Designer Spotlight: Benjamin Dhong Interiors

Benjamin Dhong Interiors San Francisco

For over a decade, Benjamin Dhong has been transforming homes in San Francisco (and further afield) into bespoke, memorable spaces. We're delighted to have revitalized fabulous finds with Ben. Read on for a peek at our most recent revitalization collaboration and insights into this effervescent designer's take on interior design.  


Your projects feature a lot of antiques and vintage. What's your secret to working them into a room with a different design style? 

I seek out objects which bring personality or drama to a room – something unexpected. I look for an unusual marriage of objects...where one brings out the best in the other. 

You are a true master of mixing more expensive pieces with catalogue-company finds – where would you advise clients to save and where to invest? 

Saving and splurging can occur anywhere. For example, in fashion mixing simple jeans with fabulous shoes and hand bag. The magic occurs in the proper pairing of high/low pieces. 

Restored antique chair and modern desk

Tell us a bit about this vintage table you recently revitalized? Where did you find it?

It was sort of love at first site...I mean, look at those sexy legs! In it's original condition it was a bit plain Jane but it clearly had big potential. We sourced it from Chairish

Vintage mid century modern coffee table before refinishing and lacquering

What was your inspiration behind the redesign of this vintage coffee table?

I really wanted to play up the great bones and make it more of an art piece. Juxtaposing the strong mid century lines of the piece with a more ethereal, gestural pattern was my goal. 

Tell us how you revitalized the piece.

Revitaliste took my design vision and executed on it. They lacquered the frame in a high gloss white to brighten and modernize it. Then they wrapped the top in "Nuvolette" wallpaper from Fornasetti and sealed it with a super durable high gloss clear coat so it could be as functional as it is beautiful. And to play up the legs, they fabricated these little jewel-like brass sabots (feet) made. Who doesn't love sexy shoes!?

White lacquer with Fornasetti Nuvotte wallpaper and brass
Coffee table refinished with white lacquer and Fornasetti wallpaper

Your “professional” design career began when you started interning for Martha Angus.  What did you do as an intern? What enthralled you and what surprised you?

Everything!! I sorted fabrics, moved marble samples, filed and re-filed tear sheets...oh that was tedious (but I did get to look at a lot of amazing furniture!). I was surprised to discover that I had an innate sense for interior design and a great eye for architecture...who woulda thunk?!

Before this career transition to design, how did you indulge your personal design interests?  

Prior to pursuing design as a full time career, all of my interior design experience was tangential...just sort of something I knew that I liked. I was influenced by my travels, reading art history books, absorbing great classic movies (I now realize I design cinematically). And my mom would drag me to lots of Catholic churches all around town...when I got bored, I would redesign the spaces or critique the priests vestments! LOL

How does your background in business inform your interior design business?  

It's indispensable! Creativity is only half the business; equally important is knowing how to run the business. And as I tell my clients...I speak "husband". All my spreadsheet and organization skills have been hugely beneficial in the design business – showing we understand budgets AND design helps instill a deeper level of trust with the client and ultimately allows us to take our work with them further!

 
Benjamin Dhong Interior Design San Francisco

What advice do you have for people who are looking to switch to a design career?  

Don’t go to school for design. Get your foot in the door with a design firm and work, work, work! In one month of hands-on design work you'll gain so much more than you'd learn in any school year....plus you'd get paid!

We LOVE project “English Gentleman” and “Cloud Walk” - both are so luxurious but executed in completely different styles and materials.  What are your favorite fabrics to layer and why?  

I love using linen as a base foundation fabric. Its woven texture tells a story of history – the hand of the artisan. It's not flashy, but it has soul. And because it's so humble, it's also a great foil for more luxurious fabrics like silk or velvet. I find that tension between humble and flashy to be exhilarating!

What are three neutral paint colors you love?

Revere pewter. Grants beige. Bleeker beige.

What about three favorite “color” colors (we know you don’t like 'Crayola colors’!) 

LOL Orange! The color of the orangeries at Versaille. It's full of energy but still stylish!

Yellow – it says HAPPY! It's great with blue for a young family kitchen.

Lavender. I used to dislike this color, but I've found how to use it properly. It's very chic, a little moody and you need to pair it with grey to keep it from being to sweet!

Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco
Vintage chinoiserie console table lacquered white | Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco
 
Antique daybed upholstered in slik upholstery fabric | Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco
 
Side chairs reupholstered in green fabric | Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco
Restored antique dresser | Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco
 
Benjamin Dhong Interior Design San Francisco
 
Restored antique console table | Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco
Benjamin Dhong Design San Francisco

Ready to test your hand at design? Revitaliste collaborates with you to ensure you adore your reimagined vintage or heirloom piece. Get in touch for a design consultation here. 

25 Best White Stain-Resistant Upholstery Fabrics

VIA

Have you ever found yourself mildly envious (or perhaps secretly suspicious) of people with pristinely white upholstered furniture in their homes? What is the secret to keeping it looking crisp and clean? Never use it? Deprive oneself of life’s great pleasures (coffee, red wine, chocolate)? Feed children only starchy white food and ban artistic expression? 

Until recently, these draconian measures were indeed the only way to ensure that white fabric stayed white. But thanks to technology advances in the textile industry, white fabrics are now completely family-friendly AND worthy of appearing inside the home. Indoor/outdoor fabrics now convincingly mimic everything from linen to bouclé to textured wools.

We LOVE the broad array of texturally interesting white, ivory and cream stain-resistant fabrics available today. We've curated our top 25 selections. And we've given each one a test drive to ensure they are truly family-friendly. The results did not disappoint – even with these tough stains.

            ADULT STAINS

       KID STAINS

Best white stain-resistant upholstery fabric
Best white stain resistant upholstery fabric

We let each stain sit on the fabric for 5 minutes before we attempted to clean it. The results are amazing across the board. Liquids simply beaded on the fabric surface. The marker required a bit more effort – unscented baby wipes, warm soapy water, or a quick spritz with a stain remover did the trick to fully remove the stain. Amazing!! 

Our 25 Favorite Textured Whites

Perennials is our go-to for family AND budget friendly white textural upholstery fabrics. 

Perennials "Fairhaven" in Sea Salt

Perennials "In The Loop" in Sea Salt

Perennials "Plushy" Velvet in Blanca

Perennials "Fairhaven" in Sand

Perennials "Old Hand" in Blanca

Perennials "Wild & Wooly" in Sea Salt

 

Holly Hunt's indoor/outdoor line, Great Outdoors, has a vast selection of neutral, textured fabrics (all 100% solution dyed acrylic) in a range of price points. These are our favorites...

Holly Hunt "Cuba Libre" in Azúcar

Holly Hunt "Breathe Easy" in Cloud

Holly Hunt "First Tracks" in Fresh Powder

Holly Hunt "Lionheart" in Ivory

Holly Hunt "Unchained" in Daybreak

Holly Hunt "Bali Grass" in Conch

 

Several other brands have nailed the balance between family-friendly and super stylish textural white stain-resistant upholstery fabrics – Holland & Sherry, Jim Thompson, Chella, Décor de Paris and Stark/Old World Weavers. 

Holland & Sherry "Hanover Square" in Bone

Holland & Sherry "Gracie Point" in Opulence

Jim Thompson "Tunis" in Pearl

Jim Thompson "Lalla" in Pearl

Holland & Sherry "Pampas" in Clara

Holland & Sherry "Poncho" in Blanco

Jim Thompson "Palm Plain" in Rice Paper

Jim Thompson "Chinese Checkers" in Rice Paper

Décor de Paris "Ice Cube" in Stark White

Décor de Paris "Melange" in Stark White

Chella "Gondola" in Alabaster

Stark / Old World Weavers "Crestmoor" in Pearl

Chella "Montecatini" in Alabaster

Stark / Old World Weavers "Cortez Point" in Sky

 

Need some inspiration? Check out these fresh white upholstered pieces – crisp white works on any style furniture and with any decor style.

