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Posts Tagged ‘upholstery’

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In this contemporary scheme, a comfortable statement sofa worked well to bring a relaxed feel to the room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

It’s weird thing that sofas are so hard to get right, but they really are. Furniture is generally easier to select than say redesigning a bathroom or commissioning joinery but over the years I have heard many sorry stories of profound disappointment on receipt of an eagerly awaited sofa. With this in mind, I often find myself using the 3am worry slot to agonise over an impending sofa delivery. However much I know that we have done exhaustive investigation, double-checking and confirming on behalf of, and involving, our clients in the run up to placing a sofa order, it is always a few hours prior to delivery that I decide that we have definitely overlooked something.

There are a lot of things to consider before buying (or commissioning, more on this later) a sofa. Firstly, you need to think about what style of sofa is going to work in your room – do you lean towards a contemporary or traditional feel, mid-century modern or shabby chic? You don’t need to put a name to the style you want but if you are unsure of what look you prefer then you are not ready to enter a sofa shop yet. Fabric choice is important too and hard to consider in isolation. Building up a picture of the final scheme including wall colour, flooring, other items of furniture, curtains or blinds and so on will help you to avoid a fabric choice that you find hard to match to or that is a bland disappointment. There is a raft of other decisions to also be considered and these crucially include size – a measure of the room with consideration to other items of furniture is vital – and comfort levels of which height of back, depth of seat, filling and how the sofa is constructed all play a role. There are lots more decisions that are important but I won’t go into all of these for fear that you may decide that your hand-me-down, battered sofa that you hated when you started reading is perfectly all right. However, I will say that it is better to consider a lot of these decisions prior to spending that nightmare Saturday morning trailing around high street furniture shops and ending up feeling overwhelmed by information, underwhelmed with what you have seen and temporarily less keen on the loved one that you left the house with that morning.

Can I also at this point, strongly steer you away from the idea that buying a cheap Ikea sofa with the plan to bin it in future and get the one you actually want is a sensible decision. This thought has been shared with me in my professional capacity more times than I care to remember and it is a notion that is riddled with flaws, the primary one being that all you are doing is delaying doing the work to get the right sofa and in the meantime putting up with a piece of furniture that isn’t right because you haven’t given proper consideration to what you do want (whether it ends up coming from our fine Swedish friends or not.)

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A traditional sofa in a plain fabric looks very happy in this country drawing room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

Once you have done your homework deciding which sofa is perfect for you, there is the possibility that you won’t be able to find what you want on the high street. Retailers are undoubtedly getting better at offering flexibility on size, fillings, legs, fabric and so on but I do find that we often have to commission a completely bespoke sofa in order to get what we want and this route is available to everyone. A good sofa maker is able to make or commission a frame to an agreed size, shape and style and then upholster it to your requirements which means that the world is your oyster. It also means that you are speaking directly to the expert, the person who is going to actually make it, so you should receive excellent advice. I know that you will be thinking that this all sounds very expensive and although it is not a bargain basement option, I always think it is less expensive than one would imagine, which is a reflection of not paying for a middle man and normally not paying for a swanky showroom and a glossy brochure. Although there are many excellent sofa makers all over the country, for historical reasons many are located in and around Nottingham which is where our ace upholsterer is based. There isn’t a chance that I will reveal his name but if you find a workshop with stressed looking craftsmen looking at an order and muttering ‘what on earth are they asking for now’, you may be in the right place.

What I will share with you are a few of my sofa related tips drawn from many years of professional sofa buying, some more painfully learnt than others, that I hope will help you in your quest to avoid sofa disaster:

  1. I’ve mentioned checking the size of the room but the other key measurement is the size of the doorway/staircase/sharp turn from corridor to room etc. A beautiful new sofa that won’t go into the room is not a pretty sight and if you think your proposed sofa won’t fit you may be able to have it delivered in pieces (removable legs or arms etc.) but you need to check that carefully.
  2. Don’t rule out the idea of an antique sofa that may or may not (if you are really lucky) need recovering. Often the frames (and sometimes the fillings) are well made and antique sofas can offer something a bit different. As an example, there is a company called Pelikan in Haverhill that buy original mid-century sofas from Denmark and restore and recover them. If your style leans in this direction, and you are in the market for a sofa, you should visit them immediately.
  3. Sofabeds are much better now than they used to be when neither the sofa nor the bed were all that comfortable. They are a good option if you are short of guest sleeping space but remember to consider how the room will function when it is transformed into a bedroom – do you have to move furniture in order to unfold the bed, where does bedding live, where do guests put their things? – often sofabeds are not used as beds because the room doesn’t really work as a bedroom, so it may be better to concentrate on sofa comfort rather than incorporating the bed facility.
  4. I hate hard and fast rules from interior designers because there is normally an exception but I am going to stick my neck out on scatter cushions made from the same fabric as the sofa. I genuinely can’t think of a situation where they are a good idea. The purpose of a scatter cushion (not back cushions or any cushion that is part of the sofa) is primarily decorative and small square cushions that blend into the sofa are apologetic at best.
  5. Lastly sales. Panic buying leads to mistakes. It is great to get a bargain but it is not a money saver if you immediately want to change it. There are many sales throughout the year and I guarantee that if you miss a sale bargain, there will be another tasty offer available sooner than you think.

