• Choosing the Upholstery Fabric to Suit your Lifestyle

    Choosing the Upholstery Fabric to Suit your Lifestyle

    When we talk about upholstery and reupholstery projects, we typically focus on the aesthetic effect–we want it to look good. But it’s also really important to consider how you’re using that piece of furniture, and how your lifestyle might affect its appearance and longevity. So by all means begin with what appeals to you visually, then consider how it might work in your home.

    These are the three lifestyle factors I think everyone should consider when choosing fabric for upholstery:

    1. Kids. Children are wonderful…and messy! It’s really no fun to have to ban children (or anyone for that matter ;) from using a particular piece of furniture in the home. So it’s probably wise to avoid: white or very light colored fabrics (as these will show every spill and smear of dirt), and delicate fabrics like many silks and suedes (these don’t do well with even small spills or oils–from sweaty basketball gear or post-snack fingers–because they don’t like soap or water, thus making a tiny little blot-up job nearly impossible.
    2. Pets. Let’s face it, regardless of how much we’d like to keep our pets off of our furniture, our constant companions have a way of earning their spot on our couches as easily as they won a spot in our hearts. They’re messy too! Even if you have indoor cats who aren’t tracking in mud from outside, they will still shed all over your lovely furniture! Dogs can be rough and tumble. In addition to dragging in dirt and muck from outside, they have a tendency to inadvertently scratch as they leap on and off of furniture. To avoid the pet hair issue, choose a fabric in the similar color to your pet’s coat. To avoid the wear and tear of larger pets, choose a durable fabric–some wools are great, as are (surprisingly) heavyweight leathers, and heavyweight woven textiles are often the best of all.
    3. The Room’s Function. It’s important to understand how you’re going to use the room when choosing a suitable fabric for upholstery. If you live in a home of only adults without pets, and you’ll be using the room for quiet, messless activities, then you’re just about free to choose whatever fabrics you want (though I do warn against certain fabrics like dyed leathers and silks that spend a lot of time in direct sunlight). But if it’s a room where you might snack in front of the TV, or a place where you do art projects, or entertain guests with wine, then maybe you’ll consider choosing your upholstery fabric carefully. I often think patterns are a great way to hide small stains or blemishes (and many textiles do well when spot cleaned carefully) so they’re versatile for all kinds of upholstery needs.

    Considering your lifestyle when choosing upholstery isn’t meant to limit your options, but better understand how to make the piece as beautiful and functional as possible. Below is a small sample of recent upholstery work that we’ve done. Many are patterned, as you’ll notice;) We’re also thrilled to be carrying a whole new line of Laura Kirar fabrics, too. Feel free to post questions, fabric inquiries, or feedback in the comment field below. We’d love to hear from you!

     

     

     

     

     

  • Pillow Fight! Throw Pillows: Interior Design’s most Versatile Element

    Pillow Fight! Throw Pillows: Interior Design’s most Versatile Element

    Pillows are the easiest and most versatile when it comes to making small but impactful interior design changes. Having different throw pillows for different seasons, and even occasions, is an affordable way to keep your home’s interior design fresh and vibrant. Here are some tips and things to keep in mind when incorporating throw pillows into your existing home’s decor:

    1. Number. Depending on the look you’re trying to achieve, you should keep in mind the number of pillows you’re using. A safe number for contemporary homes would be three to five pillows. Two can seem a little matchy matchy, and exceeding five can seem cluttered and much more like a living room sleepover fort than a sleekly designed room. That said, if you have an especially large sectional, or a large living room area, it might be appropriate to have more than five.
    2. Size and Shape. A good guideline for square and circular pillows is to stick within the 18-24 inches range. For rectangular pillows there is more flexibility. Super long pillows (but short in height) can add interesting dimension when punctuated by a few (think odd numbered) traditional square pillows.
    3. Fabric. With fabric there are three things to keep in mind: 
    • Color: We really think throw pillows are an opportunity to have some fun with color. While we typically advise choosing a neutral color palette for the major, “unchangeables” in a room, here’s the time to spice it up. Think contrast. Think vibrant!
    • Pattern: Here’s another opportunity to let loose a bit. Patterns absolutely do not have to match. Pick a color group for the pillows and mix and match patterns. Stripes and florals are totally fine. Abstract patterns are welcome too. Sometimes tying the pattern to a piece of artwork or large area rug in the room can have a unifying effect.
    • Texture: Texture is often overlooked, and can add extra dimension to your decor. Feel free to mix a few textures too. Fabrics like linen, silk, wool, corduroy, satin, velvet, and woven textiles are particularly dynamic.

    Pillows are a great way to go a little wild without completely busying your sleek and peaceful home design. They’re an opportunity to take chances, and to make frequent changes, too. Go wild!