Upholstered white day bed
Upholstered antique settee
Upholstered vintage chairs
Upholstered serpentine sofa
Upholstered white sofa
Antique settee upholstered in white fabric
Club chair upholstered in white fabric with black piping
Upholstered vintage club chairs

Interested in freshening up an upholstered piece in your home with a family-friendly white fabric? We're ready to help you find the perfect fabric for your project. Get a quote here or try our design guidance service here

 

Image credits: Christine Dovey, Sukio, Honestly WTF, Vintage club chair, DesignMag.fr,  Pierre Yovanovitch, This Is Glamorous

Revitaliste's 2017 Fabric Trends Featured on Viyet

We are honored that Viyet asked us to share our prediction for the hottest fabric trends in 2017 - there's nothing we like more than talking textiles! Check out our fabric trends forecast below. And read an interview with Revitaliste founder, Amy Frederickson, on Viyet's blog here

 
Zak & Fox Jin upholstery fabric
Kim Salmela Nadine upholstery fabric in fuschia
Pierre Frey Yucatan velvet upholstery fabric
Ethnic Hmong Miao embroidered upholstery fabric

TREND 1

GLOBAL CITIZEN

Our world is more interconnected than ever - exposing us to the richness of far-flung and diverse cultures. Whether you’re an avid or an armchair traveler, the vibrant colors and patterns of ethnic textiles are undoubtedly enriching our homes. 

 

TREND 2

COCOONING

Our home is our sanctuary - a welcome respite from the 24/7 intensity of life. We love the soothing yet sophisticated look (and feel!) of richly textured upholstery fabrics in a neutral palette. A combo of nubby, fuzzy, silky fabrics creates an inviting, cocoon-like interior. 

Place Textiles Mount Stuart upholstery fabric in dover color
Holly Hunt Surface Appeal upholstery fabric in sienna color
Holland and Sherry Sheer Wool upholstery fabric in viceroy
Rosemary Hallgarten Mohair Ripple upholstery fabric
 
Designers Guild Linnaeus upholstery fabric in moss cutting color
Designers Guild Soft Manaos upholstery fabric in onyx color
Designers Guild Christian Lacroix Soft Jardin Exo'chic upholstery velvet in rainette color
Schumacher Featherfest upholstery fabric

TREND 3

PLANT LIFE

Green is said to elicit feelings of hopefulness - the perfect state of mind to kick off a new year. With Pantone announcing “greenery” as the 2017 color of the year, we expect to see a lot more green in interiors. We are particularly fond of fresh green botanical prints. Whether lush or sparse, these leafy patterns blend well with any decor style.

 

TREND 4

VELVET with a TWIST

While velvet is clearly having a moment in fashion, it has been a long standing staple in the world of interiors. For a twist on this classic textile, we’re crushing on (pun intended) velvets with subtle patterns and color variations. They feel more modern and moody and memorable than their plain vanilla cousin.

Designers Guild Emerson upholstery velvet in turquoise color
Designers Guild Aurelia upholstery fabric in graphite color
Holly Hunt Amazed upholstery velvet in bronze patina color
Clarence House Borghese upholstery velvet

Revitaliste is passionate about fabrics. And helping clients find the perfect fabric for their revitalization project is our mission. Try our Design Consultation here to kick off the new year with a newly revitalized piece of furniture!

The Dirty Dozen Volume 2

Diamond-in-the-Rough Round Up

It's no secret that the team here at Revitaliste has an addiction to trolling Craigslist. The daily treasures that can be found never ceases to amaze (and tempt) us. Here are a dozen of our favorite finds from our most recent comb through Craigslist San Francisco along with our take on one (of infinite) way to revitalize each diamond in the rough.    

1960s Tubular Sling Chairs

  • Totally tubular, dude. 
  • Revitalize sling seats with unique leather like this pink Pavoni croc-embossed leather. 
  • Craigslist SF - $395
1960s Tubular Sling Chairs ready to reupholster
Adrian Pearsall lounge chairs perfect for reupholstery

Adrian Pearsall Club Chairs

  • Truly timeless investment pieces. These club chairs work with any decor.
  • Upholster in an unexpected modern graphic print like Schumacher's Queen of Spain.
  • Craigslist SF - $950 

1950s Wood-framed Sofa

  • Boring beige begging for some excitement. 
  • Upholster in a vibrant color with subtle print like Duralee's faux bois pattern in citron. Modernize the frame with a clean white lacquer.
  • Craigslist SF - $250
1950s style sofa, great candidate for lacquering and reupholstery
Tufted Faux Leather Armchairs, ready to be reupholstered

Tufted Faux Leather Armchairs

  • When naugahyde was a "thing" 
  • Lighten up the look with a nubby neutral colored fabric and remove the tufting.
  • Craigslist SF - $200

Hollywood Regency Style Dresser

  • Dorothy Draper would definitely approve of these lines.
  • Lacquer in a cool, inviting color and swap out the heavy hardware with lucite and nickel drawer pulls.
  • Craigslist SF - $200
Hollywood regency dresser, perfect candidate for lacquer and new drawer pulls
Vintage Industrial drafting stools, ready to be refinished with lacquer

Vintage Drafting Stools

  • Industrial chic...and functional!
  • Powder coat metal bases navy and lacquer seats bright white - perfect in a modern kitchen
  • Craigslist SF - $500
 

Classic Clean Line Sofa

  • 1970s flower power looking for a millennial makeover. Super clean lines make this a timeless piece.
  • Update with a fresh botanical print like Rebecca Atwood's Floral Medallion.
  • Craigslist SF - $395
Classic Clean Line Sofa, great reupholstery project
Chrome Cantilevered Chairs, ready to reupholster

Chrome Cantilevered Chairs

  • Plain vanilla with huge potential. 
  • Turn up the glam by upholstering in patent leather like this billiard green faux croc vinyl. 
  • Craigslist SF - $300
Mid century modern two tier side tables, lacquer and wrap in grass cloth

Mid Century Modern Tiered Side Tables

  • Pedestrian.
  • Fast track to sophistication - wrap table tops and drawer fronts in tweed-like grasscloth, lacquer in matte gray
  • Craigslist SF - $300

Tufted vintage Love Seat

  • Lumpy and slumpy but nothing a quick nip and tuck can't remedy.
  • Reupholster in a youthful print like Kravet's Leokat. Remove tufting and back channel for a cleaner look.
  • Craigslist SF - $150
Tufted vintage love seat, great reupholstery project
Rattan dining set, refinish with lacquer and reupholster with patent leather vinyl

Rattan Dining Set

  • Tired tikki lounge today - St. Barts bistro tomorrow
  • Lacquer rattan table crisp white and chairs glossy black. Reupholster seat cushions in white patent leather with black welt.
  • Craigslist SF - wait for it...$99 for the set

Vintage Metal Bedframe

  • Indestructible...they just don't make 'em like this anymore.
  • Powder coat in a peppy, glossy color like grassy green.
  • Craigslist SF - $100
Vintage metal twin bed frame ready to be powder coated in bright color

Whether it's one of these fabulous Craigslist finds or a piece you already own, furniture revitalization is a snap with Revitaliste. We organize pick-up/delivery, provide design guidance and help you procure your favorite fabric - and you never even need to leave your home! Request an estimate here or get design guidance here

Designer Spotlight: Elizabeth Cooper

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

Meet Elizabeth Cooper, bi-coastal interior designer (elizabethcooperinteriordesign.com), art aficionado and prolific furniture revitaleur. We've collaborated with Elizabeth on numerous projects and admire her fresh, sophisticated style. Read on to learn about this designer's thoughtful approach to interiors, furniture revitalization and some of our recent collaborations.


You started your design career as an art advisor. What have you brought into your interior design work from your time as an art advisor?

