A Proper Shop

Last year was quite the year for change. I left a really enjoyable part time job in April to pursue upholstery more full time. I had planned to work from my house but I guess you could say the stars aligned and everything fell into place to open a proper upholstery shop with incredible visibility and proximity to my boys’ school.

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The space was chopped up in a weird way with a bunch of curved walls. We had them all taken down and then went to work building a workspace within a space from all salvaged materials. We ended up with killer ship lap walls and cool glass slider doors. As you can see from the last pic, my boys really do come over after school and make themselves at home.

I am just returning my attention to this neglected website so hopefully I will use this site to document the shop transformation in greater detail and add products for sale. Thanks for checking in!

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Tufted Headboard

In about a week and a half, I will be flying to San Francisco to teach a workshop on tufting. I LOVE to tuft. But since I’ve been on an upholstery hiatus the past couple of years, I thought I should brush up on my tufting skills before I teach the class! So my husband and I are the lucky recipients of a brand new, gently curved, tufted headboard. And our bedroom is nearly complete! full bed If you’re in the San Francisco area, I’d love for you to join us on Wednesday evening April 9 from 6-8pm at the Paris Flea Market, 535 Leisure St., Livermore CA. It’s just $35! You’ll get a chance to get some hands-on experience, ask any burning upholstery questions and be in the drawing to go home with the finished demonstration headboard. My friend Karen from Redoux Interiors is hosting me and has a Paypal button on her site so you can register and pay easily. Or if you would like to schedule a class for  you and your friends, let’s talk! Just use the contact form to reach out.

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Surprise Makeover

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Planning an office makeover has many inherent challenges. Business offices generally are constricted by bland, commercial grade construction and utilitarian accoutrements. However . . . the latest office renovation that I pulled off with my team of incredible coworkers was anything but bland and constricted.

I work part time for a wholesale company that designs and produces vinyl expressions and images for craft stores around the country called Decorating Your Life. The owner of the company, Elizabeth, just had a birthday and we all agreed we should surprise her with an office overhaul. Giving her office a facelift was on her radar, but it seemed to linger at the bottom of her priority list. There is no one on Earth quite like Elizabeth. She is energizing, inspiring, funny, smart and the girl you are proud to call friend. Rallying the troops was the easy part. The hardest part, oddly enough, was keeping her away from the office while we finished the work. This girl has energy! Sure enough, she admitted after the reveal that she had planned to come in and get some work done over the weekend. It’s a good thing our team works well together. And quickly, too!

From Door Vert Before

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Far Back Corner Vert before

Desk Far Back Corner after

Door Before

Door after

File Cabinet Corner before

Full Back Wall after

We started the makeover at 4 pm on Friday night, worked til about 7:30 and then came in Saturday morning at 8 am to finish up and surprised her at 11 am! One of the best things about this particular makeover was that because it’s for a design company, we had all the materials and supplies on hand for creating the artwork. We only had about $150 to work with and we were able to source the red leather chair for $110. That left $40 for paint, the little round rug ($10 at Ikea) and fabric for the desk slipcover. We went over budget a smidge, but were able to repurpose most everything else – including the fun pendant light!

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Elizabeth’s husband, Jim, was in on the whole thing with us and helped secretly procure the fun little rug and bring her to the reveal on a moment’s notice. I wish every install could be this fun and this fulfilling. Knowing my “client” as well as I know Elizabeth made many of the design choices easy and my incredible coworkers filled in all the missing design blanks. Literally! Elizabeth was thoroughly touched and we were all thrilled to be able to do this for her. This was definitely one for the books!

Corner Coffee Shop

Today I had a meeting to discuss staging a home in a new housing development. I’ve done a handful of projects already for this client as well as other members of his family. As I walked up the stairs towards his office, I slowly realized that a couple years ago I designed the office space for his father who owns the building. I had completely forgotten! On the bright side, the office really came together well, looked cohesive and the client’s father waxed poetic about how much he loves the colors and comprehensive theme. On the down side, I realized I am historically terrible with remembering to take “after” photos of my projects. Once a project is off my plate, I’m onto the next thing!

Another casualty of this mentality is the coffee shop I designed a YEAR ago. So, although the final-final staging still needs to be done, here’s a look at how it all came together.

