Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Design’

Silk Purse/Sow’s Ear

Comments Off on Silk Purse/Sow’s Ear Written on March 11th, 2014 by
Categories: Decorating Ideas, Olive Blog, Olive Design, Olive Green
Tags: , , , , ,

Curbside or thrift shop treasures while a bargain, usually lead me to the question- will I ever really fix this up to use it?   It depends on the level of decreptitude- or for me, if it’s the exact size piece I need for the space, and if its basically a better piece of furniture than I can buy cheaply.  While my kids hated the groovy painted furniture I put in their rooms and pined for Ikea almost-wood, I prefer a solid piece of real wood furniture in a classic shape and solidly built.  I can see past the peeling paint and occasional dangling part to what it could be with a little elbow grease.  But filling the space requirements is usually what tips me into actually doing the work on it.

My latest rescue was the perfect sized bookshelf for my bedroom, when my excess books were stacked in front of the radiator and collecting dust on the floor. It was old, had a gazillion coats of paint, some peeling and the front leg was cracked.

Before you do anything, take off any paint that looks like it is ready to jump ship anyway, using a spackling knife rather than a scraping tool, so you don’t pull up tight paint- I didn’t want to strip it (way too much work for this piece) but if you have any notions that new paint glues down peeling old paint, disabuse yourself of that idea.  It usually means your new paint will soon come off as well.  Top coat is only as secure as the bottom layer.

After the removal of loose stuff, take a sander to it- it will smooth down the previous layers, some of the brush marks and let you know where drips are that you haven’t noticed.  Sometimes I help those off with a sharp razor.

Orbital palm sanders are cheap and easy to use, they should be  a part of any handy-person’s tool collection.

Fix the busted leg- I use an old your-name-here credit card that comes in the mail every day with new card offers, its just the right thickness to work the glue into the crack.

I use clamps to hold it in place while it dries, and glued a block into the corner behind the leg to give it more stability.  Cut the block down so you can’t see it from the front.  I clamp the leg so the glue can set.

Then predrill a hole, and run a flat head screw into several points to give it extra strength and stabilize it.

If you have the bits, its nice to counter sink the hole (a wider hole at the top to accommodate the flat screw head) so the screw isn’t noticeable, you can fill the top with compound to make it invisible. This fix it step took about 20 minutes, and now I don’t have to worry about the leg cracking off, and the fix is invisible.

For the paint job, I use the same type of paint, in this case oil-based.  I prefer alkyd paint for furniture anyway, as its tougher, but always best for paint adhesion to stick to the original paint type. For my color, I mixed some leftover oil based paints, to get something fairly close to the wall color.  I want the bookcase to blend in, not stand out.  If it was a more interesting accent piece I might have gone with a bolder color.

Once it’s done and in place, I’m glad I took the time!


For all the pinners out there:

My Pink Bathroom Update

In the spirit of preserving the past with a contemporary twist, here is the completed update on the Pink Bathroom project. As a quick recap, this idea started with a visit to the Save My Pink Bathroom blog. As it turns out, there is an entire community of enthusiasts fighting to “save” their mid-century pink bathrooms. As Pam describes her mission:

“This little website grew out of mid-century home lovers’ concern that pink bathrooms were being ripped out of post-war American homes way too hastily. How sad it is, to catch a TV makeover show that rips out a perfectly beautiful vintage bathroom… Seems like a bunch of the rest of the world — well behind our curve — actually dislikes mid-century pink bathrooms.  They will regret what they have done.”

Often here in Flatbush with our turn of the century homes it was a mid-century decision to “modernize” the bathroom in the newly popular pink color. The tradition of the pink bathroom emerged from the former first lady Mamie Eisenhower, in office 1953 –1961.

Looking at them now, they are totally dated, but with the wrong date stamp for our late victorian houses. Fiscal prudence often dictates embracing the pink bathroom and working with what you have, and I have grown quite fond of mine.  It must be the fourth pink bathroom I have had since I started householding. For a low-cost, low-environmental impact project, here are my tips on saving your pink bathroom – or redecorating any bathroom for that matter.