Art really completes and personalizes a home in a very different way than furnishings - there is not the same need to heed to functionality or practicality, it’s a purely creative acquisition. I love collaborating with clients to build a cohesive collection over time - whether it’s photography, abstract painting, landscapes or art acquired on their travels, we work together to thoughtfully blend art into their home. 

How would you sum up your design style? 

My style as an interior designer is not fixed, rather the spaces I design are reflections of the people who live there. My goal is to create inviting and unique spaces. That being said, I always incorporate comfortable seating along with several one-of-a-kind pieces to add an extra element of character and richness. As for my personal style, I’d describe it as a combination of classic East Coast Coastal and California/British Bohemian. 

Virginina Rollins/lonny

Virginina Rollins/lonny

What do you take into consideration when deciding to revitalize a client’s existing pieces versus buying new? 

Incorporating repurposed pieces into my designs has always been a focus. There are so many reasons to work revitalized pieces into a room - sentimental connection, personal stories, character, uniqueness, ecological/environmental benefits, the list goes on. When considering revitalization for a client’s existing furnishings, I assess how well the piece physically fits into the space, the quality of the piece, and most importantly, the personal significance of the piece to the client. When sourcing vintage or antique furniture for clients, I’m drawn to beautiful wood finishes and pieces that have solid, well-constructed frames with unique lines or interesting details. And I definitely avoid pieces that are ubiquitous or “on trend” in terms of style.

Photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

Photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

When working with a client who has never had a piece revitalized, do you face hurdles getting them on board? 

No, not really. Most clients appreciate the value of repurposing and revitalizing existing pieces and enjoy the process of transformation that occurs when a piece they've owned for years suddenly looks completely different and amazing!

Do you have a favorite era or furniture designer? What draws you to this particular style/designer? 

Charlotte Perriand is a furniture designer I admire – her designs are organic, warm and timeless. She was an incredibly accomplished and respected woman in furniture design at a time when men dominated the field. She took a holistic view of design, believing in the importance of creating something each day whether it was a drawing, a piece of furniture, a garden, or simply a thoughtfully prepared meal. 

photo credit: Guillermo Gusils leon

photo credit: Guillermo Gusils leon

Any advice for people who would like to revitalize a piece and are not working with a designer?

If you have a connection to a piece - whether it’s a family heirloom or simply a piece with a great personal story - it is worthwhile to revitalize it. Don’t be afraid to transform the piece; you’re honoring its history by using it in your home so pick a fabric or a finish that is a reflection of your personal style. Get inspiration on Revitaliste, Pinterest and shelter magazines…and then trust your design “gut”. And of course Revitaliste is an amazing resource to help guide you to design a piece that is uniquely yours. 

Have a sentimental attachment to furniture that needs revitalizing? Try our design consultation service here

 

A few more beautifully revitalized pieces by Elizabeth Cooper Interior Design. 

 
brass frame bench upholstered in peter dunham peterazzi fabric
 
reupholstered antique chair in raoul textiles pondicherry fabric wth restored antique dresser
 
virginia rollins/lonny

virginia rollins/lonny

 

Fabric Crush: St. Frank

Vintage chair upholstered in St Frank mud cloth fabric

It's no secret that we're fanatical about fabric here at Revitaliste. Ranking high on our favorite's list are the vibrant patterns and rich colors of traditional textiles from around the world. St. Frank, well known for their gorgeous framed textile art, has designed a global capsule collection of fabric-by-the-yard influenced by West African mud cloth, Central African Kuba cloth, Tibetan sherma, Uzbeki suzani and Mesoamerican huipil embroidery along with fresh designs on indigo dyed fabrics. 

We've collaborated with St. Frank on numerous projects to bring their bold fabric collection to life on antique/vintage and new furnishings (read details of one project here). Mud Cloth on Japanese moon chairs, Indigo Vines on a Louis XVI settee, Tibetan Pangden on Danish mid century club chairs – these timeless textile patterns can work on any furniture style and era - it's multiculturalism at its best! 

We spoke with St. Frank founder, Christina Bryant, to learn more about the inspiration behind the collection. 


mud cloth - black

mud cloth - black

mud cloth - charcoal

mud cloth - charcoal

mud cloth - ecru

mud cloth - ecru

Why did you decide to launch a fabric-by-the-yard collection?

We wanted to make our fabrics accessible to collectors in customizable form. Fabric by the yard is a way to bring St. Frank to new surfaces to transform a space, whether you’re wrapping your walls or refinishing a favorite furniture piece.

 
uzbeki lakai suzani

uzbeki lakai suzani

tibetan pangden

tibetan pangden

 

How would you describe the look and feel of the collection?

We describe our aesthetic as bohemian luxury and I believe the fabric and wallpaper reflect this. Our brand is rooted in traditional crafts from cultures around the world. The line is inspired by the most iconic St. Frank prints that range from delicate floral suzani embroidery to rough, rustic kuba cloth.

Indigo beads

Indigo beads

indigo arrows - midnight

indigo arrows - midnight

washed indigo

washed indigo

indigo arrows - stone blue

indigo arrows - stone blue

indigo vines

indigo vines

indigo dots

indigo dots

Can you tell me more about how these textiles are designed and produced?

Our fabrics by the yard are close replicas and interpretations of both our contemporary and vintage textile lines. We start with a section of the handmade textile that we find particularly strong, create an archival image, and then edit the repeat, scale and color-way until we get to the final concept.

How did you arrive at the color palette?

The St. Frank home is grounded in black, blue, and white with pops of color from pink to yellow. This is consistent throughout our category expansion, including yardage.

 
pink diamond huipil

pink diamond huipil

kuba cloth - amber

kuba cloth - amber

forest huipil

forest huipil

 
kuba cloth - coffee

kuba cloth - coffee

 

Do you have favorites? Which ones and why?

My current favorite fabric by the yard is our Kuba Cloth. I think it combines modern and rustic elements. I’m using this to recover my desk chair at the moment.

After your experience collaborating with Revitaliste on various revitalization projects, do you have any advice for customers who are interested in revitalizing a piece of their own?

Revitalizing a piece of furniture is one of the best ways to update a space. While the process can be intimidating, it an extraordinary way to make over an old favorite or completely change a dud into a stud. With Revitaliste’s help, the work to redo a favorite piece is SO easy!

Interested in revitalizing a piece with a St. Frank fabric? Get in touch for a quote or a design consultation - we're ready to help. 

How This Family Heirloom Became a Contemporary Treasure

Guest post from our friends at Laurel & Wolf - the online professional interior design marketplace that makes it easy, affordable and fun to create your perfect space.

all photos by dustin walker

all photos by dustin walker

We’ve all inherited family heirlooms that don’t quite fit with our tastes. But how can you get rid of your great grandfather’s grandfather clock or a 19th-century sofa that traveled across the ocean with your ancestors? Giving up a piece of furniture with family history is basically taboo, but it’s hard to live with something you don’t love, even if it has sentimental value.

Enter Revitaliste. The hot new startup helps people transform their old furniture. Whether your hand-me-down needs to be refinished or restored, painted or reupholstered, Revitaliste works with a network of professional artisans to make the process simple. Laurel & Wolf Director of Partnerships Julie Geer called on them to transform her grandma’s Louis XV-style armchair.

Antique chair before reupholstery

“As my grandma grew into her 90s and we moved her into an assisted living community, she naturally wasn’t able to bring all of her furniture with her. To me, this chair was so beautiful,” Julie says. “Despite the fabric not being my particular taste, it seemed such a shame to not find a place for it. I intended to reupholster it for years, and just never got around to it.”

With its strong shape and intricate detailing, the chair was an amazing piece to have at home, but the original upholstery felt dated. By working with Amy from Revitaliste, reupholstering the old chair didn’t feel like such a chore. “Amy was a pro, had great creative ideas and feedback, and was patient with my slow decision-making,” Julie remarks.

before and after upholstery project with laurel & wolf and revitaliste

The main challenge? Julie wanted to update the chair’s style while maintaining its vintage charm, which felt linked to memories of her grandmother’s elegant home and taste.