Finally to anyone who has made a mistake with a sofa purchase, and my heart goes out to you if you have, don’t add to the problem by matching to the mistake. I have had customers say to me that they have a sofa they hate but for whatever reason it has to stay so we need to build a scheme round it. This is not a good plan. My approach would be to design a scheme that we love without considering the offending sofa, and implement it, which will hopefully dilute the impact of the mistake. We may add a few accessories that tie it into the scheme and then we wait for the day the right sofa can be put into the room and the sofa mistake can be found a new home somewhere that it is welcome.

This article first appeared the February edition of Cambridge Magazine 

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Although it may not feel like it with all this icy weather, the warm weather is just a few months away, and the spring collections are beginning to roll in. The new collection from Travers, ‘Love Letters’ is a wonderful array of fresh and light patterns and colours, and couldn’t be more perfect for spring.

The collection as a whole pays homage to original Travers brand and style, as well as classic American design. The bright and snappy colours are met with elegance to create a truly wonderful assortment to fill your home with.

‘Beaumont Indienne’ for the Blind and Tablecloth and ‘Sausalito’ for the Chairs

This vivacious Beaumont Indienne fabric is the definition of an eye-catcher. The vivid colours and lines give a modern twist on an iconic style, which make the fabric ideal if you like to add a little of the old and the new to an interior. Here it is matched with the fantastic Sausalito pattern, which is used as a more neutral canvas to house the punchy Beaumont Indienne design, but its mid-scale pattern still manages to hold its own, without the whole look being too overdone.

‘Emperor’s Seal’ for the Armchair and Ottoman and ‘Temple Lattice’ for the Curtains

The nature of Emperor’s Seal reminds me of the laid-back, open plan room decorated in a low-key, comfy minimalist style that you  might have seen in a design magazine from the nineties. The Chinese calligraphy, just a few shades darker than their background, are an interesting touch to neutral fabric, and is the sort of detail that adds a distinct sense of luxury. Paired perfectly with the Temple Lattice curtains, the burnt orange gives the whole look a sophisticated pop of colour.

‘St. Croix’ for the Headboard and the Armchair, ‘Catalina Stripe’ for the Curtains, ‘Sausalito’ for the Cushion and Footstool, and ‘Mason Diamond’ for the Throw

The glorious St. Croix fabric adorns this headboard to create a bold, feminine look in a bedroom, the birds and florals bursts out against the pink, and with a little additional piping the whole ensemble is really superb. A hint of texture is provided by the Mason Diamond fabric used for the throw and the crisp white teamed up with the array of pinks give the room a sweet and charming look.

‘Vermicelli Velvet’ for the Chair and ‘Belle Meade Stripe’ for the Curtains

The rich and textural Vermicelli fabric has a wonderful mixture of both contemporary and traditional aspects. The pattern is modern way of presenting a regal style, and the velvet and interesting colourways means that the fabric can be used in a contemporary setting, or used to update a traditional piece of furniture like the chair above. You may think using an intricate design like the Vermicelli with another pattern may make the fabric lose a touch of its elegance, but the royal stripe of the Belle Meade creates a perfectly curated look.

‘Lamour’ for the Curtains and ‘Astor Velvet’ for the Chair

The snappy green colourways from this photograph show how to do classic styles in an unexpected shade. The textural Astor Velvet used on the seat of this antique chair gives an idea of how to keep a harmonious look throughout a room whilst still including antique pieces. There’s an Art Deco touch to the Lamour curtains, the sultry gold intertwines wonderfully with the mossy green, making a glamourous display, proving that you needn’t just use dark hues to create a rich and romantic interior.

‘Beverly Velvet’ for the Sofa

The Beverley Velvet has a touch of retro style to it, the wavy pattern almost melts onto the sofa,  giving it a laid-back seventies vibe, which is perfect for adding some relaxed but smart style into a room. This fabric is perfect for giving a little flavour into a modern, contemporary space.