I was missing a few pink bullnose tiles that had fallen out and broken years ago, and pulling the medicine cabinet out of the wallOlive Design Bathroom damaged a few more.  As per my previous blog on this, I sent one of the samples to Chippy Scaparelli at World of Tile. She sent back 4 tiles that were a perfect match.  Thanks to Pam for featuring that tip on her site.  My contractor, John Duval, replaced the missing tiles and you can’t tell now which ones they were, it is seamless.  I opted to have the contractor regrout the entire bathroom.  What a huge improvement, it looked brand new, sharp crisp and clean. Worth every penny, and my contractor was amazing in keeping the mess contained- he wiped down the stairs as he was leaving so it wasn’t tracked all over- I was very impressed.


I discovered that “clear” in powder coating is 1. More expensive and 2. Not clear at all but a weird taupey/gray.  It looked awful.  The folks at Evernu Metal were kind enough to offer to recoat it in white. It wasn’t what I was going for originally, but it looks fresh and pretty against the bright white new grouting.  The inside I painted turquoise, just for fun.

I knew what color I had in mind for the walls, and in the spirit of both thrift and environmentalism, I went down to my shop in the basement and mixed up just the color I needed using various leftover paint samples.  Mixing left over paint is a great alternative if you don’t want to discard it or wait for the yearly collection of hazardous waste materials that the city sponsors. If you don’t have any leftover paint from previous projects, go to Build-It-Green NYC, arguably the best source of paint for a low-cost project. They have gallons upon gallons of paint in their Astoria warehouse.. many for $5 a can. They get their supplies donated from surplus construction and renovation projects, so if you can’t re-use your own paint, re-use theirs! (P.S. they also have another location in Gowanus, Brooklyn). Another place with the same ethos is Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for those of you located in Westchester, Long Island, and beyond.

The shower curtain and window fabric that I used was made from yardage I had hand screened printed while an apprentice at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia after college. The colors worked well with both tile and wall color, and I liked the funky pattern in here- and bonus point, I already had the fabric, and was glad to see it used.

My pink chandelier was up-cycled from a table lamp part that I converted into a hanging fixture, and painted to match the bathroom.  The ceiling in the bathroom is dropped and made of some sort of acoustical tile that had seen better days.  I had routinely painted it gloss white in the past to freshen it, but I took the opposite tack here and made another “mary mix” paint from the samples stash, and came up with a nice charcoal gray.  It looks dramatic, and helps hide the flaws in the ceiling.  The dark color seems to make the ceiling float up and away

As with most projects, this one took about twice as much time as initially anticipated. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome and loving my pink bathroom!


Would love to hear your comments on my Facebook page on how you’ve updated your own bathroom with a budget and environmentally conscious approach.


Humble Parts

Comments Off on Humble Parts Written on July 3rd, 2012 by
Categories: Decorating Ideas, Olive Green
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Brooklyn Design
This weekend I was helping a friend put up curtain hardware, and we were looking for a fast and inexpensive solution for a double window.  The apartment is a rental and my friend had no interest in fancy hardware.  And neither was there time to order custom rods.  I have a knee-jerk reaction to putting up “extendable” rods, the one-size-fits-many variety.  Not only do I not like the way these rods look, I dislike that each time you open or close the curtains, the rings, (or rod pocket), catches on the join;  every single day as you yank the curtains over the join you have the irritation of a badly designed product. I use wood rods a lot because they are cut to fit.  Metal rods I often have custom fabricated, so that I can get one with out that extension joint in the middle.

As we didn’t have time to go to my drapery hardware supplier, I did a dive into Home Depot to see what they offered for speedy installation.  A serviceable wood rod was available in an ok color.  Then the finials, and the rings…it was starting to get pricey, and I was thinking the wood was just fine, but not spectacular. Alas, they ended up not even having the right brackets (in a disappointing marketing plan they don’t even carry the right brackets).

