The Spruce storefront will be closed until Tuesday at 1oam, but visit the online shop for 20% off today only. See details above!
The day after Thanksgiving may be my favorite day of the year! I finally have the green light to take all the storage bins out of the attic labeled “Christmas decos”, Bing Crosby croons away White Christmas throughout the house, and the long hours slaving away over the stove on Thanksgiving gift me with a day of bountiful, delicious leftovers.
But, before I heat up pecan pie for breakfast and break out the Christmas ornaments, I’d like to pause for a minute to make a public announcement. You may have noticed we’ve been MIA on the blog for the last several weeks. While we’ve been silent online, there’s been a sweet hum of rapid fire staples and ringing telephones throughout the Spruce workshop. We’ve been working extra hard to meet holiday deadlines and launch Mini Spruce (more on that later!).
Spruce is immersed by such an amazing group of people from upholstery fans to trusting clients to hardworking, dedicated employees, and I am so grateful for you all. This year has been a huge transition for me—becoming a mother to my first child has been the most amazing experience and also so challenging It’s been a year of struggle, personally. How do I give both babies, Lilee and Spruce, 100%? I remember thinking right around this time last year, “There’s no way I could be busier than I am already.” WHOA! WRONG! Turns out life can be way busier and crazier. So I’m learning how to manage it all. Ultimately, it a lesson in how to prioritize and say “no” to some things, and I’m getting better.
I’ll stop elaborating before this turns into Amanda’s personal therapy session, but I just want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of you who have kept my head above water this year. Thank you, lovely clients for all of your trust and business! Thank you to Clar, Katherine, Frank, Kristen, Lili, Elizabeth, and Clarisa for all your HARD work every day for the past year and beyond! And thanks to my amazing family and friends who have boosted me up and offered words of wisdom and encouragement. Especially you, Keith, you are the most amazing husband, father, and person. If I could send it across the sky on a blimp banner, I would. You are AWESOME and I love you!
Now, back to your regularly scheduled day of discount shopping, leftover turkey, and trimming the tree. Happy belated Thanksgiving and warmest holiday wishes!
We’re facing some hectic weeks ahead, working our hardest to get everyone situated for the holiday season. On top of that, our SEVEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY is approaching at the end of the month! Can you imagine that?! Whew! Soon we’ll have to share a toast together. We also have an exciting new project in the works ready to be revealed in early November. Stay tuned to see what we’ve been cookin’ up! (It’s not food… I can’t lead you astray!)
To occupy what little down time we and you may have, our gal Clarisa tipped me off to an awesome new book that makes for a fun, quick escape. Ida Magntorn — Swedish photographer, blogger, freelancer extraordinaire — has penned a new book: Home Style By City out by Chronicle Books. She visits the homes of stylish artists, entrepreneurs, and domestic professionals and snaps the best of their eclectic and casual homes.
One of my favorite shots is inside the London home of Emily Chalmers, a successful stylist who’s no stranger to book writing herself! The look is casual, light-filled and eclectic, with hints of formal tradition (silver tea trays, Federal style mirror, chintz), kook and retro. I love the English sensibility!
I am obsessing over that blue chintz floral chair in the pic above! I think I’ve mentioned it a few times before. I fantasize about putting traditional-style textiles on super modern chairs. I love when that happens!
Magntorn shares tips and tricks that go with the mood and feeling of each of five stylish cities: Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Copenhagen. For example, one page in the Parisian home tour section suggests watching films in the French language and listening to Edith Piaf. Ha! Ida succinctly announces an abbreviated history of each city and concisely evokes a mood for the reader. She shares lists of books to read, movies, playlists, and home inventories that capture each region’s spirit, and includes project tutorials (my favorite feature!). I want to do this lace lamp/globe project!
In Home Style By City, Ida features loads of interiors that speak to her sensibility. She’s carefully selected home dwellers and spaces that factor well-used interiors, casual, bohemian, retro, nostalgic, and shabby-chic ideas alike. The homes of those collected are surprisingly similar in feeling, so the book glides seamlessly between each city. The layout is unified with a notebook-style photo journal. Cute!
The LA section reminds me so much of Austin. There are lots of succulent gardens, pictures of bright sunlight and seemingly long days, and spaces with a western, nomadic sensibility. Everyone’s favorite mid-century modern looks are combined naturally with Native American textiles, treasured mementos, natural rocks and crystals from a nature hike. A lot of wood is featured in this section, too!
It’s been incredible to think that I’ve seen a full year of classes go through the shop! We’ve met dozens of amazing people and have shared a lot of home-baked goods prepared by our resident baker, Katherine. All along the way we’ve photographed their work to upload to Facebook. Now students can download photos from class through our Flickr account..
Check out photos of our Chair Class we hosted in September and of Amanda’s Lampshade Class at Oil and Cotton in Dallas earlier this month! Taking our upcoming upholstery classes? Your photos will be posted on Spruce’s Flickr page.
Also, we’re elated to announce that all students taking our classes will automatically receive a ten percent discount on their next purchase, which can be applied towards upholstery, retail or another class! Aren’t you glad you kept reading? If you took a class with us in September or October and want your discount, email me at spruceaustinpr (at) gmail.com and I’ll hook you up!
Don’t forget we have a Headboard Class coming up in a few weeks! Our KKDW Ottoman Class is also around the corner, and our registration deadline is Sunday, November 2. We’ll list new classes for 2015 soon, so make sure you’re on our email list!
A clean and organized workspace makes an efficient one. I have to take breaks throughout the day to tidy my area and gather all of my hand tools that mysteriously walk off. As you might imagine, there are many tools and materials I use throughout the day, so it would be unfair for me to expect to stay perfectly organized. However, I have a few basic ideas you can use to make organization a little easier.
This pincushion can be made in a snap with a small scrap of fabric. The best part about this invention is it’s attached to the sewing machine, which frees up space on the sewing table. It will also prevent you from accidentally walking away with the pin cushion and leaving it elsewhere. As you can see, we sewed a cuff and then wedged a little chunk of foam behind it. Genius!
Here is one of Frank’s clever creations. After becoming frustrated with the cardboard tack strip unraveling and causing visual chaos, Frank invented this custom pouch that fits a full roll of cardboard tack strip with an opening to feed through the loose end. I didn’t realize how much we needed this until he made one. Very practical!
Tufting needles and curved needles are much longer than the average sewing needles; therefore, a grander pin cushion is in order. Using scrap fabric and soft Dacron, we created a nice big pouf to hang at Frank’s workstation. Now, we have plenty of room for all of our large needles, and they are easily accessible.
As you can see, you don’t need to have a fancy work station with lots of bells and whistles. Just channel your inner MacGyver (or Frank) and create something special that will make getting through projects a little bit easier. Let us know if you have any creative organizing creations, and share them with us in the comments section!
Imagine being paid to jet set across the globe and take photos of gorgeous places for major publications such The New York Times, Southern Living and Esquire. Enter Austin-based photographer Ryann Ford, who has spent most of her adult life doing just that. Envious much?
Just a couple of years ago, Amanda was spending some quality time with Ryann, creating all of the photography for Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery. Ryann – who specializes in shooting architecture and interiors – was asked by our publisher Storey to shoot all of the photography for the Spruce book. After months of working together, Amanda developed a close bond with Ryann, and we consider her an unofficial Sprucette.
Ryann took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. Learn why we love this inspiring and talented lady!
Tell me about your involvement with Spruce and what it was like shooting DIY tutorials. How was this different from other projects you’ve been a part of?
My bread and butter is shooting mainly interiors for home magazines, interior designers, architects – but this was mostly studio photography. I normally finish a project in a day or two, but we shot this project over the course of 25 days, or something like that! It was a really big project! Knowing nothing about upholstery going in, it was interesting creating nicely composed, beautiful shots that could clearly illustrate the steps.
Did you always have an interest and an eye for architectural photography? How did you get interested in shooting design, places and spaces?
When I was in photography school at Brooks Institute, I was terrified of photographing people, so I picked a major that required the least amount of people photography. One of my options was taking an architectural photography class, so I gave it a whirl. I ended up really loving it. I got an internship with Resorts & Great Hotels (now defunct), which involved going on a few hotel shoots with the staff photographers. That’s when I got my first taste of amazing design. My internship turned into a photographer’s assistant position – and I spent the next three years traveling the world, staying at and shooting the world’s best hotels. After a while, I was ready for a change of pace, so I moved to Austin from California, decided to go freelance, and started taking on more residential shoots.
What’s your favorite part about your job? Least favorite?
My favorite part of my job is seeing so many amazing homes and spaces, because I love design as much as I love photography. If I weren’t a photographer, I’d probably be an interior designer. I also love the travel, even just road trips across Texas. I’ve never been a 9-5 person. I love that every day is different and brings a new adventure. As a photographer, the opportunities that come my way on a daily basis are just crazy – from riding a longhorn, to shooting solar panels 100 feet up from a bucket truck, to feeding foxes hot dogs from a client’s kitchen window.
Least favorite: waking up early.
What projects have you been working on lately that you’re excited about?
I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a personal project that I’ve had in the works for about four years. Shortly after moving here (seven years ago), and while driving around Texas for different shoots, I started noticing those little picnic areas and rest stops alongside the highways. I noticed that a lot of them looked old – and some were really fun, shaped teepees or made of giant wagon wheels. I did a little research and learned that most of them are from the ’50s and ’60s, and many of them are being demolished due to budget constraints. I decided they would make a great photo project, and to date have shot over 150 of them all across the country. I am currently shopping the series to book publishers, and selling prints on my Etsy page and at Mockingbird Domestics.
You’ve shot for several fantastic people over the past decade. What have been some of your favorite and most memorable places you’ve captured?
One of my all-time favorite shoots was shooting a local movie director’s bunkhouse near Bastrop, designed by architect Henry Panton. The place is magical. It was the first time I ever worked with stylist Adam Fortner of Creative & Sons (who is my main stylist nowadays!), and the two of us had a blast shooting this amazing, modern cabin in the woods. As we were packing up, the forest came alive with fireflies; it literally sparkled. We still reminisce about that shoot.
Before my rest stop series, I did a personal project on the Salton Sea in southern California. Anyone that’s ever been there is either disgusted by the place or falls in love with it. I definitely fell in love. It’s a landscape like no other. I would give anything to be able to go back in time and see the place in its heyday – the fancy hotels, the yacht clubs. The place had big dreams, but a series of floods and questionable water quality led to it becoming a ghost town.
Could you name-drop some of the people you’ve worked with (locally and nationally) who have awesome style?
EEK, there are so many! I really love when spaces are both well-designed and fun, and have unexpected elements. Elizabeth Stanley is one of my favorite designers, and I also love Kimberly Renner, who just opened a store here in town. Architect Jim Poteet in San Antonio is doing some amazing architecture and interiors work, too. I’m also a big fan of Chris McCray. He’s been doing a lot of great commercial design around town (including the Uchi team’s new project, St. Philip), and I was lucky enough to have him do a few things for my home, too!
What are your favorite places in Austin – both for photographing and hanging out?