“I have vivid memories of the places my grandmother lived growing up. She was always a very put together woman — her nails were always painted and she’d have on earrings and a necklace. Her homes were no different, accessorized with pieces she’d picked up throughout her worldly travels.

reupholstered antique chair in holly hunt palm upholstery fabric

Not one to shy away from mixing patterns and styles, Julie’s chosen fabric — a tropical philodendron leaf print — reflects a number of things. Despite its trendiness in decor today, the pattern is a classic nod to the sophisticated glamour of the Beverly Hills Hotel and of her grandmother’s own style. As an LA transplant originally from NYC, Julie also wanted the chair to reflect certain parts of her own life.

“There’s something so LA about the big tropical leaf print that feels very West Coast to me. It’s like a perfect combination of the memories of my grandmother and my life right now.”

The bold fabric may not be the choice everyone would make in conserving the original charm of the piece, but for Julie, it was the ideal mix of contemporary style and sentimental value.

before and after upholstery project with laurel & wolf and revitaliste

“I think there’s something kind of regal about the chair, and I feel that way about my grandmother,” Julie says. “She would wear these winter coats with big fur collars and was just such a classy lady. To me it’s like the big back of this chair mirrors this big fur collar that would envelope her!”

The chair’s vintage silhouette combined with a bit of Cali-chic flair mixes both generations’ tastes and allows Julie to hold on to a piece of her family history.

“It’s a fantastic way to have a part my grandma in my home. I wear a lot of my grandmother’s jewelry and have some of her art, and this is just another piece of her that I get to have with me.”

Ready to revitalize an heirloom of your own? We’d be delighted to help you modernize it. Get the process started with a design consultation or a price quote

One Heirloom - Revitalized Three Ways

Many of us have a treasured family heirloom tucked out of sight in our home — we love the idea of the piece but are lukewarm on the style. It’s understandable why we hang on to these inherited pieces; they often represent a person, a place or a time in life that makes us happy or sentimental so getting rid of it seems out of the question…but so does displaying it in a modern-day home! Revitalizing an heirloom is the perfect way to honor the sentimental attachment while transforming it into a usable piece that suits one’s individual style.

Heirloom sofa ready for reupholstery and refinishing

While some of us (lucky dogs!) have super avant-garde elders who pass down clean-lined furnishings from mid-century design masters (Herman Miller, Eero Saarinen, Hans Wagner, etc), most of us are more likely to inherit traditional “brown furniture”. But even the most fuddy-duddy piece, like this very brown, traditional Victorian sofa, can be refreshed to blend in with today’s decor. To get your creative juices flowing, we illustrate three of the many ways to revitalize a traditional heirloom. 

 

#1 Rockabye Baby

The curved, high upholstered sides of this sofa make it a great place for snuggling and reading with kids. Lighten up the heavy Victorian style by stripping the frame to raw wood. Swap out the dark fabric for an airy, stain-resistant print like “Wailea” in Waterfall color way from S. Harris.  Not only is this a super unique addition to any nursery or playroom, it also brings a layer of multigenerational storytelling into your child’s life. And what kid wouldn’t love knowing the story of a piece of furniture in his/her room! 

Refinished antique sofa reupholstered in S Harris wailea upholstery fabric

 

#2 Modern Luxe

The easiest way to modernize an ornate piece like this sofa is to go white — crisp white Belgian linen makes even the heaviest piece feel fresh. For a more bespoke approach, we’d modernize this sofa with a white hair-on cowhide to give it a more textural and luxurious look. To soften the carved dark mahogany frame, we love the idea of refinishing the wood with a grey cerused finish. This combo is the perfect modern twist on luxury.

Antique sofa refinished with grey cerused finish and reupholstered in edelman leather white cowhide

 

#3 Bold Botanical 

For the design risk-takers, we say the bolder the better! Embrace the Rococo influence on this Victorian piece and design a real scene-stealer. We love the idea of a large scale botanical pattern, like “Jardin Exo’chic” velvet from Designers Guild. It’s outrageously beautiful and an homage to the botanical carvings on the frame. For a more glamorous look we’d go with a high gloss black lacquered frame.  And voilà…maximalism at its best. This piece would blend beautifully in a clean white living room or make a big statement in an entryway or study. 

Antique sofa with black lacquer frame and upholstered in Designers Guild  jardin exo'chic upholstery fabric

Aside from sentimentality, there are other compelling reasons to revitalize an heirloom. Layering in these vintage/antique pieces gives a room rich character, provides a glimpse of family history and is the ideal way to make your stylistic mark on the piece’s journey. In most cases, furniture produced in our (grand)parents era was simply better quality than newly constructed pieces manufactured today. Previous generations purchased furniture that was constructed to last a lifetime and meant to be revitalized again and again as it was passed on to future generations. 

Ready to revitalize an heirloom of your own? We’d be delighted to help you modernize it. Get the process started with a design consultation!

2016 San Francisco Decorator Showcase

Photo: David Duncan Livingston

We were honored to collaborate with the talented Ann Lowengart Interiors for the 2016 San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Annie’s vision for her Showcase room - the girl’s bedroom - was inspired by her own sister’s childhood bedroom. Annie sourced all the vintage pieces from Chairish and revitalized them using vibrant colors and playful patterns from Robert Allen fabrics. The vintage pieces - a pair of upholstered twin headboards, a Hollywood Regency style upholstered chair and a Hickory Chair nightstand - all have timeless lines which made them perfect candidates for honoring both the era of Annie's childhood and today's young girl. 

 

Vintage furniture before and after project

Revitalization Checklist

  • All pieces were in excellent structural condition
  • Chair: lacquer custom color and reupholster - remove seat tufting
  • Headboards: reupholster - remove ruched channel
  • Nightstand: Wallpaper/decoupage and plate drawer pull

Design decisions

Envisioned in pink and orange, the girl's bedroom presents a chic take on a classic color combination. 

Photo: david duncan livingston
 

Hollywood Regency Style Chair

This chair had great potential but was very dated with its speckled wood finish and mustard yellow velour fabric. Annie chose to lacquer the wood chair frame in a custom color (Benjamin Moore "Peony") to match the wood trim throughout the room. The modern graphic upholstery fabric she chose is Robert Allen “Alpenglow” in red lacquer color way. We removed the tufting on the seat to give the chair a cleaner appearance and replaced the back cushion foam to make it perky.

 

Pair of Upholstered Twin Headboards

The soft, timeless lines of the upholstered headboards make them the quintessential "great bones" for revitalization. Simply swap out the fabric and they can work in any style room. Annie opted for “Quick Flash” in fuchsia, another modern graphic fabric from Robert Allen. To highlight the feminine curves of the headboards she used a contrast welt (Robert Allen “Fine Chenille” in saffron color way) and upholstered without the fussy ruching (bunched fabric) of the original headboards. 

 

Vintage headboard before and after makeover
 
Vintage nightstand before and after makeover
 

Hickory Chair Nightstand

To boost the cheerful design of  the room and introduce a touch of glitter, we wrapped the nightstand in Designers Guild “Rosetti” wallpaper in scarlet color way. We coated the piece in a high gloss clear lacquer to up the glam and improve durability. The flecks of gold leaf against the fuchsia really make this piece pop. The original drawer pull was finished in a matte nickel which we re-plated in brass to complement the new design. 

 

 

The decor of this chic and inviting room exemplifies how styles from other eras can be easily transformed into fresh and current pieces that work in today's interiors. Have a piece from your own childhood home that needs to be modernized? Revitaliste makes the revitalization process super simple. Request a quote here or get started with some design guidance here.  