Brooklyn Design

I have in the past used plumbing pipe for hardware, so I took a stroll over to that department.  I found a great looking steel pipe with threaded ends, in just the right size. It had nice little caps to use as finials.  And it came in a “gun metal” black –gray finish, similar to one I had specified on some pricey custom metal rods.  For about $12.00 I had a fantastic rod and finials!  I went back to the Décor dept at Home Depot, and found a “Universal Bracket” for around $14.00/pair that could be used to hang the rod.  I made sure brackets seemed sturdy – the rod was a hefty weight and I was glad I wasn’t hanging super-heavy curtains on them.  There were nice metal rings available that fit the rod as well. The brackets and rings were both a matte silver that worked well with the gunmetal finish of the rod.

Brooklyn DesignI have used a lighter weight copper pipe for drapery installations before, in my friend’s framing shop.  We found all the parts we needed to run the curtains from wall to wall.  It’s a little tricky in this case as you have to assemble first and then install (so you need to know how many rings you will need before you start) but it’s a great industrial look and less expensive than custom metal rods and brackets. I show the parts used here. There is a threaded sleeve that screws into the base, which in turn is mounted to the wall.  The pipe fits into the sleeve.  Again, all must be assembled and then lifted into place and screwed into the wall- and takes down the same way.  Adding a few more rings later is not terribly convenient- best to plan ahead for this type of treatment.  In my installation we had painted the non-copper metal end piece black and the contrast was great looking.

I often use plumbing pipe in my lamps.  I like the oxidized copper, and am getting ready to use some galvanized pipe on a pair of silver lamps.  I like to use other “humble” parts, and recently built a pair of lamps from hardware I had bought for this purpose- and some I upcycled from pieces I found when cleaning out my dad’s workshop.  I usually choose not to put a finish on these lamps and enjoy their “natural” patina.  I do mix humble parts with fancier vintage pieces as well.  For a “dressier” lamp I may give the humble parts a little polish and shine and find that when used judiciously, they step up to the occasion.Brooklyn Design


Refurbishing An Old Lamp

Comments Off on Refurbishing An Old Lamp Written on June 19th, 2012 by
Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Brooklyn Interior DesignI have been making lamps from recycled and vintage parts for a number of years and love the creative buzz that comes from taking interesting parts and making something unexpected, beautiful and functional. But sometimes you stumble on a vintage lamp that just needs a little loving care and restoration, some updated wiring, a pretty shade.  I found this lovely piece heading toward a dumpster as one of the houses near me was being emptied for sale, its owner having moved to smaller digs.  I loved the classic shape and underneath the dirt and rusted parts, I knew there was an amazing lamp waiting to happen.

First I ditch the cord; chances are on a lamp this old the wire is shot.  My rule of thumb is that if when I bend the wire it feels like it is going to crack then it gets replaced- or if it predates polarized plugs and both of the prongs are same-size.  I buy wire and plug sets from a parts supplier, but if you are doing it yourself you can get wire and snap on plugs from a hardware store.  If you don’t know how to wire a lamp, there are lots of places to get it done.  I recommend Ricky from Lamp Warehouse. (Lamp Warehouse recently downsized when it changed owners, but they were savvy enough to keep Ricky on as the repair department.) While I do my own wiring generally, I bring him more complicated things like chandeliers and multiple socket fixtures and he does a fantastic job.Brooklyn Design

Looking at this lamp, I love everything about it and don’t feel much need to embellish, but I do see one area that needs improvement.  The socket for this lamp is set right on top of the ceramic base.  In order to site a shade properly you might miss some of the prettiness of the full lamp piece- or alternatively have some of the socket exposed.  Usually you want a shade to come down to the bottom of the socket. Also, the harp saddle (which holds the wire “harp” that supports the shade) is the old fashioned type- it can’t be changed for size unless you take apart the lamp.  I replace it with a universal saddle so, I can change harp size without having to take off the socket.  I take the lamp apart, unscrewing it from the top socket (on some lamps its easier to get from the bottom- wherever it gives most easily) and disassemble. My dad taught me this trick- if there are a lot of small parts- and with many lamps there are, line up the pieces carefully in the order you took them off the center rod.  Then, after cleaning or refinishing each piece, put them back on in the same order. I hate getting a lamp all put back together and then finding another piece on my workbench.  When re-assembling my vintage lamp I find a rod from my workshop that is about an inch longer;  when I am putting the lamp back together, I will add a 1” brass  “neck” to the top. This gives me a little clearance from the bottom of the shade to the top of the lamp, you will see more of the lamp and it doesn’t “squish” the lamp shape if I want to cover the whole socket with the shade.

