Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DYI - The Sophisticate Seamstress

DYI is an acronym for do-it-yourself. That ottoman or chair might be a prize as your rummaging through a consignment shop or a flea market. Superficial imperfections are easy to cover up-- literally, with some new zebra stripe or a toile.

Matthew Haly, owner of The Furniture Joint, offers the following tips on inspecting a potential piece for recovering and refurbishing:

  • Make sure it has a solid wood frame by checking out the inner wood. Most frames are made of poplar or oak.
  • Look at the springs: Coil springs indicate that it is a higher quality piece.
  • Search for any broken pieces or legs. While breaks can be repaired, breaks on an angle are harder to restore.
Here's how to become a master upholsterer in your own city:

New York:
Matthew Haly, owner of The Furniture Joint, teaches one upholstery course every month. The four night classes, which runs $300. Two cushion seats later, you have cut even.

Chicago: The Needle Shop offers a 4 and-a-half hour class to learn to recover an ottoman for $80.00 (**some prerequisite class required) The next class is Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. Sign up online.

Atlanta: Hancock Fabrics hosts a 6-week course for $180, which requires 2-hour classes each week.

Denver: Emily Griffith Opportunity School offers a basic upholstering class for $331, but you have to be the it-girl: it is scheduled Weds. or Thurs. from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for 8 weeks; or Weds. or Thurs. from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. for a semester.

San Francisco: The Palo Alto Adult School has a 10-week course on their schedule, starting in January for $195. It runs either Tuesdays or Thursdays from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Washington, DC: G Street Fabrics instructs you to grab your old, dingy chair and bring it into class for recovering. See pg. 19 of the class schedule, a series of eight, two-hour sessions for $279.

Study up! An education lasts a lifetime.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mad for Plaid

It's totally tartan time. Alliterations aside, plaids are in. If you skip the kilts, bagpipes, and crests, this cashmere fringed throw might be a do. It could even be straight from Edinburgh (uhuh, the label says it is imported) and it's on sale now at Williams-Sonoma Home for $268.

Or make it a chic find at Brimfield, Chicago, (773) 271-3505, where vintage plaid blankets start at $45. Check out their entire wall folded throws and their antique armchairs recovered in plaid. According to Chicago Home Magazine, they're "toutin' tartan." See review here.

Object(ive) Obessions

Moroccan hanging lanterns, as featured in Elle Decor, are made of lightweight tin. Their cut-out design offers subtle lighting for intimate areas, such as a foyer or a dining nook. Use a clear bulb rather than frosted for projecting "lacy shadows" into the room for a festive ambiance over the holiday season and every night of the year.

It's available for $265 (and in an assorted shapes and colors like brass and silver) at Wunderley.com.

Too much? Well, there's no reason to not get the belly-dancing and intimate dinner party started: try a mock version -- the Casablanca lantern starting from $37.95.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yards and Yards?

We love to recover or at least the thought of recovering old furniture. It makes old things new and not so old things more special -- our own. And whether you are doing it yourself or paying someone to do it, the question we always have is... how much fabric do we need? So, who should we ask? Well, you got it the master of all things " project"... Martha. Check out her advice on how much with what piece of furniture. Click here.

Sales, Sales, Sales

New York

November 11-21: Judy Ross Textiles is hosting a holiday sample sale offering deals on hand-embroidered stockings, pillows, throws, scarves, hand-knotted rugs and runners. 41 Union Square West at 17th Street, Ste. 931, (212) 842-1705, Th-Fri (noon-7 p.m.), Sat. (noon-5 p.m.)

Nov.11-Dec.24: All home accessories are buy one, get one 50 percent off at the BoConcept store in Soho. The stock includes table lamps, cushions, vases, candleholders, bed-spreads, throws, stools clocks. 69 Greene St., near Spring St. (212) 966-8188, Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun (noon-6 p.m.).

Oh, So Flashy

There's a reason why discount home retailers like Target and Pier One take a photographic print of a cliche nature or street scene and pop it into a frame. Framed photography is a quick bang to
dress up your walls without shooting a hole in your pocket.

There's oodles of aesthetically pleasing prints for sale, but it's a little trickier to locate a talented photographer than a Pier One. Of course, after hand-selecting a print, or two, or three, you will have to frame it --but just think, that allows you to customize your look without having to throw a frame you paid for into the trash.

Peruse, these artists have an eye for the lens, with prices starting from $25 (unframed):
1. Yvette Inufio
2. E.Soule
3. Roadside Photographs by Jen Zahigian
4. Futuro Woman
5. Alicia Bock Photography
6. Kelly Stanley
7. 20 x 200
8. Sarah's Life Lately
9. Bueller
10. Jota Trelles

Click. Click. Oh, so flashy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

P.S. Can you find it for less?