San Francisco Decorator Showcase House | Upholstered vintage headboards
 
San Francisco Decorator Showcase House | Decoupaged vintage nightstand
 
San Francisco Decorator Showcase House | Decoupaged vintage nightstand
 
 
San Francisco Decorator Showcase House | vintage chair reupholstered in Robert Allen fabric
 
 
photos: david duncan livingston and guillermo gusils leon

photos: david duncan livingston and guillermo gusils leon

The Dirty Dozen: Diamond-in-the-Rough Round Up

The world is chockablock full of amazing pieces awaiting another chance to shine. We've pulled together a dozen of our most recent favorites - their lines are superb and their prices are unbelievable. Each piece is simple to pick up in San Francisco (or ship to NYC!). Here's our take on one way to revitalize each piece.   

Mid century modern bench great reupholstery candidate

Mid Century Modern Bench

  • Standard issue goes ethno-chic
  • Upholster in vibrant native pattern
  • Etsy find in SF - $750
 

Pair of Hollywood Regency Dining Chairs

  • Withered beauties - just need a fresh coat of lacquer, a little love in the saggy areas, new threads and voila!  
  • Upholster in Chinoisserie print - replace cane backs with upholstery
  • Lacquer frames in high gloss 
  • Craigslist find in SF - wait for it...$10
 
 
 

1960s Channel-back Club Chairs

  • We're a shell of our former self..revive us, please!
  • Upholster in sumptuous pastel velvet
  • Local Etsy find in SF - $750
 

Classic Clean-line Nightstands

  • When your figure is this good you kinda have to show it off in leather
  • Inlay a (faux) skin/hide on drawer and door fronts
  • Lacquer body in soft neutral
  • Etsy find in SF - $650
 
 
 

Pair of Bergère Chairs 

  • French milk maid today - Parisian chic tomorrow
  • Modernize with black and white graphic upholstery fabric
  • Lacquer frames black 
  • Etsy find in LA - $345 
 

Pair of Mid Century Teak Arm Chairs

  • James Dean to James Franco
  • Keep the classic teak finish
  • Upholster in timeless masculine fabric and lose the tufting
  • Craigslist find in SF - $175
 
 
 

1920s Mahogany Chairs

  • Heirlooms with power-potential to take on a totally 21st century look
  • Strip to raw mahogany
  • Upholster with large scale pattern
  • Chairish find in SF - $345 
 

Milo Baughman Style Chrome Dining Chairs

  • What's more amazing - the lines on these chairs or the price!? PLEASE someone buy these now!
  • Upholster in couture faux reptile - loose the tufting 
  • Craigslist find in SF - set of 6 chairs $599
 
 
 

Antique Full-size Head Board

  • Ready to see some youthful ac-tion.
  • Upholster head and foot board in fresh patterned fabric
  • Leave frame exposed
  • MoveLoot find - $149
 

Milo Baughman Recliner

  • This ain't no Archie Bunker recliner! 
  • Go super lux with an Alpaca or plush mohair fabric
  • Design Plus Consignment Gallery in SF - $1099
 
 
 

Pair of Plinth-base Nightstands

  • What's the point to a plinth base unless you're going to really sass it up? It's like wearing penny loafers with a heel.
  • Wrap base in polished brass/nickel
  • Lacquer body in deep jewel tone
  • Etsy find in SF - $650
 

Mid Century Walnut Dresser 

  • What can we say, sometimes it's hard to improve upon a classic
  • Just needs an all over refinishing
  • Craigslist find in SF - $220
 

Whether it's one of these fabulous finds or a piece you already own, revitalization is a snap with Revitaliste. We organize pick-up/delivery, provide design guidance and help you procure your favorite fabric - and you never even need to leave your home! Request an estimate here or get design guidance here

 

Revitalizing A Cherished Dresser with InteriorCrowd

Photography by guillermo gusils leon

Photography by guillermo gusils leon

Allow us to introduce InteriorCrowd, a great new platform that connects users with a network of interior designers who can collaborate on any type of home or office project—from picking the right paint color and furniture to a full scale remodel (and everything in-between!). We’ve partnered with InteriorCrowd designers to help their clients revitalize beloved furnishings to fit their freshly redesigned homes. Read on to learn about one of our recent collaborations—revitalizing a cherished antique dresser with InteriorCrowd founder, Heather Natsch.


Inspired from an early age by the antiques of her mother and grandmother, Heather accompanied her parents in their antiquing escapades and selected furnishings for her own room. This dresser from the 1800s was the start of her own collection (albeit funded by her parents) at the ripe old age of six. Throughout her childhood, this dresser held more than clothes—it stored secrets and memories. A treasured piece, this dresser moved with Heather from her childhood home to college and from her first apartment to her first real home. When Heather recently redesigned her master bedroom, she decided it was finally time to give this precious heirloom a facelift. 

 
Antique walnut dresser before restoration
 

Revitalization Checklist

  • Strip, stain and seal dresser
  • Remove splintered veneer
  • Repair chipped corners 
  • Replace hardware
  • Improve drawer slide functionality
Antique dresser in need of restoration
Chipped veneer on antique dresser in need of restoration

Design Decisions

The original design direction was to strip the dresser to raw wood to achieve a modern-rustic aesthetic. However, we discovered that the dresser was constructed with a variety of wood types; the body was walnut, the drawer fronts were ash and the top was oak. While a mix-n-match wood dresser can certainly be beautiful, it was not the look Heather wanted. So we picked the darkest wood (the walnut) and stained the others to match, creating a uniform color. The rich brown walnut stain has subtle, warm gold undertones that work well with the bedroom’s serene blue and ivory palette.

To update the dresser while still honoring its 160-year heritage, we replaced the antique-brass drawer pulls with faux-bone pulls. The cylindrical bone-like pulls play beautifully with the inlaid bone diamond shapes around the keyhole on each drawer.

photograph by guillermo gusils leon

Things To Keep In Mind

  • When striping stained or painted wood furniture to raw wood, be prepared for what lies beneath—it may not be what you are expecting and is not uncommon for a variety of woods to be used.
  • There’s no price for a sentimental object. Here at Revitaliste, we are ardent believers in keeping these pieces and transforming them to fit with your current decor.

With its refreshed appearance, this cherished dresser brings history and character into Heather's bedroom. Fresh updates not only preserve the piece’s storied past, but ensure that it will survive the test of time as a future family heirloom.

Have an heirloom you want to revitalize? Get in touch here for an estimate. 

Not sure how to work a revitalized piece into your room or want to design a room around a revitalized piece? Get in touch with Interior Crowd - and enter promo code REVITALISTE to save $15 on your first project. 

Revitalizing a Danish Modern Classic

From the desk of Amy Frederickson - vintage enthusiast, revitalization fanatic and Revitaliste founder

Photography by guillermo gusils leon 

Photography by guillermo gusils leon 

As described in a previous blog post, my biggest Craigslist score was a set of six Danish mid-century modern chairs that were the perfect complement to my prized Hans Wagner dining table. To my great delight, I discovered that these chairs were indeed the real deal—manufactured by Randers Møbelfabrik, a leader in the Danish mid-century furniture scene. Though they would require a lot of work to bring back to their former glory, they were so well constructed that it was undoubtedly worth the investment to revitalize them. 

 
Danish mid century dining chairs before reupholstery and restoration
 

Revitalization Checklist 

  • Re-glue all joints of chairs—very wobbly
  • Remove water stains and other discoloration on wood
  • Stain a slightly richer brown
  • Reupholster seats

Danish furniture designers and manufacturers in the '50s and '60s were at the forefront of mastering the technique of fitting wood together using dowels and threaded bolts, so pieces were often manufactured without nails or screws. This method of construction lends to both the beautiful lines of the pieces as well as the relative ease with which repairs can be made. 

Design Decisions

At the time I acquired these chairs, the only furniture in my dining room was a large teak dining table and an antique mahogany buffet sitting atop a rug-less wood floor…in other words, a lot of brown. My initial inclination was to bring in a fun pattern or a vibrant color on the upholstered seats. But it soon became apparent that there are times when one simply shouldn’t mess with a classic design. A simple black fabric on the seats allows the elegant shape of the chairs and beauty of the wood to take the spotlight. Never a fan of black vinyl (except as it pertains to music), I opted for a slight twist on the traditional vinyl by using a black boucle-like fabric from Kvadrat, a Danish textile company now part of Maharam. The “Hallingdal” upholstery fabric line is a true mid-century classic that comes in an array of colors.