Brooklyn DesignWhile the lamp is apart I scrub it thoroughly and let it dry.  The old ceramic can take a lot of cleaning and is very durable.  Sometimes under all the dirt you find a flaw, this time I think it was probably a gap in the original glaze, but I don’t want it to catch dirt so after the lamp base is dry I carefully put a little clear nail polish in the ding and it fills it nicely and evens the sheen so you don’t even see it.Brooklyn Design

When you are ready to run the new wire, make sure you start through the “wireway” hole in the base, so the lamp will sit flat on the table.  When all is assembled, felt the bottom so that it doesn’t scratch your table. I tighten with a socket wrench, tight enough so it feels stable, but with glass or ceramic you have to make sure you don’t put it together so tightly you crack the pieces.  Sometimes where metal check washers meet the ceramic I use a rubber washer to cushion it so I can tighten it more without damaging the base.

Brooklyn Interior Design

Finding the perfect shade is another story that will end up as a blog one of these days….My workshop has come to critical mass with vintage parts bursting out of all my cupboards.  Keep an eye peeled on my Etsy store as I add new lamps over the summer, and plan for a Fall Lamp Salon.

Brooklyn Interior Design

Recycled Lights

Comments Off on Recycled Lights Written on June 6th, 2012 by
Categories: Decorating Ideas, Olive Blog, Olive Design
Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of my favorite pieces from the ICFF show was the lamp made from recycled 45”s by GIN Art and Design. I liked the great colors and repurposing of the original material.  GIN Art & Design was founded by Orlando Dominguez (pictured) and is based here in Brooklyn.  There was some really cool stuff on his website- I wish I had seen his artfully mis-matched chairs in time for my blog post!

Other lighting that featured recycled material came from the company graypants. Their line is called “SCRAPLIGHTS™ –responsibly reimagining cardboard boxes”.  According to their brochure, SCRAPLIGHTS are made from salvaged cardboard and non-toxic adhesive. Because they use the boxes as is, they have a great natural look, similar to wood in tone. The hanging fixtures come in really fantastic shapes and sizes.

Using the same material, CartonPlanet comes up with a whole other animal. Their cardboard is less natural looking and is taken to the next level. They wax lyrical about the humble  material-

Cardboard is a symbol of revival.  It is fallible but indestructible, and at the same time it can surprise us with its obedience and persistence over and over.

Their lights are lovely but the fun doesn’t stop there- they have great furniture as well, made from recycled cardboard- coffee tables, chairs, sofas and shelving.

And for more recycled material lighting fun- I met Bao-Khang Luu when I was in the Sustainable Entrepreneur program at FIT.  He was making “upcycled” lamps from discarded materials.  The process of upcycling is described on the website for his company, Relevé Design:

When we’re done with magazines or plastic bottles we usually throw them away. Sometimes we reuse them. Other times we recycle. Recycling actually downgrades the material. For instance, the quality of plastic lessens each time it’s recycled. Different types of plastics and impurities get mixed together, weakening the plastic. Fortunately, there’s a better way to deal with waste, and that’s upcycling.

…Upcycling is an eco-friendly way of repurposing, because it only uses unwanted and discarded materials and transforms them into something new, desirable, and more valuable….In our case, we save six-pack rings from being dumped into a landfill or downcycled into low quality plastic, and we make them into new, fabulous lighting.

Bao has an amazing line of pendant lamps made from 6-pack plastic holders. And he is ever forthcoming with fantastic ideas for repurposing, check out this intriguing metal lamp spotted on his website, made from an easily recognizable commodity.

ICFF Snapshots

Comments Off on ICFF Snapshots Written on May 30th, 2012 by
Categories: Decorating Ideas, Olive Design
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last week, I made the yearly pilgrimage to ICFF (the International Contemporary Furniture Fair), to see what is new and noteworthy.  The booths were incredible, the products lovely, I will devote a separate entry for the lights, as there was too much to cover in one short blog.  It was so incredibly visually intense.   There were a lot of international companies at the fair.  I am guessing that the cost of showing at one of these behemoths is astounding so you don’t get as much of the local variety and scrappy startups as at a local show.