I’m still a fan of the Alamo Drafthouse after all these years, and I love to go to new places just to check out the design. Benji’s Cantina has great oysters and one of the most gorgeous rooftops in town, designed by another one of my favorite designers, Jamie Chioco. I love to take my pups to run around, and Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park is one of best semi-secret places in the area.
What was the first camera you ever owned? And what’s your camera of choice these days?
The first camera I ever owned was a Pentax that my dad brought back from Vietnam. I fell in love with photography with that camera, and used it all through high school. These days I shoot with a Canon 5D.
Describe your personal interior design aesthetic. Describe your home!
The architecture of my house is modern, and sometimes when you mix modern on top of modern, it’s a bit too expected and cold. I love vintage pieces — things I’ve either salvaged from the desert, or gotten at farm auctions when I go to visit my parents in Wisconsin, so my house is definitely eclectic. It’s a mix of new, modern pieces, layered with a lot of rusty junk. I once heard it called Flea Market Chic, ha! Like my favorite designers, I love fun and funky accents. Everything in my house comes with a great story.
Thank you so much, Ryann. You’re a total doll. Send us a postcard the next time you’re on the road!
*Featured photo of Ryann by Lisa Woods.
First, there was the alphabet. Then, there was alphabet soup. And now, Amanda brings us alphabet stools! A, B, see your way over to Creativebug to learn the basic woodworking and upholstery techniques necessary to create these super cute, custom stools!
And as long as you’re there, check out some of the other great tutorials Spruce has created in conjunction with Creativebug. I’m excited to try some of these projects for myself! We all have a lamp or two that would shine with a new lampshade. Check out our wallpaper selection to create a one-of-a-kind piece for your own home! Also, what could be more satisfying after a hard day of upholstering than resting your head against a beautiful headboard. After a quick trip to the hardware store, and a super easy-to-follow tutorial with Amanda, you can design and craft your own unique upholstered headboard in about a day.
I love these tutorials! They’re fun and easy to understand, and you can make affordable and unique pieces. Additionally, you’ll learn skills you can use for further projects. Coupled with our book Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design, and Amanda’s online DIY tutorials, no upholstery project is too difficult!
We are so grateful and excited to have some new Sprucettes here to help man the ship! Most recently, we began working with the lovely Kristen Williams.
Kristen is an honorary Texan hailing from Grand Prairie, Texas. She matriculated at the University of Texas here in Austin, and after a stint in New York City (working for the the New York Yankees!) she made her way back to A-town. Kristen attended one of our Bring-Your-Own-Chair Classes a couple of years ago. And that’s when she developed her yen for upholstery!
What can I say about Kristen? My, my! Kristen truly has a knack for upholstery, which was evident when we saw her work in class. Craftsmanship and attention to detail are difficult to teach, and she seems to possess these qualities innately! I’m so impressed and excited to see what tricks she has up her sleeve. She has proven to be thorough, efficient and, despite her compact and lithe frame, a total strong-arm!
But enough about work! I wanted to get to know the real Kristen — the woman, the wife of a man named Ben, the best friend to dog Birdie (above), citizen of Austin! Read my interview with Kristen below!
Clar: Kristen, I understand you’ve been studying upholstery since we saw you in chair class. Can you show us your best upholstery project yet?
Kristen: This is a Chesterfield couch with velvet fabric I just completed. The tufting took forever, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
Clar: I’ll say! That is truly, truly stunning! I wonder how many buttons it has… A couple hundred? Geez! Great job!
Other than burning the midnight oil doing upholstery work, what’s your favorite evening activity?
Kristen: Catching a blues show at The Skylark. I love going to watch the old men jam.
Clar: Cool, Kristen! Thanks for the tip! Do you have a favorite eatery in town?
Kristen: I can’t choose! There are so many great spots in Austin. But one dish I constantly crave is the Fresca Pizza at Bufalina.
Clar: Ahhh! I want to go there so much! If you were a cake, what kind would you be?
Kristen: Hummingbird cake…bananas, pecans, cream cheese frosting…YUMMY!
Clar: I am developing quite a sweet tooth having worked with Katherine for so long. If I were a sweet treat, I’d be a key lime pie! Mmm!
I wonder what kind of visual media you consume? What is your best source for interior inspiration?
Kristen: The British version of Livingetc. It’s filled with so many amazing spaces and provides me with so much inspiration for my own home.
Clar: I was fully unaware. You have gifted me with a new rabbit hole to follow. Thanks for that! I love the English sense of style, especially when it’s more kooky and anarchic! I love designer Zandra Rhodes and artist Duggie Fields.
What’s your ideal vacation spot?
Kristen: Right now, my ideal vacation spot is Lisbon, Portugal. That’s where I’d like to travel to next. I try to take one big trip a year, whatever’s next on my bucket list. Over the last few years, I’ve traveled to Thailand, Argentina and Spain.
Clar: I’m so envious about that! Too much fun! I sense a blog series…
What were you like as a kiddo? Were you always pretty ‘visual’? I know that you studied and practiced film in school. What else?
Kristen: I played volleyball and did cheerleading. I still enjoy playing sand volleyball with social leagues and the occasional pick-up game. I was super shy. I hated going to team activities by myself (i.e. without other kids that I knew). I tried dance, baton twirling, piano, soccer, softball and didn’t stick with any of those things for long. It’s kind of sad, but I have multiple team pictures where it’s obvious I’d been crying.
Clar: Aww! Ha! That’s so familiar to me! I too was a shy and tentative adolescent. I was better at noodling around by me’self. Must be an only-child thing (I will divulge that I was a cheerleader, as well!).
Last question: If money, expertise, machinery, time, etcetera were no object, what would you like to design, make or manufacture? (Spaceship? Clothes? Paul Bunyon sculptures?)
Kristen: Nothing crazy. I’d become a chef and make amazing food for myself, my friends and family. No restaurant. I’d just cook great food and spend time with great people. Make some memories.
Well played Kristen, well played!
À la mode de Todd Selby, Kristen has indulged me by doodling her favorite object at home. Shown above is a sweet sketch of the lights strung across her backyard. According to Kristen, these bulbs provide the perfect amount of light for entertaining. On your way to making memories!
We’re so excited to make some fun moments happen with you too, Kristen! Thanks for joining us! We’re pleased to have you, dear!
In the midst of summer projects, we’ve managed to sprinkle in some new retail projects. Take a look at our freshest finds and some extra-special pieces for the taking.
1. Handmade sari blankets from India. $75 ea.
2. Back to the Beach Chair. Chunky texture in cream, blue, and green; mid-century frame; $1095.
4. Memphis Pillows (SOLD!). Crewel-embroidered pillows; $85 ea.
5. Rattan Sofa. Chunky texture in cream, orange, and blue; bamboo frame; $1,950.
6. Japanese Lamp. Porcelain geisha base; black shade; $95
7. Jadeite Jars, $20 ea.
9. Vintage Velvet Chair. Vintage velvet floral; vintage frame; $595.
New but not pictured above:
Pearl Headboard. Velvet cream octagons; custom-made and -shaped frame; $895.
Upholstery staples come in several different lengths. The most commonly used lengths are 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″. I like to keep a box of each at my station at all times so I can quickly swap out sizes when working on different parts of a project. Let me elaborate on how I use each of these staples and how each size can make all the difference!
1/4″ staples are my favorite to use. I try to use this shorter length any time I am not stapling through too many layers of materials, and they’re great when attaching burlap, Dacron, or any lightweight fabrics. I love this staple length because they are super easy to remove if you need to make adjustments, while holding the materials in place. If you ever need to strip your project in the future, it will be so much easier and less damaging to the frame if you use these short staples. To ensure your materials are adequately secured, give your fabric a little tug to test the holding strength.
I like to switch to 3/8″ staples once the layers start to accumulate. As you can see above, there are quite a few layers happening. In this situation, 1/4″ staples aren’t long enough to adequately go through all of the layers and the wood.
Now onto the 1/2″ staples! I like to use this length when dealing with materials that are structural or supportive, such as a webbing on a seat. The extra length really holds the webbing in place. Also, when working with heavier or thicker fabrics such as velvet or chenille, 1/2″ staples are handy because they’ll easily pierce and hold multiple layers on the wood.
Sometimes you’ll find the frame of antique furniture, or furniture that has been reupholstered several times, is very brittle and porous. Shorter staples will not grab the wood well enough, so 1/2″ staples are the best choice in this scenario, too.
I do my best to only use 1/2″ staples when I absolutely need to. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of stripping a piece of furniture that was upholstered using only 1/2″ staples, you will understand why. They usually snap upon removal, leaving sharp little barbs behind that must be pulled out using precision pliers. Or, they could be hammered back into the frame so they don’t cut you or snag the fabric. It’s time consuming and frustrating, for sure!
As you can see, this is a Goldilocks and the Three Bears situation. Options are good…right? Treat yourself to staple options and you’ll thank me later!
Why is this year going so fast??? Stop it!!!
After a long summer, it’s time again to send the kiddos off to class and for parents to get back to those around-the-house projects. You know who you are! Moms and Dads of Austin and surrounding areas — it’s time you all do the same! Students, treat yourself to a job well done in advance and Spruce up your dorm room! Let the before and afters below influence your most earnest efforts this fall!
Our first before and after is a great gift from Mom to her young adult daughter for graduation! Really! Our customers snagged the chair for cheap in San Antonio. She and Mom came and picked out the textile of the grad’s dreams!
Our next before and after was a gift given from a mom to a much younger daughter to grow into. Fun, young, but something the gal can grow with! I can imagine this tween using the chair at her desk through her college years!
We have saved plenty of family treasures this summer! See this neat-oh lodge style chair below. Perfect for that mid-century Texas ranch-style home!
We had a client with a yen for Central American fabric commission a cool redo! She chose her favorite textile, a Guatemalan skirt (corte) with randas (embroidered decoration used in Central America), and paired it with a smart indigo chenille where the skirt ran out. We love the result!
I love this clever pairing of the Morris-style chair, mixed with the casual and vibrant, soft Central American vibe. It feels very mature but with a fun Bohemian and traveled twist! A+ again!
Another family chair got a sweet refresh! See the saggy original below. It left a dusty haze everywhere beneath…
The customer sourced her own Asian-style satin jacquard and gave it to her most favorite student — her daughter! Luckyyyy!
I hope you all have enjoyed the back to school makeovers! We at Spruce wish you all “straight A’s” all year long!
If you haven’t heard of interior designer Ann Lowe Edgerton, you probably will soon. She’s a young Austin designer on the rise, has received accolades for her work on Contigo, and the photos of her family’s river house in Llano she designed have been a hit on Pinterest! She has her finger on the pulse of what’s current in terms of design, blending natural and earthy elements with refined minimalism. Her design aesthetic is a high/low, Cali meets Mexico, bohemian vibe that’s pretty hot right now (thank you for the verbage, Clar). We are big fan-girls who love working with her, so we wanted to touch base with her on what she’s been working on for this month’s Designer Spotlight. Also, all of you Pinterest lovers are going to dig this: We asked her to guest-pin some elements for a room, mixing pieces by Spruce with her own coveted home decor. She said she was thinking of her dream studio in mind. “Big, airy, desert-y.”