 
Danish mid century chair after restoration and reupholstery
 

Teak, walnut and rosewood were the primary woods used by Danish furniture designers of this era. I adore the rich red tones of rosewood and the warm brown tones of walnut but I have never loved the orange tones of teak (despite the fact that I own an entire dining set of teak...what can I say, I'm a sucker for a shapely body). I chose to stain the chairs a slightly richer brown to play down the brassy orange color—kind of like getting low-lights rather than highlights from your hair colorist.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Even the most wobbly and unstable chair can be repaired—but make sure it’s a quality piece that warrants the investment 
  • Black fabric is great for concealing stains but highlights crumbs—be prepared to vacuum regularly 

There’s nothing more rewarding than restoring a quality-constructed furnishing to reflect its original grandeur. When it comes to revitalizing these pieces, there’s no need to be purist about how you go about it. Whether staying true to the item’s heritage or going in a completely new direction, the process is sure to result in a one-of-a-kind furnishing that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Do you have a statement piece that you’re looking to refresh? We welcome you to get in touch here for an estimate.   

Family-Friendly Furniture Revitalization

Mid century modern dresser refinished with red lacquer

Backstory

While historic homes can be charming and full of character, they often lack amenities now considered essential—for example, closet space (ugh...the many curses of consumerism). Faced with this design dilemma, one of our clients decided against renovating in favor of a case piece that could provide the functionality of a hall closet and make a bold statement at the entrance to their stylish home. A dresser with several drawers would be the perfect place to store the objects they habitually needed when running out—keys, sunglasses, hats, kids shoes, light layers, reusable grocery bags, etc.  With a clear idea of the style and scale of the piece they wanted, they turned to Chairish to find this classic mid-century modern dresser from a local seller (using the site's fantastic pushed search functionality).

mid century modern dresser before restoration

Revitalization Checklist

  • Sand to remove existing protective finish
  • Wax drawer glides to improve open/close function
  • Structural integrity: very solid, well-built piece

Prior to making an offer on this piece, our client asked the seller for additional details on its condition. Many vintage pieces have “sticky” drawers that make them hard to open/close. In well-built furniture, the drawer glides are often made of wood, which expands, contracts and warps over time—all it takes is a simple waxing of the glides or placement of an adhesive waxed strip. 

Design Decisions

Eager to emphasize the modern lines of the piece while doing away with its stale wood exterior, our client opted for a fresh twist on a classic style: painting the dresser a bright color. Because of the high use (by young “spirited” children, no less) the finish on this piece needed to be extra durable. Automotive paint was an excellent solution. Yes, the same paint that is used on our cars and trucks. While traditional lacquer is indeed durable, automotive paint takes the cake for withstanding the bangs and bumps that frequent use can inflict. With a budding car aficionado in the family, our client chose a high gloss, red finish—Rosso Corsa, to be exact, the classic Ferrari red.

mid century modern dresser after restoration | red lacquered dresser

And the best part of the process? Because our client had already decided on the design for this dresser, they avoided one leg of delivery. Revitaliste picked up the dresser directly from the Chairish seller and transported it to our workroom. A few weeks later the beautifully revitalized piece was delivered to their home. Now that's seamless revitalization!

 
Restored mid century modern dresser with wallpaper lined drawers
 

Things To Consider

  • Lining drawers with fabric or wallpaper adds a fun and unexpected element of style to a piece.
  • Nothing is indestructible - even automotive paint can be chipped or scratched.
  • The higher the sheen of the finish, the more visible the irregularities of the furniture surface. Likewise, fingerprints from little hands are more noticeable. The best way to clean automotive finished pieces is with a non-abrasive cloth—similar to the way you’d polish a car. 
  • It's important to start a furniture painting project with a “stable” foundation—cutting corners (e.g. not removing the undercoat) might save you money in the short term but can impact the quality of your piece in the long term. Heed the advice of an artisan about removing an existing finish.

Timeless lines reimagined in a vibrant color make a great first impression when entering the home. In this project, practicality and design mix for a winning combination.

Interested in collaborating to create your dream dresser? Get in touch for a design consultation or an estimate

Why We Cherish Chairish

Why we love Chairish for vintage furniture to reupholster and restore

If Chairish were a person s/he would be very datable in our book - stylish, helpful, witty, inspiring, and an expert at anticipating your needs. An online shopping experience for discovering great vintage and pre-owned furniture from sellers around the country, Chairish is one of our favorite destinations for great finds. While Craigslist and local flea markets still hold a special place in our heart, Chairish is our go-to for efficiently finding carefully curated pieces. They’ve made the shopping experience so effortless and the service so smooth that you could easily never venture outside of your home again (until you spy something worth revitalizing discarded on the sidewalk). Below we’ve outlined what makes us cherish all that Chairish has to offer. 

1. CURATION - For anyone who has shopped eBay or Craigslist or has felt overwhelmed at a flea market, this is a HUGE benefit. Chairish wades through the junk and presents only the gems. 

2. EASE OF THE HUNT - while there can certainly be a thrill in “the hunt”, sometimes you just want something served up to you with no effort. Chairish’s search/sort functionality makes finding great pieces effortless. Products are categorized by furniture type, style/era, price, location and color. You can be highly directed in your search or leisurely browse beautiful products. 

3. CLEAR AND CONSISTENT - each listing provides the same basic information - quality photos, dimensions, condition, price, furniture type and style/era. Chairish reviews each submission so that products are appropriately categorized to ensure that they’re found where they should be. 

4. CHAT - in the event that the information provided is not detailed enough for you to pull the trigger on a purchase, you can easily get additional information directly from the seller. On each product listing page there’s the ability to ask the seller a question while you’re looking at the piece.

5. HASSLE-FREE HAGGLING - very few people actually enjoy haggling over price. Chairish has devised a system that works for both the buyer and seller. The buyer is able to offer a price but they need to put their money where their mouth is (e.g. enter credit card info) before they’re able to submit the offer. In other words, it’s a verified offer that will be processed the minute the seller agrees to the offered price.

10 reasons why we love chairish | make an offer functionality

6. INFORMATION IS POWER - the economists in the crowd will love this one. Chairish serves up information on where comparable products have actually sold. SO powerful when you're trying to determine what a “fair” offer is in an otherwise “dark” marketplace. 

7. SAVE YOUR FAVES - Chairish makes it super simple to save both your favorite products and your favorite sellers. When you’re in research/inspiration mode you can collect all your products in one place. You can also follow sellers who inspire you with their fabulous finds. It’s such a simple concept but it REALLY helps when you’re in the researching phase. 

8. PUSHED SEARCH - looking for something in particular but not finding it? Set up the search parameters and relax. Chairish will push all new listings that fit your criteria to your inbox. Stay tuned for next week's post on how one of our clients used this functionality to effortlessly find a dresser to revitalize. 

10 reasons why we love Chairish for vintage furniture finds

9. LOCAL and NATIONAL - the best of both worlds, you get to decide. If adding shipping to the cost of your purchase isn’t in the budget or you’re committed to buying local, Chairish has got you covered. Drill down to a location and only shop for pieces in your hometown.

10. RETURNS - an important piece of the furniture puzzle. If you choose local pick-up for your purchase and decide the piece isn't right for you once you’ve seen it in person, you can cancel the sale and your money is refunded. If your purchase is shipped and you determine you don’t like it, while expensive, you can return it within 48 hours. In the unlikely event that an item was not properly represented in its listing, you can return it at no cost to you.

Whether you’re a neophyte or a seasoned hunter, Chairish has created an online experience that works for all. Interested in giving your recent Chairish purchase a fresh look? Revitaliste can help you transform your fabulous find into the piece of your dreams. Get in touch here!