Olive DesignThat being said, totally loved Akke functional art ping pong table with what looked like a bowling alley surface, with steel pipe legs and a lighted glass inset. I don’t even play ping pong and I was ready to roll with this piece, I just loved the industrial look to it.  Akke is based in Huntington, New York, owner Axel Yberg’s hometown.Olive Design

There were a number of wallpaper companies doing interesting patterns with small runs.  I liked Lobo Loup and Juju Papers, both were very playful.  Lobo Loup describes themselves as Wallpaper for the Modern Family and featured sophisticated kid friendly prints.  I was also intrigued by the scrap wood wallpaper by Piet Hein Eek, made in Holland.  There were equally convincing papers simulating concrete wallpaper, tin ceiling and other textures.Olive Design

Olive Design

For classic good looks, I admired this chair by John Ford, shown in different woods.  It was beautifully made and the museum style presentation really showcased the minimal lines.

While I went to the show expecting great furniture and hopefully sustainable options (see next blog for lights made from recycled products!) I was not expecting to stumble on… the next thing in kitty litter boxes.  Nice that someone took the time to re-think this design and household issue.  Modko presents the “Flip”- it is an inverted version of the covered cat box, with a fold-back top for easy access, paperboard liners that are easy to remove (and treated for water-tight, no leak use).  There is a handy spot to hang the poop scoop as well.

Olive Design

Lastly, was inspired to rest when I found the seat that best matched my outfit…you’ve heard of tub chairs?  These retrofitted pedestal tubs were so much fun.  It was a Kohler plumbing display- with Jonathan Adler colors and prints.  As that pairing seemed unusual I checked it out online.   Zack Cohn describes the partnership on

Olive DesignCelebrity designer Jonathan Adler recently teamed up with Wisconsin-based home appliance brand, Kohler, to introduce a new line of colorful sinks for the kitchen and bathroom. The collection, which made its debut at the 2012 International Contemporary Furniture Fair, explores the question of the impact color can have amidst the white, ‘sterile’ space that traditionally defines a bathroom and kitchen.

Next week’s post will show pictures of some very cool lighting.  There will be sustainable and recycleable materials in lamps and hanging fixtures.  For a sneak peak, check out Gin Art & Design.


Container Gardens

Comments Off on Container Gardens Written on May 16th, 2012 by
Categories: In the Garden, Olive Design
Tags: , , , , ,

Brooklyn DesignOnce spring hits, you see lovely container gardens everywhere; the window boxes and planters, the fabulous colorful pots on porches and paths.  I asked my gardening expert friend Tracey Hohman how she makes them so beautifully and she shared her tips and tricks. She recommends starting the early plantings with hearty plants, like Pansy.  I always know it’s time to set them out when I see them on her porch!  For true summer plants the rule of thumb is to wait until Mother’s Day.

Brooklyn Design

For showy blooms and great display, you can get a lot of drama planting a big pot with all the same flower, all same color, planted close together.  Tracey shows a pot of pansies that were just ending their spring run. Alternatively you can mix colors of the same flower that co-ordinate with each other, in the same pot.

