Transformed: Vintage Kroehler Sofa
Feb 27, 2012
The sofa. It's important. Everyone has their list of requirements. We had lived with a sofa-loveseat set for 11 years that was quite fine. It was comfy enough, it looked good even after a decade, but I knew the space plan for our room would be better with a sofa and two chairs instead of a sofa and loveseat. Plus, I was tired of the matchiness and the height, which made the seating area seem disconnected from the rest of the space.
I sold the sofa set. I wasn't going to settle this time. I was looking for sofa perfection: a low profile, clean lines, wide arms, slim legs, and a tight back. I considered the Gus Modern Blake Loft sofa, but I didn't like the narrow arms or any of the three fabric options. (Three? Seriously?) I leaned toward the Rowe Dorset. Nice lines and available in many fabrics, but lacking the slenderness of a real vintage piece, and the arms were still a little narrow. The West Elm Lorimer came really close, but I worried about the quality.
Then I walked into Lily's Upholstery in Honor (about 12 miles west of Traverse City), and everything changed.
No one has to extol the virtues of vintage furniture to me, but the guys at Lily's can give you a thousand reasons not to buy new. I said, "Sure, I'd love a vintage sofa but I can't find what I want." I drew exactly what I was looking for, complete with measurements, and a couple of weeks later I got an email from Greg at Lily's with a picture of my dream sofa:
This is the part where you look past the ugly fabric and see the lines. It was on Craigslist, in a town 170 miles away. Greg handled the purchase and the hauling, took it straight to the shop and meticulously recovered it. About 5 weeks later the sofa showed up in my living room, looking handsome after shedding its floral damask in favor of the nubby gray fabric I chose. The cool gray with hints of taupe picks up the hues in the slate tile on my fireplace.
Here's my 1950s Kroehler sofa, built like a tank, spiffed up like new. I eliminated one row of buttons but otherwise stayed true to its original upholstery lines. Greg firmed up the cushions and the arms, but the coil springs were in great shape, even at age 60. I couldn't be happier. And I hope I'm still sitting on it when I'm 60.
I'm playing with pillow patterns against the fabric, which is Robert Allen Loft in Glacier. Here's a graphic leaf pattern inspired by Ekelund Weavers (thrifted) and a tree-ring silk I just snagged from a West Elm clearance sale.
I found the right chairs, too… a pair of 70s Milo Baughman tub chairs. They still need to be reupholstered. The original buttery velvet works surprisingly well for now (I'm not much for yellow). I'll probably stick with velvet but go for a textured weave in a deeper color. For updates on the chairs (coming this summer), follow Dwelement on Facebook.
Do you have a beautiful vintage sofa or chair that's been improved with reupholstery? Send me a photo or share it on my Facebook page. Need help choosing fabric for your reupholstery project? I can help. One hour of my time could make all the difference in the success of your project. Just email me. —Diane Kolak
TAGS: vintage kroehler sofa krohler kroler chair furniture 1950s 50s 1960s 60s mcm midcentury modern couch reupholster reupholstery lily's upholstery traverse city interlochen honor michigan mi robert allen loft glacier roommates textures modern nubby fabric
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Retro-Spective: Affordable Vintage Furniture in Traverse City
Feb 23, 2012
Last fall I was doing my usual quick spin through sprawling Wilson Antiques in Traverse City. I follow a pattern that seldom changes, allowing me to see everything I like within a frenzied 20 minutes if I'm pressed for time. I was halfway through my route, on the second floor, when I hopped up that little extra flight of stairs and stopped dead in my vintage-loving tracks. Before me lay a thoughtful display of Midcentury Modern beauty: a gorgeous teak wall unit served as a backdrop for colorful textiles, shapely chairs, clean-lined tables, and interesting accessories. I felt as though I should sit and stay awhile.
Lingering and sit-testing is indeed encouraged by the booth's owner, Erin Attwood Lane, whose keen eye and sheer love of vintage led her to open Retro-Spective in the four-floor antiques mall on Union Street. I met her there one morning while she was rearranging the shop after selling the beautiful wall unit. We grabbed a table for two next door at the always-welcoming Cousin Jenny's to do two of my favorite things: drink tea and talk vintage.
Erin didn't set out to become a vintage dealer. She set out to become a zoologist, earning degrees in zoology from both MSU and U of M. She developed her career in the field but took a different direction when she moved back to the Traverse City area to be closer to family. She now works in real estate and lives on a farm in Maple City with her husband, Vic, and 3-1/2-year-old daughter, Robin.
Diane Kolak: How and when did you discover your love of vintage furniture?