Looking on Chairish for some great bones to revitalize? Here are some of our favorite revitalization candidates.

What To Do When You've Got Great Legs

Photographed within the studio of artist Danielle Nelson Mourning

From personal experience we’ve learned that great legs can really make a statement. Let us be clear…we’re talking about furniture legs. Like humans, even if things are rather hum-drum on top, one can still command attention with shapely legs. Thankfully, with furniture legs, whatever sits on top is easy to transform. Got a gorgeous set of legs but not sure how to use them? Below we've divulged our top tips for effortlessly transforming your pair into an awe-worthy upholstered piece. 

When it comes to legs, size matters. Here is a simple guide to which heights are the best fit for which pieces.

The versatility of a set of legs is vast - mainly (but not always) limited by their height. A set of legs can be effortlessly transformed into a footstool, ottoman, bench, coffee table, side table or even dining table. In this post we focus on using great legs to create upholstered pieces...rest assured, a forthcoming post will be on transforming legs and bases into tables!

Leg heights of 3”-6” are perfect for footstools and low profile ottomans or swapped onto another sofa or chair. 

Leg heights of 6” - 12” can be made into ottomans or low profile benches. 

Leg heights of 12” - 16” are ideal for standard height benches

Leg heights above 17" will most likely be from dining tables and range from 27" - 30" tall. These taller legs can be trimmed if they (a) are wood or another easy-to-cut material and (b) have a simple or repetitive design to allow for an natural cutting point.

Standard height legs for furniture upholstery and restoration

Another benefit of designing furniture around a set of legs is that they’re generally REALLY inexpensive. Take this set of gilded legs found at a vintage store in Los Angeles for $40!  Their ornateness combined with the subtle patina of the gilded finish gives them great character. The height (16") and corner-bracket design made them excellent candidates to support a bench. Plus, as discussed here in a previous post, one can never have too many benches in her life. 

Antique gilded furniture legs
Timorous Beasties Ex Libris velvet upholstery fabric

As with any revitalization project, there are infinite design directions one can pursue. With this bench, the client wanted to make a bold design statement with a slight nod to the legs’ royal feel. We landed on a most exquisite and utterly unique fabric from Timorous Beasties — “Ex Libris" velvet in brick color way. To accommodate this fabric's very, very large pattern (nearly 5’ x 2’) we created as long a bench as physics would allow without adding a fifth leg for support. Because these legs were designed with a recessed groove on the top (like an end cap) they had to be affixed at the four corners. 

photographed within the studio of artist danielle nelson mourning

photographed within the studio of artist danielle nelson mourning

A set of great legs is truly a blank canvas. It's a snap to transform them into a unique piece that perfectly fits both your personal style and your physical space. One small note: when determining how to use your great legs please remember to respect the laws of physics. For example, a delicate pair of legs will not suffice for the foundation of a heavy-use ottoman. Legs that attach at the corners (versus under the seat) don't work well for extra long benches.

Want a totally one-of-a-kind ottoman or bench for your home? Think legs! Here is a sampling of unique legs we found doing a quick search on Etsy (search term "furniture legs"). Already have fabulous legs? Get in touch here to transform them into a functional piece. 

  

 

Designer Spotlight: Maja Lithander Smith

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

Meet Maja Lithander Smith, interior designer, globe-trotter and textile importer (www.foundbymaja.com). We've partnered with Maja on numerous projects using her exquisite textiles from around the world. Read on to learn about Maja, her fabric collection and our most recent revitalization collaboration. 


How do you define your design aesthetic?

Elegant bohemian with traditional roots and a modern edge.

How did you start importing fabrics? Why?

I have a lifelong love of textiles; I'm indiscriminate when it comes to their origin - every culture has its own exquisite designs. When traveling I scour local markets, meet artisans, visit mills and bring home yards of my favorites. A few years ago in Istanbul I became enamored with Turkish silk ikat fabrics, especially the vintage silk velvets. I brought several back to San Francisco to use in my own home as well as client projects. I had such an overwhelmingly positive response that I contacted the artisan in Istanbul and purchased more. And that's how I started my textile importing career!

Photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

Photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

What is your favorite travel destination for unique textiles? 

It's impossible to pick just one! Istanbul for silks. Guatemala for handwoven cotton textiles. Laos and Japan for Indigo. India for block print cotton and silk. Honestly, the list goes on and on....I can find gorgeous textiles everywhere!

 
Interior designer Maja Smith | Textile importer
 

Can the artisanal textiles stand up to today’s family-friendly wear and tear? 

I believe in teaching your children to respect and appreciate nice things.  The handwoven textiles I import are undoubtedly more durable than machine made textiles - they are made to last for generations. Even the vintage silk velvets stand up to lots of wear and tear, they are amazing on upholstery or pillows. 

What are your favorite prints from those you import? 

Of course I think all the fabrics I import are gorgeous! But I am definitely partial to the silk ikats. They're so rich and luxurious.

Here is a small sampling of some of Maja's textiles - many other prints and color ways available.

The silk ikat fabrics are quite narrow in width compared with most fabrics. How do you work with these in upholstery projects?

Yes, the silk ikats are approximately 15" wide due to the size of the hand looms the artisans use. The fabric can of course be seamed together for larger upholstered pieces. But I also love to use it on smaller scale pieces like benches, foot stools, accent chairs or dining chairs.  

What is your favorite revitalization project that you’ve completed using your fabrics?

For a personal project, my favorite is the chairs in my own dining room, upholstered in vibrant jewel toned silk velvet ikat - they make me happy every time I look at them. For a client project, my favorite is a pair of Kartell chairs that I recently did for a very chic client. 

Where did you find these chairs and why did you decide to revitalize them?

My client already owned these chairs and had been using them in her living room. She loved the lines and classic lucite base but the black and white Marimekko fabric had seen its better days. I like working with pieces that my clients already own and revitalizing them to work in the new interior we're designing. 

Kartell lucite base chairs before reupholstery

How did you revitalize these chairs?

Because of their slender frames, they were great candidates for a single-width (e.g. unseamed) of a silk velvet ikat fabric. As I mentioned, the ikats I import are about 15" wide - just the right width for upholstering the seats and front side of the chair backs. We had the ikat appliquéd onto a onyx colored silk velvet from Holland and Sherry. I'm delighted with how the chairs turned out! They are a great conversation starter in her living room!

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

How can people purchase your beautiful textiles?

I'm excited to announce that this summer I'll be opening a retail shop on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. Stay tuned for more details! In the meantime, people can see more of my products and get in touch via our website - www.foundbymaja.com

Interested in having custom pillows made or furniture reupholstered in Maja's unique fabrics? Revitlaiste sells Maja's complete offering of fabric by the yard. Request a quote here. Or get in touch for a design consultation here. 

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

photo credit: guillermo gusils leon

 
 
custom pillows in silk velvet ikat fabrics
 
Custom pillows in silk velvet ikat fabric
 
 
 
custom pillow in vintage silk velvet ikat fabric
 
custom pillows in silk velvet ikat fabric
 


  

One Vintage Sofa — Revitalized Three Ways

Vintage Milo Baughman style sofa before reupholstery

One of the many things we love about revitalizing furniture is that the design possibilities are infinite. Each piece is like a blank canvas, waiting for your creative vision to transform it into something spectacular. Take for instance this vintage 1960s chrome frame sofa found at a local flea market. The lines are so clean and modern that this piece could look fabulous in virtually any fabric! To illustrate, we employed the assistance of that miracle-worker technology...Photoshop (if only everything in life could be so easily beautified!) By simply changing the fabric and the format of the cushions, we've given this piece three wholly new looks. 

