask and bolster pillows, we absolutely love it!
And the dining room in that same house. This picture doesn't do it justice. The coral silk drapes have a mirrored cornice at the top, and the wallpaper is pink and green damask. The room is so fresh and modern.
Nancy Taylor Lynch
The perfect beach house that isn't too obnoxiously beachy. And the art totally reminds us of the Rothko painting as seen on an episode of Season 3 Mad Men.
Lynn Morgan
While a bit unexpected, coral can definitely be used for a more masculine look. We probably wouldn't have done a cheetah rug with a cheetah throw with a mink blanket, but we do like think he did a good job adding some masculine elements to this room without it being too obnoxiously "man."
Kenneth Brown This Kelly Wearstler room is absolutely amazing. She designed this room for a young girl, but I can think of an adult or two who would love this room! That coral lacquered armoire is to die for!
Kelly Wearstler The varying shades of color really look pretty in this master bedroom. We love the tufted headboard, matching bedskirt, and coral walls. The faded cheetah rug sets such a gorgeous stage for this room.
Jennifer Flanders
Coral accents do such a great job warming up this cool blue living room. It is just gorgeous, and we love the idea of having two seating areas.
House Beautiful
This entryway is absolutely stunning. From the coral walls and accent chairs to the zebra rug to the gold chippendale mirror, it is perfect. And coral pairs so perfectly with the blue and white ginger jars.
We just love this Amanda Nisbet den. The built-in bookshelves create such a cozy feeling around the sofa, and the coral wall really stands out. It's perfect!
Amanda Nisbet Do you share our love for coral the color? Do you prefer a pinker shade or a more orangey hue?
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