Spruce West Coast Book Tour

After a fruitful November book tour through the South, I’ve decided to hit the road once again to visit the lovely folks on the West Coast! In just a few short weeks, I’ll be doing hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and book signings for Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Portland. Baby Lilee and my hubby are coming, and we’d love to meet you in person if you can make it!

San Francisco, CA

A sneak peek of the Creativebug office, compliments of Uppercase Magazine. See more here!

A sneak peek of the Creativebug office, compliments of Uppercase Magazine. See more here!

Hosted by Creativebug
April 16, 2014
6:00-8:00pm

Do you remember my visit to San Francisco last July for Altitude Summit? I spent some time at Creativebug’s office prepping for the Spruce tutorials and was blown away by the staff and their amazing workspace. This time you get to come, too! Grab a staple gun and tackle your first mini upholstery project at Creativebug’s headquarters! Pick out your favorite fabric and make your own button-tufted pincushion or pull up a chair and let’s chat about your next upholstery project. Book signing and festivities are from 6:00-8:00pm at 255 Kansas Street in San Francisco.

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Our pincushion station in action at the Spruce Book Launch Party. Photo by Mel Cole.

Berkeley, CA

Spruce.Builders

Hosted by Builders Booksource
April 17, 2014
7:00-9:00p.m.

Come dig into the treasure trove of knowledge at Builders Booksource, a Bay Area bookstore specializing in architecture, design, and construction. Bring your upholstery questions and get an up-close view of coil spring tying by yours truly from 7:00-9:00pm at 1817 4th Street in Berkeley. Signing and demonstration are FREE to attend!

Portland, OR

ModernDomestic from DavidLee on Vimeo.

Hosted by Modern Domestic
April 19, 2014
1:00-5:00p.m. (Lampshade class)
5:00-6:00p.m. (Book signing)

I’m a huge fan of Portland! I love the lush greenery, walkability, and great shopping in this beautiful city. Plus, my twin sister, bro-in-law, and adorable niece live there, so it’s become my home away from home over the past few years. Thanks to the fine ladies at Modern Domestic, I’ll be setting up shop in Portland and teaching the Spruce lampshade class. Inspire your next bright idea with this four-hour class and turn your favorite fabric into your favorite shade! Click HERE to reserve your space in the class or join us afterwards for a book signing party from 5:00-6:00pm.

Looking forward to meeting you in person and sprinkling a little upholstery love across the Northwest!

 


Spruce Happenings: Triple Birthday Bonanza!

We have a trio of Pisces ladies in the house! This month we celebrated three Sprucette birthdays. Yes, both Clar and Amanda share a birthday on March 11, and my birthday is March 21 (so I’m technically an Aries, but I’m right at the cusp). As per tradition, we organized a special lunch involving delicious baked goods and a gift exchange with the team.

What's sweeter than a delicious cake made from scratch? Um, nothing!

What’s sweeter than a delicious cake made from scratch? Um, nothing!

Katherine made a fantastic strawberry cake for Clar and Amanda’s birthday, using an old recipe she obtained from our friend Martha Hopkins.

cake

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Clar received an unexpected delivery: a bouquet from her mother!

Katherine really is one of the best bakers we know. For my birthday, she whipped up some addictive chocolate chip cookies – my favorite!

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 I have to say, I think the Sprucettes give the best gifts…

A giant sardine pillow from Ikea, which makes since we're a trio of Pisces. Thanks Clar!

A giant sardine pillow from Ikea, which makes sense since we’re a trio of Pisces. Thanks, Clar!

At Spruce, we work hard but we love taking time to celebrate the little things in life. Happy birthday to all of you celebrating birthdays this month!


Spring-y New Retail and Fabrics at Spruce!

Spring is here! Spring is here! Spring is FINALLY here!

Let us shed our pale, dry, dusty shells and interior dwellings! Let’s invite the good times and the light back inside! To anticipate the most verdant and colorful time of year, we bring you the best of our new retail pieces. Take a glimpse of some exciting new pieces that scream, “SPRING IS HERE! WELCOME!”

Amanda found this exciting chaise lounge at a resale store very near and dear to us – Corner Collector’s Market. She chose a watercolor print found on Spoonflower (designed by Heytangerine).

Watercolor Splash Chaise Lounge at Spruce. Click the link for info!

We love it for its easy, contemporary shape. Quilted channels are stitched horizontally across the length, and a matching neck roll is removable via a velcro attachment. I can’t forget to mention its great chrome base. Style and comfort collide! The fabric reminds me of water-colored Easter eggs and blooms from bulbs typical of the season. A must-see in person, this one! We’ve also created a pair of pillows with the print; click here for more info on the pillows.

Also, we have a cute little tufted slipper chair up for grabs. This one had been in storage for a bit, and we finally found a great neutral to cover it!

Blue Tweed Slipper Chair.

Blue Tweed Slipper Chair – see it at the Spruce shop!

Fabric used is Magitex’s Belgian Salt and Pepper in Blue and White, which has a high durability with knit backing coupled with a soft hand. A heathered, or ‘salt-and-pepper’ effect, is seen throughout, reminding us of the sweetest flecked new Robin’s egg. Click the link above for more views, dimensions and pricing. It’s a darling chair!

If you want to infuse your spring with some edge, go for our new pair of club chairs covered in a great grey, charcoal and black texture!

The Mid Century Modern Club Chairs.

The Mid Century Modern Club Chairs. Click the link for info.

A side view of one of the pair above.

A side view of one of the pair above.

The chairs rest on a swivel base, which hides nice and low under the upholstered frame. We’ve used another Magitex fabric called Enzo in charcoal. The chairs are comfy, lounge-y, swivel-y and durable. Have a cocktail party and beam as your guests enjoy those padded arm rests!

Pair the chairs with pastels, why don’t you? Maybe with…these pillows!

Support your collective lower backs with these scrumptious pillows, featuring Clarke & Clarke’s Cosimo fabric in grape. Zowee!

Speaking of pillows, we have a bouquet of fresh pillows in springtime fashion. Enjoy these online, covet them in person!

Chiang Mail Dragon pillows with green solid coordinate.

Chiang Mail Dragon pillows with green solid coordinate.

Take an abbreviated tour of our shop’s pillows by scrolling below…

retail pillows 2 march 2014

Confetti Pillows on the new chaise lounge.

As if that’s enough, we have Good Candles in the house, all the way from Brooklyn!

They really are good candles!

They really are good candles! 

Scents include lavender, rose, fig, washboard, basil, and campfire! So clever! We’re the only shop in town carrying these fragrant torches.

We’re receiving new, in-season lines from each of our manufacturers. We’ve been anticipating the arrival of the Tilton Fenwick collection for Duralee, and it’s finally here!

 new tilton fenwick books march 2014 blog

fabric

This collection is so fun, so kooky, the most fun ‘traditional’ collection we’ve seen in a while. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do! More new fabrics are in almost daily, it seems.

Please come enjoy and scoop up all our new goodies! Cheers to Spring!


Spruce Upholstery Tip: Cutting Two Boards at Once!

Time is valuable. So when I see an opportunity to save some, I take it. This week’s tip is not only a time saver, but it will also ensure more accurate results. Win, win! Lately we’ve had a demand for our custom diamond-tufted ottoman. After building a few, it occurred to me that there is a much more efficient way of pumping these out. It’s as simple as a few screws.

1Clamp boards together

The blueprint for our ottoman calls for two rings. Instead of cutting them with a jigsaw individually, I’ve discovered a better solution: secure two pieces of plywood together and kill two birds with one stone.

2 screw boards together

To secure the plywood for the ottoman together, I put a screw through the center piece, the traced ring, and the leftover plywood border beyond the ring. This keeps the two layers of plywood attached to each other, making cutting more manageable.

3 cut two boards at once

Once the boards have been securely fastened together, it is safe to begin cutting. In addition to saving time, this assures the two rings are exactly the same.

4 two rings 5 finish product

Our frame is ready for upholstery! This basic concept can be applied to all sorts of projects. Check out how this very simple frame was transformed into this super cool diamond-tufted ottoman.


Quick Tips for Perfectly Plump Pillows!

One of the most frequently asked questions at Spruce is, “How do I get that wonderfully plush look in pillows that designers love?” It’s easier than you think. Half the battle is getting the proper measurements for your insert, and I can tell you just how!

bentonpillowinsert

Benton displays one of our inserts – a lofty down-alternative-filled pillow form.

First, you need to measure the pillow cover. Remember to remove the pillow insert before measuring. For a pillow with rounded corners, start from the middle of one side and measure directly across to the other side. Do the same for the other direction, and that is the size of your pillow. Pillows with square corners can be measured from corner to corner.

Now you’re ready to fill it with that perfect insert. Knowing how much a pillow insert is going to fill out a cover can be tricky, but the general rule of thumb is to take the measurements for your pillow cover and add one to two inches to the height and width. You’ll need that little bit extra to properly fill out your corners, or else you’ll come away with a pillow that’s either too flat or a little saggy. When you’re stuffing your pillow, be sure to grab the corners of the insert and reach inside to pull them into position. With your hands still inside, and with the insert in the position you want, give it a couple of vigorous fluffs to get the stuffing as evenly distributed throughout as possible. The hard part is over, so squeeze that pillow between your knees and zip it up.

bentonstuffingpillow

Fluff out those corners from the inside!

Congratulations, you have just perfectly stuffed a pillow. Give it a chop and display away!


Spruce Happenings: Austin Fabric Shop Hop

We were SEW thrilled to meet so many fabric enthusiasts during the second Austin Fabric Shop Hop last month. Several people – including long-time residents of Austin – stopped by Spruce for the first time during the three-day shopping extravaganza, and we introduced them to our services, classes and retail

Virginia whipped up a few fresh pillows during the Shop Hop!

Virginia snatched up a few fresh pillows during the Shop Hop!

This was the first time Spruce participated in the Shop Hop, spearheaded by the wonderful ladies at Stitch Lab. The event, which one shopper described as “a bar hop for fabric stores,” is an opportunity for crafters and people who love design to visit several local shops specializing in fabric while taking advantage of deep discounts.

Katherine led a group of women in a DIY pincushion making session, using fabric remnants and basic upholstery techniques.

Katherine led a group of women at our DIY pincushion table, using fabric remnants and basic upholstery techniques.

 

pincushions

During the Shop Hop, we offered some promotional discounts and had a pincushion-making station set up in the back, which people loved!

pincushion

Attendees who purchased their Shop Hop Passports from us received delicious chocolate chip cookies from épicerie, a free three-month subscription to Creativebug, and promotional discounts to Ace Custom Tailors, J.Hannah Co. and Red Chair Market.

These totes came with Shop Hop passports plus some sweet deals.

These totes came with Shop Hop Passports plus some sweet deals.

We also hosted a photo contest on social media.

Heather Banks snapped this photo of our two newly upholstered club chairs. The pair was quite popular. One shopper even described them as "yummy!"

Heather Banks snapped this photo of our two newly upholstered club chairs. The pair was quite popular.

Heather Banks received a gift certificate to Thunderbird Coffee and Ace Custom Tailors for snapping this photo (above) of our lovely and super-comfy club chairs and plush watercolor pillows.

fabric remnants

Apart from the publicity the event received, the greatest thing about Shop Hop was it united people who are passionate about fabric and supporting local business. During the weekend, customers would strike up conversations with other shoppers about their quilting or fashion projects. One teenage girl told us about how she was looking for fabric remnants to makes plush bears, and a young woman named Emily showed us the colorful oil cloth pouches she makes and sells on Etsy. It was a lot of fun geeking out with people about our Christian Lacroix and Skinny LaMinx fabric remnants. We’d love to see what you make with them!

fabric

If you missed the Shop Hop, no worries; we still have plenty of designer fabric in the showroom for sale, so stop by! Have an idea to make the Shop Hop even better? Leave it in our comments section.

Thank you to all of the local businesses who helped make this a great event! And a big shout out to Stitch Lab’s Leslie Bonnell for organizing. We’re looking forward to the next one! 


Introducing Benton, our newest Sprucester!

We are delighted to announce that we have a new Sprucester. Meet Benton Burford! Benton learned about Spruce while working at Kyle Bunting. Intrigued by upholstery, Benton took one of our Bring Your Own Chair classes and we’ve been on his radar ever since. He’s been living in Austin since 2003, after moving from Midland, Texas, to attend school at the University of Texas. After earning his BFA in Studio Art, Benton chose to make Austin his home because of its central location to Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Having Benton around has been such a joy. He’s more than just an extra pair of hands; this fella is quite a talent. Benton shows his creativity with sewing projects, using unexpected and exotic materials such as scarves, vintage and couture fabrics and experimental trims. Take a look at some of his beautiful pillows and tea towels.

800angela24yellowseafoam-web 800couture-web 800doni1web 800magnolia1-web 800reefpinkorangeweb 800spring0web 800teatowelsaqua

How would you describe your design style? Who and what inspires you?

I would describe my design style as pretty eclectic. I like a lot of soft palettes, neutrals and, every now and then, something crazy and unexpected thrown in. I tend to get a lot of ideas from different art sources that have little to do with interior design. I wouldn’t really consider myself a fashion person, but one of my biggest inspirations right now is the interior design branch of Versace (Versace Home Collection). They have a big presence at Italian furniture design fairs, and it’s always a treat to see what they come up with and who they collaborate with. Their designs run the gamut from clean minimalism to completely over-the-top, and the collections usually have a fun theme based on whatever part of the world they’re pulling from that year. It’s always fantastically unreal. I love it.

What are your  hobbies?
I do a lot of pen and ink drawing and oil painting and use a lot of that in my designs (see below). Aside from that, I play video games to unwind. I’m also big on Turner Classic Movies.

 

fortify benton blog 800blissmatt1
What is your favorite meal of the day? What would be included in that meal?
My favorite meal of the day is dinner. It’s the only meal where I never seem rushed and can really enjoy it. My goal is to always find a better chicken fried steak than the last one I’ve had.
Where is your favorite place that you have or would like to travel to?
I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Florence, Italy, and it influenced what I love to do greatly. I also traveled to Japan recently, and it was life changing. It’s a place that’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I loved soaking in everything, design-wise and otherwise. I’d go back in a heartbeat. I would also love to see India.
Do you have any pets?
I have a white chocolate miniature schnauzer named Charlotte. She’s a rotten egg, but I love her and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
As you can see, Benton is no rookie. We are excited to have him in the shop with us. His understanding of textiles and design is very useful at Spruce. Oh, and it’s a bonus that he’s tall. Who needs a ladder when Benton is around? You  can visit Benton’s website and  Etsy shop if you would like to see more of his beautiful work.

Welcome Baby Sprucette!

It’s been a while since I  picked up my pliers and stapler or shared my two cents on the Spruce blog. As many of you know, I’ve been on a baby vacation for the past six weeks, which means lots of memorable, challenging, and amazing moments. When I started Spruce, one of my main priorities was establishing a career for myself that would give me some flexibility and a creative outlet when my husband and I started a family. I’ve always wanted to nurture my career and my family simultaneously. It took a lot more work than I imagined to get Spruce to a place where it could release me part time for baby raising. But one day shy of Spruce’s official 6th birthday (January 11, 2014), I became a mom and a business owner.

Lilee -81

“Are you really my daddy?”

We delivered Lilee Ann Brown at home after 31 hours of labor. ‘We’ includes me, Keith, my midwife and her assistant (GB and Ulrike) and my doula, Ruth. Wowza! What an incredible experience, and I remember thinking, “How do so many people do this every day?!” I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details but can tell you Lilee’s passage to the world included three hour-long walks (One included a near attack by a stray pit bull!), dancing to and singing Buffalo Solider by Bob Marley, marching through my back yard in the rain wearing only my robe and a pair of black Frye boots, and gluten-free gingerbread pancakes from Kerbey Lane in bed at 3:00 am after the deed was done (THANK YOU, Ruth!).

the whole family

The Browns (left); My beautiful twinster visiting from Portland (right)

It’s still unbelievable to me that one day I’m upholstering chairs and the next I’m holding a baby. And what was formerly an iPhone gallery of before and after furniture photos is now overcome by countless pictures of Lilee’s pretty little face. The week after she was born, our good friend, Mel Cole of Cole Collective came by the house for a newborn shoot. Thank you, Mel, for capturing our new family in such a beautiful way!

keith and pixie

She’s destined for upholstery with those long fingers!

As my baby-cation comes to an end and I get back to business part-time, I can’t give enough thanks to all of my people at Spruce and our wonderful customers for making it possible for me to have a family and a buzzing little business. It’s because of all of you that I’m able to nurture my baby girl and my creative spirit. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! My new little love is inspiring some big Spruce-y ideas in small proportions, so you’ll be hearing from me before too long!

Lilee -10All photos by Mel Cole of Cole Collective. Check out her sweet post here!