Erin Attwood Lane: When I was growing up, my mom filled the house with Victorian antiques. We never bought anything new. I always liked the look of older furniture, and the good craftsmanship. But I prefer the cleaner lines of Midcentury antiques to the fancier Victorian stuff.
DK: When did you open shop?
EAL: I just happened upon the space last fall , so I put dibs on it and got it. It's an ideal setup because I don't have to constantly work there, and it has good exposure downtown. I sell pieces I've found on my own, some that I've refinished or painted, and I sell on consignment, too.
DK: What's your criteria for items you buy for the shop?
EAL: I go for the more affordable pieces, the things other dealers might pass up because they don't have a designer label. There are a lot of Mid-Mod pieces that have solid construction and beautiful design, but they were mid-range pieces back in the day. Now, they're more attainable than the big names like Eames, Jacobsen, Wegner, and the like.
DK: Do you find most of your vintage furniture around Traverse City and Leelanau?
EAL: Yes, with an occasional trip to Grand Rapids.
DK: What are some of the names you look for, that fit that profile for quality and moderate price?
EAL: Drexel, Kroehler, Garrison, Dixie, Lane… there are a lot. Half the fun is scouring and spotting the finds, especially when people just think it's Grandma's tired old furniture.
DK: Do you think there's a growing appreciation in Northern Michigan for furniture from the 50s, 60s, and 70s?
EAL: I do. When I'm working at Wilson's, I can spot my customers. They're fairly young and hip, maybe wearing a funky outfit. This used to be everyone's furniture, but now it's being appreciated by a more stylish set of people.
DK: What's your personal favorite item in the booth right now?
EAL: There's a Broyhill Brasilia credenza that I just found. It has beautiful curves and a mix of walnut and pecan woods. I might accentuate that with a new finish.
To buy this vintage Broyhill Brasilia credenza, email Erin at Retro-Spective.
DK: What sells the fastest?
EAL: I haven't been in business really long enough to say, but I sell a lot of smalls [small accessories and knick-knacks]. It's an easy, affordable way for people to add personality to a room.
DK: You revamp a lot of what you find. How do you decide what to refinish and what to leave as found?
EAL: It's the finish. As long as it adds to the charm and history, I'll keep it. But some things are worth more pretty. I sell more to people buying for their own homes than I do to collectors, so often it's best to refinish and present a piece in its best light. I use a soy-based stripper so it's better for the environment.
DK: Where do you get your design and color inspiration?
EAL: From the era. Google Images is my best friend! I can find original ads for some of the furniture and see what colors the company originally offered. Old fabrics are very inspiring, too.
DK: Are you ever tempted to keep pieces in your inventory?
EAL: All the time! And I do. Right now I'm using a chrome dining set and a black lacquered buffet in my house. Robin has a vintage rainbow afghan and a lot of old books and old art.
DK: What's your dream find?
EAL: I haven't set that goal. I get excited enough finding something I like that's not being appreciated. I know I can find someone who will love it.
DK: Do you have any tips for decorating with MCM furniture and accessories?
EAL: I like to juxtapose it with modern color. A bright, fun wall with Mid-Mod pieces against it is beautiful.
DK: Midcentury Mod has been really hot for a long time now. Do you think it's here to stay? If not, what's next?
EAL: I'd like to think it's here to stay, but everything is cyclical. Mid-Mod appeals to a lot of people who want to simplify their homes and lives. It's a classic simplicity that I don't think will ever go out of style. I'm not sure what's next. I just keep buying things I like, whether or not they're from my favorite era.
The inventory at Retro-Spective changes often. Stop by Erin's booth on the second floor of Wilson Antiques at 123 South Union Street in Traverse City. Wilson's recently expanded to a second location at the former House of Denmark building in Acme, across from East Grand Traverse Bay. Out of town? Connect with Retro-Spective on Facebook, where you'll find timely updates and lots of photos of Erin's finds and projects.
Need a little help integrating vintage furniture into your home's design plan or achieving a look inspired by your favorite era? I can help. Just email me. —Diane Kolak
TAGS: erin attwood lane leelanau traverse city wilson antiques mall retrospective retro-spective vintage midcentury modern furniture 1950s 1960s 1970s decorating with vintage furniture
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Transformed: Traverse City Exterior Color Plan
Feb 17, 2012
I am very pleased to reveal my first completed exterior color plan! Sure, I've done a lot of these plans. From Austin, Texas, to Hudson Valley, New York, and right here in the Traverse City area… the plans are done but homeowners often take their time implementing the changes. And that's great! My services are structured to encourage that. But this time, my clients got right down to business and hired the painting crew as soon as I handed over the plan.