Where are you from and how did you become a designer and a stylist?
I am from Midland, Texas. I grew up doing musical theater and singing in choirs and was not aware visual arts was something I was interested in until I went away to Santa Barbara for college. Going from the West Texas desert to the Santa Barbara coast was something that certainly shaped my visual life. I like the combination of desert materials (stucco, dusty colors, bone, light leather) and vibrant plant life. After getting my bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, I moved back to Texas and focused my interests on food. I thought my love of what the earth produces and visual arts would come together somehow through food. After trying my hand at catering, I soon realized the physical demands outweighed the creative aspect of it. Right around this time I got to know Ben Edgerton, now my husband. I somehow convinced him it was a good idea to let me design his new restaurant Contigo. My family was building a river house on the Llano River at this time, and they generously let me take the reigns on the design. From then on I was completely obsessed with interiors.
What’s your decorating style?
Every project I do has its own life; the colors are different, the purpose is unique, etc. But with each space, I aim to create a certain “feel.” I do this by using natural materials, lots of one-of-a-kind items, nothing too trendy. I want all of my clients to be content with their space for a very long time. I would like the ideas and items I add to their lives to enhance it deeply – not just for a moment while it’s in style.
You have a blog called my friends’ homes. What inspired you to start it, and what do you look for when you’re taking photos?
I have always preferred film to digital, so when I scored this old Yashika T4 I knew I wanted to use it for more than just party pictures. I have a lot of very creative and inspiring friends and I often feel like their homes are better than any other places I’ve been. The uninhibited arrangements, the stories things hold. Design magazines are amazing, but I know how much money and work goes into creating that look. I am almost more inspired by the way people actually live. So, as an excuse to peak around in people’s homes, I invented this blog.
How would you describe your business?
I began my business by doing a lot of very low-cost, quick home consultations. I believe that everyone, no matter what their budget, should be able to afford a space where they feel at home and are proud of. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to work on more involved projects, I still like to keep this reign on my ideas of what things are worth. Yes, any designer can go to showrooms and buy all of the most expensive items, but then you are left with a store-bought atmosphere. I love quality but I love it mixed with well-worn, unique custom items.
I would say my business is very personal. I like to get to know clients to truly understand how we can create a unique atmosphere for their lives.
Tell me more about your involvement with Contigo.
Ben was brave enough to let me design Contigo even though I had never worked on a project (of that scale). What I think is wonderful about Contigo is neither of us really knew what we were doing. I had an idea. I drew it, and then Ben made it happen. We weren’t shopping at huge restaurant stores or showrooms. We didn’t have a team of architects and designers. We had to make most of the ideas we had because there was nowhere to buy what we wanted. It was super raw and fun. Three years after Contigo opened, we fell in love and got married! It’s fun to know how much that space has meant to both of us.
The ranch is based off of Ben’s family ranch in South Texas, Contigo Ranch. We took a trip down there to do some research and get some styling ideas. Andrew Wiseheart (co-owner and chef) cooked some absolutely amazing food, and we messed around with ideas. The South Texas landscape – mesquite, prickly pear, grasses, dusty roads – was a big inspiration for us. I wanted the Austin space to feel related but not the same. We used the same color palate but experimented with the shapes. Instead of curly iron we did straight. Instead of nail heads on leather we used director’s chair-style backs. Donald Judd’s desert minimal style was a big influence, as well.
What projects are you working on currently?
I am wrapping up a redo of the old La Zona Rosa downtown. A company called PGi is using it as creative offices and a film studio.
I am working on the offices of thirteen23 on Congress Avenue. Their space used to be a woman’s department store. The old brick walls and huge arched windows are so good to work with.
I also have a group of wonderful home clients who I enjoy spending time with.
Where are some of your favorite places to look for furniture and style elements to use in your work?
I love vintage – anywhere I can find it. There are some amazing gems around town. I am a fan of the classics so I frequent Design Within Reach often. I also love Spruce! You all have the most amazing and unique selection of fabric, bound to make any old item totally perfect.
Aww shucks, Ann! Thank you for collaborating with us! We love the pins, too! Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Photo of Ann by Michael A. Muller.
Since I began working at Spruce, I have seen my fair share of people who are super excited about redecorating their homes but are absolutely overwhelmed by all the options available to them! What pattern is the right pattern? I like all the colors; how do I commit to one? Does blue match with purple? The options for what we put in our spaces are limitless and sometimes creates some anxiety when it comes down to making a decision.
I am going to share with you one of my quick tricks for finding a color palette I like, and then I’ll put together some fun fabric combinations inspired by that palette from the selection at Spruce! Step one is choosing a source of inspiration. In this instance, I head to everyone’s favorite inspiration website, PINTEREST! Woohoo! I have chosen this cute little film still that I pinned awhile back from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
This is a super fun and chic party scene full of gorgeous colors, and I love the mood it evokes. After picking a photo, I use an online palette generator to pull the most prominent colors from my inspiration image, such as DeGraeve.com. It reduces your image to the five most prominent colors, and you are set to go! If you are super savvy, you could also use your paint selector tool in Photoshop to grab a palette of colors. I have chosen the easier route. After cutting and pasting the photo’s URL into the generator, the good programmers at DeGraeve.com show me that the most prominent colors in my inspiration image are…
They are even so generous as to give you two palettes, one vibrant, one dull, kind of like a major and minor scale if you ever have played an instrument. Perfect! Now, armed with our beautiful color palettes, we can pull fabric swatches that coordinate well and will give our own space this same swanky vibe! In this particular collection of color, I prefer the vibrant palette. Here are the beautiful fabrics I’ve found at Spruce that fit my palette!
I’ve combined Clarke & Clarke‘s Cesare in Walnut; Manuel Canovas‘ Ronda in Argent, Romo‘s Elina in Rocoto, Beacon Hill‘s Provocation in Magenta, Romo Black Edition‘s Goldwyn in Anthracite and Doeskin, and Manuel Canovas’ Maroquin in Magnolia (from right to left, top to bottom). I love the way the intense colors in this collection evoke the same vibrancy of our source of inspiration. The silks, chenilles and brocades all add a sense of luxury. I’ve stayed mostly true to my original palette and added some richer colors in the warmer end of the scale to liven things up! If you like what you see, we hope to see you in Spruce — armed with your favorite inspiration palettes!
Hear ye, hear ye! Beginning September 1, we will no longer be open on Mondays. Instead, we’ll open at 10am on Saturdays to extend our weekend hours. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday mornings!
Carolyn Kimball. Carolyn is a gal of many talents but my favorite would have to be her handmade tea towels. Not only are these darling, but Carolyn goes the extra step and uses non-toxic inks. Each design begins as an original watercolor and is screen printed by hand. I use her tea towels each and every day. I must say, in addition to being functional, they really add a bit of happiness to my kitchen.
They’re back! We’ve just rolled out a fresh new batch of upholstery classes for the fall. Get excited!
We’re super pumped to be collaborating with local furniture maker Kelly Dewitt of KKDW on a special Ottoman Class on Saturday, November 8. Kelly is a talented maker based in Central Texas who has collaborated with Hotel San Jose, Canoe and Folk Fibers on a few projects, and her modern planters were recently featured in SF Girl By Bay and Anthology.
If you’re from Austin, you may have seen her on the cover of this month’s Tribeza Makers Issue. We really love the shapes of her planters, so we asked her to design some steel, octagon-shaped ottoman bases for us. They’re going to be 24″ wide by 24″ deep and 18″ tall. Take a look at some of her work below.
We’re so excited about this collaboration and will post photos of the ottoman prototype as soon as it’s ready!
Speaking of classes, we’re teaching our ever-popular Bring Your Own Chair Class on September 11-12 and our Headboard Class on October 23-24. We get a lot of questions about these classes, so visit this blog first, and then feel free to reach out to us if you still have any questions! We’re also headed back to Dallas on October 4 to teach a lampshade class at Oil and Cotton (register here).
If you are unfamiliar with upholstered panels, let me give you a short explanation of how they work. Panels are often used to cover the front of arms or sides of backs on furniture pieces such as wingback chairs and camelback sofas. A panel nail is first punched through the bare panel before it’s covered in Dacron and fabric. Then a mallet is used to hammer the panel onto the furniture. The nail has a large and flat, round head that allows it to be discreetly hidden under the upholstery without making a bump, while the shank protrudes out the back of the panel.
Unfortunately, hammering doesn’t always go so smoothly. Sometimes the nails push back out of the panel and damage the fabric while trying to hammer the panel in place. It can be very frustrating, but, as always, I have a little trick that will help prevent this from happening.
Another helpful tidbit is to use your regulator to find the shank of the nail so you can perfectly line up the mallet with the head of the nail. Also, do your best to distribute your “whacks” evenly. Partially tap one panel nail in and then move to the next one, and so on, until all of the nails have been fully hammered.
Follow these tricks and save yourself the frustration of having to redo your fabric-covered panels!
We’re overdue in introducing our new Sprucette, Elizabeth Najdecki! Welcome Elizabeth!!!
Elizabeth comes to us with loads of experience and knowledge under her belt. She hails from many places and is worldly-wise. Born in Chicago, she’s lived in Oklahoma, Connecticut, Michigan, England, Georgia, Dallas and is now residing in sunny Austin. She has enjoyed marvelous tutelage at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the incredible Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where she focused her studies on textiles and applied studio art. She’s cut her teeth in the design industry since graduating, working for Dallas area designers, retailers, and a hefty dose of doing-it-herself.
Enjoy my Q&A with Elizabeth below!
Clar Mapes: You’re an arty type. Who’s your favorite artist?
Elizabeth Najdecki: I am mesmerized by Claire Zeisler!!! I can always find something new to marvel at in her work.
CM: You can see the Zeisler influence in the sculpture for sure! Nice study! Coolest pillows — those are killer!
What’s your favorite vacation?
EN: I can never say ‘no’ to a tropical getaway. I’m happiest on the beach or at the pool with an appropriately garnished adult beverage — the more umbrellas and pieces of flair the better! I have visited Thailand, the Maldives, Mauritius, South Africa… but I think my favorite vacation is always the next one because I like looking forward.
CM: That’s nice, Elizabeth. Well played! What do you love about home?
EN: I always love making a house a home, but I’m also super impulsive; so decorating, collecting furniture, arranging it, painting, then changing my mind a week later at 3 a.m. and redoing it all is super fun for me! I also love entertaining, sharing my home with friends. I love to lay by the pool, can’t get enough of the Texas sun! I have a cat named Tyson and a dog named Belle. Tyson is named as such because he bites ears, and Belle because she’s a Southern lady!
CM: You’ve been in Austin such a short time. What are your favorite food discoveries thus far? Any favorite hangouts?
EN: A standout for me are the eggs and bacon tender belly with hollandaise at Austin’s Searsucker. Love the creme brulee from Olivia’s. I’ve always had fun out on Rainey St. and East 6th St. Send me suggestions for fun things to do! (Readers, leave us your comments here on the blog!)
