window treatments

Cornice Classics

I met Leslie by referral. She had heard I sewed from her neighbor and wanted to know if I could make her a couple of cornices for a guest bedroom. Actually, you don’t have to know how to sew in order to make a simple cornice. If you have a saw and a good stapler, you can do it too. Having never actually made a professional cornice I offered to make her first cornice for free for the experience and practice.

I wanted to make sure I made them professionally and knew what I was doing. So after watching a video from Kim’s Upholstery, I constructed my first cornice for a window at our lake house. It turned out pretty good! I was ready!

What is a Cornice?

 Cornices are hard window top treatments, meaning the fabric is often created by upholstering a board ( like plywood) and unlike a valance there is no loose fabric hanging at the bottom. Used to hide window treatment hardware or just to add a pop of color to the room, cornices are a great addition to your interior design. When kept simple, they can be a great way to add “art” to your windows, coordinating with your window panels or just by themselves.

There are many ways to design a cornice. You can go completely straight and simple, as this client did with the “Virginian” focusing mainly on the fabric selection, opting for the texture to be the focus. Or, you can choose from a variety of shaped cornices that compliment the window or space and work along with curtain panels underneath. Trim, cording, banding, fringe and nailheads are all options to add extra interest to your cornice to really make a statement.

With one cornice behind me, I started working on Leslie’s project. She wanted to repurpose some old curtains to make a couple of simple cornices for a guest bedroom. I removed the seams and lining, pressed the fabric and made all the cuts. She planned to install panels under the cornice so we opted for the 1×6″ leg and 15″ depth of the cornice face to account for that. The buttery soft color of the panels accents the blue cornices perfectly and instantly softens the room with the pop of color that it needed. Simple and elegant.

Happy with the results, Leslie decided to have cornices made for several more windows. She picked a gorgeous embroidered fabric for a bedroom with twin windows as well as the adjoining bedroom with an extra long window. I made a few flanged pillow shams with the extra fabric.

This window took extra consideration to construct and transport. I learned of a new technique at the Custom Workroom Conference this fall which involved making the long cornice in two pieces and hinging it. It was the perfect solution and my handy dandy carpenter, installer ( aka husband) made it. It worked like a charm and even when folded in half, barely fit in my SUV. It was long!

Leslie decided on a monochromatic look for her formal dining room. She chose a textured lattice solid creamy white fabric with a printed purchased curtain panels for underneath to soften the look. Elegant.

The master bedroom had three separate windows. Though there were a few options on how to approach this, we decided to make three separate cornices butted up against each other and each with a curtain rod installed underneath to install curtains for a softer finished look that frames the bed and creates a focal piece when entering the room. A creamy embroidered fabric from Hobby Lobby was chosen to coordinate with her bedding.

One more window would complete this cornice project. This bedroom would also feature an extra long cornice with a solid suede like fabric. The texture and simplicity of the fabric is perfect for a mature looking room when her grown son’s come home to visit.

If you are looking for a little something to finish off a window without a lot of fuss, you might want to consider a cornice. There is plenty of room for personal style and interpretation from the shape to fabric to trim. It’s all up to your imagination.

Denise

Slipcovers

Revolutionary Updates

I wish I could make decisions as quickly as my client Jacqueline can.  She says it’s out of necessity and time.   It has also been said that your first choice or instinct is usually the best one and we often way over think things. I know I do.  Sometimes we just want to go out of our comfort zone and pick something that is not what we would normally pick but afraid to take the leap for fear we will have regrets.   Choosing the right fabric for your slipcover project can feel like that especially because of the investment you are about to make.  

Jacqueline was getting ready to move into a new house and as you do, you look at your furniture and try to see what will work in the new space and what wouldn’t.   She dropped off two very different chairs that she’s had for a while but still were comfortable. 

She knew she could find a corner or space in her new home but not in the condition they were in…dated red checked rocker and a worn golden toned tapestry chair.   She quickly chose a print from Revolution Fabric, called Tangle.  Jacqueline had a great instinct on this fabric because the finished product turned out great with this neutral tone-on-tone design that is a nice combination of sass and elegance.  

To break up the pattern and to draw attention to some of the lines on the chair she opted for a solid tan fabric called Slipcover Twill also from Revolution Fabric.   A simple corded bottom velcro’ed to the bottom of the chair, and a placket covered zipper allows for a neat, tight fit that looks upholstered but is easy to take off. 

This particular fabric is washable, bleachable and dries in ten minutes, if you can believe it. 

For the rocker, she picked a complimenting linen-looking high performance fabric from Revolution Fabric called Hailey.  She wanted the same color of piping on the rocker as the chair and I think it was the perfect choice. 

You could easily have picked a creamy white piping to understate it, but I like the fun bold look of the darker contrast and it ties in nicely to the other chair as well.   A corner pleated skirt and side zipper complete this rocker and give it a fresh clean look that will fit where ever she wants in their new home.