     

  • Helpful Tips if you’re Considering an Interior Design Change for your Home

    We see it all the time: you know you want to make a change in your home, but you’re not sure where to start. Interior design changes–whether that be redesigning an entire room, or looking for a custom piece of furniture or window treatments–can make a big impact on your life. If you’re uncertain or unprepared, the impact can sometimes be negative (the cost ends up too high, the design process disrupts your daily life too much, and you feel out of control in terms of the results). If you know where to start and how to manage the process effectively, then the impact will be (as it should be) positive–you’ll feel more comfortable in your own space, and the design will reflect your personal aesthetic. We asked our designers to compile some helpful tips and answers to some of their most frequently encountered issues.

     

    1. When you’re just beginning the process, how do you decide what you want and need out of a redesign? 
      Take a look at your current space and decide what you think will make it more functional for your particular needs. I think it’s important to think of function first. You’re living in the space, so think first about function then about style (color, patterns, etc.). You’ll often find that functionality will make certain demands on aesthetics. So think about your needs, then about your wants.
    We recently redesigned a living room to accomodate a new baby. They needed more space so we removed a sofa and replaced it with two chairs (easier to move in and out to accommodate play space, but still enough seating for everyone). So that handled the need. To update the room for fall, we changed the color scheme through pillows. We added reds, browns, greens, and golds. It was completely transformed.
    If you don’t know what your wants are, stick to your needs. If you’re going to be hiring a designer, they can help you discover your wants and you’ll have helped them narrow so much down simply by knowing what you need the space for functionally.
    2. How do you best research what you might want/need out of a redesign? 
        Depending on what you determine you’d like to redesign you may want to consider which aesthetic changes have the best resale or profit of return for your investment. Many bathroom and kitchen renovations tend to have the best profit of return. I would try to keep things neutral to appeal to any buyer in the event you’d ever like to sell your home so the change  doesn’t tie any potential buyers down to a particular color or theme. Similarly, if you’re not planning on selling your home ever, neutral, or at least classic, changes are best because they stand the test of time. I think just looking at tons and tons of options is the best way to determine what you might want. What you need, again, should be determined by what you use your room most for. If you’re an avid cook, you’ve got to make sure that your kitchen functions perfectly before you make any aesthetic decisions. As far as where to start, anywhere you’re inspired! Check out your friends’ places, check out design blogs (like this one;) and Pinterest. An image can really help solidify your design ideas, so it’s great place to jump off from.
    3. How to do determine the right price range for yourself?
        Don’t be afraid to do your due diligence. I would always recommend getting a couple quotes from different vendors and ask for references. Look at your budget and see what makes the most sense. I would have the vendors quote the best case scenario (meaning all the bells and whistles), then back off of that if price is a factor once you determine what your particular priorities are.
    4. How to decide who/what firm/designers you’re working with?
        I would say the best type of advertising is word of mouth. If you know someone who recommends a praticular person then you can look at what they’ve done in their house and build from that. Otherwise I would check out Angie’s list to get references and opinions of others.
    5. When is a good time to redesign? 
        Most people want things done before the holidays when they entertain the most company. That being said, depending on the extensiveness of the project,  I would say July is great for the plan-aheaders, and no later than September for the last-minute deciders out there.
    6. What should I expect during the redesign process? Do you have any advice for minimizing disruption in your life/home? 
        As always, planning ahead is best. During a summer vacation or when you don’t have too much going on in terms of entertaining. Keep in mind that sometimes it depends on when designers and vendors are available.  Try to give yourself and the contractors time. Nothing good comes out of rushing!
    If you have any further questions about starting a redesign project in your home that you’d like our designers to answer, feel free to ask away in the comment field below!
    (image source: http://www.ehow.com/info_8141855_elements-design-process.html)
  • Behind the Scenes with Designer, Ashley Pace

    Behind the Scenes with Designer, Ashley Pace

    We took some time this weekend to sit down with one of our most talented in-house designers, Ashley Pace, to get an in-depth look at how she got started in the design business, what motivates and inspires her, and what design tips she has to offer.

    Can you give us a little insight in to how you got started in design? 

    Growing up fabric and design was always a part of my life. My mom was always sewing something for the house. She worked at a fabric store for as long as I can remember. In fact while most kids would ride the bus home from school, I rode the bus to my mom’s work at the fabric store where I would assist in cutting samples for customers. Eventually my family branched out and decided to open their own fabric store in Wilmington, NC. I worked there most days after school and on weekends, depending on my volleyball schedule. After high school graduation, I decided to play it safe and major in Business Management at UNCC. At that time, my parents had opened a store in Charlotte, which allowed me to continue working throughout college. After completing two years in Business Management, I knew that an office job was not going to be for me. I knew my passion was in design. So I transferred to the Art institute of Charlotte to study Interior Design. I continued to work for my parents until I was finished. I am so grateful for the learning opportunity it gave me. I helped in setting up as well as closing stores,  moving stores, and selling fabrics. Although the family business had lots of benefits, I still felt as though I was restricted in terms of what I could do design-wise. I saw an ad for Distinctive Fabrics and Furniture and thought I would send in my resume– not really looking to make a change but open to it. I have been here four years next month. I love being able to work one-on-one with customers in their homes to make their personal spaces reflect their particular style and functionality. I enjoy working with the workrooms in the process of making new furniture and window treatments. I feel like I have found my place in the design world and I’m loving it!