CM: I will do so! Tell me some of your favorite movie titles. I wanna know!
EN: Some of my favorites are Point Break, The Science of Sleep, Home Alone, and Welcome to the Dollhouse…but I hate to name favorites because I like too many!
CM: I know what you mean! I have worn out a childhood copy of Point Break, and at one time, I’m positive I could quote most of Welcome to the Dollhouse. Ha! Do you wanna be “besties” with Keanu?
EN: Right now I’d rather hang out with Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate because I’m in the mood to laugh!
CM: I would be tickled to meet them, too – they slay me! Last question/command: tell me about the kind of music you like, please?
EN: I love music and will listen to anything, but I can’t help but always love Alkaline Trio and Saves the Day (I try to hide my embarrassing high school emo side, but I can’t fight it.). One of my favorite songs will always be, “Goin Against Your Mind” by Built to Spill, and I love both the song and video for Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks”….and all my friends’ bands! I love the sound of rain!
Thanks so much Elizabeth! In your short and completely helpful tenure here at Spruce, you have proven to be a quick wit, a bright smiling face to our customers, and so informative for those you’ve consulted. I/we salute you, Elizabeth! You are a golden gal, and thank you endlessly for your expertise and easy personality. We’re truly so happy to have you!
Take advantage of our Storage Sale this month! We’ve never done anything like this before. We’re pulling all the furniture pieces we’ve collected over the past seven years from our sheds and discounting them for sale and/or custom upholstery.
Items include vintage and antique chair and sofa frames (along with a few headboards, stools and rockers, to boot!) — mostly priced at under $100.
Get the frame for FREE and a 10% OFF FABRIC when you book the upholstery project with us!
The cost for basic upholstery ranges from $75 to $1500.
Let’s take a look at some of the goods…
We’re pricing this “Antique Rose” sofa for $95. The cost to upholster this elegant beauty is a mere $1,095 — a steal!
This antique oval desk just needs a little TLC. Take it off our hands for $100!
I’m personally a big fan of this fun, 3-piece sectional ($150 for frame, $895 for upholstery), so if you want it, come and get it ASAP! It has a lot of potential, don’t you think?
If you’re looking for dining room chairs, we have sets of four, six and eight! Take this handsome set of fish armchairs, going for $30 each. Upholstery is $295 each.
Two wingbacks are better than one! These are priced at $45 each; $850 each for upholstery.
I’m a sucker for rattan! This pair of rattan club chairs are $35 each; $500 each for upholstery! Imagine recovering these exotic gems with a tropical, contemporary print. Oh, the possibilities!
Now that I’ve wet your whistle, come by and see the other pieces in person! If you’re looking to spruce up your home with some new digs and you love a great deal, don’t miss this sale ending on August 30. The sale started yesterday, and we’ve already sold several pieces! Questions? Feel free to give us a call at 512-454-8181.
Ply Grip (a.k.a. Pli-Grip, Flex Trim, and Curve Ease) is a nifty invention that helps create professional looking, clean, smooth edges for all your projects. It can be a little tricky when working with thinner fabric, as the metal of the Ply Grip will sometimes cut through delicate fabrics. Naturally, I have a quick solution for this problem.
A strip of masking or painter’s tape serves as a great barrier between the fabric and the sharp edges of the Ply Grip. Be careful to leave the teeth free from tape so they’re able to do their job and grab the fabric.
After the tape is applied, use scissors or a razor blade to slice the tape in between each segment of the Ply Grip so that it may bend and flex around curves.
Once you complete the above steps, continue Ply Gripping as you would normally.
Now you’ll be able to Ply Grip without having any hesitation or worry about damaging your fabric. Add this tip to your upholstery tool box!
Recently, we worked with the creative and marketing team at Tito’s Vodka to help them out with the design and build of their new offices. I got the chance to bring in and work alongside one of my favorite Austin makers, Adam Young of Old Crow Custom Works. The majority of our resources came from decommissioned bottling equipment, which we picked through and selected from the manufacturing graveyard out at the Tito’s plant, as well as pine planks that were salvaged from the devastating fires in Bastrop. One of my favorite details is that I got to work with a pinata maker over on Cesar Chavez to create three pinata chandeliers, using the copper foil that everyone’s familiar with from the Tito’s Vodka bottles.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Chris!
We’re at it again THIS WEEKEND! Visit Spruce and nine other fine fabric retailers for the semi-annual Fabric Shop Hop.
We know who your are, that lovely customer who loves to come in and ooh and aah but never has a reason to pull the trigger. Well, here are your reasons:
20% off ALL FABRICS and WALLPAPERS
10% off ALL OTHER RETAIL
$50 off CLASS REGISTRATION FEE
Plus, make one of these adorable pincushion wristlets at our DIY station (while supplies last), and enter to win a FREE LAMPSHADE CLASS!
Here’s what you missed at the last Fabric Shop Hop.
Sometimes the stripping process can take quite a toll on your furniture. Even the smallest of missing chunks will be noticeable when the fabric is pulled around the edge, especially when using a thinner fabric or a fabric with a sheen. In these scenarios, fear not! I have a very simple solution that will help you achieve a nice, smooth edge.
Cardboard tack strip is a material we use for various things in upholstery. For today’s tip, I attach a strip of cardboard tack strip along the edge of the damaged side, creating a straight edge.
Attach another piece of cardboard tack strip along the underside to add extra stability and structure.
Two strips of cardboard and you are back in business. The simplest tips are always the best ones!
You want to know what’s all the rage this summer? Pineapples!
Clarisa returned from Alt Summit (see post here) with reportage that pineapples are on trend! I’ve collected some of our fabric offerings that feature pineapples, or conjure ideas of the juicy fruit in color or texture just for you, dear readers!
One of my favorites is the Manuel Canovas Jamaica print. This pattern comes in a few colorways and sports a giant pineapple along with other vibrant citrus, passionate fruits and luscious melons that connote everything SUMMER!
Wikipedia says that “in the Philippines the pineapple’s leaves are used to produce the textile fiber piña, employed as a component of wall paper and furnishings, amongst other uses.” Fascinating! How apropos!
Though the pineapple belongs to the bromeliad family (think Spanish moss and certain rosette-forming desert succulents), I can’t help but include another print idea that is so connected in my psyche: the palm. This one’s thrown in to reinforce the summery theme!
I love this next one from Duralee’s Jalene Kanani contract collection. This fabric is built to last and has a great organic repetition – just like the pineapple!
The Design Connection offers a cool print that is all at once contemporary, Art Deco, and a bit organic! This one’s another super durable print, and it comes in several colors.
I found a bunch of sweet prints from Christopher Farr that don’t feature pineapples overtly but remind me of them! See a short list of great prints from the Christopher Farr Cloth line below! The first one I included is a sweet reminder of a pineapple’s golden interior flesh and ashy, bark-like, spiny exterior.
I really loosened up on the theme for this next pattern! I was thinking pineapples, pina coladas, and then… tiki! Here ’tis! A sweet pattern that shouts “Hawaii,” the adopted home of pineapples, swinging retro times and some frothy, fruity drinks! Mahalo!
This pattern I chose as a riff on the pineapple skin diamond pattern texture. I love how the drawn black lines lend further to the ideas of the pineapple texture – rough, a little pokey, natural… You get it, right?!
If you’re in the mood this summer for a pineapple or two, we can fix you up!
We’re excited to participate in a special collaboration that’s kicking off a Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) event – Urban Picnic by Design (featuring picnic table set ups by 20 talented local designers) – held on September 11. Take a look at The Frank Bench! We’re auctioning this one-of-a-kind bench on our website, and all of the proceeds benefit AIDS Services of Austin!
The bench is a collaboration between Spruce, local interior designer Kelly LaPlante (who upholstered this beauty in our bench class using an Alexander McQueen-inspired velvet) and TreeHouse (which provided the industrial hairpin legs). It is named in memory of Kelly’s friend who battled AIDS for 34 years and passed away earlier this year.
Bid for the bench here! The auction expires at midnight, July 8.
When I first met Amanda, the very first conversation I had with her was about the awesomeness of Alt Summit. “If you’re into blogging, you should definitely go,” she said, after sharing some gems she learned about social media and SEO during her time at the conference in 2013 (which you might remember us blogging about here, here and here). Surprisingly, I had never heard of Alt Summit — once dubbed the “burning man of blogging” by the Huffington Post. Once I learned more about it, I knew it was something I had to experience! So, I packed my bags last week and headed off to Salt Lake City for a few days.
While I was at the conference (held at the exquisite Grand America Hotel), I met several wonderful bloggers, photographers, designers and entrepreneurs who inspire me to be the best marketer I possibly can. I learned the importance of collaborations, networking, creating effective marketing materials and using social media platforms, such as Pinterest, to their fullest. I’m still in the process of digesting all of the information I got out of the workshops, talks and networking events I attended. For now, I’ll leave you with a few highlights from this memorable experience.
Winning an Oh Joy! for Target bowl
On top of the fact that Joy Cho of Oh Joy! was the opening keynote speaker, she “liked” our Instagram post of her. Call me a fangirl, but I was pretty excited.
Oh, and she gave away some cool serving bowls to a select few, and I was one of the lucky participants who won one. You made my day, Joy!
Someone asked Martha Stewart about making pie crust.
Martha Stewart was the keynote speaker this year, and we all had the pleasure of asking her questions. Several people asked Martha about her work-life balance, but one question was specifically about pies. Someone asked her if she uses butter, lard or vinegar in her crust. She responded by saying she uses butter for most sweet pies, lard for her meat pies and vinegar for a specific apple pie. There you have it, folks!
There was a Garden Party.
Alt Summit is a lot more than just workshops and lectures. It’s about having both a fun and beautiful experience. Thanks to generous donations from sponsors, such as Bing and MailChimp, the organizers were able to put together some fun parties, gorgeous flower arrangements and delicious food. Every detail – from the strategically decorated photo booths to the letterpress menu cards – was considered. The final event of the conference was an outdoor Garden Party, and Alt Summit went all out. There were mopeds people could pose on for photos, a croquet set-up, ribbons hanging from trees – and the majority of the participants were decked out in fabulous attire. Check out some photos from the event here.
Learning what’s hot right now
Apart from learning the trends in social media and blogging, I got a chance to see what’s hot in fashion and design. This is what’s trending with some of the most influential bloggers in the know: pineapples in design, Scandinavian braids in your hair, Pippet, jumpers with bold prints, ’70’s wavy hair, fluorescent colors, starting a stationery company, thick-rimmed glasses, gold, calligraphy, and food styling.
Take a look at some more photos from the conference!
Some numbers from Alt Summit
Celebrity sightings: 2 (I saw actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell of Modern Family at Bar-X, which is owned by Burrell)
Hours Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked sleeps every night: 5-6
Books Martha Stewart has produced: 85
Minutes the average person spends on Pinterest: 15 per day
Cards collected: 43
Times people said, “there are a lot of people from Austin here!”: 4 (Local creatives Anna Kamburis of Demi + Olive, Miranda Anderson of One Little Minute, and Nycia Emerson of Inspired Events and Designs were also in attendance!)