‘Cloisonné Embroidery’ for the Curtains

Another absolutely charming design from the collection is this rich but sweet pattern, Cloisonné Embroidery. It’s a rather special deign and if you like to go bold with your interior choices, this should certainly be up for consideration. The vibrant pattern maintains a feminine and soothing tone about it, which means the large pattern isn’t too overbearing for a room and instead will settle into a scheme in a natural fashion.

Next up is a playful take on traditional Chinoiserie, Happy Dragons is a fantastic pattern if you want to have a little fun with your style. The design has the perfect combination of whimsy and elegance, and mixed together with some fabulous colourways, the design is a must-have for contemporary schemes, or traditional ones that are in need of a bit of an edge.

‘Happy Dragons’ for the Blind, and ‘Temple Lattice’ for the Cushions

Finally, for hint of vintage Miami, this look is fabulous. From the limey greens of the Catalina Stripe to the limber paisley style of the Balboa Paisley, which could almost be mistaken for palm leaves, everything about these fabrics gives off a laid-back American coastal feeling.

‘Catalina Stripe’ for the Sofa, ‘Sausalito’ for the Chair and ‘Balboa Paisley’ for the Curtains and Cushions

Everything about this collection is calm, cool and collected glamour, in this vibrant array of designs there’s something for everyone, the only problem you’ll have is choosing your favourite!

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(Hanging fabric) ‘Wild Geese Velvet in Goose Grey’ & (sofa) ‘Oakwood in Woodsmoke’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection

The Bohemian Travels collection from Mulberry Home is an absolutely stunning line-up of fabrics and so we couldn’t not share it with you today. This collection brings together timeless and exotic designs in rich, modern colours schemes creating the perfect balance and ambience. Transport your home back to yesteryear with these dreamy and nostalgic designs.

(Curtains) ‘Puzzlewood Velvet in Spice Plum’ & (cushion) ‘Saddle Blanket in Teal’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

The beautiful patchwork style of the ‘Puzzlewood’ fabric is playful whilst still retaining its sophistication, over the years Mulberry have perfected their ability to give a playful edge to their work whilst still remaining the classic elegance of British style.

(Sofa) ‘Haddon Check in Plum’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection

This fabric is the prime example of how to do traditional style correctly in the modern age, the glorious plum colour enhances the classic tartan pattern putting it into its rightful place in classic contemporary design.

(Chair) ‘Magic Carpet in Plum’, (curtains) ‘Oakwood in Multi’ & (trunk) ‘Logan in Indigo’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection

These three fabrics are where Mulberry’s contemporary take on all things exotic come in to play. The combination of the vivacious colours and the striking patterns make these fabrics perfect for the stand alone or statement pieces needed for any extroverts interiors. In particular, the vibrancy of the Oakwood pattern especially in the multi colours is outrageously stunning, the icing on the cake for any home.

(Sofa) ‘China Linen in Multi’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection & ‘Carrick in Amber’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

Using the classic blue and white Chinese oriental motif, this China Linen fabric uses pattern clashing in an ultra-stylish way, and taking it even further by contrasting the China Linen against the orange the two fabrics work together to create an almost avant-garde piece of work.

The Bohemian Travels collection is a continuation from the previous collection Bohemian Romance, and the evolution between the two is seamlessly beautiful.

(Sofa) ‘Lomond Velvet in Red/Plum’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

The lavish Lomond fabric oozes in richness whilst capturing the perfect antique look without being overzealous; making it belong equally in a modern interior and a period property without looking out of place.

(Sofa) ‘Velvet Orient Carpet in Plum/Teal’ & (hanging fabric) ‘Shetland Plaid’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

The same can be said for this elaborate Orient Carpet pattern, which could exist effortlessly in a contemporary interior setting. The pattern is bold enough to stand alone against a minimalist backdrop, but is equally as inviting to surround the fabric with other daring patterns and colours.

(Sofa) ‘Game Birds Velvet in Stone/Multi’ & (hanging fabric) ‘Islay in Teal’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

And for a last minute injection of country chic, a modern take on a Heritage classic motif. This Game Bird fabric is the perfect way to include a little old-fashioned English style with a reimagined contemporary tinge into a home.

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We recently saw the new collection Carlyle from Travers and we absolutely loved it. There is a wonderful mixture of elegance and understated luxury, eye catching pattern and delicate colours. They have also produced some superb lifestyle images to show the collection off – here are just a few to wet your appetite.

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What could be nicer than receiving a fabulous Happy New Year card from the wonderful people at St Judes enclosing these beautiful pictures of Angie Lewin’s lovely new fabrics and wallpaper – as I am now running out of adjectives,  I will let the pictures do the talking BUT I will just say that the card is by the brilliant Jonny Hannah. That one isn’t going into the recycling bin any time soon. Have a good weekend everyone.

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