 

LOOK #1 — METROSEXUAL

For a stylish bachelor pad or a sophisticated “man cave” (is that an oxymoron?), we'd reupholster this sofa in Ralph Lauren's smart suit striping ("Windsor Chalk Stripe" in steel grey color way). The soft "hand" of the fabric is great for lounging in boxers or otherwise entertaining with, ahem, minimal attire. While this fabric is not stain resistant, the dark color does help to conceal smudges, spills and stains. To keep the style more relaxed, stick with the original cushion format of three loose back cushions over the three loose seat cushions. The smaller back cushions can easily double as pillows for watching a movie or a game. Keep it non-fussy…it's sophisticated but not formal. 

Vintage Milo Baughman style sofa upholstered in Ralph Lauren Windsor Chalk Stripe suit striping upholstery fabric

LOOK #2 — FAMILY FRIENDLY

For a young family that wants to maintain some degree of style while making their home accessible and usable for the whole family, we'd reupholster this piece in Pindler "Marrakesh" outdoor fabric (in carbon color way). Today there are a plethora of stylish “performance” fabrics. Gone are the days of stiff, scratchy “outdoor” fabric that looks like it belongs outside. The near-neutral color palette and modern pattern of this fabric make it easy to build a room around or accessorize with bright pops of color or fun patterns. For a cleaner, low-maintenance style, we would swap the existing cushions for two seat cushions and two back cushions. Grown-ups will like fewer cushions to put back in place and kids will like the longer pillows for fort building - it's a win-win. 

Vintage Milo Baughman style sofa upholstered in Pindler Marrakesh upholstery fabric

LOOK #3 — FEMME FATALE

For those who don't shy away from the provocative and embrace their individual style, Schumacher "Shockwave" fabric (in platinum+jet color way) is the perfect upholstery option to dial up the drama. The ombre cut velvet is simultaneously sensual and dramatic, modern and feminine—we're obsessed. For a touch of old Hollywood glamour, we'd replace the existing cushions with single, long cushions on the seat and back; there's something decidedly un-refined about sinking between cushions while lounging. Add pleated round bolsters at each end or a single long pillow along the back to introduce a splash of color or pattern. 

Vintage Milo Baughman style sofa upholsteredin Schumacher Shockwave upholstery fabric

Ready to revitalize one of your pieces? Get a quote here.

 

To Buy or Not To Buy...That Is The Question

Having a hard time deciding whether you should pull the trigger on that diamond-in-the-rough piece to revitalize? You’re not alone. It can be difficult to determine what warrants “good bones” in which to invest your time and money. After wallowing in indecision one too many times ourselves, we resolved to find a simple method to answer that question - to buy or not to buy. Our solution? The decision tree. 

Oh, how we adore a good decision tree! It’s so freeing to have someone else provide the mental framework to make a choice. In the case of diamond-in-the rough furniture, the decision hinges on an essential, single question: do you love it?

Decision tree for buying furniture

Ready to find a new diamond-in-the rough piece to make your own? Join us this weekend at Alameda Point Antiques Fair and let us know what you uncover. 

A Guide To Becoming a Successful Flea Marketeer

Guide to flea market shopping

In honor of the San Francisco Bay Area's upcoming Alameda Point Antiques Faire on Sunday, March 6, we’ve created a quick guide to flea market shopping - our most coveted tips, tricks, and insider insights for a successful scouring session. 

Preparing for Market

Shopping a flea market is a unique retail experience - no returns, no try-it-out-at-home options, no guarantees. This is partly what makes it fun (who doesn’t love a good challenge?) and partly what makes it intimidating for some. But with a bit of advanced planning you can confidently stroll into any flea market and pull the trigger on fabulous finds. 

•   Measure:  Take measurements of your space(s) and bring them with you. If you’re looking for a specific piece, mock up the ideal size the piece will occupy. If you’re transporting larger finds in your own vehicle, measure to determine what can fit to avoid blowing your budget on delivery fees.

•   Budget: Have an idea of what you’re willing to spend on a new piece. Do research before you go to help you craft a reasonable budget--consult Chairish or eBay for comparable pieces. Remember to factor in the cost of revitalization (and fabric and delivery if relevant).

 

Necessities Checklist:

•   Snack and water - Sustenance to keep you sharp - flea markets are not culinary excursions.

•   Cash - It’s still king at the flea market. While some dealers take credit cards and there are ATMs at most flea markets, you’ll be more effective in your bargaining and efficient in your shopping if you pay in cash. Remember that you’ll have to pay an entrance fee and may need to tip some buff guys for helping you load your finds.

•   Sunscreen - This is an outdoor adventure that may last hours!

•   Layers - A lot can change between 6am and 11am — dress accordingly.

•   Phone - An invaluable tool for taking photos and notes and calculating discounted prices if math isn’t your thing.

•   Measuring tape - Make sure a piece will fit your space or that it’s standard height or width.

•   Flashlight - Yes, a flashlight (unless your phone has a really good one). Early birds get the worm…and in the winter months that means starting before sunrise.

•   Backpack or other bag to keep hands free — but make sure your money is somewhere safe.

•   Moving blankets if you’re transporting the piece yourself

 
How to shop a flea market | necessities checklist

Working the Market

Even a well-prepared shopper can arrive at a flea market and suddenly feel overwhelmed. While there are many ways to approach the hunt for fabulous pieces, we've shared some tried and true tips to ensure a productive hunt.

•   Go early - We can’t stress this enough. The entrance fee is a bit higher but it's worth it; furniture really does go quicker than any other items at a market.

•   Pick a starting point and move systematically through the market. Start at the front, middle or back, it really doesn’t matter - you’ll develop your own strategy over time. Whatever your starting point, walk the full length of each subsequent row (not missing the end caps of each row) moving towards the opposite end of the market.

Tips for flea market shopping for vintage furniture

•   Take pictures of the piece AND the seller’s booth number if you are not ready to pull the trigger. It’s also helpful to take notes (price, history, condition) on your phone to keep all info in one place.

•   Get all information upfront if you really like it - measurements, condition, price, provenance/history. You don’t get to return something if you discover an issue after purchasing. Asking questions about history or condition during the negotiation can work against you.

Negotiation Strategies

We view buying objects at a flea market a bit like dating. You want to suss out the goods — get to know its background/pedigree and do a full 360 inspection — before taking it home.

•   Conversation starter - There’s nothing like a few questions to get the conversation started. This is a great way to learn about the origin of the piece while you inspect it yourself. Where did the seller find it? What do they know about its provenance/history? How did they verify this information? Has the seller done any work to it? Do they have a shop or just sell at markets?

•   Physical inspection - While making conversation with the seller and learning about the piece, do your own due diligence. Touch it, sit on it, wiggle it, lift it. Look for designer/maker markings, inspect in and under it, scrutinize the materials, assess any wear or damage to the piece.

•   Be cool - Don’t gush, don’t criticize. You’re trying to get factual information about the piece from the vendor. Keep your point of view to yourself. It’s more effective to ask a question about an issue you notice rather than pointing it out (e.g. “Have you tried to repair the wobble on this piece?” vs. “This pieces is really wobbly.”). The information is the same but the way it is received is much different.

score!!!

score!!!

•   Closing the deal - “What are you asking for this piece?” We love opening negotiations with this question. It tacitly suggests that the price is negotiable (and it always is. PLEASE don’t be timid about negotiating the price, dealers expect it; it’s the nature of this retail venue.) When the seller gives the asking price, take a minute to assess what you know about the piece: how much you like it, how unique it is, what you think is “fair” (we know, crazily subjective concept) and what you surmise the competition may be for the piece. To counter the seller’s asking price, we support one of these approaches: (A) “What is your best price?” or (B) “Would you accept $X?” When employing approach (B), be reasonable with your offer or the dealer may not engage in the negotiations. If the asking price is within your budget and seems reasonable, offer 10-15% less. As a rule of thumb, asking for more than a 50% discount will most likely derail the negotiations. Expect a bit of back and forth on the price and be willing to walk away if the price simply doesn't feel right. 

Ready to try your luck at the flea market? To motivate you to set the alarm for 5:45am on a Sunday — here is a sample of the treasures to be found at flea markets.