If you have any questions about Alt Summit, feel free to leave us a comment – or tweet us @spruceathome!
With all the late-night feedings, I find myself surfing the web a lot more than usual. The first few months of motherhood were filled with online shopping for baby clothes. But now that Lilee is fully outfitted to 24 months, I’ve decided to be more productive and philanthropic with my lactation time. So, here ya’ go. Straight from my rocking chair to your computer, my top five deals of the week.
1. Outdoor Egg Chair, $249.99 at Pier 1 imports. Hanging from the oak trees by my pool, please!
2. Floral Landscape Bedding, $12.90-$89.90 at Zara Home. Don’t have a bed for these? Use the fabric for lampshades, throw pillows, or even a roman shade.
3. Woven Top Table, $29.99 at Urban Outfitters. Add a glass top for extra durability. You can afford to at $29!
4. Map Wall Mural, $99.95 at Anthropologie. Hang this wall mural and chart your travel adventures.
5. Agate Handle Set, $24.99 at West Elm. These come in individual knobs, too. Love these for a mid-century credenza.
Sometimes we work on projects that require miles of welt cord. Making a welt cord stick can help you quickly draw your welt cord on fabric. Let me show you how!
We use Masonite to make our welt cord sticks because it is durable, light, and doesn’t splinter. You can easily find Masonite at your local hardware store. The welt cord stick should measure 1.5″ wide. The length can vary, but I recommend using the full width of a 48″-wide Masonite board.
If you are wondering why 1.5″ is the width of the welt cord stick, it’s because once the fabric is wrapped around the welt cord, you are left with a 1/2″ tail. This is handy for sewing the welt cord on cushions or pillows since 1/2″ is the standard seam allowance. Lining up the edge of the tail to the edge of the fabric it’s sewn to makes it easy to keep a consistent seam allowance.
This welt cord stick can also be used to draw double welt cord. As you might expect, double welt cord calls for a 3″ width. This is achieved by flipping over the stick once, which will double the width.
Do yourself a favor and make one of these pronto. You will feel like a welt cord pro. Do you have any upholstery tips? Share your secrets in our comment section!
What are your plans this summer? Perhaps an upholstery project, as the blazing heat drives you to spend more time indoors? Or will you revamp your backyard and porch seat cushions so you can sit comfortably under your misters, sipping a cold one? Our late spring clients have done just that. Be inspired by these summer-ready makeovers – unofficially themed “cool in the pool”!
See our first revamp below: a sandy beige set of chairs gets excellent! Before…
After! The Robert Allen textile chosen has a Native American and Ikat/Mid-Eastern flair. This fabric is at once on-trend, but also dimensional enough to be a lasting anchor in the interior. ¡Que padre!
Our next before-and-after features a covetable vintage find from 1stdibs.coms, one of those websites I have to actively stay away from. I could grow old scrolling through furniture and accessories!
See before: an adorable child-size Art Deco-style rocking chair.
Tah-Dah! What a treat for our client’s lucky child!
Our next project: a contemporary recliner transforms from makeshift to proper.
Wow! This chair is now elevated by the fabric. Something about this chair, the shape of the chair coupled with the fabric, makes me love this redo!
Next, a family heirloom enjoys a reprise. Before: dusty, crusty, and rusty.
After: true blue!
For this precious old rocker, springs were retied, all padding was replaced (per usual unless specified), and a traditional-with-a-twist textile was chosen to give it new life. Here’s to 100 more years!
Another makeover, another success! Here, a tired divan seeks help from Spruce.
After! A steely cool grey velvet is chosen for the next round.
Pert and perky – this sofa is totally refreshed!
Next: a deflated biscuit-tufted sofa.
After: totally tubular! Puffed, stuffed, so buff!
Consider this last before and after the inflatable pool toy of the bunch! We have a screen shot of the piece below in its original state. Our young clients are egg chair collectors! Before: white fiberglass frame with a brown velour.
After: Holy Moly! Our hip, young, collector clients employed Austin Paintworks for the fly paint job, and we lovingly reupholstered it after the hard part was done! Best ever!
We hope you’re inspired to use us in hydrating your thirsty upholstery! Let us know how we can help make your summer excellent!
How did you end up becoming an interior designer? What led you to that path?
In 1998, while living in Beijing, I started Red Door Antiques. I sourced antique furniture, architectural pieces, accessories and contemporary art throughout China and wholesaled the pieces to high-end furniture and design showrooms throughout the United States. On occasion, while in China, people would ask me to decorate their offices and residences with my pieces. Then when I moved to Austin in 2002, a Red Door Antiques customer asked me to help design and decorate the new condo she was building. I’ve been decorating my heart out ever since.
What’s a decorative piece every person should own in his or her home?
Something that is meaningful to the person. For me, it’s a statue that my husband and I got on a trip we took to Peru right after we got engaged, a collection of 1920s picture frames that my dad got me when I turned 13, and a Honora Jacob painting that I bought for my husband for his 40th birthday. A home should tell the story of the people who live in it, and layering interesting and meaningful pieces into the house is the key to that. I have a weakness for great art. In Austin, one of my favorite galleries is Wally Workman. She represents some amazing artists, such as Ian Shults and Joyce Howell.
What are you favorite interior design trends for Spring?
I’m loving the new Kelly Wearstler fabrics for 2014. They’re bold and subtle at the same time, and the color palette is incredible!
What can we expect to see from you in the upcoming year?
I’m obsessed with overdyed rugs, and I’m crossing my fingers that I have a client that will share my obsession! I’m planning a fall trip to New York City, and ABC Carpet and Home is definitely on the agenda – hopefully by then I’ll have a client who wants me to buy one of these gorgeous rugs for them.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I love modern, traditional and everything in between. My personal design aesthetic is a pretty eclectic mix. For example, a living room would consist of a well-constructed American made sofa made by Lee Industries, an oversized modern piece of art and accessories acquired both from antique shops and West Elm!
Apart from showcasing examples of her styling, we presented Jill with a creative challenge. We asked Jill to curate two spaces using pieces from Spruce as well as other home goods. She created an entryway and a sunroom. Let us know what you think in the comments section!
In this sunroom (above), I paired this fabulous sofa, pillow and chairs from Spruce with a vintage milk glass Murano chandelier and French school charts from Shop by Brown in Houston.
Thank you for taking the time to collaborate with us, Jill!
One thing you’ll notice when we have lunch in the break room is all of our meals are completely different. Amanda and Katherine will eat a sandwich (Katherine’s with chips and Amanda’s with gluten-free bread), Clar will have a wrap from Wheatsville Co-op or a perhaps a baked potato, and I’ll usually bring a stir-fry or curry from the night before to pop in the microwave. What we share in common is we’re passionate about food. We love it when people bring us delicious snacks (hint, hint) or when Katherine brings in her confections to share — which are always fantastic. This got me thinking about sharing our favorite recipes for summer.
If you try any of these at home, let us know how they turn out by leaving a comment! Bon appétit!
Amanda: Governor’s Mansion Summer Peach Tea Punch
In the hottest months of the year, all I want to do is cool off with a frosty beverage. This is the yummiest tea I’ve ever tasted! Perfect for a summer party or sippin’ on the back porch, you’ll make this again and again. Add 30 oz. of liquor to convert it into an equally decadent cocktail. I can see why this made it into Southern Living’s Best Recipes magazine!
Clar: Pan Con Tomate
Katherine: Lemon Butter Cake
It should not be a surprise that I am contributing a dessert for this installment of favorite summer recipes. I do not remember how I came across the recipe for this lemon butter cake, but I sure am glad that I did. I justify this confection as summer worthy because of its fresh citrusy flavor, and it can be served chilled.
For the cake
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (heaping)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- zest of two lemons
For the cream cheese filling —
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9″ springform pan.
Filling: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high to high speed for about 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Add confectioners’ sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until completely combined. Add butter, both extracts and lemon zest. Beat until completely combined.
Cake: In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in melted butter, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest until combined. Do not overmix.
Pour batter evenly into springform pan. Carefully pour filling mixture evenly over the cake batter until it’s about 1/2 inch from the edge of the pan. (The filling should cover all but the outer 1/2 inch, at which point the cake batter will be visible.)
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake has puffed up and a toothpick inserted near the edge of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove springform sides and allow to cool on rack for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill completely before serving.
Serve chilled, with a little sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Clarisa: Guacamole and Homemade Tortilla Chips
People say I make good guacamole, so it’s become my go-to when it comes to whipping up something quick and easy to serve at parties. The secret to good guac is not to overcomplicate it. Growing up, my mom would make this classic Tex-Mex dip by mixing pico de gallo with mashed up avocados. It was pretty good, especially because she always made fresh tortilla chips, but I think I’ve refined it by focusing on just a few key ingredients. Simple is better, right?
I apply a simple ratio that will help you make this appetizer for any number of people. Simply use 1 Hass avocado per 2 people. So, if you plan on having 6 people over, use 3 avocados. For every avocado, you should have 1/4 small scallion (chopped), 2 tablespoons of cilantro (shredded) and 1 lime (juiced). Cut and peel the avocados and mash them with a fork or masher. I usually keep the consistency a little chunky. Blend in the scallions, cilantro and lime juice and then add Kosher salt to taste.
Homemade tortilla chips are the perfect partner for guacamole and are quite easy to make. Simply stack a few corn tortillas on a cutting board and cut them into wedges with a sharp knife, much like how you’d cut a pizza. You’ll get 4-8 chips per tortilla, depending on your preferred size chip. Fry them in a deep fryer or in a pan with vegetable oil set on medium. As soon as the chips start to shrink and turn color, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them on a plate covered with a few paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Wait until they cool and crisp before dippin’!
It’s been a little over a week since Spruce hosted its first CRAVEfuel event, and I’m still buzzing with positive energy. I sat down with four other speakers and 40+ attendees to discuss the ins and outs of creativity and how it affects our businesses and daily lives. Austin’s CRAVE hostess Andrea Genevieve asked, “What does creativity mean to you?” Such a broad question received so many specific and completely unique responses from the panelists. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the evening.
“Don’t be afraid to make ugly things.” -Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative
“You have to be a hustler. We’re all hustlers up here.” -Natalie Davis of Canoe in response to what it takes to run a successful business
“My favorite quilt is the next one I make.” - Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers
“Creativity is about making people feel something.” - Jessica Sanders of drink.well.
Conversation ensued to reveal a crowd full of sharp, witty, and beautiful entrepreneurial ladies. Jewelry and graphic designers, photographers, makers and shakers of Austin were all in attendance. I found myself completely engrossed by every person’s perspective. So many times I’ve attended “Kumbaya” meetings only to find my mind aimlessly wandering as speakers went off on their unrelated or dead-end tangents. I can honestly say, I was completely engaged for the entire CRAVE event. Thank you all for bringing your positive energy, open minds, and friendly personalities!
Check out the CRAVE website to attend more events or contact Andrea Genevieve for more information. Special thanks to the amazing Sprucettes for organizing, cleaning, hostessing, and promoting the event, Andrea Genevieve, Mel Cole of Cole Collective for the photographs, and the charming panel of speakers (Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative, Natalie Davis of Canoe, Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers, and Jessica Sanders of drink.well).
