Friday, June 6, 2008

slipcover style

Of course, Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic comes to mind when the word slipcover pops up. If you can't spend a few thousand dollars on one of her beautiful pieces, but want the tailored, slipcovered look, Susan Burns can help. Susan makes slipcovers to order at her home-based workshop Custom Cottage Slipcovers in Poulsbo, WA. She can quickly turn a faded, jaded piece of upholsterty into something totally new.

Susan Burns' handiwork:

Susan can also coordinate your new slipcover with hand-made custom draperies, roman shades, throw pillows, or even a duvet cover. She has been sewing since she was a young girl, but also has formal training and certification in upholstery and window coverings. Her pricing is very reasonable for such wonderful quality. She does not supply fabric however, so be prepared to get it on your own. There are some great resources online, and of course JoAnn's is convenient or you can special order through an interior design store or specialty fabric house. Also, Susan turns around orders really quickly, so you won't have to sit on the floor to watch TV for more than a week!

Susan's superb attention to detail:

Of course, ever the budget decorator that I am, I wanted to scout out a possible scenario for slipcovering. I already have a wing chair (which would take about 6 yards of a patterned fabric) that needs a new slipcover, thanks to my kitties. For you though, I wanted to do some detective work, starting from scratch. Here is what I came up with, including pricing for Susan's work. Read further and you'll discover a little price comparison.

This chair and ottoman, found on Craig's List, is only $50 for the set. Although faded, the pieces appear to be in very solid condtion. If you can pick it up in Bremerton, it can be yours.

A great site for discounted fabrics is This one is a classic 100% cotton duck fabric (which Susan highly recommends for its durable and washable nature), at only $6.95 per yard. To cover both pieces, you'll need about 8 yards. Total including shipping: $65.60.

For Susan's hard work, for both pieces, you will pay about $325. The slipcovers, as they are cotton, will be washable, contain zippers for a snug fit and easy removal, and are sewn together on industrial machines, using monofilament to strengthen the seams.

Chair and Ottoman: $50.00
Fabric: $65.60
Two Custom Slipcovers: $325
Grand total: $430.60

Here is a comparable chair and ottoman, from renowned furniture maker Maine Cottage:
The Monty Chair available slipcovered for $1550.00 before shippping.

The Monty Ottoman available slipcovered for $690.00 before shipping.

Another, similar duo from Pottery Barn:
The Griffin Chair and Ottoman from $1229 and $529 respectively before shipping.

Even IKEA can't quite beat Susan's pricing:
Ektorp Chair, slipcovered: $349

Ektorp Ottoman, slipcovered: $99

Going the custom slipcover route has four major advantages:
1. Price. (Especially if you already own the furniture piece.)
2. Endless choices to truly customize with fabric and trim to suit your taste.
3. You are supporting a small local business!
4. You are saving your existing piece from the dumpster or rescuing another from a second-hand store.

If you've got a piece of furniture that needs a fresh outfit, contact Susan Burns, at Custom Cottage Slipcovers, she'll even give you a free consultation!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

become your own boss

This book: The Boss of You, by Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears, has absolutely positively affected my outlook on entrepreneurship. This is the business guide I wish I had three years ago when I first started thinking about doing my own thing. The two creative and professional women have an incredibly accessible writing style. I feel as if I am in the presence of a friend who really knows what she is talking about- doling out the perfect combination of sound advice, humor, and reality. This is not to say that things are dumbed-down. Quite the contrary. All of the information you need is there, but put into a really relevant, totally relate-able context.

The strengths of the book lie in the outside of the box brainstorming exercises the women implore you consider. I have to admit, that I rebuffed when they directed me to come up with several "customer" profiles, including names, occupations, style of dress etc. Later on though, I understood why this was such an important thing to ponder in such detail, as I attempted to pinpoint who would want to use my services.

I have read my share of the predictable business books. How dry, boring and discouraging they all seem now! Honestly, I could never quite make it past the financing chapters. That was usually the point at which all my hopes were dashed. I even wrote a business plan, and the end result was a pile of words that neither reflected nor resembled my ideals, values, and business goals at the core. On the contrary, in The Boss of You, Bacon and Mears taught me that I really don't need a formal business plan, especially since I am a sole proprietorship who is not looking for funding. I just need to have an intimate and well thought out sense of what I want my business to be. Now I do.

