Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Caveat Emptor

Somehow during my two years of high school Latin, I missed an important lesson . . . caveat emptor or "buyer beware." I should have known better. I should have checked things out more thoroughly, but my enthusiasm clouded my judgment.

Remember this table and chairs . . .
I bought them several weeks ago at the Habitat for Humanity store. I looked them over, noticed some fretwork missing, some scratches and wear, but nothing that would prevent me from buying them. My big mistake? Not sitting in the chairs. I didn't think I needed to . . . they felt solid. I pushed on them. They weren't wobbly. Plus, they had plywood seats with rusty, jagged holes where the screws had been attached. Who would want to sit on that? I might tear my clothes.

So, I got the table and chairs home, put them in the garage until I could get my husband to help me move the table upstairs. Then got to work on sanding and painting the chairs. This was quite the process. I finally got them to the point where I thought they looked just right. But I was still on the hunt for the perfect fabric. Remember this post, where I obsessed over my options?

After ordering swatches online, getting my sister to bring me some from Memphis, and hitting every fabric store in town, I still didn't feel like I had found "the one."
I felt I needed a fabric that had the color of the chairs in it as well as other colors. I wasn't willing to change the chair color, so I kept searching. Then, I remembered a tablecloth and some curtains I had seen at World Market.
So, I bought a couple of curtains to use as my seat fabric. I love a good Tree of Life pattern, and I really thought the vivid colors of this one worked well with my chairs.
So, I cut the fabric, draped it on top of some foam and sat down to test the height of the chair with the cushion. Then I heard the crack. 
That's right, the fretwork on the back of the chairs was broken in two places. And not just on one chair, but on three out of the four chairs! Nice. And, it's not even wood. The fretwork is composite or plastic, if you will. The outside frame of the chair is wood, but not the backs. 

So, I'm trying to make lemonade out of lemons. My friend Becky had this stuff in her garage:
I glued and clamped and let the chairs harden for 24 hours, then repainted the patched area. The result? Only time will tell. They're holding for now, but I don't have much confidence that they can take much wear and tear.  I need to put signs on the chairs that read "lean back gently."
I think they look nice . . . pretty much what I envisioned. I just hate that they might snap at any moment. Not a good feeling. I haven't attached the seats to the chair yet. Still need to find the right screws. Now, I just need to buy or have a banquette made for the other side of the table, but that has its own set of issues. By the way, I sold the old chairs on Craigslist, so those are no longer an option either. Way to burn my design bridges, huh?

In some ways, I feel like this was a DIY disaster. Do you have any projects that did not turn out the way you planned?

Editor's Note: I'm so sorry I've been gone for two weeks now! I was sick for the first week with some mysterious illness that basically made me feel like hell with the vague symptoms of a headache and nausea. And, no, I'm not pregnant. Then my husband was out of town for 10 days on a scuba diving excursion with his dad, and I just didn't have the energy at the end of the day to write a blog post. I so admire single parents. I endeavor to be better about blogging once my son finally starts back to pre-K on Friday!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shopping = Bliss

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to do a little shopping/antiquing on my own in and around downtown Franklin. Sometimes it's such a treat to just wander through stores aimlessly looking for inspiration. 

At my first stop, the Winchester Antique Mall, this greeted me on the front porch:
I'm a sucker for a good Chippendale bench. According to the tag, this one was made locally and was $325.
Heading inside, I found these goodies . . .
I loved this antique wicker chair. It's very small in scale so would really only be appropriate in my daughter's room, but it was a little too pricey ($300-something) for me.

The gilded bamboo frames on these were great, and the mat was more of a muted coral or salmon color, not such a bright orange as it looks here. I would switch out the butterfly watercolor prints for charcoal or line drawings. For $29 each, they weren't a bad deal. Still may go back for these. Sorry, my iPhone doesn't have a flash so these aren't the best quality photos.

I can't pass up a good bentwood or Thonet-style chair. The blue on this one captured my attention as I'm looking for a desk and desk chair for my son's room. After sitting in this one, I passed because it was a little too rickety and I'm not sure it was fixable.

I'm not sure you can even see, but there is a little Greek key detail on this alabaster lamp. 