A Note About Fabric Durability…

I was able to catch up on about 10 pages of fun posts over at Apartment Therapy this weekend, when I scrolled and clicked on the most useful article! I thought I’d share with you this nugget of golden information by Stephanie Strickland. Her article, “Durable Beauty: What You Should Know About The Martindale & Wyzenbeek Fabric Rub Tests” is sure to come in handy to those shopping upholstery fabrics.

Fabric for blog

As some of you may know from patronizing a house of upholstery or being one of our customers, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a fabric for your piece. One of my most frequent talking points and cornerstones of consumer education has to do with the durability of upholstery fabrics. Questions I hear from 9 out of 10 clients are: “How long will this fabric last? What is the durability of this fabric? Is this textile suitable for my household with children, dogs, and cavalier adults? What is the fiber content, and does that factor into durability?”

Taking a peek at the back of a fabric sample is very enlightening! It can tell you the fiber content of the fabric, country of origin, cleaning codes, and in most cases will provide a durability rating in the form of a Martindale or Wyzenbeek durability rating. In a nutshell, there is a number related to a mechanical abrasion test on each fabric. The higher the number the more durable the fabric (Of course, this all depends on how you treat it! We haven’t found a cat or squirrel-proof fabric to date.).

double rub blog 2

You’ll notice that the fabric above lists a 12,ooo double rub via the Wyzenbeek method. The fabric is a print on a linen/rayon blend. Fabrics that describe this idea (a print on a natural fiber ranging from 9,000 – 20,000 double rubs) are suitable for light to medium duty upholstery, and would work very well on pillows, bedding, or draperies. Low to medium impact residential applications are best for these types of textiles.

double rub blog

The velvet sample above lists a resistance to a whopping 100,000 double rubs! On durability alone, this strong cotton velvet wins. It can stand up to almost 8 times the traffic compared to the sample above! As a general rule of thumb, 45,000 double rubs and above describe a fabric that can withstand a lot of friction, and may even be suitable for commercial interiors. The challenge when shopping is to find the cloth with a great hand feel coupled with the look and design you’re after, as well as being cost effective. I say it daily: it’s like research in a library. Just more fun!

If yours is a household that requires some performance fabrics, your challenge will be finding a durable fabric that can stand up to the abuse! You may want to add another layer of stain and soil resistance to the mix, too. I think I’ll post another blog that addresses these issues alone. Come on in and and I’ll be happy to walk you through the options. Next time, we’ll discuss stains! Yipppeee!

Talk soon, y’all!

Interested in a little more information, check out Fabric: How to Pick it and Keep it Looking Great!


Spruce Upholstery Tip: Replicating a Sewn Upholstery Pattern

I find many people are discouraged from taking on certain upholstery projects because of their lack of sewing abilities. When I started at Spruce, I had very little sewing experience. You may be surprised at how simple upholstery sewing usually is. I have a neat little tip for you to keep in your back pocket the next time you find yourself facing a sewing machine.

When tackling the above dining chairs, I knew I would be facing a good bit of sewing. With this style of chair, the fabric is completely sewn together, and then slipped onto to the chair and stapled in place. Since we are trying to achieve the same fitted look, keeping the original padding, we’ll use the previous fabric pieces as a pattern. This will be a huge time saver, and “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The first thing you should do after releasing the upholstery from the chair is turn the entire piece inside-out and label each sewn part. This is important because once taken apart, it’s easy to get confused.

label old pattern 1

Use your scissors to cut random incremental notches along the seam. The previous upholsterer already made some notches, but it won’t hurt to add a few more. We’ll line up these notches later when we sew together the new pieces.

add notches1 notch 1

Carefully disassemble the sewn fabric pieces by cutting the threads in the seams. Be sure to keep each piece intact.

old pattern deconstructed

Next, iron the individual pieces so they lie flat.

iron old pattern

Now it’s time to trace the old patterns onto the new fabric. It’s important to mark where each of the cut notches are. After all the pieces are cut out, be sure to cut more notches where marked. This will serve as a guide when sewing the new pieces together and ensure that everything is sewn in the right place.

tracing new pattern

Time to put the puzzle back together. Line up your notches and sew it all together. Drum roll please……

Pattern making tip

There you have it, folks! As you can see, this method really works. The upholstery fits snugly around the frame, giving this chair a clean, modern look. Now it’s your turn. I know you can do it!


Before and Afters: Beating the Winter Blues

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Is spring coming soon, puh-lease???!!!

Clar here, bringing you some of the best of our recent winter flips! Grab some hot tea and a blanket, turn on your fireplace TV and scroll through these handsome pieces of furniture, before and after. Meanwhile, imagine your room full of fresh new upholstery and fabric to alleviate the winter doldrums… these folks did!

Blakeslee before blog

First on our ‘tops’ list – our designer/client’s Mid-Century daybed needed refinishing and all new padding. 

After: fluffed, stuffed and tufted! Fabric is a Brunschwig & Fils chenille basket weave in Sea Glass.

Blakeslee daybed after (2) blog

Here’s the daybed piled high with pillows! Cozy!

Dawson chair before blog

Next, an antique English chair from across the pond, shown in its before shape: cherished and shabby. Our friend and client traveled from the motherland with many family pieces like this one. Sadly, she and her furniture will be going back to the United Kingdom this year.

Dawson chair after (4) blog

After: covered in an old but crisp bolt of crushed linen velvet. I love how the aged velvet looks on the chair – a very cool makeover! I really do like to see all the marks throughout the velvet. It oozes casual and chic. Bon voyage, chair. Safe travels, friend!

Holley arm chair before  (24) blog

Next, an antique arm chair and ottoman set in need! Before…

Holley After (5) blog

Holy moly! After: the duo is shown in Avant Garde’s pattern Tsar color 945. So fresh and full of energy.

Howard chair before blog

This before was our client’s first foray into flipping furniture. She removed damaged caning and turned the frame from white to a raw waxed wood herself! 

Kunz MCM chair before (13) blog front

Another before was really jazzy in its original fabric. This piece was for the accomplished Austin designer, Jerri Kunz!

Kunz MCM chair before (10) blog side

Enjoy the side view, too! What a looker…Adrian Pearsall, I believe?

Wow!!! We loved this makeover!

Kunz after 3 side blog

Upholstered in Knoll’s Rivington in sapphire. Absolutely magnificent. Classic and au courant, both. Thanks so much, Jerri Kunz!

Phillips MCM chairs and ottoman before (11) blog

Pictured next is a cool set that had some needs! Rubber cushions were rotten and dry, fabric crispy, and wood dehydrated near the bottom of the feet from water damage.

Phillips MCM chairs after  (6) blog

Great gravy! Awesome with a buff and polish on the wood, new foam, and Robert Allen’s Wavy Goodbye in Pool.

Ruisinger antique chairs before (9) blog

Before: an antique set needed some zing!

Ruisinger antique chairs after (2)blog

After, looking forward to spring with Robert Allen’s Asterling in Edamame.

Suttles cube chair before (2) blog

Before: a rustic cube chair with a rad Central American textile adorning the upholstery.

Suttles After (2) blog

Deja Blue! Ha! Sorry – had to! After: a corte textile from our client’s travel was used, complete with colorful randas (embroidered stripes) just like before!

Tsai chairs before 3 blog

Lastly, these chairs featured an impressive fabric before!

Tsai mcm chairs after (6) blog

After: the pieces could not be more special! Our long-time client found a vintage Brunschwig & Fils dragon print on eBay, and paired it with MJD’s durable Prima Velvet in Navy. Outstanding! Brunschwig & Fils has re-issued the pattern “shishi”, though none are in such a rich color combination as this! Well done! (Thanks C.T. for the fabric info!)

I do hope that these before and afters encourage you to shovel the dirty snow off the driveway and clear the path to spring! Hang in there, dear readers – winter’s almost done and Spruce is here to help!


Have the Best Valentine’s Day in Austin

Depending on your relationship status, Valentine’s Day can be a polarizing celebration. Whether you spend the evening indoors eating ice cream and watching movies or go out for a romantic evening with your better half, it’s difficult to ignore the one day of the year everyone gets worked up about love. So, why not give into the pink and red hearts? If you’re single or in a relationship, celebrate the people in your life with some saccharine gifts and treats. We rounded up some of the best Valentine’s Day activities, gifts and salty and savory bites you’ll find in Austin, and we threw in a few other crafts and suggestions that will make your day even sweeter. xoxo, the Sprucettes

Amanda

valentine's
Grab dessert to go from Thrice. Vegan and gluten-free coconut milk ice creams, pastries, and more! Right, photo courtesy Thai Fresh.

Best Place to Eat on Valentine’s Day

Cook a meal at home and bypass the fixed menus and crazy crowds. The hubs and I steam Alaskan king crab legs every Valentine’s Day served up with garlic butter and our favorite dessert (to go) from Thrice, the sister store to Thai Fresh. The best part is, we can tuck our napkins in our shirts, chow down, and lick our fingers without embarrassing ourselves. Buy your crab legs at Costco — you’ll save a fortune!

valentine outfit
Dress by De-Mes’Tiks NYC by Reuben Reuel, $150; Shoes by ele, $132.

Best Date Night Outfit (or Gift for Her)

Throw on this lively print paired with some glittery tootsies for dinner and a movie or daytime Valentine’s lunch. Whether you’re alone or attached, this ensemble is sure to add pep to your step. I’m adding these to my V-Day wishlist (wink, wink, Keith!).

valentine diy
Photos courtesy of Mom’s Best

Best Kiddie Valentines

I remember combing the Valentine’s Day aisle as a child searching for the perfect mini cards for my classmates. I would have jumped for joy to give or receive any of these DIY Valentines. Although my adult friends would enjoy some milk and Oreos, I’ll save these ideas for Lilee’s future pals!

Best Local Jeweler & Box of Chocolates

Although jewelry and a box of chocolates are run-of-the-mill Valentine’s Day gifts, I’m a sucker for gifts in small packages. Eliza Page is my go-to for fancy and casual bling. Whether boy or girl, create a wishlist for your next gift, and Eliza Page will email your significant other when it’s time for the next anniversary, birthday, etc.

I know a few chocoholics (Frank and Keith), so I’m always on the lookout for THE BEST chocolatey treats. Try The Chocolate Makers Studio or The Wiseman House for the most decadent, mouth-watering morsels. There won’t be a single piece left in these boxes, and they’re as beautifully crafted as they are delicious!

 

Lenoir. Courtesy of McCray & Co. Lenoir. Courtesy of McCray & Co.

Best place to eat on Valentine’s Day

If you can score a reservation, enjoy a glass of wine with a romantic dinner at Lenoir, an intimate Austin restaurant with a cozy dining room owned by a husband and wife duo. Pro tip: call early because there are only 34 seats!

Best activity to do in Austin leading up to Valentine’s Day

One of the most fun evenings I had with my boyfriend was making little Sculpty sculptures together. Crafts bring a couple closer, no? One workshop happening in Austin that’s super sweet is Botanicals Folklorica’s Honey Infusion Workshop on Sunday, February 9 at Olive. Why not make a little honey for your hunny?

hearts
Photos courtesy of The Purl Bee

Best DIY gift 

These felt hearts pins are adorable and easy to make. They’re the perfect little gift for friends and family. Need some more inspiration? Here’s a list of 10 DIY Valentines posted on Camille Styles.

Best Valentine’s cocktail

If you plan on avoiding the crowds, stay inside and treat yourself (and your friends) to some craft cocktails. The 1966 Cosmopolitan featured in designlovefest sounds divine!

Best alternative Valentine’s Day activity

Single? Dating? Forgot to make plans? The Alamo Drafthouse has you covered with The Love Bites Sing-Along. Pump your fists in the air while watching the best power ballads of the ’80s and ’90s. There’s an air guitar competition, to boot! Another alternative: spend the 13th at Thinkery21. The rebranded children’s museum is hosting “Love is in the Air,” an evening of fashion, food and educational activities focused on romance, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Floral arrangements by Gypsy Floral and Mockingbird Domestics (left), photo courtesy of Mockingbird Domestics; and Lumiere tintype photo (right), courtesy of Lumiere.
Floral arrangements by Gypsy Floral and Mockingbird Domestics (left), photo courtesy of Mockingbird Domestics; and Lumiere tintype photo (right), courtesy of Lumiere.

Best gift for the ladies

Our friends at Mockingbird Domestics paired up with Gypsy Floral to create these lovely flower arrangements in jadeite tumblers.

Best gift for the men

Commission an old-school tintype portrait at Lumiere‘s photobooth (at Justine’s Brasserie) and get it framed for your dearest. Lumiere’s photos are breathtaking and make great keepsakes.

lampshade
Our lampshade class is on April 11 in Austin, Texas.

Best gift for anyone

Show how much you care by purchasing one of our lampshade classes for your loved one. She’ll think of you every time she turns on the lamp. Let your love shine brightly!

Clar

Elizabeth Street Cafe, photo courtesy of Knock-Knocking.
Elizabeth Street Cafe, photo courtesy of Knock-Knocking.

The best place to go to in Austin on Valentine’s Day

Take a walk around Bouldin Creek neighborhood or around Town Lake and Zilker Park. Get a bite to eat on South First Street at Elizabeth Street Café. It’s always dimly lit, romantic and casual; great first date, great 712th date!

Best Valentine’s gift

Not to be so plug-y, but I would truly like to get a gift certificate from Spruce for fabric!

Best food item to give your loved one

Counter Culture’s vegan “cheesecake” made from raw nuts and fruit. It doesn’t have heavy cream, which could potentially upset tummies during a romantic night.

Best song that should be playing in the background

If you’re alone, Split Enz “I Hope I Never (have to see you again).” It’s deliciously melodramatic! If you’re with a partner, Haruko Kuwana’s “Sundown” – a winsome, romantic tune!

Katherine

Truffled deviled eggs at Salty Sow. Photo by Tina Phan via blog.tinaphan.org.Truffled deviled eggs at Salty Sow. Photo by Tina Phan via blog.tinaphan.org

 

Best Valentine’s Day activity

I don’t have a beau in my life so I will be honoring St. Valentine with blood orange margaritas and truffle deviled eggs at Salty Sow with my single gal friends.

Best thing to give your Valentine

A message in an egg!

Katherine made this molten chocolate cake with raspberry sauce for her niece Molly!
Katherine made this chocolate molten cake with raspberry sauce for her niece Molly!

Best food item to make or give your loved one

When I think of Valentine’s, I think of chocolate and berries. February 14 will be the perfect excuse to make chocolate molten cakes with fresh raspberries! I like to express my love through sugar!

Best Valentine’s crafts

I love any excuse to craft!  I found this super easy tutorial, courtesy of Martha Stewart, for making festive heart doilies. It’s perfect for a Valentine’s tablescape!

heart stuff
Anatomical heart pillow on Etsy by TheTearySeal, photo courtesy of TheTearySeal. Cest la Vie fabric, photo courtesy of Spoonflower.

Best Valentine’s gift 

I found this great, hand-knitted, anatomical heart pillow on Etsy. It’s a great way to give your heart to someone.  Spoonflower has oodles of sweet Valentine’s-inspired wrapping paper and fabrics. I love this simple watercolor heart design.


Spruce Internship this Spring

We’re now recruiting an intern to work at Spruce this spring. If joining the Sprucettes for a few months is something you’d like to do, apply! Read the information below and feel free to forward it to anyone who fits our qualifications.

Spruce Upholstery’s Spring Internship

Location: 6611 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas, 78752

Description: Spruce Upholstery is a retail furniture and fabric shop that has offered quality custom upholstery services and upholstery classes in Austin for the past six years. We are an energetic and talented team of people passionate about design – and we pride ourselves on our craftsmanship, customer service and forward thinking.

This part time, unpaid internship would be perfect for a motivated student who wants to work in a retail environment centered on upholstery and interior design. He/she will get the opportunity to work with clients and will learn the ins and outs of a small business – from organizing our large selection of designer fabrics to helping with social media marketing. This internship would provide software training for our marketing applications and mentorship from the Sprucettes. We encourage our interns to take ownership of one special project of their choice during the internship duration.

Although we’re a small team, we’re internationally known for our expertise. Spruce’s founder, Amanda Brown, is a blogger for Design*Sponge and her tutorials have been featured on HGTV and Creativebug. Her book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design (Storey Publishing, Fall 2013) was an editor’s pick for one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2013 for Home Decorating and Design.

Responsibilities: Including and not limited to

  • Working in the shop 10-12 hours a week for three months, including the occasional Saturday
  • Pricing merchandise
  • Helping customers find fabric on the sales floor
  • Basic customer service, including follow-up calls and emails for estimates
  • Photographing furniture
  • Managing our fabric sample library, which includes processing, organizing and culling samples, and taking swatches out for our customers
  • Taking on special graphic design projects, ranging from making digital flyers to editing photos
  • Posting links on Spruce’s Pinterest page
  • Gathering information and research for Spruce’s website
  • Running occasional errands
  • Basic data entry and website edits using WordPress
  • General organizing and cleaning of the retail space

Qualifications:

  • Passion for design and entrepreneurship
  • Team player with a strong work ethic
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Basic computer skills and familiarity with Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
  • Desire to learn new tasks and follow through with assignments
  • Photography background and Photoshop experience a plus
  • An interest in design and textiles

How To Apply: Email your resume to spruceaustinpr@gmail.com by February 25. Include a link to your portfolio, or attach photos of any relevant design work.