Lucky for me, I will get to meet these gals! Velocity Art and Design's Lab series is hosting them on July 23rd from 6-8pm at their South Lake Union showroom. I am really excited to hear them talk about the book and their own experiences with becoming successful business owners. If you have ever even thought for one second you might want to be your own boss, then you have got to pick up this book! On their blog, you can read a sample chapter, hear more practical advice, and get a sneak peek into other women business owner's success stories.

The best part is that the book makes me feel like I can actually do it. So here I go!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

handicraft heaven

The wonderful world of Etsy. Have you discovered it yet? One could so easily spend an ENTIRE rainy summer day perusing this lovely website which is chock full of artists and crafters selling their wares in virtual stores. No shopping is necessary to enjoy the beauty. Just point, click and drool.

You can find just about anything handmade on this site: purses, bags, note cards, photography, all kinds of art prints, jewelery. What's even better is that Etsy provides some great ways to shop: by category (of course), by color, by locale. Create an Etsy account so that you can easily track down your favorites.

Here are some great things I discovered today:

Removeable wall decals by stickee in Australia.

Handmade pillows by joom.

Pretty note cards by niftyswank.

The most beautiful thing about Etsy: the pricing. So reasonable for such gorgeously hand done pieces. Plus, you are supporting hard working and talented crafters from just about everywhere in the world! I vow to do all of my summer wedding gift shopping on Etsy. Check it out and you will see what I mean.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

the dresser update

It seems I can not escape painting...ever. As I sit here, I am hatching plans to paint three pieces of bedroom furniture. I am telling you guys, I just can not help myself.
Okay, so while you all are helping me decide what color to paint the end tables in the living room this week (please, please vote in the poll to the right of this posting), I'll show you the result of painting my dresser in the dining room a couple of weeks ago.

It was not aging gracefully, and with its chipping veneer and oak-ey Victorian charm, it looked less than fashionable against my apricot dining room walls. So, over Memorial Day weekend, Candace and I covered it in warm white paint.(We also dipped Candace's dresser-turned TV stand, in a chocolaty brown candy coating. I'll show you those pics another time.)

Now the dresser, which functions as my buffet, looks fresher, and makes the whole room feel a little crisper. In an attempt to modernize, I changed out the accessories on top to up the contrast factor. The new black and white elements are echoed elsewhere in the room and house. All in all, I am pleased with the transformation.

I also took this as an opportunity to reorganize the contents in a more functional manner. I removed serving pieces that I rarely use, moved my china and Christmas dishes to the bottom drawer, and filled the top two drawers with place mats and tablecloths that were previously crowding the limited storage in the kitchen. Do you want to peek inside?

Monday, June 2, 2008

desire to "modern" up, Ch. 2

Last week, I blogged about the need to add a little modern design in my life. I begged for ideas. Sadly, no one had any suggestions to offer! So, I am going to ask the question in a more pointed way.

Here are a couple of pictures of an end table. I have two of these cute, country-ish pieces. And while really, there is nothing wrong with them, they are clearly not modern or even contemporary. The honey wood tone pretty much blends right in with our hardwood floors. And, I believe this makes them great candidates for a modern makeover.

So, this is my question. What color do I paint them? What drawer pulls do I choose? Currently, the room supports a pale aqua, yummy apricot, chocolate brown and off- white color story. What pray tell can I do to add drama to this sappy, happy saga? A bit of foreshadowing: I have decided I can spend $20 on this little scenario, which is big money compared to my initial "zero dollars" budget from the previous posting on the subject. All of the following color chips were found on

C2's Fetish is a hot, hot pink

Ben Moore's bold but basic,Kelly Green

Killala Green,a snappy statement, also by Benjamin Moore

Deep and mysterious, Malachite from Australian Standards

Nori, a sultry black brown from Martha Stewart's collection for Lowe's.

Classic, but sometimes edgy, Jet Black by Behr

Now, for the drawer pulls. I am thinking the more linear the better. Here are my options:
Anthropologie's bone pull is stylish and eclectic, but pricey at $12 each, which would put me over budget.

The Home Depot's Liberty Hardware line offers this unassuming but modern, nickel pull at $8.49 each.

Also from the Depot, this gold one adds tons of glitz for only $1.79 each.

This chrome and acrylic model from Pulls Direct is close, but not perfect. Anyone know where I can find an acrylic one that is a little cleaner looking?

So, tell me which combo do you think I ought to choose to inject a note of the unexpected and a hint of contemporary style into my living room? Please VOTE using the poll located at the top of the side bar to the right of this posting! You have until June 9th to get your vote in.
I'll let you know what the winning combination is!