This vignette of purple bottles really caught my eye. Reminds me of my mother's birthstone, amethyst.

Such pretty turtle shells. These were $45 each.

Love the over-the-top nature of this Italian tole lamp. Quite a statment piece!

Another cool gold lamp.

And on my way back to my car, I spied these little concrete foo dogs. Perfect guard dogs and only $29 each.

Next stop, Scarlett Scales, a great little shop in downtown Franklin. Scarlett has a great eye and her shop is always chocked full of cool stuff.

And what should greet me at the front door? A pair of the mama foo dogs. These would definitely ward away any evil spirits from your home. $235 for the pair.

Some of the great displays in Scarlett's shop.

A unique art deco style alabaster lamp. I'm not sure if I've ever seen one of these.

Yet another display of purple bottles. Is this a new trend?

At the Arbor Antique Mall next door, they had a new vendor with some really cool stuff.
I loved this chalk head sculpture. This would look amazing as part of a tablescape. 

My last stop was the Downtown Franklin Antique Mall across the street. Just a couple of gems here . . .
How cute is this elephant garden seat? I could pull this up next to anything. Maybe it could keep my lonely chair company?

And for some reason I neglected to take a photo of the white painted bamboo mirror (behind the elephant), but it was a beauty too.
And, lastly, this brass-plated lamp. Very elegant. Could go anywhere. And it was on sale for $54.

Speaking of lamps, I hit TJ Maxx earlier in the day and found a neat lamp.
Loved the shape, the faux snakeskin and brass accents. It looks expensive to me, but only $35. Bargain.

And since I'm sharing treasures, I've been selling some things on Craigslist lately. So, of course, I do a little browsing while I'm there. 

Here's what I found . . . 
This solid wood dresser was only $35. Call me crazy, but I think it would look fabulous painted orange or blue or green or some bright lacquer color. And the hardware is killer. Unfortunately, I have no where to put this, plus it's sold already. Oh well.

Once again, I don't know where I would put this fan/throne chair, but I like it a lot. It's $20 but the guy said he would go lower. 

Does anyone need a dining table? Because I think this Parsons-style one is fabulous, and for only $75! I so wish I had a place for this.

Well, I think that wraps it up. Do you see any treasures in the bunch?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just My Speed

I was so thrilled when the September issue of Elle Decor landed in my mailbox this weekend. I devoured it of course, but I was surprised by my reaction to some of the features. My favorite, by far, was the last house in the issue designed by Jessie Carrier and his wife Mara Miller. I love this house.

My immediate attraction came as a surprise because the home featured is a mid-century glass house, and I usually don't respond to design that leans to the modern side. But I loved everything about this house because the designers integrated what the family already had and made it work. No austere, cold modernity here. This is a warm, layered look that is so livable. Throw in a Chippendale-style breakfront, some Chinese panels, an IKEA bookshelf, some cool art and photography, comfortable furniture, and you've got the recipe for a unique and welcoming home.
These photos are actually from Carrier and Company's website not Elle Decor, but it is the same house featured. I know it's not always considered kosher to share photos from an issue that's currently on newsstands, but since these shots are just similar and they're on the designer's site, I figured it was okay. 
Also, I spied some slight differences in the magazine photos when compared to their site - mainly styling, but also some different fabrics and furniture pieces throughout the home.  This feature made the whole magazine worthwhile for me. 

I think what also drew me to the Carrier-designed home is that it seemed attainable -  like a normal house where a regular family could actually live and be comfortable. Ah, what a difference from the rest of the homes featured. The Miami mega-mansion of film director Michael Bay just seemed grotesque. Why does anyone, especially a single guy, need a 17,000 square foot home? It looked like a hotel - cold and uninspired. 

And I was so excited when I noticed a Jeffery Bilhuber-designed home was included, but I must say, I was underwhelmed. It seemed kind of bland compared to his usual designs, and dare I say, granny-ish. Which made me sad because I usually love his work. The ED article even felt the need to explain this by saying the muted tones were "emblematic of the current mood in interior design." According to Bilhuber, "clients are asking for a return to neutral. It's calming and feels appropriate now." Hmm. Really?