Spruce Featured in Citygram

Citygram paid Amanda a visit at her home in December, just weeks before she was due with baby Lilee. Little did we know our story was going to be January’s feature piece! Veronica Meewes wrote “The Unsinkable Amanda Brown” and the magazine’s founding editor, Chris Perez, took some luscious photos of Amanda in her abode that he graciously shared with us to use in our blog.

amanda-brown-spruce-upholstery-Citygram_Austin_2014-771amanda-brown-spruce-upholstery-Citygram_Austin_2014-770

Pixie takes a seat on Amanda's wingback chair, which was featured on the cover of her book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to  Upholstery and Design.

Pixie takes a seat on Amanda’s wingback chair, which was featured on the cover of her book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design.

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Being a fan of all things stylish and well-executed, we love how the piece turned out! If you’re not familiar with the Austin-based interactive magazine and app, check it out and download it! Thank you Citygram for this amazing feature!


Spring Upholstery Classes at Spruce

Class is in session! That’s right; you’ve been asking about upholstery classes and now they’re back! Spruce is offering a variety of fun, hands-on classes this spring suitable for adults of all ages. With the exception of our chair class, all you have to do is bring your favorite fabric, lunch and comfy shoes and clothes to work in. We’ll provide professional instruction, materials and the tools you need to create a custom piece of furniture.

Here’s what you need to know about our classes before registering. Please note, we do not accept cancellations within 30 days of the class date.

Bench Class (February 21, March 28)

bench classes

Amanda and Katherine taught students how to make benches while they were on book tour in New Orleans.

This is the same class Spruce took on the road last fall during the Spruce book tour. The Sprucettes even taught HGTV editors how to make these custom benches. Students enrolled will build a 16”-deep by 48”-long bench from start to finish. The five-hour class includes the frame, legs and upholstery materials. Bring 2 yards of your favorite fabric.

Chair Class (March 6-7, May 8-9)

double chairs

Participants in this class will walk away with a truly unique chair! This ten-hour class requires students to bring their own chair, or Spruce can source a chair for the student for an additional fee.  Chair needs to be approved for the class by Spruce at least one week before, and you can do this by sending us an email with a photo of your chair. To maintain the same level of difficulty for all students, we do not allow coil springs, loose seat cushions, or arm upholstery. Students will learn how to strip furniture, attach padding and fabric, sew welt cord, and more! Requires 2-3 yards of fabric; contact us if you need help with yardage.

Headboard Class (April 3-4)

headboard

Create a gorgeous headboard to perch your head while lounging on your bed. This two-day class is definitely one of our most requested classes. The Sprucettes will help teach you how to make a one-of-a-kind, rectangular headboard from plywood that fits the bed size of your choice. The class includes the frame, upholstery materials and eight hours of hands-on upholstery instruction. Students can apply a nailhead trim for an additional cost. Requires 4-6 yards of fabric; contact us for help with yardage.

Lampshade Class (April 11)

lampshade

Turn your favorite fabric into a beautiful cylindrical shade in the size of your choice. Class includes all lampshade materials (excludes fabric) and 5.5 hours of instruction. Learn how to mount fabric to lampshade paper, assemble the shade with metal rings and glue and attach decorative trim. Bring 1 yard of your favorite fabric and a sack lunch.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us. We’re excited to see you in class!

 

 


Pantone’s Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid!

I’ve heard nothing but controversy over Pantone’s Color of the Year: “Radiant Orchid”! Thoughts? Impressions from the peanut gallery?

Pantone's color of the Year for 2014: "Radiant Orchid." Image courtesy of www.pantone.com.

Pantone’s color of the Year for 2014: Radiant Orchid. Image courtesy of www.pantone.com.

In my experience, any variety of  purple can have quite a polarizing effect! I used to loathe the very idea of purple, swearing that it was just for wizards and kingly ermine mantles – neither of which were ‘my style’. Somewhere along the way I turned a corner and have fully embraced all things plum, violet, heliotrope, lilac, lavender, perse – you get the picture! I have painted one room in my house not unlike this year’s color. You win, Pantone!

A quick history on Pantone: In 1963, founder Lawrence Herbert pioneered an innovative and comprehensive system to identify color in the printing industry. Knowing that color is perceived differently by individuals, the Pantone system was designed to unify color directives between designer, manufacturer, retailer, and end user or consumer. We know it today as a fan deck featuring standardized, agreed-upon colors! According to Pantone, it “has expanded its color matching system concept to other color-critical industries, including digital technology, textiles, plastics, architecture, contract interiors, and paint.” Cheers, Lawrence! We wouldn’t have made it without you.

I’m sharing with you a few pieces that have come through Spruce that include inspiration from Radiant Orchid, as well as some fabric picks that hearken the hue!

A delicious pair of chairs covered in a close match to "Radiant Orchid." Fabric is Clarke and Clarke "Cosimo"in grape.

A delicious pair of chairs covered in a close match to Radiant Orchid. Fabric is Clarke and Clarke Cosimo in Grape.

Floral fabric with hints of the color of the year.

Floral fabric with hints of the color of the year. Kaffe Fasset’s Floral Burst in Green.

Chrome frame chair covered in Duralee's "Barker Weave Velvet" in hyacinth. Delicious!

Chrome frame chair covered in Duralee’s Barker Weave Velvet in Hyacinth. Delicious!

Kooky dining chairs with bold and radiant purples. Fabric used is Designer's Guild " in blick.

Kooky dining chairs with bold and bright purples. Fabric used is Designers Guild Asolo in Peony.

Since, 2000, the Pantone Color of the Year has been chosen to convey what is taking place in the current global zeitgeist. This year’s color is said to anticipate and express innovation, creativity, originality,  love, and joy. Come in to Spruce to capture your own piece of Radiant Orchid!


Tiny Chair Transformation

When I became an upholsterer, my family thought that they had hit the jackpot. But they soon realized their vision of having their own personal upholsterer was just a pipe dream. After three years at Spruce, I have finally completed an upholstery project for a loved one. I found this adorable vintage rocker at Vintage Tobacco Barn in Asheville, N.C. during our recent book tour. When I first saw it, I knew I had to snatch it up and make it new again for my sweet godchild, Evelyn. And that is exactly what I did!

evelyn's chair stripping evelyns chair stripping

I was pretty shocked when I began to strip this little guy. The previous “upholsterer” chose to use poster board in place of webbing and opted for adhesive tape to secure the foam. Yikes!

evelyns chair repair

After stripping, I spent a little time repairing the battered base of the chair.

evelyns chair upholstery1

Before I padded the chair, I decided to write my “sweet, sweet Evelyn” a little note. Perhaps one day she’ll have this rocker reupholstered for a child of her own and discover this message.

evelyns chair padded

The previous wimpy padding just wouldn’t do. I chose to upgrade the foam for my special girl. Only the best will do!

evelyns chair process

I chose this fun cut velvet fabric from Duralee’s Beau Monde collection in Aquamarine.

ev after1

All this rocker needed was a little paint, some elbow grease and a perfectly sized little girl to sit in it. I am happy to report that Miss Evelyn has been putting her rocker to good use, enjoying her morning chocolate milk and rocking her baby dolls. Tiny furniture is the best!



Nugget of the Week: Our Favorite Movies!

We (the Sprucettes) are visual people. Paying attention to fine details is part of each of our job descriptions, considering we work with designer fabric and all of the elements that go into beautiful pieces of furniture. And since we gather inspiration from everything we’re looking at on a regular basis, we thought it would be fun to share our top three movies and what we like about them.

Amanda’s Picks

youve-got-mail-meg-ryan-and-heather-burns

You’ve Got Mail. Photo courtesy of The Viewer’s Commentary.

You’ve Got Mail
This movie sprouted the first seedling of entrepreneurial spirit in me. Through high school and college, I had big dreams of moving to the Big Apple, and no movie portrayed my dreamy vision better than this one. New York in the fall, Kathleen Kelly’s charming bookstore and the dynamic romantic comedy duo (Tom Hank and Meg Ryan) make this movie numero uno on my list and the source of many of my favorite quotes: “Thank your, ladies and gentleman.” “I would send you a bouquet of sharpened pencils.” “F-O-X.”

Stranger Than Fiction. Photo courtesy of http://milliesmoviestowatch.blogspot.com/

Stranger Than Fiction. Photo courtesy of http://milliesmoviestowatch.blogspot.com/

Stranger Than Fiction
If you need a feel-good movie, look no further. Will Ferrell, in one of his few (kinda) serious roles, plays a “tax man” who wakes one day to hear his every move narrated by the voice of Emma Thompson. Little does he know he’s playing out the plot of a novel; and his regimented, by-the-book life is turned upside down, resulting in a charming love affair and near-death experience.

Chocolat. Photo courtesy of the Miramax blog.

Chocolat. Photo courtesy of the Miramax blog.

Chocolat
France, Johnny Depp, Chocolate — yes, please! I also love the contrast between the gray and drizzly French town and Vianne’s (played by Juliette Binoche) bright red and coral attire. If only we could solve our social dilemmas with a cup full of melted chocolate!

Clar’s Picks

blade-runner-2-movie

Photo courtesy of Cvlt Nation.

Blade Runner
This is the most stylish, futuristic, dystopian film noir about a cop tracking down human clones! It’s based on a popular sci-fi novel by Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and directed by science fiction great Ridley Scott. I love all of the cast: Daryl Hannah, Sean Young looking HOT, Rutger Hauer looking great, and a young Edward James Olmos. Plus, the music is by Vangelis – so good! I used to listen to that soundtrack while sleeping. It’s so soothing.

MSDEAGI EC012

Earth Girls Are Easy. Photo courtesy of rogerebert.com.

Earth Girls Are Easy
This chick-flick about a trio of aliens befriending a young woman in California after landing in her pool is the epitome of valley girl and alien movies. It features the best ’80s apparel and hair. I want about every outfit in this movie. I love the credit card earrings one of the girls wears to a dance club. Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans (love his dance scene) are so handsome – and Downtown Julie Brown is killer in this!

Beat Street (left, photo courtesy of filmconnoisseur.blogspot.com) and Breakin’ (right, photo courtesy of Crasstalk).

Beat Street or Breakin’

It’s a toss-up for me on these because both have it all! For early breakdancing culture, these two are the tops. The music is hot, ranging from Afrikaa Bambaataa, Kraftwerk to Chaka Khan, Gradmaster Melle Mel and early Ice T! I cannot tell you how much these movies are connected to my formative years. There’s a scene in Beat Street where The Roxy holds an audition for a holiday talent show fundraiser that’s awesome. It’s a long montage filled with early hip-hop and breakin’ acts, compiling cameos of underground performers who weren’t exposed to the general public before that time. When I watch these movies, I’m bruised for a week after practicing windmills on my kitchen floor – no lie!

Katherine’s Picks

Pee

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Photo courtesy of Nitehawk Cinema.

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Similar to Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, this movie is insane and ridiculous in the best way. I love how stylized and over the top the set design is. I like watching it even more as an adult because I missed several of the jokes when I was a kid.

Matilda. Photo courtesy of The Daily Touch.

Matilda. Photo courtesy of The Daily Touch.

Matilda
This is another classic from my youth. I love the whimsy and fantastical feel of this movie. What little kid didn’t want Matilda’s magical powers? Danny Devito and Rhea Pearlman play the perfect worst parents ever! My favorite scene is when Miss Trunchbull punishes the chubby boy by forcing him to eat a mammoth-sized cake. I always felt like I could have finished it!

A League of Their Own. Photo courtesy of Chris and Elizabeth Watch Movies.

A League of Their Own. Photo courtesy of Chris and Elizabeth Watch Movies.

A League of Their Own
I like the idea that these women are feminine yet tough and badass – like the Sprucettes! Watching this makes me wish I played softball in the ’40s, and I’d love to name one of my kids Dottie, after Gena Davis’ character. I also enjoy the non-uniform, retro fashion of the time. I wish it were socially acceptable to wear white gloves and a nice hat to the grocery store; those were the days!

Clarisa’s Picks

Grey Gardens. Photo courtesy of Fashion on Screen.

Grey Gardens. Photo courtesy of Fashion on Screen.

Grey Gardens
If Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie were around today, they’d probably have their own reality show on Bravo. The reason the Masyles brothers even bothered capturing the reclusive pair in their deteriorating East Hampton mansion, filled with cats and raccoons, is because they were related to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. However, the documentary is entertaining to watch – from the moments where the two sing and dance to old records to the many scenes where Little Edie shares here philosophies on life while wearing eccentric and fabulous ensembles, like upside-down skirts pinned to her with brooches and gorgeous scarves tied around her head.

Up. Photo courtesy of pixarwallpapers.blogspot.com.

Up. Photo courtesy of pixarwallpapers.blogspot.com.

Up
I’m a huge Pixar fan, and this one is definitely at the top of my list. It’s definitely a tearjerker; I cry every time during the montage of Carl and Ellie’s 70-year relationship together leading up to her death. It reminds me that it’s important to make every day count and not to push your dreams aside. Besides the fact that, like most Pixar films, it’s rich with lush, researched details, I love it because it combines two of my favorite loves: old people and travel. There are few children’s movies out there about adults in their ’70s going on wild adventures.

Reality Bites. Photo courtesy of Journey of the Center of Fashion.

Reality Bites. Photo courtesy of Journey of the Center of Fashion.

Reality Bites
This movie was the Girls of its time. It has sharp writing, a hip soundtrack and is about entitled, angst-y young adults. Winona Ryder’s character has to decide between a hot, young Ethan Hawke who can’t hold a job or a serious yuppie played by Ben Stiller. I think I watched it on repeat in my mid-twenties because it totally evokes being a post-college young adult trying to get it together, and I could totally relate. The only thing that could make this movie better is having more costume changes for Janeane Garofalo’s character, who rocks this indie-retro style I adore.


Book Review: Picture Perfect Parties by Annette Joseph

I was thrilled to learn that I won a copy of Annette Joseph’s Picture Perfect Parties from a Design*Sponge giveaway. Out of over a hundred comments of the perfect Halloween decoration, my idea (a frozen hand, made with water and a latex glove floating in the center of a festive punch bowl) was decided to be the best by my favorite design blog. The book’s publisher, Rizzoli, promptly mailed me of a copy of this beautiful recipe DIY entertaining guide, densely packed with colorful tight photos of perfect party settings.

I wasn’t familiar with Annette Joseph before reading the book, but I learned that she’s a big deal when it comes to food styling and entertaining, having been featured on all of the prominent lifestyle media outlets, from The Today Show to Southern Living to Better Homes and Gardens. Like most lifestyle icons in the industry, she’s empowering all of us ordinary people by sharing her expertise – which makes perfect sense now that we’re living in the age where everyone is ‘gramming (as in adding photos to Instagram) the details at parties and events.

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Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, courtesy of Rizzoli.

Picture Perfect Parties is broken up in chronological order by seasons with sample parties one could throw throughout the year. There are pages on hosting An Easter Lunch for Friends & Family, Fourth of July Picnic and Thanksgiving Celebration, but Joseph also includes unexpected, creative parties that aren’t as traditional – such as Italian Spring Feast of Squash Blossoms, Palio Celebration (raising a glass to the horse race of Sienna, Italy) and Retro Riviera Party. This book takes fun up a notch, and it’s not intimidating at all.

PicturePerfectParties_p155

Who doesn’t love homemade ice cream sandwiches? Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, courtesy of Rizzoli.

Joseph’s philosophy is anyone can create a memorable event, and you don’t have to invest a lot of time and money doing so. All you need is to make all of the guests feel special and make food that everyone will love to eat, Joseph says in her introduction. With that in mind, I decided to try out the book by preparing Sunday Supper, one of the most casual sections. It made sense because, as Joseph points out, “if you are just starting to host your own dinner parties, this is a great one to start with.” Baby steps. Plus, I knew the close friends I invited over to test the recipes enjoy comfort food. On the menu: Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Bread, Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Hot Garlic Broccoli Rabe, My Roast Chicken and Homemade Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. I skipped making the bread and rabe and simplified the workload for the ice cream sandwiches by purchasing Lick ice cream (rather than making it from scratch) and using the Toll House recipe. Why compete with a good thing? The chicken was delicious and succulent, the risotto was soothing and easy to make, and the cookie sandwiches were a hit!

PicturePerfectParties_p150 btm

My version of Sunday Supper menu was not as ornate as the photo from the book, but I was still satisfied with the results! Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, courtesy of Rizzoli.