We’re hiring two employees at Spruce! Yes, we’re growing, and we’re now accepting applications for a part-time sales person and a full-time upholsterer. More than anything, we’re looking for high-energy candidates with a strong work ethic and a good attitude who embody Spruce’s DIY spirit. These individuals must be team players and should be familiar with Spruce as a business. Please take a look at the job descriptions below before reaching out to us.
Sales and Administration Assistant (Part Time)
This is a customer service role that involves working in the front of the shop, consulting and helping clients find fabric, as well as helping with general administration and shop duties. The ideal candidate should be mature, organized and entrepreneurial. Although sewing skills and a general knowledge of textile, furniture, and interior design are huge pluses, they are not required. A working knowledge of Microsoft Office and basic computer programs is mandatory, as well as the flexibility to work some weekend days.
Duties include but are not limited to:
– Taking accurate notes on client’s projects and facilitating project management from start to finish
– Ordering fabric and checking stock and prices
– Managing the organization and pricing of the fabric sample library
– Photographing and listing retail items on the Spruce website and Etsy
– Lifting large pieces of furniture
– Miscellaneous tasks and errands, including some workshop maintenance
Upholsterer (Full Time)
This person will work with Spruce’s production team as an upholstery assistant or as an upholsterer, depending on level of experience. While upholstery and sewing skills are a huge bonus, no experience is necessary. We’re looking for a person with strong attention to detail and craftsmanship willing to work really hard and learn the skills of upholstery. If you do have upholstery or furniture building experience, please send us photos. Job applicants will be brought in for a working interview.
Duties include but are not limited to:
– Stripping furniture
– Furniture upholstery, such as sewing welt cord, spring tying and using a pneumatic staple gun (as well as other tools)
– Some woodworking
– Lifting large pieces of furniture
– Being in contact with solvents and chemicals
– Miscellaneous tasks and errands, including some workshop maintenance
These positions don’t open up often, so now’s your chance! If you have the skills that fit the bill, send your resume ASAP to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re excited to meet you!
Tip time! At Spruce, we often cut out many or all of the fabric pieces for a project before we start upholstering, which helps us be efficient with our time. When working with fabrics that crease or scar when folded, such as velvet and leather, it’s handy to set up a spot where you can drape the fabric rather than folding it. This week, Frank made a simple fabric holder in about two minutes. Take a look!
Using materials we have in the shop, Frank staples two ends of a strip of webbing together, making a loop to slip a pole through. You can use a metal pole, wooden dowel, or leftover tube from a bolt of fabric.
It is helpful to run a stitch right above the pole to keep it from sliding out.
We also made our hanging station two-tiered for longer cuts of fabric. That’s all there is to it! Now we have a place to hang our cut pieces until we are ready to use them. Such an easy solution!
Spring is a big time for us at Spruce and, among many of our activities, we receive a host of samples from our fabric manufacturers’ new collections. We now have a handful of fresh fabric books and even a few new lines to offer you, too! Like clockwork, some of the trends we’re seeing in fashion and interiors have filtered through. From the turquoise trend to bold florals, ethnic prints, watercolor and confetti — we’ve got the best looks covered!
This trend has been hanging on for awhile! In 2005 and 2010, Pantone named turquoise the color of the year. I kid you not, we probably upholster a piece of furniture in turquoise at least 3 to 4 times a month. Turquoise is so hot, it’s almost behaving like a neutral these days! Mix it with other blue-greens and blues for a monochromatic look, pair it with compliments of orange, or add it to any interior for an element of surprise.
2. BOLD FLORALS
This one’s an annual classic, and is more related to human nature than this year’s trend. When fall and winter come, we grey-out, hibernate, wear sweaters and wool. When spring is here, we come alive and want to live outdoors! This spring, we’re seeing bright and bold florals that liven up the ho-hum of the last season.
3. ETHNIC PRINTS AND TEXTILES
We’ve seen this trend hanging around for awhile, as well. Different ethnic looks and textiles take center stage over the years. Here at the shop, we’re still receiving a lot of ikat, while new batiks and hand-block looks are filtering in as well. Embroideries are the splurge. My favorite ethnic look mimics a vintage North or Central American blanket.
4. CONFETTI AND WATERCOLOR PRINT
My favorite example of this idea is the Sonya Rykiel sample we just received. We will be getting a full book of this collection shortly, but here is a highlight!
Multi-color watery hues on one textile, or a lot of white space and a whisper of color, a gesture, a brushstroke — all forms of the idea are so cool! The look can be vibrant, romantic, whimsical, artistic, and add an element of the unique. Another hot craze is using indigo hues!
Other interiors trends this year include hair on hide leather, blonde or honey-colored wood, and one trend report I read named corduroy as a top trend! What? Awesome! (If you need to see some corduroy, we have that too!) Even though Spring is in full swing, we have more new books and patterns arriving every week. Come and see what’s new!
Most people know Spruce carries a beautiful variety of fabric choices, but many don’t know we also sell wallpaper! Oftentimes, the perfect accompaniment to your furniture is a well-placed wallcovering. Let me highlight some popular selections Spruce carries.
A common misconception about wallpaper is that it’s old fashioned, dated and difficult to maintain. But several designers have been reversing those assumptions, creating lines of wallpaper that reflect a modern aesthetic and have an easy upkeep. We’re seeing wallpaper with typical florals, plaids and solids, in addition to pleasantly unexpected textures, colors and materials that speak to modern decor. Manufacturers are now making wallpaper that can be scrubbed down. These papers are produced with a blend of tough materials, such as vinyl and polyester, that don’t compromise the look of the product. If a wayward meatball flies into that newly covered wall, soap and water will do the trick. Knowing how much paper to order for your project has also become easier now that calculation methods are easily found on the Internet. Installation is still best left to a professional, and Spruce can certainly give some great recommendations for the installation. French fashion designer Christian Lacroix is creating some pretty breathtaking wallpaper options for Designers Guild that are heavily inspired by French and Spanish design. A couple of the designs are large enough to create a large wall mural, and one features a stylized scene of the French Riviera. If you’ve got a hankering for that haute couture vibe, you can’t go wrong with this collection. My favorites are some of the more daring designs, and I can never get enough of those butterflies!
Designers Guild’s Surabaya collection features primitive patterns, giving off a tropical vibe. Along with classic indigo, colors range from acid green to neutrals, with some metallic foil thrown in for a twist. If you’re pining for an island getaway, these prints will tide you over.
Ralph Lauren is always a good choice for those looking for a classic look. Many of the papers have a subtle fabric texture, giving that extra dimension that is a big step up from flat paint.
The nautical and plaid papers give a sophisticated look to children’s rooms. Still a top quality choice, Ralph Lauren also can be an economical option.
Osborne & Little produces a sophisticated line of papers with metallic accents. The effect enhances the patterns which mimic the surface of stone, marble and other natural formations. These papers are great for adding a dose of flair without straying from a neutral palette.
Those who favor traditional design will love Manuel Canovas‘ new line of wall coverings that play with the idea of classic toile de jouy, featuring illustrations of pastoral scenes that tell stories of days gone by. These are classic patterns punched up by some pretty electric colors, such as acid green and hot pink. Also featured are “souvenir” patterns, featuring a mishmash of objet d’art and architectural motifs arranged in playful ways.
Adding wallpaper to your home can revitalize any space. Whether you’re redoing a bathroom or the entire house, wallpaper can be just as important at defining your personal interior style as the fabric you choose to cover your furniture. We invite you to stop by Spruce and see what else we have to offer! If you have any questions about procuring samples or ordering wallpaper, feel free to contact us.
This week, I had a couple of projects which required some pleating here and there, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share some suggestions about making pleats. The number one goal when making a pleat is not to create a “crumb catcher.” There are two simple ways to prevent this upholstery no-no.
When diamond tufting this headboard, I was conscientious to make sure that all of the pleats were pointing down. Leaving a pleat facing up is inviting all kinds of crumbs and bits to find their way in there.
The purpose of a pleat is to help neatly hide excess fabric. You will find that pleats are almost always necessary when upholstering rolled arms. In the past, I’ve tried to dictate where my pleats would go, but I’ve learned that the fabric will let you know when it needs to be pleated as it gathers. Do your best to mirror pleats from one side to the other if there is a symmetrical side to what you are upholstering.
Another tip for keeping pleats tidy is to be sure to pull them nice and tight. A loose pleat looks sloppy and is vulnerable to kids and pets poking around in there.
So, there you have it! Point your pleats downward and make them tight. These are really easy things to do that will help your upholstery projects look better for longer.
We have a treat for you, Austin ladies! Several months ago, CRAVE Austin approached us about hosting a CRAVEfuel event at our shop. It’s happening! Spruce is hosting what’s going to be a fun, all-woman mixer at our place on Thursday, May 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The best part is some our favorite local makers will be joining Amanda on a panel focused on creativity. We selected a group of successful and savvy women who represent a variety of different businesses: (above photo, clockwise from top right) Maura Grace Ambrose of Folk Fibers, Natalie Davis of Canoe, Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative and Jessica Sanders of drink.well. If you’re not familiar with these talented ladies, read their bios here.
You might be thinking, what is CRAVE? It’s essentially a national social and resource network for women that was started out of Seattle by Melody Biringer in 2001, and it’s traditionally been geared to entrepreneurs. Previously named CRAVE Chat, CRAVEfuel is “an inspiring night of shared stories and meaningful conversations,” according to the company’s website. The evening includes wine, light snacks, and conversations focused on the evening’s theme. After listening to a panel of speakers, the group workshops any challenges women bring to the table in small group discussions. If you’re in transition or if you’re looking to expand your network, this event is for you.
We hope you’re able to come out! Tickets are $25, and you can purchase them here. Excited about it? Share this event on social media and tag us! Until next time!
In mid-April, the Spruce book and I ventured out to visit crafters and upholstery enthusiasts on the West Coast. This leg of the book tour was short and sweet and started with a visit to Creativebug‘s headquarters. Creativity oozes out of every nook and cranny in this place; take a look at the craft jewels hung from the walls, on the desks, and more!
After I drooled all over the Creativebug office, I put on my goggles and joined 30+ ladies and gents at the pincushion table. There was a line for the staple guns and fabric was flying all over the place. Thank you, Creativebug, for rounding up so much enthusiasm for the book signing event! And special thanks to Courtney Cerruti for being such an amazing hostess, as usual! I wish I could take you back to Austin with me!
The next night, I swung by Builders Booksource for a spring tying demonstration and book signing and met some lovely folks before jetting off to Portland for an early morning news segment.
As luck would have it, I concluded the tour in Portland, my twinster’s home, just two days before my niece’s 2nd birthday! I spent a drizzly day at Modern Domestic making lampshades with some very crafty ladies, and getting workshop envy over MD’s beautiful space!
After the tools were packed up and shipped back to Austin, Keith, Lilee, and I joined my sister and her family for cozy retreat to Bend, Oregon!