I won't critique the whole issue, and I really didn't mean to go on a rant. . . . you can decide for yourself. Let's just look at more photos from one of my new favorites . . . Carrier and Company.
This is from the offices of Jason Wu. Ring a bell? He's the famous fashion designer most well-known these days for having designed for the First Lady.

I think the home above was featured in a magazine at some point because that green chest on the right looks awfully familiar.

These shots are from the Editor's Office at Vogue. I think it must be Men's Vogue whose former editor inhabits the Elle Decor home because some of the items (lamps, tables, chair, sofa) appear in the article.

I think what I like most about Carrier and Company is that they can adapt different styles. So, what do you think of my latest crush? Is it true love or just a passing fancy?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Good Start

Last night, I ventured out to a Redbox with my two children so they could pick out a Friday night movie. I picked one out too, of course.
My kids picked out this . . .
While I was assured by my friend Arrione that this is a fine family film, I just wasn't in the mood to watch The Rock in wings.  So, I picked out this . . .
Since the Redbox we eventually got the movies from (the first one wasn't working I'm assuming because the touchscreen was about 500 degrees and the machine was undoubtedly fried) was right next door to Trader Joe's,  I thought I'd pop in to get some flowers. They always have the best deals and my house was in need of some sprucing.

So, while I went in to just get these . . .

I ended up getting these as well . . . 

 I think you can see where this is going.

So, to wrap up, we all enjoyed a wonderful Friday evening. While my children were happily ensconced under blankets in the playroom watching The Tooth Fairy, I was snuggled up under my covers next to my husband eating the most delicious root beer float watching a very eerie atmospheric movie by Roman Polanski. Ah, bliss. 

Now, I've got some work to do. I'll give you a hint, it includes this stuff . . .
I can tell you're jealous. Stay tuned . . . 

Hope your weekend is a great one!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Good Things Come . . .

I'm sure we all know the old saying, "Good things come to those who wait." I think it rings true . . . in some cases anyway. In this particular case, I'm referring to a chair. Of course, I would be talking about furniture.

Does anyone remember this chair?
My friend Becky snagged it at a tag sale back in March, and I had major chair envy. For several months now, she has moved it all around her house and thrown numerous fabric swatches on it, but finally decided she didn't have the right spot for it. So, being the good friend that I am, I offered to buy it from her for the same amount she paid. Selfless, I know.
So, now it sits in my entryway, waiting patiently for its makeover. As it is a single chair, I think I will leave it here for the time being even though it seems a little lonely. I love things in pairs (as I have blogged about ad nauseam), but there's also something appealing about a single chair that can be pulled into another room when the mood or need strikes.

I really like the fabric that's currently on it - a turquoise and cream velvet that has striations like moire silk - but it is beyond faded and stained.

Since this chair could be used in various rooms as needed, I'm actually thinking of going with a black and white or dark gray and cream fabric. Very unusual for me. Maybe I'm turning over a new design leaf.

Of course, I love what interior designer Celerie Kemble did with very similar (if not identical) chairs.

It might be hard to tell from this photo, but the fabric Celerie used is an ikat pattern that seems to have a very small repeat. Most of the ikats I run across have huge repeats and thus are not appropriate for this rather thin, waif-ish (if that's even a word) chair. It's sort of like the Kate Moss of chairs -  whip-thin but full of style.

I really love the look of the fabric on these chairs by interior designer Meg Braff.
I'm not sure what fabric it is, but I know I've seen it before and it's expensive. So here are some options I came up with . . . 
Chipper in Charcoal by Premier Fabrics

Togo in black and white also by Premier. This one reminds me of . . . 

This ikat fabric from Fabricadabra. Of course, it's only 15 inches wide. That may not work.

Leopard in black also by Premier Fabrics

Kenya Black Fabric from Ballard Designs. I like the ikat leopard effect of this one.

Are any of these appealing or am I just going through a phase? I think I should decide on a fabric first, then that will determine what color the legs should be. Also, I would do the piping either in black or a contrasting color (and maybe match it to the legs?).

And, in other chair news, I've hit a few roadblocks while trying to re-do the bamboo chairs for my breakfast area. That's another blog post altogether. Let's just say, I didn't inspect the chairs as well as I should have before purchasing. Details coming soon . . .