Every chapter spotlights simple decorations you can make to accessorize your dishes. My approach was not to go out and buy things I wouldn’t use again, so I didn’t spent too much time decorating. However, I did have some secondhand flowerpots and berry branches in the garden, so I made these festive candle pots with just a few materials! The cost of my meal and the decorations was under $40, and it took me a total of two hours to put everything together.

PicturePerfectParties_p152

These festive little flower pots were easy to make! Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, courtesy of Rizzoli.

The book has inspired me to try hosting a few other “picture perfect” parties. I might just make that my New Year’s Resolution.

 


Upholstered Headboard Tutorial and Giveaway: Win a Creativebug Class!

Amanda’s Upholstered Headboard tutorial was just released on Creativebug! This is the second of a series of online upholstery tutorials we’ve partnered to do with the craft workshop website. Students will learn how to make a cool, custom headboard like a pro from this in-depth workshop. Amanda guides students every step of the way, from cutting out the actual shape of the headboard to expertly aligning the fabric over the foam so it’s taught and sleek. Watch this video to learn more.

We’re excited to give away one of these Creativebug classes, too! It’s the time of the year when we start gearing up for our in-person upholstery classes here at our Austin location, and before we announce our classes, we want your feedback. What type of upholstery do you want to learn? Let us know what your dream class would be in our comments section. If we like you’re idea, you’ll get to take the Upholstered Headboard class for FREE. What are you waiting for? Leave us a comment and we’ll pick a winner by noon CST on Monday, January 13!


Spruce’s Best of 2013

It would be an understatement to say 2013 has been an unforgettable year for us. We flew to several beautiful places, began some new creative collaborations, welcomed two new Sprucettes to the team, and we celebrated the release of Amanda’s first book – just to name a few highlights. We thought it would be fun to look back at the year and point out some of our several moments.

Best Networking Opportunity

alt summit

At Alt Summit in San Francisco, Creativebug hosted a party (left), and Amanda met up with Jaime and Jacinda (right) from Pretty Prudent.

Amanda and Meredith attended Altitude Summit in Salt Lake City in January and met a lot of amazing bloggers and great connections. Meredith chronicled her adventures here, and Amanda  here. Then in March, Amanda attended Altitude Summit in San Francisco, which was also a lot of fun!

Best Blood, Sweat and Tears Payoff

After much anticipation, Spruce: A Step-by-Step to Upholstery and Design was released by Storey Publishing in late October! Amanda and Katherine hit the road for a three-week tour across the South, teaching lampshade and bench-making classes and had several unique adventures while on the road. Our runner-up in this category was getting a spanking new website! What do you think of our digital makeover?

Biggest Putting-Spruce-on-the-Map Moment

Clar shows the editors at HGTV how to use the pneumatic gun to put their benches together.

Clar shows the editors at HGTV how to use the pneumatic gun to put their benches together.

Hey, hey HGTV! Amanda began collaborating with the TV design giant this spring, thanks to a fruitful introduction to Liz Gray, a blogger for Design Happens. Take a look at this neat-oh Geometric Upholstered Door Amanda created! Later this year, the Sprucettes visited HGTV at the headquarters in Knoxville and taught the editors how to make their own benches.

Most Coveted New Tool

The team in the back was excited about our new drill press. When you’re making benches for 65+ book tour students, it makes life a little easier.

Additions to the Team

pram2

This year, we said goodbye to Meredith (miss you!) and hello to Alice and Clarisa. Speaking of new Sprucettes, Amanda will be a proud mother soon! She’s expecting a baby girl any day now. One of the coolest gifts she received at her baby shower was an adorable pink pram from Holland (above), reupholstered by Frank and his family. Wowee!

Coolest Collaboration

cb-shoot-blog-2

Creativebug, a San Francisco-based website that hosts online craft tutorials, paid us a visit in September and filmed four upholstery tutorials (above). Visit Creativebug’s website to see our Wallpaper Lampshade Tutorial. More Spruce tutorials will be released in early 2014. In fact, Amanda’s headboard tutorial is hot off the press today!

Best Antiquing

We try to make it out to the Round Top Antiques Fair every few years to acquire some awesome vintage pieces. We went in February and came back with neat pieces; some that we sold and some that we kept!

Most Anticipated Purchase

Photo courtesy of Iro Fiber Art on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of Iro Fiber Art on Etsy.

We (Amanda mostly) have been oggling Iro Fiber Art‘s intricate, handmade fabric moths. Finally, after much deliberation, patience and timing, she got her hands on one. Score!

Most Delicious Thing We Ate

Katherine’s oatmeal cream pies are so irresistible, you’d think they were laced. These tasty cookies have made appearances at several of our gatherings, including the Book Launch Party at Mockingbird Domestics – and attendees who didn’t get to try them were royally bummed. Seriously!

Best Photos on Instagram

best of the year

Clockwise from top left: Clar examines her new baby, a Mardis Gras baby; celeb Jessica Alba was at Alt Summit; Clar gives us her best Popeye impersonation; Meredith transforms into Gus Gus; Katherine’s infamous Momofuko confetti cake was served at Meredith’s 30th birthday; Amanda behind the lampshade roll during our last day with Creativebug; we got a trailer for book tour and stuffed it with upholstery tools, materials and books; this pincushion doll may be the creepiest thing Katherine spotted while antiquing in Tennessee; Amanda and Katherine treating themselves to pancakes at Pfunky Griddle in Nashville!

It was a difficult task, but we narrowed down our nine quirkiest, sweetest and most hilarious Instagram moments (above). Looking back, we had a lot of fun capturing life behind the scenes at Spruce – and remembering all of Clar’s modeling poses.

Happy 2014 everyone!


Spruce’s Top 10 of 2013

There’s nothing better than starting 2014 with some beautiful, custom upholstery. That’s why we love to celebrate our favorite pieces of the year. Our Top 10 of 2013 (above) includes a healthy mix of client pieces and in-house designs, such as Amanda’s Geometric Upholstered Door featured on HGTV’s Design  Happens blog and adorable Circus Tent Kennel Cover featured on Design*Sponge. What’s your favorite?


Local Business Snapshot: GirlsGuild (For Girls, By Girls)

Finding ways to be creative is a constant endeavor for professionals who create for a living. Where can you gather and go to be inspired? Austin’s GirlsGuild is filling that niche. Co-founders Diana Griffin and Cheyenne Weaver are creating a space that encourages learning and expanding creativity for girls in a new and exciting way.

Jewelry designer Melissa Chapman (left) of Stone + Smith and her apprentice Veronica Talamas. Photo courtesy of GirlsGuild.

Jewelry designer Melissa Chapman (left) of Stone + Smith and her apprentice Veronica Talamas. Photo courtesy of GirlsGuild.

The duo is a great example of how collaboration and community are two of the most important tools in developing and inspiring our creative skills. GirlsGuild is “a community of makers focused on sharing skills through apprenticeship.” Makers offer hands-on programs through GirlsGuild suited for a range of interests, ages and skill sets. The apprenticeships recently offered are a sweet selection, ranging from pattern making and portrait photography to business skills in the wedding planning and art industries. Apprenticeships range from long-term commitments to one-day classes, which means there are a variety of ways to expand your knowledge and skills.

Caroline Wright (left) and her apprentice Danielle Brown working in Caroline's studio. Photo courtesy of Jacob Rader.

Caroline Wright (left) and her apprentice Danielle Brown working in Caroline’s studio. Photo courtesy of Jacob Rader.

GirlsGuild describes the apprenticeships as more hands-on than mentorships, and more supportive than internships. They’re a way to trade knowledge and skills for help to make something. Whether you want to find an apprenticeship or sponsor an apprenticeship, GirlsGuild is a great way to expand your creative abilities. Check out all of the available apprenticeships here!



Inspired Before and Afters!

Christmas is near! Christmas is here! We’re almost there everyone!

One of my favorite things in (blog) life are our “before and after” posts. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a round of makeovers from Spruce, no? In the spirit of unwrapping all your favorite gifts on Christmas, unwrap these lovelies with your eyes and dream of your best gifts to come. Perhaps you’ll receive one of these under the tree? Hope I’m not spoiling anything!

One of our favorite redos of the fall was this “trad-with-a-twist” – a typical English armchair seasoned with the spice of India. This gem of a piece was upholstered in vintage saris! Our client redid this piece adhering to the same eclectic aesthetic.

shafer before and after

Fabrics used are Robert Allen’s Lady Tara in Magenta, Sunset, and Prussian, as well as Duralee’s 90882-299. Stronger and more vibrant than ever!

Next is our client’s red, rad family heirloom she rehabbed in a kicky polka-dot print.

Our next remodel was a score our client found during a trip to California. She, like many of you, found it on the side of the road for trash collection. And, like so many of you, she rescued this stray. All it needed was a little TLC!

dobson before and after

After much woodwork and after some elbow grease, this trash find is back to life! Fabric is Maharam’s Folklore in color Tourmaline 005.

This next one is sure to impress! A mod swivel chair gets a feminine touch in this before and after!

young before and after

After! Upholstery material is Fabricut’s Caiman in color Thistle. Oofta!

Young after 2 blog

I just had to show you a shot of the back, too! So smooth – those curves!

The next sofa is so gratifying. The things you can do with some pieces! We removed the back cushions, created a cushier inside back, created one continuous seat cushion, removed and refinished the wood. It was truly a simple and effective overhaul!

Rao sofa before blog

I hope you enjoyed this extended holiday, our own little Santa’s Secret Workshop showcasing the best of the season’s before and afters. Come and visit us anytime online, or here in the shop for Christmas gifties! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


And Baby Makes Three: Spruce Hosts a Shower for Amanda

Last week we celebrated the anticipation of a Lilee Ann Brown with a sweet baby shower. In case you missed Amanda’s announcement that she’s expecting, dear readers, Amanda will be giving birth to a baby Sprucette very soon!

photo 4d

The shower was held at Amanda’s house and hosted by former Sprucette Meredith Carmichael, our friend Mel Cole, and Katherine (above).

nametags

The talented hosts designed the feminine arrangements for the shower.

All of the guests wore hearts with Lilee’s name on it.

photo 3c

And everyone brought a book for Lilee.

pram

Amanda’s niece Kate wanted to keep the pram, gifted by Frank.

Frank and his family gave Amanda a vintage pram, fully reupholstered with pink fabric. Frank, Brian, and Waldina took the entire thing apart and refinished it so it looks like new! We’re so impressed!

treats

Katherine whipped up some sweet treats, including her famous Momofuko Milk Bar confetti cake, oatmeal cream pies and mini chocolate meringue pies – which are always delicious.

photo 1a

Even Pixie, Amanda’s dog, was in the party spirit.

Everyone had a great time. We can’t wait to meet you, Lilee!

 


DIY Honeycomb Fabric Ornaments

Hello readers! I am so excited to be back in Austin. Amanda and I had so much fun on the Spruce book tour, but I was really eager to be home so that I could get into holiday mode.  I have a really fun afternoon project for you! I found this adorable DIY ornament project on Pinterest and couldn’t resist. As you can imagine, we have so many scraps of fabric lying around that are usually too small to use for anything. This project is perfect for putting those scraps to good use. Follow these instructions to make your very own ornament!

1 trace circle onto fabric

First, find something round that can be used as a template for your circles. I used this votive candle, which is about 3 inches in diameter. You will need to trace 18 circles on your fabric.

2 cut circle out

Cut out all of your circles.

3 sew circles together

Next, sew 2 circles together with the good sides facing one another. Do this until you have 9 sewn circles.

4 trim ecess seam allowance

Trim away most of the excess seam allowance. This will remove some of the bulk around the edges and will make your circle rounder.

5 mark the center of the circle

Mark the center of your circle. The easiest way to do this is to fold your circle into a quarter and then mark the tip with chalk. When you unfold it, you should have the approximate center.

6 cut the center

Cut a small X where your center mark is. Be sure that you are only cutting through one side of the circle.

7 use thumb to turn rightside out

Use your thumb to turn your circle right-side-out. This part will agitate the fabric, so it’s better to use a fabric that doesn’t fray too much.

8 nine ironed circles

Iron all 9 circles so they lie nice and flat.

9 attach yarn or ribbon

To assemble your ornament, you will need to start with a base circle. Use hot glue to attach a loop of decorative yarn or ribbon to the center of the side that has the X cut into it. You’ll use this loop of yarn or ribbon to hang the ornament, so be sure it’s long enough to go around a limb or nail. Use as little glue as possible to minimize bulk.

10 glue first folded segment

Take another circle, fold it in half, and line it up in the center of the base circle. Run a thin line of hot glue down the center and attach the folded circle.

11-glue-segment-2

Attach another  folded circle on the opposite side so that it mirrors the previous folded circle.

12 all nine segments

Repeat this step until you have 4 circles glued on either side of the base circle. You should have 9 total (1 base circle and 4 folded circles on both sides).

14 glue centers

Now it’s time for your ornament to start taking shape! Glue the center of one your circles to the center of the circle next to it. Repeat this step all the way around. If you get confused, try pinning them together first before you start gluing.

15 glue top and bottoms of the segments

After all of your centers have been glued, attach the tops and bottoms of every other circle. Again, pinning them together first is helpful.

honeycomb ornaments

Deck the halls! There are many ways you can add more personal touches to this ornament. Instead of using hot glue, you can hand stitch the segments together with little french knots, or even attach a decorative bead or sequin. Repurpose an old shirt or baby blanket to give your ornament more sentimental value.  Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a sewing machine. This project can still be achieved using felt or decorative card stock. ‘Tis the season to craft!

 


Best (and Worst) Moments of Book Tour!

If you were online at all in November, you know that Katherine and I were zipping across the country for three weeks promoting the new Spruce book and meeting so many enthusiastic designers and furniture rescuers. 10 cities, classes, and book signings, 105+ students, and 3600 miles later, I’m still reeling and recouping from the excitement and chaos of it all! Here are many of our favorite moments and a few of our not-so-favorite moments from the Spruce Book Tour.

Best of the Spruce Book Tour

Franklin house

Best Accommodation. The Jefferson House, Franklin, TN. After a VERY hectic first week, Katherine and I arrived here, just outside of Nashville. We filled the rooms of this turn-of-the-century home with the smells of bacon and coffee and the sounds of Nat King Cole Christmas.

Best Coffee. Otherlands Coffee Bar, Memphis, TN.

Best Grits. Tivoli & Lee, New Orleans, LA. It became very apparent after our first few cities that grits and pimiento cheese are quite popular in the Deep South. I love me some grits (especially since they accommodate my gluten-free diet), and these were made with heavy cream, lots of butter and salt! I’m still drooling…

Most of our days were packed to the gills from sunrise ’til the time we got some zzzzs, so we ate A LOT for breakfast. There was a limited selection of gluten-free baked goods, but I did live vicariously through Katherine, who ate either pancakes or biscuits daily. These next two places are awarded by her.

Best Biscuits. City Bakery, Asheville, NC.

Best Pancakes. Fido, Nashville, TN. Try the Whole Grain Banana Nut Pancakes!

Best Dinner. 2nd Empire, Raleigh, NC. A splurge well worth it. We were seated next to a signed photo of Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and Dexter (Michael C. Hall), who apparently like this place, too!

Best Dessert. Boucherie, New Orleans, LA. Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding. Need we say more?

And now for the highest honors of all! Drum roll, please…

Worst Moment Award

1st Place. The day we arrived in Raleigh, NC, we planned on checking into our hotel and heading to the airport to pick up my hubs. Apparently, Siri was smoking crack that day because we wound up driving in circles all over town. Did you know there are three Wake Forest roads in Raleigh? The second Wake Forest was a dark, narrow, DEAD END residential road. Mind you, we’re driving a large truck with attached 12-foot enclosed trailer. Every driveway was too steep to back into, so I spent about 20 minutes maneuvering what seemed like a 100+ point turn in the midst of a seven-months-pregnant temper tantrum.

2nd Place. Making and eating a soggy lettuce wrap in the freezing rain next to the gas station pump after the first 15 hours of a 32-hour day. This was day one, by the way.

AB & Diane Montgomery

Best Moment Award – There were so many of these, it was hard to pick only two!

1st Place. Hanging out with the editors of HGTV.com in Knoxville, TN. That’s all of us at the top of the post after bench class!

2nd Place. Meeting Diane Montgomery (right) and Emily Auman (left) at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC (photo above). Diane has been a long-time Spruce supporter and asked me to sign her webbing stretcher! I felt like a celebrity! 🙂 She and Emily are upholsterers at New Coverings in West Columbia, South Carolina. Way to live the dream, ladies!

webbing stretcher

Thank you times a million to EVERYONE who made this trip possible! Without Storey Publishing, all of our amazing hosts and hostesses (see them all here!), the Spruce staff (especially Katherine who did a lot of heavy lifting on tour!), and our wonderful supporters and classmates who met us on tour, we’d have been twiddling our thumbs from Spruce Headquarters in November. Very special thanks to all of the blogs and media who have helped spread the word about the Spruce book and tour. And last but not least, thank you to the guardian angels who popped up in several of the cities to lend a helping hand: Michelle Brown, Martha Hopkins, Becky Johnson, and Keith Brown (that’s me and the hubs below on tour).

keithandamanda

 


DIY Christmas Cards or Gift Tags: Machine Stitched Snowflakes!