Are you desperately trying to find what's "Chic And Cheap?" Is there a piece of furniture you love, but just can't afford? Email us with your item request and pictures (if available) to 500squarechic@ gmail dot com . Let us be your P.S. (aka personal shopper) and we'll try our best to find it...for less.

Chic Finds

From Ebay to Craigslist, to consignment shops and flea markets, to garbage piles on the streets of New York's Upper East Side, chic finds are everywhere. Each week we'll make your scavenging a little easier with our picks from major cities throughout the U.S.

New York: This pair of Empire style Henredon nightstands (below) are available for $175.

Chicago: Turquoise is the rage. Notice the wood detailing and the handles on this teal armoire-- it's up for grabs for $200 (below).

Los Angeles: Bring some retro glam home with this retro credenza (below), listed at only $250; yes, even in Beverly Hills.

** Please note that these listings are from online auctions and will expire.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Trifecta Effect

Three is the ideal number, it seems. Famous trios, which prove the power of three, include the Three Wise Men; the Three Stooges; Charlie's Angels.

It's the number of nights in a long weekend. On a girls' night out, it's the infallible number: a big enough of a group to have fun, but not too much womanliness to scare away all the men. And, ah, yes, I'm getting sidetracked.

Nesting tables come in threes, too. It's the trifecta of tables: small, medium and large.

For a new, naked apartment, nesting tables are a quick way to add character and volume, as they can even stand on their own. See the finds below for nesting tables that start from around $200 or less:

1. Jonathan Adler white lacquer nesting cubes (below) start from $150.

2. These Alec black acrylic nesting end tables (below) have been discounted more than half-price at $132.99.

3. These dark brown leather nesting tables can function either as a table or an ottoman (pull out for extra seating in a small space) and are available for $171.99.

4. Chrome nesting tables (below) from Urban Outfitters retail at $215 and are only available online.

5. These nesting hexagons are on sale through West Elm for $169.99.

Here's another pair of hexagon nesting tables for$99.99, but before you look, think of how a pail of paint could give the color a makeover. For a palette of inspiration, click here.

But, if you think money is going to come in a trifecta this year: salary, bonus and lottery, then check out these pricier picks. (Or why not peek for inspiration and Christmas lists?)

1. One-of-a-kind hairhide nesting tables (below) are made with cowhide and stainless steel.

2. French deco nesting tables (only two) are a throwback to the 30s and 40s and come with a mirrored top.
3. For a twist on the nesting table fad, try a six-pack: these Korean wedding tables stack into a nesting tower.

All right, it's a tri-effecta! Enough nesting, what's next?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

French Fry, French Buy: Circa 1730

If you can't make it to the Paris flea markets this year, it's okay. Breathe.There are many Parisian vintage finds (and fakes) online, though it might equate to the cultural experience of throwing on a scarf and strolling down Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.

This vintage french chair is upholstered in a vintage Belgian grain sack, but it is more a chic splurge than save. C'est la vie!

(But if you can live without the vintage fabric, this Louis VXI side chair will only put you back $279 (right)).

A French floral sconce (below) retails under $200. It, too, replicates 18th century French decor. In front of the mirror, there's two holders for 1-inch size candles,which is just another way to brighten up an abode in the dead of winter.

This King's cheese knife (below) is made out of pewter and selling for $42. Either cut your brie with it or have it on hand for a holiday or thank-you gift. Everyone is French when it comes to cheese!

Lastly, why not find a French letter and frame it? You can either sprinkle it in with other prints and paintings for a full montage of wall decor or do a series of letter prints. This vintage French letter (above) is selling for $9. Who cares what it says if it is in the language of love; no one else will have this hanging on their powder room wall!

P.S. In case you can't jet off to Paris this year, here's a directory of all the best flea markets: keep your eye out, some of the sites note they will begin selling merchandise online soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buddha Bar

If you're wondering how you can take home the vibe of Buddha Bar on Boissy-d'Anglas street in Paris, without the scene-sters and berets, here's how:

1. Garden stools in cool, new metallic shades available from Wisteria.com for $129. Use as a side table, nightstand, and space filler (under a console table? on top of kitchen cabinets?) An almost identical garden stool in white is available at Overstock.com for half the price.

2. Spice it up with a token piece of red furniture, which mixes and matches with every shade of wood or metal. This traditional Chinese wedding cabinet (left) and authentic-looking, ornate detailing is priced at $451 and can be used to store at TV, glassware, clothes or books.

3. This is a red-and-white classic chinoiserie print pillow in linen (below) available for $108. If you're not sure about going Far East, a pillow is a good way to experiment. (You can always recover).

