The Firmdale Project Reveal

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The Firmdale Project is complete! This master bedroom makeover in Boston has come a long way. Check out the introduction to the Firmdale Project to see where we started. The original bedroom did not function well. It was trying to play too many roles– bedroom, closet, office, and library– all at once. Books from the large shelving unit were piling up on the desk. The desk was crowding the bed and making it difficult to access the en-suite bathroom. The dresser and bed were nestled in so tight, there was no room for a second nightstand and the dresser drawers couldn’t be opened fully. Our main priority was to pare down the room to its essential role: bedroom. We relocated the books and desk to another part of the house (and my clients actually undertook a massive book donation drive!). We moved the bed to the long wall opposite the windows, which suited the room’s dimensions much better. This change allowed us to upgrade from a double to a queen …

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 …

The Lorimer Project Part II – Kilim Loveseat

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Work continues on the Lorimer Project, a two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Click here for an introduction to the project. As my client and I began to develop a design plan, we soon decided that the apartment’s main room needed a bold statement piece to anchor the seating area. My client loves Turkish kilims, traditional flatweave rugs which have been produced in much the same manner since ancient times. Flatweave rugs are thin enough to be used in lieu of conventional upholstery fabric, so I suggested we use kilim rugs to cover a loveseat. She loved the idea, and we got to work! My first task was to find the perfect loveseat for the project. I hunted high and low, through vintage and new merchandise alike, in search of the right piece. In the end, I discovered Kim Salmela, a wonderfully imaginative furniture designer out of Los Angeles. Her pieces are hand crafted and highly customizable; and Kim’s own aesthetic is bold and globally inspired, so I knew she would …

Introducing: The Firmdale Project

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I recently started work on the Firmdale Project, a master bedroom makeover in a Boston townhouse. My lovely clients, a married couple with two adult children, have not updated their bedroom in decades. In fact, they purchased their Depression-era bedroom set in 1980 and have been using it ever since. Both husband and wife are practicing lawyers with little time to focus on home improvement, and the accumulated clutter of many years has taken over their small bedroom. They are more than ready for a bedroom refresh!  Let’s start by taking a look at the bedroom on Day One. A three-piece 1930s bedroom set, which consists of a double bed and two dressers, is the room’s foundation. The set is in adequate condition, aside from a broken post on the footboard; but ultimately, after 35 years with this furniture, my clients are eager for a new look, and they would like to upgrade from a double- to a queen-sized bed.  This cramped corner caught my attention. There …

A Mini Makeover

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One of my clients needed a piece that could serve double duty as a bedside table and a vanity in her small bedroom. When I spotted this compact table at Brimfield, I knew it was the perfect shape and size for her needs. It has a drawer for storing makeup and other supplies, and there is a clear opening at the bottom so it will be a comfortable place to sit. I liked the table’s original mint-colored paint and sweet little decoupage accent, but it was in rough shape and not the right look for my client’s room. So I gave the piece a simple makeover. I sanded down the original finish, applied a coat of primer, two coats of Benjamin Moore Mayonnaise, and two coats of topcoat. If you’re using a light paint color like off-white, it’s best to use a polycrylic topcoat instead of polyurethane, which turns yellow over time. I chose a high gloss polycrylic because it’ll be easier …

Ikea Malm Before and After

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In my last post, I showed you the results of a master bedroom makeover. My clients had an existing Ikea Malm dresser that they wanted to keep; it was great storage, but not very stylish. So I decided to give it a makeover and I wanted to take you through the steps for achieving this look. First I roughed up the dresser’s slick finish with an 80-grit sanding block, which allows the primer to adhere better. I removed all the drawers, covered the edges with painter’s tape, and gave the piece one coat of Zinsser primer. Next I added two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Glacial Till, a light putty color. I bought 3/4″ panel molding from Lowe’s, and I expected to be able to have it cut down in store. Unfortunately they were only able to do straight 90-degree cuts, and I was looking for a 45-degree miter cut. I was about to rent a (gigantic!) table saw from Home Depot, but luckily the …

A Tranquil Master Bedroom Makeover

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I just wrapped up a master bedroom makeover in Marina Del Rey, a beachside neighborhood in Los Angeles. My clients’ original decor was sparse: a matching dark wood bedroom set and a light Ikea Malm dresser. Their windows were dressed with vertical Venetian blinds, which had been installed by the landlord, and translucent black and cream floral curtains. My clients wanted their new bedroom to be sophisticated and tranquil. They asked for contemporary furnishings, a neutral backdrop, and pops of vivid color. Their existing furniture was functional, but they were missing a few key items: a workspace and a comfortable place to curl up with a book.     My first recommendation was to buy a new bed. I am not a fan of matching bedroom sets because they lack personality and distinctive flavor. My clients kept gravitating towards inspiration images of upholstered headboards, so I suggested we go in that direction. I hired a local craftsman to make a custom winged headboard with deep, diamond button tufting and silver nailhead trim. We were able to hand …

The Settee Reveal

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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 …

Updated Victorian

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Years ago, I bought an antique Victorian settee for my living room. It served me well, but after several years of heavy use, the original red velvet upholstery was faded and threadbare and the springs had become misaligned. I am never one to give up on an antique, so I decided to give this beauty a top to bottom makeover with the help of my local upholsterer. In the coming weeks, I will reveal the finished product; but for now, I’ll just say, it will be a dramatic change! Antique settees can seem dauntingly formal, but they need not look stuffy or staid. Rigid designs and heavy wood frames can be beautifully offset by modern prints, bold colors, and contemporary accents. Sources: 1) Jessica Helgerson Interior Design 2) Design Par Deux 3) The Yellow Cottage 4) Domaine Home 5) Old House Online 6) Style Me Pretty 7) Tokyo Jinja 8) reStyled by Valerie on Etsy  

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 …