This one’s going viral – I can feel it!

I made these Christmas cards years ago when I wanted a cute and cheap assembly-line style solution for my Christmas greetings. You could experiment with different fabrics, different card stock, contrast or metallic thread. There are lots of options for custom looks with this project.

xmas blog 2

What you’ll need:

  • Card stock, or other material to stitch on
  • Paper or fabric, printed or plain
  • Scissors
  • Thread, any color
  • Sewing machine

Here’s what you do!

Make a snowflake. Use paper or fabric! I like to mix it up by changing the shape, folding style, cuts, etc. Here’s a link on how to make a snowflake on YouTube in case you were born yesterday (JUST KIDDING!)! Cut as much or as little as you like. Experiment for optimal snowflake making!

Place your snowflake on the card stock.

 snowflake cards process revised

3 Stitch it up, little darling (sung to the tune of Bob Marley’s hit song Stir It Up)!

snowflake cards sewing

4 Trim the snowflakes to conform to the paper’s perimeter (optional). I like my snowflakes to stop at the edges, but who’s to say that the stitched snowflakes can’t be left in their original glory? My vote is to trim the snowflakes down if you’re stuffing the card into an envelope, and leave them large and wild if they’ll be outside of a wrapper.

snowflake closeup

That’s it! Give them away! Put them on your presents! Enjoy! YOU’RE WELCOME!

Happy, Happy Holidays!

 


Introducing Our Newest Sprucette, Clarisa!

Hi everyone! Some of you may have read some of my previous posts and may be wondering, who is this Clarisa and where did she come from? Well, I hit the ground running with Spruce two months ago, right before Amanda hit the road for the Spruce Book Tour. I’m the behind-the-scenes gal who heads up our website and social media, and I’m happy to call myself a Sprucette.

This is my second time living in Austin. The first time was from 2006 to 2008, right before I headed off to Costa Rica to serve in the Peace Corps, and then on to Chicago to continue my studies and start my career as a social media marketer. I’ve been a big fan of Spruce ever since I heard about it through my ol’ college friend and wonderful local photographer, Mel Cole (who we profiled here), this summer.

Last month, Clar interviewed our other newbie, Alice, so now it’s time for Alice to ask me some questions! I divulge:

doha

Some photos from the last time I visited my parents in Doha, Qatar, in 2008. Clockwise from the left: My parents at the local market; the Museum of Islamic Art; the exterior of the Khalifa International Stadium; and my mom and dad in front of their house.

Where are you from?
Everywhere! My father has been working overseas since the late ’70s, so I was born in Singapore and was raised in Indonesia, Japan and Qatar, where my parents currently live. I moved to Texas when I was 18 and consider Austin my home!

sister, grandma and I

My grandmother Graciella, my sister Crystal (left) and me in front of my grandparents’ old house in Eagle Pass, Texas circa 1991. Growing up, we spent every summer vacation with our grandparents on both my mom and dad’s side.

Do you have any siblings?
Yes, one. I have an amazingly talented younger sister, Crystal, who lives with her husband and dog in Fort Worth, Texas.

What song do you currently have on repeat?
Strangely, it’s Heavy Metal Drummer by Chicago band Wilco. I found this old mixed CD (yes, remember those?) I made in college and started listening to it in my car. There are artists on that mix that I haven’t thought about in years!

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate!

If you could master an art form, what would it be?
Pottery. I’d make all sorts of funky mugs and things as gifts.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people don’t get back to me. Maybe I’m too hyper-responsive when it comes to communications.

host family

My immediate family (left), me (center), and my former host family (right) in Costa Rica meeting for the first time on Christmas day in 2009. After sharing lunch together, we posed for a picture in front of the house I shared with my host family while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Santa Cruz de Leon Cortez from 2008 to 2010.

Favorite past vacation spot?
Costa Rica. I still keep in touch with my host family from Peace Corps, and they always ask when I’m going to visit. The tiny Central American country is so diverse – you can go to black, white or pink sand beaches; explore several volcanoes or go through some amazing rain forests. Also, the people are very warm and kind. I hope I’ll get to go back sometime next year!

What is your idea of comfort food?
Pizza from Home Slice or tacos from Torchy’s Tacos. Anything with avocados or cheese.

Favorite place to eat in Austin?
Right now I’m really loving Kome. They make great Japanese dishes without any pretense.

Favorite movie and TV show?
The Royal Tenenbaums. I’ll watch anything by Wes Anderson again and again because of the aesthetics. His films are like candy. I don’t have the patience for TV, but I do listen to a lot of NPR. My favorite radio show is The Splendid Table. Lynne Rossetto Kasper is so creative and authoritative when she’s telling people what to make with their random ingredients, and I think her voice is soothing.

us

My boyfriend Dustin and I dressed up as Bonnie and Clyde for Halloween this year.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Hang out with my special guy, Dustin, or go somewhere nice for dinner with friends. I’m a big foodie. When I get the chance, I like to host themed parties and I like to cook (although Katherine is definitely the chef at Spruce). I go off recipes I see in fun food blogs, such as Lottie and Doof or 101 Cookbooks. (Have any recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments section, please!)

Do you have a color scheme or time period that best describes your home style?
My home style is minimalistic and tends to skew a little modern. I collect vintage wooden dolls and art from my artist friends, but other than that, I don’t own a lot of things. Most of my kitchenware and odds and ends are from the late ’60s – and about half of it is teal because my mother (a natural at interior design) told me you have to stick with one color. However, I just got these yellow, floral plates made in Norway from Goodwill that remind me of Season 5 of Mad Men.

What would your “message t-shirt” say?
Just do it – like Nike, but without the “swoosh”.

Want to learn something new about our Sprucettes? Just send us a tweet at @spruceaustin and we’ll get back to you!


Announcing the Winners of the Ugliest Chair Contest

We’re excited to announce the winner of The Spruce Ugliest Chair Contest, which Storey Publishing launched on Facebook in October. Audra Trautvetter had what Amanda judged as the ugliest – a wingback upholstered with duct tape (above)! The poor thing was Audra’s grandmother’s chair and has taken a beating over the years. She’ll be receiving a hand upholstery tool kit, $200 worth of fabric, a signed copy of Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design, and design recommendations from Amanda! We’re looking forward to see you give new life to that chair, Audra.

ugly chairs
We also have two runner-ups chosen by illustrator and designer Kimberly Hall, who publicized the contest on her blog Nottene. Kimberly couldn’t decide between Kelley Christensen’s ’90s jewel-tone wingback (above, left) that’s been in Kelley’s family since she was born and Lauren Russo’s wooden chair (above, right) that was her aunt’s late father’s, so each will receive custom illustrations of their chairs so they can remember the, err, good ol’ days. Want a custom illustration of your old mementos and heirlooms? Visit Kimberly’s website to learn more.

Last but not least, we’d like to give a shout-out to the chair we think has a ton of potential. The Sprucettes are in agreement that this unique, curvaceous chair from Kristen Blome Cheli could be a total knockout!

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest, to all of the bloggers who promoted the contest, and to Storey Publishing for spearheading it. We had a lot of fun looking at all of the entries submitted, including faded, saggy vintage chairs that were family mementos and just needed a little love to dirty, smelly chairs ripped and stained by furry friends. We even received an entry “loaded with spider egg sacks!” Take a look at all of the entries here.


Holiday Gift Ideas From the Sprucettes!

The Sprucettes love the holidays! Every winter we decorate the shop with festive ornaments, enjoy Katherine’s delicious baked goods (mmm, pumpkin bread!), and start shopping for the gifts we’re going to get our loved ones. This year we put our heads together and gathered a list of some products we think our family and friends love to inspire you while you’re shopping in Austin or online.

Amanda

moth

– When it comes to scarves (and desserts), the bigger the better! I’ve been eyeballing these chunky creations from Yokoo for many years. I think it’s about time I wrap it up (photo 1, courtesy of Yokoo)

Paper to Petal is a must-have for anyone who loves making beautiful objects, paper, or flowers. Send it along with a box of crepe paper for the perfect DIY gift (photo 2, courtesy of Papertopetal.com).

– I’m speechless over Iro’s fiber art and am anxiously awaiting the next batch of winged beauties so I can start my collection (photo 3 and above photo, courtesy of Iro Fiber Art)!

– And for the most personal gift, commission paper dolls from Jordan Grace Owens to depict your favorite peeps (photo 4, courtesy of Jordan Grace Owens).

Alice

LudvigsenBig

– What to get a man who has everything? One of the things on my list for my boyfriend this year is this amazing Porsche coffee table book (above, courtesy of Rainy Day Books). It will be a few more years until I can get him the real car!

– I love these cashmere wraps and leather tote bags from Mark & Graham. Anything monogrammed makes a good gift for your best girlfriends.

– My mom collects snowmen for Christmas, so I always try and find a fun and interesting way to give her a snowman that she doesn’t have already. I love this indoor/outdoor pillow from Pottery Barn! Too bad snowmen aren’t a year-round look.

Clar

bolivian_blankets_6_alt_1_af5662bc-2a49-4e88-a832-29be5029ef70_1024x1024
– Tesoros Trading Company has some righteous vintage Bolivian blankets (above, photo courtesy of Design*Sponge), and they’re back in stock! They don’t have them on their website, but I assure you they’re there! Use it as a throw, a doggie blanket, or as a rug like I do! Tesoro’s has so much in the way of décor, apparel, gifts, etc. It’s a fun, fun store for holiday shopping!

– Spruce’s Spectrum Daybed (a big ticket item!) would make a great piece for your college student’s first apartment!

– Sunroom’s Canopy Woven Shorts. A great for your best girl or guy friend! Unisex appeal! The perfect gift for any Austinite, since we live in shorts weather. Take them to the pool or hiking, or put on a sweater with ’em.

fabric

– Fabric from Spruce (above). Order a yard or two of Robert Allen’s “Mirages.” It’s perfect for the crafter, or your honey’s next decorating project!

Clarisa

Black_and_white_stripe_woven_button_clutch

– Shop Fair Trade this year and get your sister or BFF a chic purse from Purse & Clutch. The Woven Button Clutch (above, photo courtesy of Purse & Clutch) is hot! It’s made by hand from sustainable materials by women in Madagascar!

– I’m currently obsessed with The Burlap Bag’s soy candles. The packaging is simple and fun, and several of the candles have cute and sassy names, such as Unicorn Barf and Crazy Cat Lady (my personal fave). Pumpkin Addict and Gingerbread would make great stocking stuffers for friends, and you can get those online, at their shop on 502 West 30th Street, A Town Austin Lifestyle Store, or at in.gredients.

– If you can’t treat your mom to a day at the spa, why not bring the spa to her? Green Air’s aromatherapy diffusers are portable and provide a subtle, relaxing scent once you add a few drops of your favorite oil. You can get them at Take Heart, a great little boutique on Austin’s East Side!

hall and oates

– Keep it smooth! If the man in your life likes Hall and Oates, get him these quirky Yacht Rock Forever cuff links on Etsy (above, photo courtesy of Leroy’s Place).

– Nannie Inez has some beautiful home accessories, including these Kaleido Trays made by Hay. These colorful nesting trays give a playful pop of color to any room, and would make an excellent gift for creative types. You could arrange jewelry or even office supplies in these.

Katherine

SONY DSC

– Know someone who has a mini garden, like my mom? Get this Kati Von Lehman Planter with a Woven Basket from Spartan (above, photo courtesy of Spartan). It’ll add a nice touch to any porch!

– This Roadrunner Lowball Glass Set from AustinMetroRetro Etsy shop is a crowd pleaser. I’m getting this practical gift for my friend Eva, who loves having friends over and making fancy cocktails.

– If your sister is an entertainer like mine, this Jadeite Creamer and Sugar set from Mockingbird Domestics is perfect.


Clar’s Land O’ Likes!

It’s been awhile, blogging audience! If you’ve been watching, there has been an overwhelming amount of changes and activity going on at Spruce! Add to that: it’s our busiest time of the year. I’ve been out of touch and I miss talking with ya’ll!

Here’s a little light reading, a fluffy list of likes on my desktop. It’s just a mix of photos, links, and ideas (some you may know about, and some you may not). Take a little break with me!

Designers I’m loving: I am really enjoying Fujiwo Ishimoto’s fabric designs lately. Also, I’m fixated with Alessandro Mendini’s furniture designs (again, always). I am in constant admiration of one of the fabric companies we carry: Designer’s Guild. Tricia Guild mans the ship!

Print for Marimekko, Fujiwo Ishimoto 1991.

“Lepo” print for Marimekko, Fujiwo Ishimoto 1991. Photo courtesy Mummekkoo.blogspot.com.

Reproductions of two paintings from Alessandro Mendini. Pics found in Allessandro Mendini, by Giancarlo Politi, 1989.

Reproductions of two paintings from Alessandro Mendini. Pics found in Allessandro Mendini, by Giancarlo Politi, 1989.

Favorite local businesses: Take Heart, Switched On, Nannie InezRoom Service, End of an Ear Records. Did I say Spruce? Visit all these places!!!

On my bedside table: Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulistsa compilation of short stories edited by Brad Morrow and Peter Straub. There are some great stories; I’m halfway through. It includes illustrations from Gahan Wilson! Also have a great copy of  The Kitchen Book by Terrence Conran that has lots of great (vintage) kitchen ideas that would still be relevant today.

The Kitchen Book by Terence Conran.

The Kitchen Book by Terence Conran.

What I’m watching on TV: (Via Netflix) Reruns of Louis C.K.’s show Louie. It’s so funny, so wrong, so poignant and human. So true!

Where I get my inspiration lately: AQQ Design; Tumblr sites, such as Zonkout, Inside, Outside, and Keehnan Konyha‘s blog (always a hit). These are just a few of my favorites. There are gads of great Tumblr sites and art blogs that I love.

Best trip I’ve taken recently: Galveston for the weekend. While there, I rode a ferry and saw more dolphins than I have ever seen in my lifetime! Then to Houston to view some Post-Modern Arquitectonica architecture. I love you much, Houston!

Arquitectonica Houston

Arquitectonica Building in Houston, TX.

Detail of an Arquitectonica Building in Houston, TX.

Detail of an Arquitectonica Building in Houston, TX.

Songs I have on repeat: Any mix from Ying Yangs.

Word to live by: My mom always used to tell me, “Nope!” Ha! Just kidding!

A perfect day in Austin: Swimming or hiking anywhere during the day, a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse in the evening. Blissful!

Questionnaire supplied by our gal Clarisa Ramirez. 


Another Addition to the Spruce Team: Introducing Alice!

Clar here, introducing you to yet another brand new member of our Spruce family! Her name is Alice Carapetyan (that’s Alice and her mom above), and she’s written a sweet blog about her (young) life’s journey and philosophy. She comes to us with some great “design cred” under her belt and has proven in her short time here to have just what we needed: a quick wit with loads of textile knowledge, and heaps of style to boot! She is as savvy as she is pretty, and we hope you’re lucky enough to work with her here in the shop. She’s got a wellspring of fresh ideas! Maybe you could go ask Alice about your next upholstery project! (Ha! I couldn’t resist.)

Alice shares her philosophy on design:

Thinking ‘outside the box’ is a metaphor that means thinking differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective.

When it comes to design (and life), it can be especially hard to get past the roadblocks that time and outside influences create. We are creatures of habit. We often don’t dare to change. Many things shape our design rationale, so why is it important to think beyond our box? The beauty of design is that it can change the way you live – and don’t we all deserve the chance to live happily ever after?

Even for those who aren’t design-obsessed, good design can be very transformative. There is true science behind the way our brains react to being comfortable and happy in our space. I have learned from life that taking chances can take you places you never imagined, and I believe taking chances in design can do the same thing. Be brave, make bold choices for your life and your design.

My journey into design has been partly fate and mostly determination. When I moved to Austin a little over three years ago, I knew that I wanted to start a career in design –  not knowing what that really meant. I had to think outside of  the box and just pick a starting point. I walked into the only design center in Austin and asked for a job. It just so happened that a position opened up that very morning. I moved up the ranks over the course of two years, working at the showroom; learning about furniture, textiles, accessories and lighting; and working with designers to source beautiful things for their clients. In time, I decided I was ready to go to the other side of the business and work directly with clients. Armed with experience and knowledge that I could not have received from any university, I started working as a design assistant for local designers. Now, here I am at Spruce, where I’m happy to be a part of a team that helps clients realize their dreams by transforming pieces of furniture that mean something to them. By using our fabulous library of fabrics and visualizing pieces in a way that most people don’t, we are moving clients past their roadblocks into good design that makes them happy.
Here, here, Alice! Well done! Here’s a bit more information about our new gal.