The Container How-To

  1. Start with a nice sized container or pot.  Tracey shares my enthusiasm for clay pots- (I like the glazed ceramic ones as well, saw the most beautiful ones at Lapide Plants in the Terminal Market).  You want them deep enough so that they don’t dry out quickly.  One of the challenges of container gardening is keeping them watered!
  2. Add gravel or rocks to the bottom to provide drainage.  I follow my thrifty mom’s lead and recycle broken clay pots for this purpose, mixed with gravel. People are always asking me why I keep a bag of broken pots in the garage…Brooklyn Design
  3. The dirt on Dirt:  Don’t recycle last year’s dirt without adding back some nutrients in the form of compost or garden manure.  Tracey favors “Professional Potting Soil” that she picks up at Shannon’s Nursery on Fort Hamilton Avenue.  You can use this straight out of the bag, but if you have some dirt in pots from last year and want to use it, remediate the soil with at least a third of fresh stuff and/or compost. Helpful Hint- do this whole operation on a tarp or plastic sheet- you can easily clean up later by dumping the spillage in the yard or garden.
  4. Fill the dirt only part way up in the pot, leaving room to set the plantings in with their pot dirt.  You want to eventually have the whole thing about ¾”-1” below top rim of pot, so that water stays in when you water the pots.
  5. Arrange them in the container, still in the nursery pots.  Taller plants should be placed in the back with trailing plants in the front.  You want to really plant them densely, to look abundant and lush.  Trim off any withered leaves or stems now. Once you have them arrange nicely, take each one out of the nursery pot and before you place it in the dirt, work the roots a little, loosen them up so they are not “rootbound”.
  6. After you place them in, tuck more of the dirt in so that it fills the pot up to the 3/4” below the rim. Plants should be closely spaced, the dirt filled in between the plants where there is any gap and all around the edges of the pot. Pat dirt down lightly- and water when you are done. As an optional last step, you can add some mulch to the top of the planter on any exposed dirt- it helps retain moisture and looks more “finished”.Brooklyn Design

Plant suggestions

When considering your plant selection, you want to determine the light where they will be situated.  6 hours or more is “full sun” 4-6 hours is “partial sun”, anything less is shade.

Brooklyn DesignFor the container we just did, Tracey used a variety of types of plants, mixing annuals, perennials- and houseplants.   Send your weary potted plants to Summer Camp on the porch!  They will be invigorated by the sunny porch living (provided you remember to regularly water) and in the fall, you can repot and bring the plant back inside.  It’s a thrifty way to add more variety to your porch plantings. For height, she used a canna, and a classic annual, Petunia, for the shot of hot color.  The house plants she mixed in were Begonia Rex and Oxalis. The perennial was Heuchera  “Plum Pudding”.  There was a red sweet potato vine that will eventually trail down the side of the planter once it gets situated.  All the foliage plants selected had similar merlot coloring, but different shapes and textures, for interest.

Brooklyn DesignTracey also showed me a great planter she had put together for the porch railing.  It had a variety of different colored coleus for a shady area, and for the “trailer” a pretty white flower on a vine, called “Euphorbia Diamond Frost”.  I am midway through making my porch planters, having refurbished and painted the wooden containers from last year (courtesy of one of our film shoots).  I put coleus in one as per Tracey’s suggestions about grouping a single type of plants, and in the other I plan on moving the philodendron outside for some summer fun, still “browsing” through the indoor plants looking for something to give it some height.

Brooklyn Design

Remember to water, often, especially when we get into the really hot season- if you are traveling on vacation a great idea to get someone to look after the plantings.  As a final note, I would mention that my container plantings in the past have proved endlessly fascinating to the resident squirrel population, they seem convinced somehow that they have something buried in there from last year and I used to be out sweeping up the rummaged dirt every morning, rescuing broken plants.  Cayenne pepper, sprinkled liberally discouraged this practice.

Happy planting.


Comments Off on Appliances Written on May 9th, 2012 by
Categories: Olive Design, Olive Green
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The other day someone from one of my Sustainable Entrepreneur Groups posted a great Ted Talk called “Hans Rosling and the Amazing Washing Machine”.

In it, global heath expert Hans Rosling recounted the day his mother and grandmother, after scrimping and saving for years, used their new washing machine for the first time.  It was a huge step up from heating the water over a wood fire and performing the weekly chore of washing clothes by hand.  He chronicles consumption and “the washing machine class”, noting that women of every class, in every society, want a washing machine, as it falls on them alone to do this backbreaking chore.  Rosling posits the case that the washing machine may be the greatest invention of the industrial revolution.  The video informs about consumption in a humorous and engaging manner.

But consumption polemics aside, the appliance that I find so many women talk about and on which they wax lyrical, is the vacuum.  How many times on our local list serve have we heard someone ask for recommendations for a brand, model, or source- and get a host of enthusiastic responses.  I have had a good relationship with my vacuum go-to guys in Park Slope, Brooke’s Appliances for years, and continue to loyally buy my vacuums there and have them serviced as needed. On their advice I bought the best ones I could afford.