Many thanks to Storey Publishing for sending me on the road again, Creativebug, Builders Booksource, and Modern Domestic for hosting, all the West Coast bloggers, press, and attendees who made me feel right at home, my sister for lending a hand with lampshade class, and my amazing hubby who played Mr. Mom for the week (I LOVE YOU!).
Mother’s Day is just around the corner! We owe so much to our mothers for raising us, and we wouldn’t be the strong, savvy and creative people we are without them. This year, we all decided to pay tribute to the amazing ladies in our lives by giving them a shout-out on our blog. Sprucette moms, here’s to you!
Evelyn Gainer, or Sparkles, if you really know her, is my mom. She’s the lady in the grocery store line you wind up telling your life story to. Most of her stories begin with, “Do you remember that time…?”, which sometimes refers to events that happened before I was born!
It’s no surprise she became an RN in her 20s. Her hobby is caring for others, and she’s so good at it. By way of a good talk, a prayer, or a sweet treat, my mom can bring anyone back from the edge. She amazes me with her tireless support through every tantrum and success, yet she knows how to lay down the law and give you a good talking to when you deserve it.
Widowed when my sister and I were nine, she grabbed life by the horns and showed us what a strong woman is. She threw a 1,000-paper newspaper route, cared for horses, and even roofed a house with twin girls in tow. And when she was forty, she found love, had my lil’ brother, and started all over again.
Mom, you are an amazing woman. Thank you for teaching me to be caring and tough and making a family that overflows with love!
My mother, Yolanda, is one of the most confident women I know, and I’m grateful to have inherited her assertiveness and her creativity. She takes everything head-on, and lives fearlessly. She once told me that her dream was to be a race car driver. Another time she said she wished God had given her the pipes to be Tina Turner.
When my mom was growing up in the ’50s and early ’60s, my mother’s parents took the family back and forth from Texas to California, where they worked as seasonal fruit pickers. Growing up, mom served as my Mexican American grandparents’ translator and was a second mom to her six siblings when her folks were working. She was the one who cooked for the family and delegated all of her siblings’ chores. That experience transformed her into the woman she is today, one who will throw a great party with delicious food and nice décor – effortlessly – all while wearing a great silk dress and jewelry.
My mom dropped out of college to become a stewardess for a year when she was only 19. I think that’s where she got the itch to travel because nearly a decade later she and my father found themselves overseas. My mom encouraged my dad to follow his dreams and take a job in another country. That decision in 1978 took them to Indonesia, where they spent the next 16 years of their lives. Now my parents are in their early ’60s and they’re getting ready for the next chapter of their lives, moving to Mozambique. I only hope I’m as half as adventurous as my mother when I’m her age.
I am frequently asked why I chose upholstery as my profession. The simplest answer is because of my mother. Though she may not be an upholsterer, she is a maker of things. Since I’ve been alive, there hasn’t been a single moment when this woman has not been juggling at least a couple of projects. She is a Renaissance woman in every sense of the word. My mother has taught herself everything she knows. Woodworking, sewing, and painting are just the tip of the iceberg of her many talents. Growing up by her side and watching her create so many things has been the driving force behind my journey into upholstery. I’m thankful for more than just my mother’s creative abilities.
From the time my oldest sister started kindergarten to the day that my younger brother graduated high school (22 years), my mother managed to make homemade biscuits or pancakes whilst ironing all of our school uniforms every single morning before school. And as soon as we were out the door, she would be cooking a big pot of rice and gravy or jambalaya for the fellas on the farm. She really sets the bar high. A big thank you to my mom for working so hard to give us a great life.
At Spruce, we’re fortunate to work with a number of talented interior designers who create beautiful spaces. We want to celebrate our favorite Austin designers by re-launching our Designer Spotlight column, a series that highlights some of their work and creations.Today we turn the spotlight on Katie Kime, a prolific and well-traveled lady who came to Austin via North Carolina.
Katie’s been on our radar because she’s as active on social media as she is in real life. Katie has been making a name for herself on a local and national level as an emerging lifestyle brand that produces fashion, furniture and accessories; some of her recent designs were featured on Of a Kind! According to her website, her singular style is “preppy chic goes globe-trotting… optimistic, bright and often unexpected.” Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about her work and life as a designer.
What is your design philosophy?
I think asking “why not?” is always a better philosophy than asking “why?” when it comes to designing a room or a chair, or setting goals for my business.
You started your career in college with your first trunk show. Did you always know this was the career path that you wanted to take?
Not at all. I knew that I was the happiest when I was creating something but I didn’t ever imagine design was what I would actually do. I feel lucky and grateful that I get to do this!
You design classic prints with some refreshing and unexpected color pairings. How do you know when you’ve gotten it just right?
It’s usually just a feeling, but I think I am most validated in the direction that my designs are taking when two very different people like it. When I’m reaching people with very different tastes, I feel like I’m achieving the right mix.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Travel is probably number one. The only thing I love more than creating is exploring a new place. Other than that, I look at vintage publications (David Hicks books, Dorothy Draper pamphlets, vintage Vogues) and increasingly indigenous groups! The Masai tribe in Kenya, the Navajo indians, the beading of the Cherokees, the textiles of the Otomi, more and more I think some of the oldest traditions have it down.
You’re building a lifestyle brand, and you’ve done a good job marketing yourself. What do you think are the benefits of diversifying your business?
It’s the most enjoyable part for me and the most challenging. Most people say, “do one thing and do it well.” And there’s a lot to be said for that. But if someone is interested in multiple channels of design and selling, I think it can be done by consistently marketing those different lines, using a similar thread. There can be a lot of balls in the air, but it’s just that many more avenues for marketing, creativity and clientele.
Do you try to keep production local?
I do! I think there’s a cool shift going on in the U.S. where some things in this industry are coming back. Everything I can do in Austin, I will. Then it’s back to my home state for a lot of the production.
What are your favorite local shopping spots?
I love Mercury for small unexpected gifts for people. Their kantha quilts, jewelry, candles, etc. are always a go-to for gifts. Mockingbird Domestics is another amazing curation of goods, in my opinion. And I scour every vintage and thrift store that I can when looking for old, one-of-a-kind pieces for styling a shoot or designing a room.
What new things at Katie Kime can we expect from you in the upcoming year?
One of the things I’m most excited about is our furniture rental program. Think Katie Kime signature pieces in some versatile whites and neutrals for a party, wedding, and the like. And I’m hoping to re-launch my clothing line later this year. It will be mostly just staple pieces in some custom-designed prints. Think maxi skirts, caftans, and A-line dresses in some of my signature prints.
What is your advice for those wanting to break into this industry?
Slow and steady wins the race. Keep on keeping on. Use social media. The design world is a very hot, desirable place to be, but I think it can be a bit transient. So, it’s important to figure out if you want it for the long-haul, the 20-year plan instead of the 2-year plan. And if you do then just keep your head down, be kind to people, keep learning and improving and enjoy!
Thank you so much for answering our questions, Katie!
We’re now carrying Good Candle exclusively in Austin. We love the candles’ simple look and sophisticated fragrances, which include Basil, Fig and Lavender. The business is a soy candle operation Jonathan Kroeger started out of his Brooklyn apartment in 2012. Johnathan makes the candles in a studio place in his apartment and a garage space in Crown Heights that he shares with other makers and artists, and then he delivers them across New York City by bike!
Our intern Benton and I came up with some questions for Johnathan. Happy reading!
What were you doing before making candles?
I have a background in industrial design. I was working at a design firm in Union Square in New York City. I was also working for a guy at Brooklyn Flea who sold eyeglasses and vintage knick-knacks.
Were candles something you always wanted to make?
So, I was working for this guy at the flea and he was always encouraging me to sell stuff in his booth. I played around with woodworking, a little basket weaving; really, all kinds of objects. One day I just bought some candle making supplies and started making some on my kitchen stove. Doing the flea was cool because I could perfect the candles while I was there. I could test different fragrances very easily and it gave me about six months to really practice making them.
What was your main goal when launching Good Candle?
Good Candle started because I wanted a candle with a super simple aesthetic and well-thought out materials. It’s the small things. I think our tag sets us apart. It just hangs around the candle. The user can take it off or leave it on. And we hand-stamp and write on each one. It really gives it that handmade feel and makes us slow down to make sure each candle that goes out the door is really a great candle.
Some of the candles have unexpected scents, such as Campfire and Washboard. What inspires these ideas?
All of our fragrances come from my personal experience. Campfire came from being a city dweller for so long and just wanting to smell a wood fire, even if just in the apartment. Lemon Poppy came from my experience at the flea. There’s a local doughnut shop that had a great lemon poppy seed doughnut that I couldn’t help myself from buying every week. And then from there, we work with various fragrances suppliers to get oils with the highest amount of essential oil that emanate fragrance in your room.
Do you plan to expand into other products?
Yeah, we are working on some other products that include some personal care items and some table top decor items. But Good Candle is all about candles so we are working on some new styles and fragrances for the holidays.
I would say that your first attempt may not be the most successful. I tried a bunch of different products before I started making candles. The other thing I’d say is making opportunities for yourself. I went to the flea every weekend for a year and a half and one day I just happened to meet a buyer. I had no idea it would take off!
I think it would involve two studios. A large production space in Brooklyn where we’d make candles, home goods, personal care products, and an old barn upstate where we could work on new creative projects, garden, harvest fragrances, and build bicycles and sailboats.
Thanks for the interview, Johnathan!
Sometimes you’ll find that your DIY upholstery project may include decorative nail head trim. Traditionally, a nylon-tipped tack hammer is the best tool for this job because of its lightweight and non-abrasive tip.
If you find yourself in a pinch or you’re not ready to invest in this specialty tool, use this easy one-step tip. To make your everyday hammer suitable for tacking decorative nail heads, simply use the felt pads you find under the legs of furniture. These little guys are found at most hardware and craft stores. They already come with a adhesive back to stick to the head of your hammer and can be easily removed when you are finished.
I would certainly encourage purchasing a tack hammer with a nylon tip if you foresee more than one project in need of tacking, especially if you’re tacking into a very hard wood or using a larger variety of decorative nail heads. Having the right tool for a job can also affect your morale and confidence when tackling a project.
Hello, hello! We’d love to show you some neat pieces that we’ve completed of late! Want to see? Scroll away!
We recently worked with a favorite Austin designer on her client’s project. The frame was requested to be stripped, painted, and some clever additions and subtractions were made to the sofa! See it below in its “before” position.
The client’s sofa had busted springs, so its owners were employing a plywood board for structure and support under the cushions. If ya’ll are sitting on plywood and cushions, please give me a call at 512.454.8181. We can help you. It’s not your fault.
Wowee! Can you handle it?
Here’s what’s new: the sofa frame was painted a great neutral grey satin, upholstered in Magitex’s Gun Leather in Ivory, and channels were added to the arms and inside back! The client streamlined the look using one single seat cushion without piping and removed the nail head trim. We finished the edges with double welt cord and brad nails instead. What a transformation!
The next makeover involved frame refinishing, as well, making quite an impact. Take the next little chair. No really, take it! (Just kidding!)