4. Hard-pressed for some time to meditate these days? Then, find your inspiration with this posing Buddha statue, which is going for $13. It will cost you less than a class!

5. Or ceramic foo dogs, (below) also known as "Lions of Buddha?" This piece of sculpture will run you less than $100.

6. Furniture designer Maria Yee Steel offers an assortment of ecologically savvy pieces, and designs for retailers such as Crate & Barrel, as well as Room & Board.

The pieces featured below include network shelves to organize CD's, books, etc. A "pod" made of renewable bamboo that can be used in a grouping for a cocktail table or additional seating. The Zen bed is all about geometry, it says, with its lattice headboard. (All are pictured below in order of mention).

Hunting Season

Hey, you don't have to be an Aspenite or a Tellurudian (feel free to use with ease at your next cocktail party: those are Google-certified terms) to bring the lodge fervor back to Manhattan.

Here's a few suggestions on how to bring the ski oasis glitz to your place, and the kicker --for less:

The Chic: a French antler rack (above) at a retail price of $650 (if you can afford, yes, a-m-a-z-i-n-g). The Chic for Less: mix-and-match individual antlers retailing from $15 to $20. They're not pictured, but available through www.grandviewmercantile.com or (614) 421-7000.

The Chic: Warm up your limestone floor with a Brazilian cowhide rug for $695 (below). The Chic for Less: VisitEbay to search cowhides straight from the ranch, starting from around $144.
The Chic: Something that you probably saw years ago in your great-granddad's basement: snow shoes, like these vintage ones for $400. The Chic for Less: Pottery Barn's snow shoes reproduction is a close second for $129, and is crafted of solid mahogany, split rattan and faux leather.
See, the Wild West is not just for gold-diggers. Giddy-up!

I'm a Book Case

You're Invited!

Who: Elle Decor editor-in-chief and author Margaret Russell
What: Book signing for "Style and Substance"
When: Wednesday, Nov. 18 7-9 p.m.
Where: Anthropologie
50 Rockefeller Plaza

RSVP by Monday, Nov. 16 to rsvp@anthropologie.com

Monday, November 9, 2009


Pinstripes, navy blazers, boating shoes? With yachts, sailboats and high seas vacations as your muse, it's no wonder that nautical fashions never dock.
Are you desperate to do something unique with a white, bland wall? If you are looking for some direction, try hanging a large nautical compass (above), or furnish your Georgetown studio with a pair of nautical french stools (below).

Or if traditional boating-style doesn't float your boat and you feel like you've completely lost your way, globes are experiencing a revival. Check out this globe's modern update (it's called an "earthsphere" these days) with a sculpted acrylic base. Oh, how worldly...

Feeling knot-y? This rope knot doorstop will keep those sea winds from blowing your door close. As the holidays approach, remember you're not obligated to Christmas red, glitter and nutcrackers: Why not consider unconventional decorations that mesh with your decor, like these blue glass fishing balls?

You can anchor-down with a little navy-and-white outdoor pillow, or fill an empty nook or a display case with this model sailboat. Each of these items are a available for under $40 -- an economical tweak.

Ships ahoy! Hey, dirty sailor, it's never too late to go fish.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Take Note

When's the last time you picked up a pencil and pad of paper? It seems like everyone these days has a Blackberry or an iPhone. It's essential to our lives: our loved ones contact information, our schedules, our to-do's, our music and pictures, our correspondence.
But there's some times when pen and paper is just irreplaceable: thank-you notes, love letters, brainstorming an idea. Doodling your future married name? See how fun that is on a PDA.
Kate Spade's every occasion card set makes sure you have a card for every birthday, anniversary, Mother's Day, Bat Mitzvah or common cold.

Colored Moleskin journals (above) are nothing like using your dad's yellow pad.

These Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pens are probably more than your security deposit, but they are slick and sophisticated.

Or try this personalized jot-pad complete with a leather holder to avoid any fears of doggy-eared pages.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Out of Cite

It's clear and transparent (or red, orange, yellow or green if your inner-hipster is inspired). Some retailers are rightfully-so calling Lucite the "peekaboo" accessory.

While Lucite conjures up frightful memories of cheap picture frames and make-up organizers, it's making a comeback in a whole new way. It's a contemporary update to the traditional and stale. And it's understated, looking sophisticated objectless and reflecting the surrounding colors.

Being colorless also means it goes with everything and every style, from bright colors and patterns to sleek, modern furniture lines to more classic looks.

Lucite, eight different ways:

1. Chairs

2. Coffee table

3. Side table

4. Nesting tables

5. Lamp

6. Bar stools

7. Picture frames

Somethings are never out of cite, out of mind.