VacuumWhen my favorite brand started delivering shoddy goods, I felt let down. The last two of my favorite brand’s machines I purchased were disappointing in performance and durability.  I expect that when I pay more for something, the trade off will be that it lasts longer and performs better. While the machine was not inexpensive, the plastic wheel fell off in a month, clips broken and unfixable, the wand broke, the suction was ok but not fabulous enough to make me overlook the cheap plastic parts breaking with light use. How many of us go home to visit our parents and see the 50 year old Electrolux in the closet? Mom may like the newer brighter lighter weight canister vac better, or prefer an upright with the lighted front- but the Electrolux is still going strong.    I hate to buy anything that I know will break down quickly, despise the notion of planned obsolescence, and “throw away “ goods.  My 1954 sewing machine is serviced regularly and is a powerhouse.  Ok, so it doesn’t do buttonholes automatically and I will never figure out the ultra-low tech do-hickey that they claim will do them- I’m okay without all the bells and whistles.  My mom had given me her 1954 sewing machine years ago, and upgraded to a newer model- and has been through 4 machines since.  I kept her New Home going until the early 80’s until the overhaul on it cost more than it was worth, and replaced it with a Singer of the same vintage.  1954, apparently was a good year for sewing machines.Olive Design

Olive DesignHaving decided to jump ship from my current vacuum brand, I cast my eye on the much-touted Miele; this little aqua blue number that (of course) was just the right color.  Only to find this particular color had been discontinued by the time I had made up my mind to invest in what I hoped was a better quality machine.  It was the rave reviews of every woman I know who owned one that got me interested in purchasing one, but of course it was the color that sold me. The Brooke’s Appliance guys went searching, and found me what they claim may be the last still-new-in-box aqua blue Miele available on the market.  Thus far I am in awe of the performance and the heft of the parts; wands and heads snap together with a resounding click, there is no sense of impending breakage, it’s like driving a luxury… vacuum.  I justify my consumerism by investing in a product that will not need replacing within a year.  I am passing on my old machine to someone who needed one, replacing the wheel and taping the faulty wand, and wishing them good luck with it.  If it’s broke, then fix it.  If it can’t be fixed it just may be too temporary for me.Olive Design



Comments Off on Mismatched Written on April 20th, 2012 by
Categories: Decorating Ideas, Olive Blog
Tags: , , , , ,

It seems to be the style now to piece different fabrics together in a single chair or sofa.  Often, historically the backs of chairs might feature a jaunty mismatched pattern, say a stripe or check to contrast with the damask front. Being resourceful, I always had a lot of smaller pieces of leftover fabric and would often use them to make a whole chair or sofa cover.  And now I see this style in showrooms and magazines.

It can be very economical to find reasonably priced remnants- they are steeply discounted to reflect their bolt end status.  Recovering an upholstered chair requires up to 8-9 yards of fabric, and a sofa 16-22 yds.  These apricot and gold wing chairs were thriftily done with remnants for less than $200 and they look great as well. There were enough leftovers to make a window seat for the same room.

Often, I  use a contrast welting on upholstered pieces.  Not only do I like the contrast, but it can save a few yards of fabric as well, and if you are running it close to the needed amount, this option can help squeak you through.  But as shown on the gold chairs, you can “marry” two different upholstered pieces by having the same piping, as I did with the red welt on these chairs.  Ultrasuede makes fantastic piping, it is very durable, looks like leather, and comes in lots of colors.

I used lots of different fabrics and fluffy trim for a special chair for a little girl- we were trying to match a miniature chair she had been given as a toy.  (Just to be clear, this was NOT cost effective….but did produce the desired effect).

It can be a great way to change out upholstery that is problematic, the seat cushions are soiled or ripped and the rest of the sofa is fine, or as some complain, their kids keep sliding off the leather sofa.  I have suggested making just a new seat cover in a fabric that complements the whole sofa, and it is less costly than re-upholstering the whole piece.