Where did you grow up? Dallas, Texas

What do you eat for breakfast? A spinach and kale smoothie (it’s much more delicious than it sounds), or oatmeal

What do you do to relax? Nap, obsess over design magazines, or a hike with my dog.

Lipstick or lipgloss? Neither; Chapstick.

Where to you go to find gifts? Anthropologie

What was the last album you purchased? The Wicked soundtrack.

Describe your style to me. My go-to uniform for life is jeans, a silk blouse and sandals in summer, or flats in winter.

How do you spend your weekends? Laundry, going out to dinner with my boyfriend, and singing on Sunday’s in the University Presbyterian Church choir.

If you could take a trip anywhere, where would it be? Italy, preferably for months and months so I could see absolutely everything.

Do you have any pets? A rescue dog named Millie, an 87-pound lab/shepherd mix.

Come on by the shop to meet our newest Sprucette, and have us help you with your transformations!

Spruce Lampshade Video is on Creativebug!

You can now learn how to do more upholstery projects by going to Creativebug! Yes, this week the website, which curates a variety of video workshops focused on crafts, launches Amanda’s tutorials. The video featured this month shows Creativebuggers how to make a lampshade from scratch ($9.99). Eventually, the site will have instructional videos of Amanda’s upholstered headboard, storage ottoman, and stool projects!

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Back in September, the San Francisco-based team paid us a visit and went to work producing some beautiful videos! They shared this teaser just a couple of weeks ago, featuring snippets of November’s workshops. Along with the tutorials, Amanda has a pretty cool instructor profile video! The team did a wonderful job capturing Amanda’s role as proprietor of Spruce, the collaborative and fun culture of our shop, and the essence of Austin’s pro-entrepreneurial environment.

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Tell us what you think of the video in our comments section and stay tuned for more Creativebug tutorials! Many, many thanks to Osborne & Little for their contribution to the lampshade project with their beautiful wallpaper!


Book Tour Stops: New Orleans

Hi everyone, Clarisa here! I’m one of Spruce’s newest additions to the team. During the past month, I’ve been marketing the Spruce book tour through our social media outlets and reaching out to our connections in every city, trying to help get the word out. This week, the tour stops in New Orleans for a couple of days before concluding our tour in Houston. Since Amanda is on the road, I have the pleasure of blogging about The Big Easy, a city famous for its delicious Cajun food, sazeracs, jazzand festivals (Mardi Gras anyone?).

Deciding what to see and do in NOLA can be a little intimidating considering there’s always so much going on, so we tapped Sherrie Hope, proprietor of Modern Market, where we’ll be hosting our bench and lampshade classes. Modern Market is a lifestyle and furniture shop that has furniture you’ll swoon over. Just take a look at these photos taken at the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center by local photographer Karley Frankic.

Here are Sherrie’s recommendations. Enjoy!

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What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants and bistros you love?
Sherrie: Jacques Imo’s Cafe, La Crepe Nanou (above, photo by Amy Castaño) and Lilette.

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What do you like to do on your days off?
Sherrie: I like walking down the beautiful Audubon Park (above, photo via Wikimedia Commons), kayaking Bayou St. John, discovering new shops and eateries, or heading to a festival!

What is New Orleans best known for?
Sherrie: The food, of course; the people, architecture, festivals, and music!

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If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendations you would give them?
Sherrie: Start the day at Commander’s Palace (above, photo via Wikimedia Commons), which has great Bloody Marys and 25 cent martinis, for a great NOLA-style breakfast. After, walk across the street and visit the cemetery and the surrounding area. Stroll over to Magazine Street for six miles of local shopping, eateries and galleries. Take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar line and get off at Canal Street to walk through the French Quarter, which has several galleries, shops, artists and musicians. Go to Café Du Monde for beignets on Decatur Street. Take the streetcar back to the Black Pearl neighborhood and have dinner at Jacques Imo’s Cafe, and then hear live local music next door at Maple Leaf Bar.

What is something unique about New Orleans that it can claim as its own?
Sherrie: Food, the birthplace of jazz and it’s a melting pot of amazing culture!

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Tell us more about Modern Market!
Sherrie: Modern Market (above, photo via GoNOLA) promotes progressive design and ideas for a modern lifestyle. We believe living creatively inspires us and makes us unique. Celebrating three years and going strong, we hold events, DIY classes – and we are community based, spreading the love of design! Proudly owned and operated in New Orleans!

Several friends and fans of Spruce have also given us some great recommendations of what to see while in town, including Suzonne Stirling – a New Orleans-based crafter and blogger behind creative lifestyle blog Urban Comfort. She compiled a list (below) of all of the essential places people need to visit while in town. Thanks, Suzonne!

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FOOD

Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar – Order the breakfast sandwich on their whole grain bread. It’s the perfect start to the day.

Boucherie – It’s a small, neighborhood restaurant popular with the locals (above, photo via Fleurdelicious). A must-order: the collard greens with grits fries! Wagyu brisket is also very good.

Root – Unusual and extraordinary, not at all traditional, but I think it’s some of the most exciting food that’s happening in the city right now.

Cochon – Not off the beaten path, but still so good!  Cochon Butcher (right around the corner) is also a great stop. Their pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw is out of this world.

Magasin – A great lunch or dinner stop on Magazine Street with fresh, bright Vietnamese food.

Ps & Qs – Have a great pie!

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DRINKS

Café Amelie – Great for an afternoon or evening cocktail in the beautiful courtyard (above, photo via Facebook).

Sylvain – Another bar with a courtyard that’s nice for late evening cocktails.

Bellocq at The Hotel Modern – Stay for the ambience.

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MUSIC

The Spotted Cat Music Club – Great for live jazz (above, photo via GoNOLA).

DBA

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FURNITURE AND DESIGN SHOPS

A.K.A. Stella Gray – One of my favorite stores on Magazine Street (above, via Facebook). The owner has a wonderful sense of style, and I go as much for inspiration as to shop. I stop in regularly since the inventory is constantly rotating.

Dunn & Sonnier Flowers – a flower shop with unique garden finds.

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Pied Nu

Hazelnut New Orleans

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Julie Neill Designs – for lighting

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CRAFTS

Promenade Fine Fabrics – I head here if I’m looking for beautiful fabrics, vintage ribbons, and gorgeous buttons (above, photo via Facebook).

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SCHEDULED NEW ORLEANS CLASSES 
We’ll be at Modern Market on Wednesday, November 13 (1-5pm) teaching a bench class (our class in action, above) and on Thursday (1-4pm) teaching a lampshade class. Both classes will be at the shop’s warehouse (NOT at their retail location) at Elmwood Business Park, 1105 North Al Davis Road, Suite A, Jefferson, LA 70123. Register HERE! During our bench class, we’ll award Leslie Marcello, the winner of our Spruce Book Tour contest, an upholstery hand tool kit and $125 gift certificate for fabric!

NEW OREANS BOOK SIGNING

Come out and say hi and get your Spruce book signed on Thursday (5:30-7:30pm) at Modern Market’s Retail Shop (3138 Magazine St Unit C, New Orleans, LA 70115). We’ll have some treats and a DIY pincushion table just for you!

UPCOMING BOOK TOUR EVENTS AND CLASSES

Houston
Our last stop of the book tour is Houston, a city we wrote about in this blog. We’ll be teaching a bench class on Friday (12-4pm) at Metamorphose Furniture Studios. Register HERE! Also, join us for a book signing that same day at Brazos Bookstore at 6pm.

Austin
Amanda will give an upholstery presentation at Book People on Monday, November 25 (7pm). You don’t want to miss seeing the Sprucettes back in their hometown – especially if you couldn’t make it out to our Spruce Book Launch Party at Mockingbird Domestics.


Book Tour Stops: Atlanta

On Monday, we’ll be in Atlanta, and we couldn’t be more excited! Atlanta is nationally recognized for its interior design showrooms, and there’s a lot of great shopping and beautiful architecture.

Our week starts with a book signing on Monday, November 18 (7pm) at Eagle Eye Books, and on Tuesday, we’ll be presenting our Upholstery for Designers Class at Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (10am). Already, we’re expecting over 60 people for the presentation, which will go over the logistics of working with an upholsterer, what to look for in quality craftsmanship, and other important details to know when it comes to restyling clients’ furniture.

We recently chatted with ADAC’s Special Events Manager, Amy Musarra. Having worked two decades in the interior design industry and recently selected as a “10 Under 40” honoree by Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, Amy is definitely a mover and shaker in Atlanta’s creative community. She’s a native Atlantan, a lover of good food, and describes herself as being an informal concierge to the city.

Here are some gems she shared with us.

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Where are your favorite places to dine in Atlanta?

Amy: Atlanta is becoming more of a foodie city. We’re really starting to get on the map, which is cool. We do a lot of “local” on the menus because in the South we have the best stuff! I love Miller Union. Also, BoccaLupo. The chef there is Bruce Logue, and he’s kind of amazing. I also like Cardamom Hill in Buckhead. It’s an Indian restaurant; Asha Gomez (above, photo via Facebook) is the chef there, and she’s gotten a lot of press.

Next door to ADAC is KR Steakbar, and the chef Kevin Rathbun (the first Georgia chef to defeat an Iron Chef on the Iron Chef America series) is nationally known. He’s one of ours, and I do love him. There’s also Hugh Acheson, who is a James Beard winner and was a judge on Top Chef, and his restaurant is Empire State South. And then there’s Kevin Gillespie (the chef behind Gunshow), who was a runner up on Top Chef.

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What do you do on your days off?

Amy: I enjoy the park that I live on, Memorial Park. I love to grab a spot on the patio at Bistro Niko with friends. I also like to shop. I’ve recently been working on my home, so if I have the day off, I’ll come back to ADAC or I’ll antique.

For higher end antiques, I like Parc Monceau. The owner, Barry Hunter, sells fabulous antiques. There’s also Interiors Market (above, photo via Facebook), which has forty to fifty dealers. It’s a lot of fun to go here because you’ll never know what you’ll find. Once a month we have a large Scott Antique Market that sets up thousands of vendors just south of the city. It’s unique and special, and dealers come far and wide to sell and buy.

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What is Atlanta best known for?

Amy: I always describe Atlanta as Southern hospitality all dressed up. Designers who come to ADAC say, “We love to work with you guys. You’re just so nice.” I’m quoting a myriad of designers. We have a real strong arts support in Atlanta, and if that’s something we’re not known for, we should be.

Robert Woodruff (former president of The Coca Cola Company and a native Atlantan) left a huge endowment, and we were able to combine our High Museum of Art (above, photo via Wikimedia Commons), the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Alliance Theatre under one big umbrella. The arts is really a center of activity.

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If a visitor were coming for only one day, where would you send them?

Amy: I would either come to ADAC or I would go to the High. I’m an art person. I think just driving down West Paces Ferry is great. There are some historic residential homes in the neighborhood (above is the historic Swan House, built in 1928; photo via Wikipedia), then stop at the Atlanta History Center, see some beautiful architecture, and then stop at the Governor’s Mansion. West Paces Ferry dead ends into Peachtree Street, and everything happens on that street. It’s our main artery and the lifeblood of the city. And then have lunch somewhere fantastic.

What is something unique about Atlanta that it can claim as its own?

Amy: We have roots and we have wings, and we have a really strong center of gravity in terms of people who are from here and who have been here a while and love the city. But we have a huge, now growing, very diverse group of people moving here from all over the place that are bringing a lot of what they have to Atlanta. So we have this tradition versus this growth and diversity, and I think it really works here and makes it interesting. We have a really strong design community that’s different from other places I’ve been, where everyone supports each other.

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Tell us more about ADAC.

Amy: ADAC (above, photo via Facebook) is owned by John Portman, who has designed most of downtown, and it’s the only design center owned by a single entity. He’s a native Atlantan who designed it, and he still owns it and manages it. ADAC is ground zero for all things beautiful and the very best quality of craftsmanship in all things interior design. It’s not only a design center; it is THE design center. We have the best of the best in terms of design products. Since we’ve opened the doors to the public, we want people to know what’s here because there’s so much. We’re a huge supporter of designers and their businesses, and the more people know how much there is for them, the more they’ll be apt to hire designers and take advantage of Atlanta’s design professionals.

duchessfareDuring our tour, we learned that Sarah Ferguson wrote about us coming through town in her lifestyle blog, Duchess Fare. It turns out that Sarah, an antique vendor, also has a passion for interior design and loves seeking out great shops, restaurants and fun things to do in Atlanta. She kindly gathered up a “must-hit” list for us, organizing it by neighborhood. Thank you so much, Sarah, and see you at ADAC next week!

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Buckhead

Shopping:  Lush Life Home & Garden / Pieces / Pollen / Belvedere / South of Market / B. Braithwaite

Eating:  Souper JennyCacao Atlanta (above, photo via LateBoots; for deliciously decadent artisan chocolate) / Pie Shop

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Virginia Highland

Shopping:  Stanton Home Furnishings (above, photo via Facebook)

Eating:  Woodfire Grill / Yeah Burger

Coffee:  Aurora 

Indulgence:  Sugarcoat (nail and beauty bar)

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Midtown

Eating:  Empire State South (above, photo via Facebook)

 

Inman Park

Shopping:  City Issue Authentique Home

Eating:  Highland Bakery (known for their cinnamon rolls) / Sotto Sotto

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Grant Park

Eating:  The Little Tart Bakeshop (above, photo via Atlanta Street Fashion; HANDS DOWN the best baked goods in the city!) / Grant Park Farmers Market

 

Candler Park

Shopping:  Kelly’s Closet 

Eating:  Candler Park Market 

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Decatur

Eating:  Cakes & Ale / No. 246 Revolution Doughnuts (above, photo via Former Fish Taco Fanatic) / Your Dekalb Farmers Market

Coffee:  Dancing Goats

 

Westside

Shopping:  Bungalow Classic / Jonathan Adler / Sid & Ann Mashburn / Star Provisions Savvy Snoot 

Eating:  West Egg /  Miller Union / Jeni’s Ice Cream 

Coffee:  Octane


Book Tour Stops: North Carolina

One week down and two to go for the Spruce book tour! Katherine and I have had a blast meeting fellow upholstery and furniture addicts in Dallas, Memphis, and Nashville and are enjoying a few free days in Franklin, TN before we head east. Don’t forget to join us in Knoxville on Tuesday at Union Avenue Books (5pm) for one last hurrah in Tennessee!

With the craziness of the book launch, I haven’t found the right time to mention it, but I’m guessing many of you have noticed that I’m carrying a little extra weight these days, and it’s a girl! Yep, there’s a new Sprucette in the making, and she’ll be here in early January! Thank goodness for Katherine and her big muscles! So while soaking up every bit of rest and relaxation I can get, I write this post in my pajamas and slippers from the comfort of the Home Away couch in Franklin and look forward to North Carolina, where we’ll spend week two of our big trip.

Asheville, NC

Our first North Carolina stop is Asheville! It’s been on my list of places to see for a while, so I recruited the help of our lovely hostess from Oddfellows Antiques, Kelly Haskin, to answer a few questions about the city and the best places to eat, shop, and visit. Here’s what she had to say.

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What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants or bistros you love to visit?

Kelly: Asheville is such a foodie’s town. It has an amazing number of top notch, locally-owned bistros and restaurants. It is hard to find an off-the-beaten-path bistro, but my favorites are Curate (photo above courtesy of A Bed of Roses), which is in the heart of downtown, and The Admiral, which is a dive in West Asheville that has a super-creative and simply delicious menu.

What do you like to do on your days off?

Kelly: Tom and I have two young children, so on our days off, we love to have some quality time with a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway or a beer at the Bywater, which is an amazing kid- and pet-friendly outdoor bar right on the river, or some time at Carrier Park which has great trails and sporting fields, a huge playground, and even a lawn bowling court and roller hockey rink.

Biltmore Estate What is Asheville best known for?

Kelly: Asheville is probably most known for its natural beauty. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, every season is lovely. People come to visit the Biltmore Estate (above) and the historic Grove Park Inn. There is a large healing arts community as well as a very rich arts culture in Asheville. Many artists and craftsmen choose Asheville for its beauty and community feel. For its size, Asheville has an amazing amount of galleries, festivals, and shows.

If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendation you would give them?

Kelly: If I were visiting for just a day, I would take a hike at any one of the amazing trails on the Parkway and explore downtown Asheville. There are so many terrific shops, restaurants, and galleries in town, and it is very walkable for a day trip. The people watching is always interesting, as well. Asheville is full of unique individuals!

What is something unique about Asheville that it can claim as its own, such as Austin is the Live Music Capital of the US?