If you are wondering where to start with fabric selection, check out my suggestions on preferred fabrics and then start looking at these different sources.   I’m also available for a complimentary in-home consultation.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, follow you instinct and go a little wild.  Remember, in the end, it’s what you love that matters.  

Enjoy the spring!

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cushions · Slipcovers

Outdoor Living: Getting Ready Now

When I think of January, I think of hibernation.  I grew up in northern Minnesota and it was always the hardest month to get through. It was brutally cold, dark and “closed up”.   Hibernation, a period of rest and sleep, isn’t a bad idea considering we just went through an extremely busy holiday season.  Our body and minds need this period of decompression and reset.  And then just like that we wake up (usually around the third week of January) and feel renewed and ready to tackle whatever the new year brings.

Now that the cold dark days of January are behind us,  the days are getting a little longer,  and more importantly, Punxsutawney Phil hinted at an early spring, our minds turn to “springing” up our homes.   But it is also the perfect time to access your outdoor furniture and cushions.  Stores have replaced their seasonal spaces once filled with Christmas decorations with outdoor living.  If your cushions are sun bleached, worn or you are just over the color or pattern you might want to consider recovering your cushions.   Sure, you can purchase new cushions, but there are a couple of things to consider before you do.

FIT. Have you ever visited one of the bigger retail stores and walked down the aisles lined with colors and shapes of all sizes and thought, “surely this one is perfect” only to get home and find it is to narrow, too wide, too deep, too whatever?

I have. It can be frustrating almost to point of wanting to get new furniture.  Some outdoor furniture have cushions shaped to fit your unique piece as you can see in the pictures above.

FABRIC.  Not all outdoor fabric is equal.  One option is a less expensive outdoor polyester fabric that comes in all kinds of prints and colors.  Since the UV rating is lower this fabric would not be ideal for cushions that would be in direct sunlight but would be a good option for accent pillows. But even in this category of polyester fabric, there are exceptions and new brands are coming out with better UV ratings and construction processes that make them better for outdoor cushions.

The color and print are stamped on the fabric after the fabric is made therefore making it more prone to wear and fading a lot faster so in time the color will fade and look dull.

If your cushions will be in direct sunlight, you should consider upgrading to a Sunbrella or Outdura type of fabric in a solution-dyed acrylic fabric.

The color and pattern are actually woven into the fibers as the fabric is made making it a perfect long wearing fabric for outdoor cushions.  You can tell it is a solution-dyed acrylic as the print and color are actually visible on both sides of the fabric.

The take away is that every brand has its own manufacturing process and the warranty, UV rating and fabric rub rating should be considered in your unique situation and use.   In the long run, the little extra money you spend will be worth it.  So now when you look at the store-bought cushions tags, you will know the difference between polyester and acrylic.

If you have cushions that need updating and purchasing new cushions isn’t an option that will work for your furniture, you might want to consider having custom cushions made in the exact fabric, fit and style that you want.  Now is the perfect time to start the process so they are ready when you are to get outside.

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Slipcovers

California Chair in Coral

The right fabric makes all the difference.  When Julie moved to Virginia from California, she brought along this awesome chair complete with palms. The chair was in perfect condition but the fabric didn’t go with anything in her new home.     

 She was planning to repurpose it in her basement guest bedroom and was looking for something to coordinate with the grey comforter and window treatments in a “rainfall” pattern (below) that would bring a little light to the space.

There are thousands of fabric options available online, but it is usually a last resort for me.  Personally I like to see the fabric and feel its weight, texture, coverage and drape.  Unfortunately, the number of brick and mortar fabric stores seems to be dwindling.  The Fabric Emporium in Warrenton, VA would be closing  it’s doors after forty years due to retirement so I was hoping to score a good deal on fabric and just maybe find the right fabric for Julie’s project (any maybe something for myself too).  Everything was at least 30%  off!  The fabric I found is a variegated tone-on-tone, coral colored, textured stripe in 100% cotton.  Since the chair would be in a low traffic and use area, she decided not to have the fabric prewashed in order to retain the sheen and qualities of the decorator fabric.   Though she did not intend to remove it and wash it, this slipcover could still be removed if she changed her mind and wanted to change the color or pattern.

I followed the basic lines of the chair but repositioned the scroll on the upper back to allow the slipcover to be removed more easily with the help of two back zippers.  A simple corded finish on the bottom finishes this cute chair that almost looks upholstered!

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Julie also snagged a fabric swatch for $.50 from the fabric store and was hoping to make a couple of pillows to pull it all together.   I made lumbar sized pillow inserts with some down from an old pillow and poly fiber fill.  A little cording, a zipper and a back to match the chair and I was able to knock out two pillows, one for her chair and one for her bed. 

Do you have a chair that is just sitting there waiting to be noticed, begging for a makeover and a new purpose?   I can help transform your chair and even help with fabric selection. 

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