    Who are some designers that inspire or inform your work?

    Candice Olsen and Christopher Lowell. I really like their diverse styles. They can keep things ultra sleek and modern with a splash of color to cater to the traditional/transitional consumer as well. Everytime I watch their shows I am intrigued by their unique styles.

    What outside of the design world inspires/informs your style of design? 

    Really anything can inspire me, depending on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ve pulled colors together based off of a funky shirt or from a bowl of candies–bright orange skittles look great with their blue and green companions! The color wheel presents itself in many different forms throughout any given day, particularly in natural forms. The gray, rainy sky and the bright green trees against its backdrop make a great color palette for a modern, cool feel.  My surroundings play a big part in my design styles. This past weekend I was out with my family and the colors in my three-year-old’s bathing suit (pink, green, orange) against the teal blue of the pool inspired me to update the colors in her room to help make the transition to a “big girl” bedroom. Being inspired isn’t a problem for me at all, I enjoy picking up on the elements around me daily and using them in my design styles.

    How would you define your aesthetic? For example, do you consider yourself contemporary or classic, or a little bit of both? 

    I would consider myself a little of both. My house has a Mediterranean feel throughout. I’ve used a lot of warmer colors to create a cozy living space. I also love mixing styles together for an eclectic look. I have some modern barrel chairs that I had upholstered in green chenille that provide a mixture of styles, and flow well with all the colors in the living room. Functionality is also super important to me, and these chairs create extra seating space, which with a growing family, is a must.

    What current design trends do you love? 

    I love the natural look of all things linen right now. Modern to traditional–I love them all! They can make an elegant statement in a dining room, or look ultra casual in the living room. There are no limits with what you can do. A simple band down the leading edge can give plain, everyday drapes a dramatic effect in any room.

    Do you believe in mixing design styles, or do you think keeping things coordinated is essential to achieve balance?

    I absolutely love to mix things up. It’s amazing what a contemporary piece of fabric can do to an antique piece of furniture. I think contrasting eras and styles can actually achieve balance in a piece or a room more effectively than keeping patterns and styles coordinated all the time (which can get monotonous and boring).

    What is your most requested room to redesign? 

    I would have to say either the master bedroom or living room. That’s where people spend the most time themselves and entertaining others, so they want to make sure those rooms are highly functional and comfortable and that they’re able express their personal style in those rooms.

    What is your favorite type design project?

    I enjoy working on all kinds of projects, especially those that are color-focused– from the crisp classic colorways of cream with a splash of color, to the people who love bright, bold color. It’s always interesting because everyone has a unique design perspective and color palettes they favor, so each project is different and that keeps things interesting and refreshing for me.

    Any advice to our readers who want to change the look of their home or office, but don’t want to do a complete redesign?

    Pillows, pillows, pillows! You can change the whole feel of a room with some funky colored pillows for spring, or you can use warmer tones for the fall. Re-covering pillows is a versatile way to give your room a fresh, new look each season!

    Ashley is a regular contributor to our Pinterest page. Check out our boards here: http://pinterest.com/distinctiveff/

     

  • Why “Custom” means Collaboration, not Compromise

    Why “Custom” means Collaboration, not Compromise

     

    I’ve heard so many Interior Designers (none of ours!) bemoan the customization process. Whether it’s custom designing a piece of furniture, window treatments or trims, or an entire space, there is a sense that what the client wants ultimately compromises the designer’s vision. I couldn’t disagree more, and not just from a customer relationship standpoint (it’s probably not a good idea to think of your client as an opposing force). The client’s personality, needs, use of the space, and desired use of the piece contribute to the inspiration behind the design. As interior designers we’re typically working with several different elements, and it’s our job to bring them together harmoniously, so sometimes flexibility feels like an additional challenge, but if you’re a good designer your client’s input will strengthen the vision of your design. Someone might want a formal dining space but will need it to be highly functional because they use it often and have children. Someone might want to use an extra room as an office, but it will need to do double duty as a storage room for bikes. All of our lives are different and demand creative design solutions. We need to be facilitators of the design process, not inflexible dictators.

    Below I’ve outlined a few tips to making the collaborative customization process go as smoothly as possible:

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