Kelly: Asheville has been voted Beer City USA several years in a row, and it is a title all Ashevillians are very proud of. The city is packed with craft breweries and amazing bars like the latest two additions Wicked Weed and Ben’s Tune Up. Both are vital stops on any beer tour of Asheville!

Tell us more about Oddfellows Antiques!

Kelly: Tom and I own Oddfellows, a design warehouse in the Biltmore area of Asheville. We have been importing antiques from Europe for 12 years and share our 12,000 square foot shop with ten of the most talented dealers in town. We carry everything from Mid-Century to industrial to newly upholstered furniture and lighting. The shop is always changing, which keeps it exciting. Come see us when you visit Asheville!

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SCHEDULED ASHEVILLE EVENTS CLASS: We’ll be at Oddfellows on Wednesday, November 13 (1-5pm) teaching the bench class (there’s the class in action last Monday (above)). Register HERE! And check out Kitsch Fabrics and Foam and Fabrics Oulet in Asheville on your way to class.

BOOK SIGNING: Sit down and chat with us and get your Spruce book signed at Malaprop’s Bookstore on Wednesday at 7pm.

Raleigh, NC Furbish Studio Collage

On Thursday, we head to Raleigh to meet up with Furbish Studio and Jamie Meares. Many of you are already familiar with Jamie and her blog, I Suwannee. If not, it’s a MUST READ for interior inspiration! Katherine and I already have a shopping list made for our visit to Furbish and are working on clearing out some space in the trailer for some new treasures. We spoke with Jamie’s colleague Leah Dorsey, Furbish’s Retail Store Manager, about what to do and see.

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What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants or bistros you love to visit?

Leah: All of the restaurants I like are local and seasonal. Stanbury (above) is a great, new restaurant that’s tucked away. It’s owned by a few guys from Raleigh. The menu is always changing depending on what’s fresh and available, and it has small and large plates. There’s also Quality Grocer in Oakwood, a historical neighborhood in Raleigh. It just recently re-opened and it’s a cool place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It used to be an old-school grocery (established in 1909), and they kept the name and the charm. It’s revamped, but they kept the structural elements, like the big Quality Grocery sign painted on the side of building that’s peeling away. A well-known restaurant is Poole’s Downtown Diner, owned by Ashley Christensen. Poole’s sparked the revitalization of downtown Raleigh ten years ago. All of the menu is on a chalkboard, and it’s all seasonal; when it’s out it’s out. It’s always packed.

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What do you like to do on your days off?

Leah: I ride my bike and walk around the Greenway System that runs all around Raleigh. I also like craft beer, and there are some great beer stores. Tasty Beverage is a great place that serves all sorts of beer, and it’s near our train station. I also like going to the North Carolina State athletic games or seeing the Carolina Hurricanes.

What is Raleigh best known for?

Leah: It’s a big research city and it’s also up-and-coming. It’s constantly growing, constantly featured as one of the best places to live for your health, for work, for raising children, and for education. We also have a big music scene since we have the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra. We have many music venues that attract a large range of artists.

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If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendation you would give them?

Leah: Walk around downtown and check out the local shops, or go to the North Carolina Museum of Art (above). The museum is also linked to the Greenway, so you can walk from there and look at the outdoor art installations. It has an outdoor amphitheater, and during the summer they play movies on the outdoor wall. Or you can go in the building and dine at The Iris. They get a lot of great exhibits. Right now there’s a Porsche exhibit.  

What is something unique about Raleigh that it can claim as its own?

Leah: It’s a great place to live. It’s constantly growing, and people are investing their time and money into restaurants, jobs, and businesses. Also, we have great weather!

Tell us more about Furbish Studio!

Leah: It’s a varying mix for you and your home. We have furniture, personal accessories, interior design, and fabric in our warehouse. We try to be one of a kind.

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Chapel Hill, NC

Flyleaf Books (above) hosts our final North Carolina events in Chapel Hill. Join us for Bench class on Friday, November 15 (1-5pm) followed by a book signing at 6pm. We got the scoop on what to do in the city and the surrounding area from Linnie Greene, Flyleaf’s Marketing and Publicity Coordinator.

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What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants or bistros you love to visit?

Linnie: I think of Flyleaf being off the beaten path, since it’s down a hill, sort of within walking distance of the University (of North Carolina). We lucked out because there are a few good restaurants near our location. Foster’s Market was started by Sarah Foster, who was a collaborator and assistant to Martha Stewart. It has a cold case deli with sandwiches, pizza, and they sell a lot of gourmet gift food. On the other side of us is Kitchen. It’s a bit higher end, but for what you get, it’s really affordable. It’s casual French fare because you don’t have to dress up to go there. They have mussels, steak frites — just really, really delicious food. There’s also Lucha Tigre, and that’s Asian-Mexican fusion. It’s amazing! They have a huge selection of tequila and sake, although we don’t get that for lunch! They also have good tacos and empanadas (above), and pho. They experiment and mix different flavors.

Carrboro

What do you like to do on your days off?

Linnie: There’s an independent movie theater called Chelsea Theater I go to. I live in the country in a town call Mebane. From there, you can do day trips. There are lots of rural areas that are beautiful and little towns with historic sites. I like spending time in Hillsborough (photo above courtesy of James & Monique’s RV Travels). It’s a literary town that’s really old and houses a lot of North Carolina’s writers. It reminds me of New England because there are trees everywhere, and they have great barbecue restaurants. I  also enjoy hanging out in Carrboro. It’s sort of a hipster enclave. It’s small and there’s a lot of craft beer, independent boutiques, and businesses.

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What is Chapel Hill best known for?

Linnie: Chapel Hill is known for its music. Elizabeth Cotten (a well-known black blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter) was from Carrboro.  Since then, the ’90s was a time when a lot of smaller bands took off, and Merge Records is in Durham and got started around that time. We’re also known for our food, but in a way that’s totally unpretentious and playful. It’s something that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to be a part of. Bill Smith (the James Beard award-winning chef behind Crook’s Corner, pictured above with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table) will ride his bike on the Carrboro bike trail during the summer to collect honeysuckle for his kitchen.

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If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendation you would give them?

Linnie: They should walk through the (University of North Carolina) campus because it’s beautiful. Then I would send them to Carrboro to spend the afternoon people watching on the lawn, and I’d tell them to get lunch at  Carrburritos, a burrito place. Carrboro also has a great grocery cooperative, Weaver Street Market. Then have dinner at Crook’s Corner. It’s known for serving things like shrimp and grits and persimmon pudding. For the evening, I would send them to get a cocktail at The Crunkleton (above). It’s beautiful and it’s on Franklin Street, which is our main drag. It has windows that open from floor to ceiling and has a lodge feel with a pool table and beautiful art. Order a Dusty Cactus!

What is something unique about Chapel Hill that it can claim as its own?

Linnie: Chapel Hill is an enclave of culture and art and open-mindedness in the South, but it still has a lot of charm of the South. It’s a place where you can come as you are and be yourself.

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Tell us more about Flyleaf Books!

Linnie: Flyleaf (above)  is about to turn four years old. We are an independent bookstore, and we try to carry everything under the sun in terms of writing. What distinguishes us is the clientele, which is a reflection of the community: diverse, passionate about a lot of subject matters, and voracious readers.

While in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle, check out the fabric stores below on your way to class! Can’t wait to see you, North Carolina!

Thimble Pleasures

Mulberry Silks and Fine Fabrics (located in the historic Carr Mill Mall, which was once a hosiery mill)

Not Just Linens.


Spruce Kicks Off Book Tour With a Party!

It’s finally happening. After months of preparation, Spruce will be on book tour next week!

Last Friday, the Sprucettes were in high gear planning for the launch party for Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design here in Austin. The party was a complete success, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our hosts at Mockingbird Domestics. Over 100 people came out to celebrate with us – and we lucked out because the weather was perfect for people to mingle outdoors, too.
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Family and friends joined us for a book signing and some delicious Southern fare – fried chicken and biscuits, grits and collard greens, to name a few of the items catered by FoodHeads. We also had some extremely addictive treats made by our very own pastry queen, Katherine.
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The craft station we set up in the back of the store was a hit with both children and adults! Clar and Katherine took turns teaching people how to make round pincushions out of round wooden disks, foam, buttons and scraps of fabric. It was great seeing everyone proudly show off their DIY souvenirs throughout the night.
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We organized a raffle and a fun Instagram photo contest with the staff at Mockingbird, who were kind enough to donate some tea lights, tumblers and t-shirts for a giveaway. Our lucky winners were Margaret Rozell, Heather Kasper, Kim Howerton, Eva Shivers and Katie Kime! Take a look at all of the photos taken that night by searching #sprucebook on Instagram.
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Thank you to everyone who came out and made our night truly special. We also want to thank all of the bloggers who have been writing about the book and our giveaway for an upholstery hand tool kit and fabric (which ends on Friday!). In the past two weeks, we were featured in Pretty Prudent, Austin Tidbits and Dallas Tidbits, Centsational Girl, Design*Sponge, Citygram Austin, Havenly and, of course, Mockingbird Domestics. Whew!
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Next week we’ll be in Dallas, Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville! If you haven’t already, check out where we’ll be having classes, book signings and parties throughout the next few weeks.
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See the all of the photos for the event in the rest of the post! Thanks to Mel Cole of Cole Collective for capturing the night!

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How to Make a Party Hat!

Yay! It’s party day! If you haven’t heard yet, we’ll be having a party tonight at Mockingbird Domestics to celebrate the release of our long-awaited book: Spruce: a Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design. In the spirit of celebration, I made these festive party hats using some of the scrap fabric we have lying around the shop. Use this tutorial to make your own custom party hat. Here are some the supplies you will need.

Tools for party hat

While making lampshades one day, I noticed that I was left with many pieces of styrene scraps that would be too small for lampshades. After racking my brain for other uses, it came to me…party hats! The sturdy, sticky, and flexible nature of this material is perfect for a party hat. I used this great template from the Confetti Sunshine blog. After you have printed the template, trace onto the styrene, and then cut out the shape.

trace template onto styrene cut shape from styrene

Next, lay your chosen fabric face down on a flat surface and remove any lint or debris to ensure there will be no lumps and bumps on your hat. Remove the paper from the sticky side of the styrene and place it onto the fabric. Be sure to smooth out any air bubbles.

remove paper from sticky side smooth sticky side to fabric

Cut the fabric even with the edge of the styrene.

cut fabric along the styrene edge

Apply a bead of craft glue along the seam of the template on top of the side with fabric. Repeat this step on the opposite edge, but apply the glue to the styrene side. You can find this glue, as well as the styrene paper from Lampshop.com.

glue along the seam fabric side glue seam along the styrene side

Now it’s time to join the two sides and make the cone shape. Be sure you have your clips and rubber bands handy so you can secure the seam together. Don’t fret if you have a little glue squishing out. Luckily the glue dries clear, and there is always the option of gluing some decorative trim onto the seam to hide any mistakes.

join seams glue seam

Lay the seam face down and apply a weight to help hold the edges together until the glue dries. I use a sock filled with rice. Give the seam at least an hour to dry.

weight over the seam

Once the seam has completely dried, remove all of the clips and rubber bands. Punch a hole on each side of the party hat so you can thread your ties of choice. Use a modest amount of hot glue to secure the tie to itself.

pull ribbon through hole hot glue the ribbon tabs

Now it’s time for the finishing touches! Apply the glue around the bottom edge and gently smooth your trim a few inches  at a time. This glue doesn’t dry immediately, so you have some time to adjust your trim if it starts to get wavy. For more trim options, visit the  Trim and Ribbons page on Lampshop.com

glue the trim along the edge

And now my favorite part of these party hats…pompoms! I made this pompom using a pompom maker that you can find at most craft stores. Thread the yarn or twine that is binding the pompom together through the top of the hat. While pulling the pompom in place, carefully squeeze a generous amount of hot glue into the very tip on the inside of the hat. Continue holding the pompom in place until the hot glue dries.

thread the pompom through the top hot glue pompom

What are you waiting for? Get your party hat ready and meet us tonight (6:00-10:00) at Mockingbird Domestics for food, drinks, and fun. We have so much to celebrate and we would love to see you there!

Clar party invite

Enter the Ugliest Chair Contest!

It’s probably tucked away in a dark corner, covered with an old blanket, or it’s solely occupied by your pet. Yes, we’re talking about that ugly chair you own.

This week, Storey Publishing launched The Spruce Ugliest Chair Contest. Show us your ugliest chair – one that really needs a facelift – and win a DIY upholstery gift pack! All you need to do to enter is upload a photo of your chair with a few words describing it in the comments section of this Facebook post by midnight, December 1.

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The grand prize is an upholstery hand tool kit, $200 worth of fabric, a signed copy of Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design – and custom design recommendations from me! We’ll notify the winner via Facebook. For the official rules, go here!


Book Tour Stops: Tennessee

Early this year when the book tour idea was sprouting, I pulled out my paper map and began plotting our driving route. Knowing the tour would be in November, I shied away from the Northern states. Wintry weather and pulling a trailer don’t mix! And heading west is better left for airplane travel than driving. But a big loop around the Southern states seemed like the perfect itinerary to hit a lot of great cities (and great weather!) during our three-week road trip. Our first out-of-state rendezvous will be with the great state of Tennessee, and there’s no better person to guide us straight to the sweet spots than Tennessean, friend, and book agent, Martha Hopkins. Take it away Martha!

Ever since Amanda started planning her book tour, I’ve been beaming with a bit of Tennessee-girl pride. My name is Martha Hopkins-I’m Amanda’s book agent-but I’m also a born and bred Memphian.

Some people are under the (mistaken) notion that Texas is a Southern state. It is not. Texas is Texas, and that’s all fine and good. But there’s nothing Southern about it. (Test #1: What’s a meat and three?) So while I thoroughly enjoy living in the vibrant city of Austin, I am beyond thrilled that the Sprucettes will be driving through the very lovely state of Arkansas and rolling into Tennessee on November 5, and then continuing on to a slew of other certified Southern destinations for some rollicking-good upholstery events.

Memphis, TN

Prop Cellar

Tennessee, for those that haven’t looked at a US map since the advent of Google, is a long, thin state, just about two hours high and almost eight hours long, speaking in road-trip terms. Memphis is tucked into the bottom left-hand corner of the state, welcoming visitors from Arkansas as they cross the Mighty Mississippi into downtown.

Memphis, some say, is a gritty city. It is, but it’s in the best sense of the word. For me, it’s beautiful, authentic, without pretenses. It’s filled with good people, an almost equal mix of all types, all trying to make their way together. While we can’t all agree on whether the county and city school system should be combined, we can all agree on a few things:

Central Barbecue rocks. When you’re in Memphis, you have to eat barbecue. Like when you’re in Paris, you have to see the Eiffel Tower. Or when you’re in Austin, you have to drink kombucha. The choices are endless and scores of our BBQ joints are well above average. But if you can only go to one place, go to Central, order hearty, and grab a bag of home-fried pork rinds to go.

There’s nothing as cool as Propcellar Vintage Rentals in Austin. I can’t make this up. Amanda’s teaching two classes—one bench class and one on lampshades—at this vintage rental store in Memphis. Had I had access to this place for my sausage & biscuit party last year, I think I would’ve been written up in Garden & Gun by now for my entertaining and design skills. Fair warning, you DIYers: register early. I’m giving two friends the bench class for a Christmas gift, so that means there are two less spots for you.

Nobody’s gonna shut down our independent bookstore. In the early 80s, Davis Kidd Booksellers opened in Laurelwood, a great location right in the heart of the city. This independent bookstore captured the hearts of the whole town with their vast magazine collection, well-chosen selection of books, vibrant children’s area, great wrapping paper, and delicious bistro. The big chains were just moving into town, but for a city used to B. Dalton’s in the mall, Davis Kidd was a new experience, and we absolutely loved it. Fast forward to 2011, with Amazon chomping on the heels of every independent in the nation, and Davis Kidd had to file for bankruptcy. The business went up for sale and the highest bidder was a liquidator. The horror! In a last minute deal, with the judge literally waiting on the bench, one of the original owners was able to swoop in and buy back the store and keep the same staff. The store reopened as the Booksellers at Laurelwood and this, my friends, is where Amanda will be signing books on November 5 at 6:00 pm.

alchemy memphisAlchemy in Memphis. Photo courtesy of Gallivant.

If the Sprucette’s aren’t too tired after class, I’m taking them to Alchemy. I just met John Littlefield, the owner, and his awesome wife Adrienne, an interior designer, at Southern Foodways in Oxford, Mississippi last week. (Billy Reid was there! I wish he’d given me a coupon towards these. So was Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. Nice person.) I’m a longtime fan of John’s other restaurant, McEwen’s, and all my friends are raving about Alchemy. Sounds like just the place for after-class nourishment. I sense a Gincident in my future.

