Chair-itable Donations

Luca Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 1 Comment

“I’m in the Book” by This Way Home. Photo by Elaine Frederick.  Every year, the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) hosts a charity auction featuring upcycled, creatively reimagined chairs from designers and artists around the world. The event is officially called Take A Seat, but we have affectionately dubbed it “the chair-ity.”  This year’s entries from the New England IFDA chapter benefit the Women’s Institute of Housing & Economic Development, whose mission is to “promote economic opportunity and build strong communities by developing safe, affordable, and supportive housing for individuals and families.” It’s a worthy cause and a great excuse to get creative. I found my chair while trolling craigslist (what else!). It’s actually a vintage telephone bench, also known as a gossip bench. Back in the day, you would set your rotary landline on the built-in table and sit on the bench for a leisurely phone chat. You could even store your phonebook on the table’s lower shelf. Pretty handy piece of furniture, huh?  I …

Rattan Vanity

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Time for another bargain treasure! I found this gorgeous rattan vanity at a thrift shop for only $99, and it’s in perfect condition. I love the combination of simple, clean lines with the woven textures and natural color variation of the rattan. Of course, this piece could serve as a desk, but to me it looks like the ideal vanity. I would pair it with a small Hollywood Regency vanity bench.

Oh Hey, George!

Luca Thrifting 1 Comment

I was strolling through Cambridge Antique Market last Saturday, and this handsome devil caught my eye: When I got closer, I realized that it was a painting on velvet of George Washington, modeled on Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait. It is roughly 6-ft tall. The painting has gorgeous craquelure, but it is still in excellent condition. The velvet is plush, and the color palette is rich; the subtle play of greys and blacks is still apparent. The dealer said he bought the piece at an auction, and unfortunately he lost all the information about its provenance. All he could tell me was that the painting is Victorian. Here is what George looked like when I first spotted him hidden at the back of the booth: I think this is a stunning statement piece, and I can’t wait to find it the right home. Perhaps in a living room against a white brick wall. Or in a library with lacquered black built-in bookshelves. We will have to wait …

The Settee Reveal

Luca Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 2 Comments

My Victorian settee is ready for its final reveal! The original piece was in a sad state, with lopsided springs and worn upholstery. I wanted to give the settee a fresh identity, so I chose an off-white fabric with embroidered black tufts. I love that this fabric is a bit irregular and freeform because it provides a nice contrast to the settee’s formal frame. Here is a close-up of the upholstery: Springs are much higher quality than foam padding, but they are also more expensive to replace. Luckily, loose and lopsided springs can often be repaired; they are simply retied in tight, orderly coils. One more reason to appreciate the excellent craftsmanship of antiques! This settee’s springs were able to be retied, and now it has an even, comfortable seat once again. The high contrast between the new off-white upholstery and the dark wood stain accentuates the frame’s intricate detail. I especially love the serpentine carving along the top edge of the frame back. I hope you all …

Lucite Chair Before & After

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Those of you who follow my instagram or twitter may remember a vintage lucite swivel chair I posted a few weeks back. I found the chair on craigslist in a little town just north of New York City. The red vinyl was all torn up, and the lucite body was covered with scratches; but I loved the fundamental design of the piece and decided it was worth restoring. Here is the before and after: I decided to reupholster the chair in white fabric. The original mod red vinyl was certainly a cool look, but I wanted to give this chair a real transformation. I found a creamy Italian suede for an excellent price at the fabric store. I love the little perforations that reveal a silver backing. The fabric looks simple from afar, but has a bit of personality up close. The silver backing also coordinates with the chair’s hardware. I took the chair and my new fabric to my favorite local …

Quick & Dirty Bachelor Pad Makeover

Luca Design Projects, Thrifting 2 Comments

We all know guys like my recent clients: three bachelors who have been out of college for a number of years, but their apartment is still outfitted with broken Ikea furniture and family hand-me-downs.  My clients had a very small budget for decor, but they knew it was time for an upgrade. So I gave them a quick and dirty living room overhaul. When I design on a budget, I like to outline general parameters for the room without setting my heart on anything too specific.  In this case, I wanted to create a sophisticated, but unfussy space, filled with natural materials and vintage accents. My first purchase was a vintage leather couch on Craigslist for $400.  I love the warm medium tone of the leather.  We paired the couch with a grey loveseat, which we found at Target for $430.  The tailored look of the loveseat is a nice balance to the informality of the leather couch, but the loveseat’s …

Weekend Project: Mid-Century Sunroom

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My sister, Elizabeth, asked for a little help tackling the last undecorated room in her home: a 4’ x 6’ sunroom.  Elizabeth, an actress and screenwriter, wanted a comfortable place to read scripts and memorize lines.  She requested a mid-century modern style that would complement her adjacent office.  The room is not weatherproof, so we chose items that would not be ruined by sun damage or dust.  Our maximum budget was $600. We found the armchair and ottoman on craigslist for $100.  The chair is a mid-century reproduction from Urban Outfitters, so we aren’t worried about abandoning a valuable vintage piece to the elements. We purchased a 3’ x 5’ grey and white chevron rug for $80 from Potted, a fabulous garden store in Los Feliz.  Our big budget splurge was a Modernica Case Study ceramic pot and Brazilian walnut stand, which we found on sale for $120.  The Case Study planter is manufactured locally in Los Angeles. Our next …

Campaign Dresser Makeover

Luca DIY, Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 1 Comment

I had been on the lookout for a campaign dresser for several months when I spotted the perfect piece on craigslist.  It had sturdy dovetail construction and solid brass hardware.  I was not a big fan of the original wood tone, so I decided to give the dresser a classic kelly green makeover!  Here is an overview of the process. First I removed the hardware and gave the whole piece a good sanding.  I used ScotchBlue painter’s tape to keep all my edges clean and then painted one coat of Zinsser primer.  Primer will prolong the life of the finish. I decided to use Benjamin Moore Advance high gloss paint in jade green.  It has a built-in self-leveling property, which helps hide brush strokes and provide a smooth finish.  I ended up doing three (long and painful!) coats to get complete coverage.  Fortunately this paint does not require a top coat. I also polished the hardware.  You can use a …