The house on North Elmwood Street is a neo-Craftsman, built recently to blend into Slabtown, a historic neighborhood on Traverse City's western edge, just a block south of West Grand Traverse Bay. The structure has a lot of natural places where color distinction could happen, so its plain-looking peaches-and-cream palette wasn't playing up its architectural style. My clients have bold taste and made it clear that they wanted the house to stand out in a colorful but tasteful way. I started with a hand drawing of the facade, then colorized it digitally to show them several options.
Here are the color concepts we considered. At this stage, they are concepts without exact paint hues identified. I asked the client to narrow the concepts to two options, then attached appropriate paint shades and turned the concepts into specific color plans.
My client was pretty decisive. Here's the winning color plan, all paints by Sherwin-Williams. (Click to enlarge.)
Advanced Painting Exteriors in Traverse City did a beautiful job and found my rendering to be very helpful in the process. Here's how it turned out:
The house was finished in late summer, and my client already has a few stories about people stopping and staring or even knocking on her door to ask about the colors. The power of curb appeal!
Whether you're daring or demure, I can help you define your style and choose a color palette that's expressive, unique, and beautiful. Interested in a color consultation for the outside of your house? Just email me to set up an appointment. Exterior color consultations are $60 for a custom color palette with extra-large swatches delivered to your door. Add on a hand-drawn rendering with digitized color options for another $120. The renderings are very helpful to people who have trouble visualizing. They're handy reference tools if you're doing the painting, and they ensure clear communication with your painter if you're hiring it done. —Diane Kolak
TAGS: exterior color consultation home house outside outdoor color plan scheme beautiful color palettes architecture curb appeal traverse city northern michigan leelanau
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Tiniest-ever Bedroom Redesign
Feb 10, 2012
There are small rooms, and then there are tiny rooms. Jennifer's master bedroom is definitely tiny, at 10' x 12'. Take away the space used by the closet and door swing, and the room comprises less than 100 square feet! But there's a lot to love about her lakeside cottage, so I pulled out all my space-saving tricks to give her a plan for a room she'll love just as much. Among them:
- A trim (but still queen-sized) storage bed with sophisticated style.
- A custom storage piece that will allow Jennifer's husband Rob to store his clothes in his own bedroom. I drew up rough plans for the cabinet so the couple could visualize it. When they're ready to get quotes and have it built, they can use my Design Pal service or manage the process themselves.
- A nightstand alternative that takes up zero floorspace.
- A closet panel-system closure to replace space-hogging bi-fold doors.
- A new pocket door that frees up valuable space at the entrance of the room.
Jennifer is a local client who wanted a full eDecor Plan. I stopped over to do the measuring and photographing, and to get to know her. Five days later I emailed her this plan for a room that fits her needs and her style. Now she can take her time putting it all together with the easy-to-use online shopping resources (click any item description and buy it!) and the help of my step-by-step to-do list. After she had a day or two to absorb the details of the eDecor Plan, we did some more back-and-forth emailing so I could answer some questions. Unlimited email consultation is included for 14 days.
(Note: This story has been reposted from October 2009. Some items on the eDecor Plan may be out of stock by now, and product links may be out of date.)
Sliding bamboo panels replace doors on the closet, and a pocket door at the entrance saves even more space.
Extending sheer drapes to the walls makes the window feel bigger. Drawers beneath the bed from Night & Day Furniture provide a lot of extra storage.
Shelves floating on the wall act as nightstands without using any floorspace.
My rough sketch for the custom storage cabinet. The space only allows for it to be 15" deep—not deep enough for clothing to hang the traditional way. Flipping clothes 90 degrees and hanging them from a telescoping rod solves the problem. Below, the 3D view gives a clearer picture of the finished piece. For all the details on this room design, download the eDecor Plan here.
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Inspired Idea: Making Freestanding Shelves Look Like Built-ins
Jan 23, 2012
Yet another inventive way to make a flat-screen TV effectively blend into the decor without an expensive built-in solution! Isn't this room beautiful?
Why does this work? Let's break it down.
The screen fits the bookshelf, which fits the wall. The large objects on the other shelves keep the scale consistent.
This is clearly not a built-in unit, but it reads like one. The width of the shelf matches the width of the wall behind it. The additional shelf spanning the entire room above increases the illusion of a built-in unit that frames the wall.
Texture and color
The metal and stone textures of the shelving unit are repeated in pieces throughout the room. Not so they match, but so that the material become part of the language of the space.
Effective Electrical Management
An electrician is worth the investment when it means the difference between a lovely, clean look and a mess of cords.
If you've been battling a small design dilemma or feel like you could use a short consultation to help you make the right decisions and avoid wasting money, email me. I can help, no matter how small the design problem. —Diane
TAGS: concealing flat-screen tv television media room design making shelves look built-in
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