Per our client’s request, we refinished the frame and reupholstered the seat and back cushion with Robert Allen’s Aztec Pathway in Pomodoro. The combination of the deeper, richer finish and the cool ethnic-inspired textile is right on! These two simple actions update the chair all the way. I could see this working well in a casual bohemian or Mexican-motivated interior, or a kooky, fun ski lodge abode, among many others! Cute, fun, well done!
We worked on another truly antique sofa recently. This client is always adventurous with her upholstery! She’s been saving this renovation for years in her garage. See the before:
Here again the frame was stripped and restained a deep brown. Fabrics used were Robert Allen’s Folkland in Admiral, and the solid was Magitex’s Belgian Solid in Sisal. Unique and playful – this is a great example of really taking the opportunity to customize your piece! We wish this piece a hundred more fruitful years with your family, dear client!
Another antique made its way into the shop and was lovingly reworked in just the same style.
This slipper chair, according to our client, resided in a Hollywood Hills celebrity home of yesteryear. The family’s housekeeper kept the occasional chair in the family, and 60+ years later it surfaced here at the shop for its new dress. Dear client, if you care to refresh our memory of who the original owner was, please feel free to comment on this post and tickle us with the actor’s name. We’d delight in remembering the provenance. Fabric used to reupholster is Robert Allen’s Avalon Bay in Zest. I’m so fantasizing about this piece’s former life seen through a Vaseline lens!
Lastly, my most favorite in recent history! These chairs came a long way. Here’s the before:
You could tell these chairs were OLD! The wood was brittle and chewed under the upholstery. There were some places where the upholstery was literally the only thing holding the wood pieces together! The legs looked to have had a space where casters once were, and some pieces of decorative wood were missing.
We worked with a talented local wood repair person. Be warned that this is no small feat of work and resources! This was a labor of love and restoration for our client, and she was willing to see it through. Check out the fantastic AFTER!
Here’s the punch list: chairs were stripped, wood-worked, refinished in a deep espresso color, and reupholstered using Boussac’s Lady Bird in Gourmandise (pink) and Exotisme (green). A manufactured trim was selected to finish – Samuel and Son’s woven double welt in color Acier/Grey. WOW!
Here they are again!
We perform miracles daily! Stay tuned for more, and let us know if you need help with your family’s jewels!
Since Amanda is heading to the West Coast this week for book tour, we decided to kick things off with an Instagram contest! Enter to win a free copy of Amanda’s book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design, by following Spruce on Instagram and tagging #sprucebook in your photos. We want to see photos that celebrate the DIY spirit. It could be a selfie of you sitting on a chair you’ve built, or a close up photo of your leather work or needlepoint project. If you happen to be taking our lampshade making class at Modern Domestic in Portland or making pincushions at our Creativebug party in San Francisco, chronicle your experience using the hashtag. Get creative!
We’ll choose the winner on April 30. Start ‘gramming!
Reupholstering can be rough on furniture. With all of the flipping and turning that goes on, it’s all too easy to nick the finished wood or painted surfaces by accident. Luckily, this problem can be solved by padding your sawhorses. Here’s a quick and easy tutorial to make your sawhorses furniture safe and super cute.
For this application, Clar had the genius idea to use these colorful rag rugs. I like this idea because you can find these rugs everywhere, and they are inexpensive. You can also use a moving blanket, carpet scraps, old beach towels, or anything soft and pliable.
The first step is to center your padding material over the sawhorse top.
Staple along the underside of the sawhorse top on one side. Rag rugs unravel easily when cut, so I attach a finished edge of the rug to one side so I only have to cut the opposite side.
Smooth the padding material up and to the inside of the sawhorse and staple along the inside wall.
Smooth the material across the bottom surface and staple to the inside of the opposite wall. Repeat to staple the short ends to the inside walls.
Smooth the padding material up and over the walls and staple to the underside of the sawhorse top. Place staples close together to help prevent unraveling and be sure your padding material is smooth and tight on all surfaces.
My rug is a few inches short, but the important part is that the inside well and the edges are padded.
If the unfinished ends bother you, use leftover scraps to disguise this shortcoming. Fold the edges under to prevent unraveling and create a clean edge.
Easy peasy! Use this tip to enjoy the benefits of not having to worry about chips and scratches.
Hello! Enjoying the weather as much as I am? For those who have not yet savored the new light of spring, feast your eyes on this folio! It is Vitamin D in print!
We have to give a big THANK YOU to Brad Wright at the Interior Design Collection’s Houston Showroom for sending us the new book, Tricia Guild Decorating With Color (click the link for the signed hard copy)! The iconic Rizzoli published this episode in November 2013, and it’s one of a trail of beautiful Tricia Guild books produced throughout the years. Tricia Guild is the talented and clever designer behind one of our favorite textile brands, Designers Guild, and has been designing spectacular textiles and home goods for the label since the ’70s.
If you’ve had the opportunity to thumb through any of Guild’s other books, it functions quite the same. Slim on text but loaded with images, the books are her lifestyle and brand theses. Each page features a vignette, a swatch, a carefully selected piece of furniture, an image of a flower; in essence, this book functions as a mood board. Peppered in are notable quotes from literati or design giants, and special meditations from Tricia Guild or Amanda Back on, for example, the subtleties of azure and its use in the conservatory pictured in coming pages. It’s impressive!
The book is a master study in color, texture, scale, neutrals, and form. Use it as an idea book on how to gain a more casual look for your interiors. Reference it as a template for how to mix multiple fabrics on one piece of furniture. She is so good at that! Effortless!
I encourage you to scoop up this book and lay it upon your coffee table, or file it in your library under RADICAL DESIGN BOOKS! Thanks so much for the gift, Brad! We love it!
One of my favorite things about working at Spruce is having the opportunity to work with people who bring a different set of skills, interests and creative ideas to the table. Each of us Sprucettes frequently informs each other about our favorite designers, artists and makers, food, boutiques and blogs we’re obsessing over. Together, we share a wealth of knowledge – and in this roundup, we share several of our top-three favorite sources of inspiration that get our juices flowing.
1) Color Collective. It’s no big shock that color is a driving force behind Spruce, and it’s equally important when I’m making choices for my own home, wardrobe, nail polish color, etc., etc. Fresh color combos are hard to come by but not if you frequent this blog – so simple with so much impact. Anytime I need to rev my design engine, I come here.
2) The Sartorialist. Buy the books or visit the blog. Either way, you’re destined to be more fashionable with each turn of the page or scroll of the mouse. Scott Schuman finds his inspiration on the runway and city streets, in young and old, men and women, which makes his photos an ultra rich compilation of fashionable folks.
3) Best Friends For Frosting. If I’m being honest, I spend a teeny tiny amount of time reading blogs, BUT the few times I’ve crossed this one’s path, I’ve been hit with a plethora of noteworthy postings. Now that I’ve refreshed my memory of its existence, I’ll be dedicating at least one late night feeding to surfing its archives.
The Art of Gluten-Free Baking. I’ve been off the G for nearly a year, and Jeanne Sauvage’s gluten-free flour mix has saved all of my favorite wheat recipes from the trash! There’s not.one.thing. I’ve made from her website that wasn’t absolutely delicious!
KellyMom. Since January 11, I’ve stumbled across a lot of uncharted territory. This website is the ultimate resource for new and experienced moms with practical questions about parenting and breastfeeding.
1) I find constant inspiration in my old issues of Nest magazine. Although the quarterly publication is no longer in print, its pages, layout, and relentless and necessary element of surprise endures! I’ve never seen such bonkers interiors or such abstract (and sometimes absurd) interior design theory outside of Nest’s pages. Thanks forever, Nest!
2) I love the tumblr inside! It is all about bohemian, alternative, natural interiors with an emphasis on plant life and new age-y ideas for living. I also love its sibling tumblr, outside, that does the same for exteriors!
3) Over the years, I’ve been checking in with KEEHNANKONYHA.COM. He’s a designer and writer based in New York. He formerly had another blog project called 2THEWALLS, which showcased pictures of interiors, art and design coupled with theory, stories, critical essays, etc. with the goal to make readers think differently about interior experience. He has contributed to Apartamento, DIS Magazine, among other noted publications. Always thought-provoking, always cool. He now has a line of bedding and interior fabrics called SafeHouseUSA, which is rad!
1) Pinterest can be overwhelming, so I like to leave the curating to others. Emily Henderson is an especially great pinner. Visiting her boards will just put me in an instant good mood. Her DIY Board, in particular, is amazing. She collects the best pins.
2) Scrolling through Etsy at night is my version of counting sheep; although, this method tends to be a little more costly. I recently stumbled across a lovely little shop called MissMatatabi. It’s filled with sweet fabrics from Japan. The fabrics are colorful, modern and high quality. I have been on a pillow kick lately, so I foresee a MissMatatabi order in my future. Here are some of my favorite prints (above, clockwise from top left): Ibuki, Freedom Garden double gauze – A – France, Pocho double gauze – B, purple and pink on natural.
3) What happens when you combine Etsy and Pinterest? An inspiration super power! Etsy has 98 boards on Pinterest! Many of their boards are geared towards gift ideas for the various types of people in your life as well as guest pinners, such as Camille Styles and Mallory McInnis. My favorite boards by Etsy are Cool Spaces and Vintage Treasures on Etsy.
1) I absolutely adore Frankie Magazine, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Austin’s independent bookstore, BookPeople, carries it. The Australian women’s publication is jam-packed with fun, pithy reads about designers, musicians and artists from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States. Some of the articles are tongue-and-cheek and include tips, ranging from how to work at home to how to yodel. There are always great DIY tutorials; the latest issue has one on making piñatas! This truly is a publication suited to global DIY ladies who are youthful at heart.
2) I’m a Johnny-come-lately to Nowness, which curates some amazing interactive storytelling produced by some of the coolest influencers from around the world that have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary culture. Last year, a friend turned me onto Nowness when he shared this video with me, essentially a visual essay of one of Japan’s famous artists, Yayoi Kusama, in her studio.
3) I love looking at photos of lived-in homes, especially those that are decorated with personal things that you normally wouldn’t find in a styled interior design magazine. The tumblr cyeyalr is dedicated to photos of interiors that are filled with light, plants and a touch of whimsical or vintage decor — right up my alley!
1) Peggy Norfleet on Pinterest is amazing. She’s a interior designer and a real estate agent in Fort Lauderdale and has dozens of categories with amazing design-related pictures. My favorites are her Interiors and Secret Garden (above) pins.
2) The tumblr My Ideal Home is devoted to clean interiors and a love of Scandinavian design. It provides countless ideas for interiors and home renovation, and the options featured can be replicated for a reasonable price. There are lots of rustic and bare spaces to cleanse your mind.
3) L’assasymphonie. This is a tumblr completely devoted to the over-the-top design aesthetic of 18th Century French Rococo. While it can be very overwhelming, it’s fun to look through to find elements you can plug into your own projects. Whether it’s a color scheme or a floral filigree, I always leave with good ideas.
We’d love to hear about the websites, social media accounts or magazines with which you’re enamored. Let us know what they are in our comments section!