Nashville, TN

fort houstonIf Memphis is the kid stuck in the corner, Nashville is the pretty little girl with blond ringlets belting out Carrie Underwood, I mean, Patsy Cline. Nashville and Memphis have long enjoyed a bit of rivalry. We’re Elvis and Stax Records; they’re Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks. Any Nashville readers are likely protesting my limited description, and to be fair, they should. Nashville is a beautiful city, and it is well worth a visit for anyone who has not been.

It has trees and hills and charming homes and good food and cool shops. It’s filled with people dreaming of making it big, college kids at Vanderbilt, Belmont, and 20+ others, and growing, happy families. All this youth, it does a city good. The Sprucettes’ first stop, for instance, will be Fort Houston, a creative shop space for freelancers and artists to mold their wares when their studio apartment can’t hold another bag of fabric trimmings or their landlord isn’t taking too kindly to their kitchen welding project. On November 8 and 9, you can learn to make your own lampshade or bench, or join Amanda et. al for a book signing and party at Fort Houston on November 8 and check what other artists are doing in this way-cool workspace.

cheekwoodCheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. Photo courtesy of Visit Flyover Country.

If you have time, make the drive out to Cheekwood, Nashville’s kick-ass botanical gardens. Bruce Munro’s LIGHT exhibit is an indescribable experience. Remember the first time you saw a full Chihuly exhibit before he totally jumped the shark? Remember the extraordinary way it made you feel inside? How magical it was. Same here. Do not miss it. It ends November 10. Swing by the Frist, too, which gives any modern art gallery a run for its money. You can add valuables to your LP collection from Grimey’s or buy anything ever produced or recorded by Jack White at Third Man Records. Go for the photo booth if nothing else. Oh, that and the wax Mold-O-Rama.

Nashville Biscuit House

For a taste of down-home cooking, you can depend on the Nashville Biscuit House for outstanding biscuits and gravy. (Texans: See, too, their reference to meat and three on the sign.) On the east side of town, my favorite restaurant is Margot’s and their crack-like homemade potato chips and aiolli, with a drink first in the back gardens of Rumours East. En route, you must stop at Idea Hatchery, a great little incubator of new and vintage shops. Local at its best.

Parnassus Bookstore Grand Opening 11/19/11Author Ann Patchett, co-founder of Parnassus Books. Photo courtesy of CNN.

On the other side of the tracks, or the river, to be more accurate, make a beeline to City House. It always looks like they’re overbooked on reservations, but they keep quite a few seats open for walk-ins. So just do it already. You won’t regret it. You won’t regret, either, a stop at Parnassus books. They’re another tale of the little indie that could, in this case thanks to a NY Times‘ bestselling/esteemed author and her friend in the book business who decided to open up shop. Amanda will be signing books there on November 10th, and we couldn’t be happier to be connected with an organization like Parnassus.

Knoxville, TN

When you leave Nashville, pretty as it is, then you start to get into the really pretty part of Tennessee. The eastern side of the state is Appalachian country, home to Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, which really do look blue. Tennesseans mainly think of Knoxville as the home of UT. (That would be Univerisity of Tennessee—the Vols, not Bevo.) But what we think of when we hear Knoxville is HGTV, the network that first inspired many of us to make our first Roman shades instead of buying them at the store. Amanda is now writing a regular upholstery column for them, which she kicked off with a slightly insane, super cool finished door that involved a gazillion nailhead tacks. In fact, we will enter you in a drawing for a free signed copy of the book if you can guess the number of nailhead tacks harmed in this blog post. I’m not kidding. Register your guess here.

cruze farmNow before you go off on the Ocoee for those Level IV rapids or start your hike on the Appalachian Trail towards New York, do me a favor: try some fresh buttermilk. Set aside your preconceived notions and pick up a glass bottle of Cruze Dairy Farm’s award-winning drink. If you like yogurt or kefir, you’ll love this and may wonder how you ever lived without it. Bring your buttermilk and come on over to Union Avenue Books on November 12, where Amanda will be signing copies of Spruce and answering your most perplexing upholstery questions. Once that wraps, the Sprucettes will be leaving my fair state and heading to Asheville, just on the other side of the mountains, where many more good things await. Safe travels, girls! I hope you enjoy Tennessee.

Read more about all of our events and tour stops here!


Book Tour Stops: Texas

Only three weeks until the Sprucettes load up and hit the road for our November book tour! As I’ve been booking accommodations, it has inspired me to get to know each city a little better and dig up the best places to eat, shop, and play. Thanks to a handful of friends and the thoughtful insights of our tour hosts, I’ve put together a series of posts, one for each of the five states we’ll visit on our three-week road trip. What I’ve discovered: we’ve made no mistakes in our 10-city itinerary! Each one is full of its own treasures and personality (and Spruce class!). First up is our home state of Texas, and here’s what our favorite Dallasites and Houstonians had to say about their favorite places to visit and things to do in these BIG TEXAS towns.

DALLAS, TX

Inside Oil and Cotton
Inside Oil and Cotton

Oil and Cotton

Shannon Driscoll, owner of Oil and Cotton and gracious hostess of our first two classes in Dallas, says “Days off are rare, so I like to do things (in Dallas) that bring calm into my otherwise busy schedule. Mornings start with a run around White Rock Lake, followed by brunch at the Outpost or Smoke and maybe a trip to King Spa, an amazing Korean spa filled with herbal baths and heated, themed rooms…one of which is a GOLDEN PYRAMID!”

And when she’s busy at work, Shannon brings individuals together for creative exchange. “We filled an old, beautiful building with bits and pieces that we collected over time. People come here to share their process, understanding of materials, their interpretation of history, and their deepest expression of their creative selves. It is a train stop; ideas arrive and projects exit.” Shannon, we’re so excited to partner with Oil and Cotton!

Need some fabric for your next creative project? Stop by CityCraft before you head to class at Oil and Cotton!

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CityCraft, Dallas, TX

Oak Cliff and Bishop Arts District

Before Clar called Spruce home, she spent her twenties in Dallas, specifically Oak Cliff just south of downtown, which she says has the best of the best (including our first tour stop, Oil and Cotton)!

The Bishop Arts District is home to a ton of independent new restaurants with talented chefs. Hattie’s, Lucia, Tillman’s Roadhouse, and Eno’s Pizza…so many to choose from in just 3 or 4 blocks! Also in Oak Cliff, a nexus of awesomeness…The Belmont Hotel (a historic Dilbeck building) overlooks the river with a postcard view to the Dallas skyline. Stay there for a great boutique hotel room, retro ambiance and have drinks on the patio. All uniquely Dallas.

Here’s my dream itinerary for our special day in Oak Cliff thanks to Clar’s and Shannon Driscoll’s Oak Cliff suggestions:

November 4, 2013

11:30-12:30: Lunch at La Calle Doce with the Sprucettes

1:00-5:00: Bench and lampshade making at Oil and Cotton

5:00-7:00: Book signing party and socializing at Oil and Cotton

7:30: Dinner at Bolsa

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You can find us on the Bolsa patio after class!

North of the River

For those of you who have a few extra days to meander around this big city, the Design District may be next on your list of  places to go. If you’ve read any of Clar’s blog posts, you’ll discover her undeniable love for museum-hopping and shopping!

“Go to the levee/design district and shop a ton of antique stores and design showrooms. Lula B’s, White Elephant (see photo below), Again and Again, Antiques Moderne, Collage Classics all specialize in offering shoppers design classics – kitsch to rich and all in between. Dallas has a load of great museums and galleries and is a great patron of the arts. Wander around the Arts district downtown, the Dallas Museum of Art, The Rachofsky House, Barry Whistler Gallery, too many to count!

Do your luxury (window) shopping at Highland Park Village (Prada, Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, etc.) and Forty Five Ten – carrying Commes Des Garcon and other luxury brands, and Northpark Mall. Dallas is also home to the Neiman Marcus flagship store downtown!” ~Clar

white elephant antiques

HOUSTON, TX

For those of you who don’t know, I called the Houston area home for most of my youth. AstroWorld (sadly no longer with us), the Astrodome, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science were part of a bi-annual pilgrimmage my sister and I made from Baytown every year between the ages of five and fourteen. I miss those sweat-drenched days in Houston (99% humidity every day!). After middle school, my family moved to the Texas Hill Country, but I’ve visited frequently as an adult, and although my childhood hangouts still carry the most significance, there’s much more to Houston than roller coasters, rodeos, and baseball games.

Museum District

As the fourth largest city in the US, it’s no surprise that Houston boasts an impressive collection of worldly treasures, many housed in the Museum of Fine Arts. Set aside a substantial chunk of time to browse the MFAH galleries, then mosey down the street to Brazos Bookstore, where we’ll end our three-week road trip with a book signing on Friday, November 22 at 7pm.

Another must-see museum for you art lovers, the Menil Collection, which houses the private collection from John and Dominique de Menil. The collection covers all mediums and periods including a substantial collection from my collegiate focus, Byzantine and African and Oceanic art.

Montrose

cheeky vintagePhotos courtesy Sunday Beach

Head to Montrose for a plethora of shopping destinations. Get your fix for 20th Century/antique furniture and home furnishings at Reeves Antiques. Or play dress up at Cheeky Vintage with a tailored and colorful collection of vintage fashion and accessories. For all things design and decor, don’t miss Kuhl-Linscomb, a multi-floor, 70,000 square foot showroom guaranteed to fill your shopping bag with treats for every room of your house. From Montrose, be sure to drive over to High Fashion Home for four floors of home decor fabric and home furnishings, especially if you’re joining us for the Houston bench class!

When you’re finished filling your shopping bags and car full of goodies, take a load off and re-energize. The offerings of sustenance in Montrose are equally impressive. You had me at…the Chocolate Bar and House of Pies, but Star Pizza and Niko Niko’s are also sure to satisfy.

Metamorphose

We hope you’ll join us in Houston as we conclude our 10-city book tour at Metamorphose Furniture Studios. Jennifer Williams, owner and upholsterer, will open her studio to the Sprucettes and guests on Friday, November 22 (12-4pm) for a fun-filled day of bench-making and upholstery talk. Our last leg just wouldn’t be the same without you!

Read more about all of our events and tour stops here!


Spruce Upholstery Tip: Attaching Pulls to Skimpy Pieces of Fabric

There may be times when you find yourself with barely enough fabric for a project. I recently had firsthand experience with this very problem. Not having enough fabric to pull and staple can be very frustrating and result in a below par product. This week’s tip only takes about a minute to do and will save you from an unnecessary headache.

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Last week, we were busy upholstering benches to send to all of the shops that will be hosting our book tour classes. For one of those benches, we chose this great cut velvet fabric by Gaetano Ponti in Dragonfly. Normally, when measuring for fabric, we like to add an additional 3 inches to each side of the measurement. As you can see, we were just a few inches shy of having this luxury.  What’s a girl to do? Well, I will tell you!

stretcher tip17 tip stretcher 19

Scraps of fabric come in handy for all kinds of things. In this case, I simply seamed a piece of scrap fabric to my bench fabric to create what we  call a stretcher or a pull.

stretcher tip1

When upholstering, it is always better to pull fabric with your whole hand as opposed to pulling with two fingers. Pulling with your palm helps to pull the fabric more evenly and will give you a smoother finish. Having this extra stretcher gives you plenty of material to hang onto with the palm of your hand.

stretcher tip14

There you have it! Sometimes a little scrap of fabric can really save the day. I hope you get to use this nifty little trick soon. Stay tuned for more upholstery tips from yours truly!


Spruce Happenings: Behind the Scenes with Creativebug and our New Website!

Hi there! Long time no talk! Are you all as busy as we have been? Here are just a couple reasons why things are so exciting and hectic for us lately!

Last month we teamed up with our buddies at Creativebug. Spruce is contributing a few instructional videos to their curriculum, which will soon be available for your subscribing pleasure! Three of the San Francisco-based Creativebug team members (Courtney, Brian, and Matt) along with an Austin local (Patrick, master of sound) hopped over to Spruce to film some exciting new projects, courtesy of our clever leader Amanda. Projects available will include upholstery, sewing, lampshade making, and a bit of light woodwork. Here they are in the throes of DIY action!

behind the scenes video shoot

It doesn’t look like much here! I’m always surprised at the smoke and mirrors that a cameraman can perform. Amanda and the Creativebug crew set up in the adjacent empty retail space next door to the Spruce shop (Thank you neighbors!). Through astute staging and situating, a beautiful video will be born!

diy video shootAmanda always makes the tutorials look so easy, be it in this round of tutorials, or in her first instructional Spruce DVD. What you don’t see are the potential for long hours of filming, mishaps, retakes, reedits, new directions, and constant talking all the while. After a week of shooting from day to night, the whole lot was beat. All in great fun for us and you, too. The results are worth it!

behind the scenes video shoot space

 

Spruce and Creativebug instructional video behind the scenes

This is just a sneak peek/teaser! Our tutorials are not yet posted on Creativebug‘s site, so stay tuned for the update. We’ll be sure to provide you with links once they’re available. Thank you SO MUCH to the crew for all your expertise!

In other news, Spruce has a brand new website! You may already be aware of it if you’re reading this blog! Ha!

Marvel at our newly “Spruced” home page…

spruce new website home page

We love the new appearance and have made an effort to streamline usability, reorganize, and update our style! As always, you can click on the different headings above to view the blog, see our current retail offerings, get info on our classes, or request a quote. It’s easier than ever!

Our revamped blog features bigger photos and a great section over to the side that shows us in our natural habitat, around the shop, at events, being silly…they’re shots from our Instagram, ya’ll! Follow us, why don’t you @Sprucehome?

spruce blog screen shot

We have put some focus into our classes section as well. We have a few tabs that I urge you to click on – go to the Classes tab, and click through the three different options for more info.

Spruce classes website

The Class Descriptions subheading gives you an overview of our classes, with buttons to register for those classes available. The Book Tour Class Registration tab (pictured above) lists our planned classes through Fall/Winter 2013. We’re going on the road, and we hope you’ll join us for classes and book signings wherever we land! The Register tab gives you the menu for quick-link class registration. Register for our classes while they’re still open!

We invite you to spend some time perusing our new website! Let us know if you have any questions, or feel free to upload your photo when you click Request A Quote on our front page. We’ll get you an estimate for your project – no problem!

See you online, or here at the shop!


You’re Invited to the Spruce Book Launch Party!

Spruce is ready to make this book launch official, and what better way than to celebrate with a Southern party at Mockingbird Domestics in Austin! Join us as we enjoy Southern-style foods and libations, DIY goodies, and a book signing in honor of Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design by our very own Amanda Brown. We’re so excited to get out of the shop and team up with Mockingbird for this special event!

Blog invitation

It wouldn’t be a party without you!
2151 South Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX
October 25, 2013 
6-10pm

After the soiree, we’ll begin our 10-city book tour with classes and book signings all along the way. If you can’t make the launch party, come say hi at one of our tour locations! We’d love to see y’all.

host logos

 

We always have a party this time of year to honor the anniversary of Spruce. If you’ve been to our parties in the past, you know how we whip things up. Imagine what this year will be like with an anniversary AND book launch! Put on your party pants, people!


Spruce Upholstery Tip: Venting Leather and Vinyl Cushions with Grommets

Venting your cushions is a must if you’re working with leather or vinyl. These two materials don’t allow air to escape as easily as cloth does; therefore, you may experience a little pushback as opposed to some squish when sitting on an unvented leather or vinyl cushion. Something as easy as adding grommets will allow your cushions to breathe and make for a much more comfy and longer lasting seat. Don’t be intimidated. Adding grommets is super easy! Allow me to show you how.

Tools labeled for grommet tip blog

Above are the tools you need to install grommets. We use a grommet tool kit that you can get from your local upholstery supply shop or most craft stores.

1 mark with chalk  tip grommets

The first step is to mark where you would like your grommets to be. Obviously you will want to choose an inconspicuous area so they are not seen.

6 hammer grommet and washer together tip grommets 6

Next, using the hole punch and a hammer, punch out the fabric where your grommet will be. I placed a piece of scrap wood beneath the fabric so the hole punch doesn’t damage the work surface once it goes through the fabric.

3 set grommet on the anvel tip grommets

After all of the holes have been punched out, place the grommet into the anvil.

4 place washer onto grommet and fabric tip grommets

Next, place the punched hole over the grommet and the complimentary washer over the fabric.

side by side

Here is the fun part. Insert the mandrel through the grommet and give it a few really good whacks with the hammer. Don’t be shy, this is a great opportunity to relieve any pent up anger you may have.

7 finished grommet tip grommets

finished grommeted cushions tip grommets 31

The final step is to step back and admire how professional your grommet handiwork is. I’m not going to lie, installing grommets is kind of fun to me. Remember, you can use this skill for so many other projects such as draperies, shower curtains, and belts. I hope this little tutorial will make you confident in your grommeting abilities.