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This little coffee shop is tucked into a corner of our church just inside the front doors. It serves as a casual meeting place, an entry point for people who might be nervous about coming to church for the first time and simply another way for people to build community within a large church. It’s a rather small space with strange angles. Plus it needs to be cleared easily when the space primarily acts as a thoroughfare. So my first thought was stacking Tolix Chairs. They were a must!

tolix fieldI really wanted to create a minimal, Scandinavian style vibe with the color scheme and furnishings. European style chairs and bistro tables were the jumping off point. And I went with two shades of grey for the walls. The lighter color reads pretty light on screen, but it’s definitely grey in person.

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IMG_3475I kept the lighting unobtrusive with a mix of glass shaded and industrial vibed brushed aluminum pendants. Another big impact was staining the double doors a rich walnut color. Previously they were a honey colored oak. Personally, I say blech to that. Another must on my list was to incorporate a live edge maple slab for the ordering counter.

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That was one of the highlights of this project — picking out the slab. There’s a woodworking outfit just a hop, skip and jump away from my house in my favorite little quirky town of Edison, WA called Smith and Vallee. I will definitely be back for future projects!

We rounded things out with custom designed, coffee inspired artwork by my husband, Scott.

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Not shown (or photographed yet) are custom designed industrial shelves that incorporate the scraps from the live edge slab. Nothing went to waste! I promise I’ll follow up with that because it really does finish things off. This was one of the most rewarding projects because not only did we land on budget, but the people I worked with are good friends of mine and I get to see it every week at church.

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So here’s hoping that I can turn over a new leaf and consider a project finished when the final “after” photos have been taken! I’ve got more projects to show you. In fact, I’m in the middle of one right now that will show some pretty dramatic changes. Wish me luck!

Sandblasting and Serendipity

You know you’re a junker when . . .

1. You don’t mind contorting yourself through layers of fencing to get an iPhone pic of the perfect rusted metal cart you’ve spied.

2. Your pulse quickens when you discover a sandblasting shop literally across the road from the junk shop.

3. You meet Blake and you speak the same language.

Yep, that’s Blake. And yep, he’s in slippers. And yep, that’s a lit cigarette resting on his workbench. I love unexpected encounters like this one. Especially when they come about so serendipitously.

I’m wrapping up a coffee shop project this week and we’re getting the last few details buttoned up. One of the things that got added to the list along the way was a mobile kiosk for the cash register to sit on. We had talked about having a custom wood cart built but nobody was super keen to spec it out. We thought about spending a couple hundred bucks on a new tool chest for a more industrial look, but it never felt quite right. And then, almost in passing, someone mentions “that little metal cart at that one junk store”. Of course my ears perked up at that. Oh, and it was only $15!

So last week we went to look at the $15 cart but the place was closed. No worries, we thought, we have til the end of the next week to get everything in place and ready to open by the weekend. So today, my husband and I hustle over to the junk shop only to find it closed again! They’re only open Thurs – Sun! However, the gate was open and some people were scurrying around.

“If you know what you want, we can sell it to you even though we’re closed!” a young lady called out. “Sweet,” I thought. Fourteen dollars and fifty cents later and that rusty blue cart was ours. We immediately crossed the street with it and met Blake from Blake’s Sandblasting for a quote on getting the rust and paint blasted off. After a few questions, some uuhhhs and aaahhhs, he offered up “Oh, I don’t know . . . forty bucks or so.” “Great,” Scott and I both agreed. Only one question remained. “What’s the turn around time?” I asked. “Oh sometime this week,” answered Blake.

Seriously? Done deal. We followed Blake through his blasting room (wish I snapped a pic of that) into his small little workshop that smelled exactly like the one in my grandpa’s old barn. It was a combination of diesel, grease and age. It was strangely comforting. He wrote down my name and phone number and that was as formal as we got with this transaction.

Interior design is a funny thing. You can go from slick showrooms and foreign lingo to mud puddled scrap yards in the same day. But as a bona fide junker, I do prefer the latter! So even though I love all of the elements I chose for this cafe, I have a feeling that the little sandblasted cart will hold a special place in my heart. It will remind me of the characters you meet along the way in the world of second hand junk and the serendipity that allows details to come together so effortlessly.

Where have you found serendipity?