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Clutter Be Gone!

I do not like clutter. I want my home to be clutter free. If I walk into a room and there is clutter on the desk, side tables, sofa, floor, you name it, I get agitated. I love looking at rooms in magazines that have that monastic look. Those are peaceful retreats that I dream about. Until learning about Feng Shui years ago, I thought I was odd. Now, I understand that clutter affects our psyche in many ways. A clutter less environment keeps ones mind clear and focused.

Ok, so that doesn’t mean I LIVE clutter free! Au contraire mon frere! Most of the time my office desk is cluttered with various projects in various stages, there is usually some sort of random sampling of items on our breakfast counter, my sock, underwear and t-shirt drawers are screaming for attention and organizing. But, what’s important to note is I TRY! Every once in a while, I will tackle the cluttered beast and feel fresh and new after organization has returned. I also try to keep up with the accumulation of stuff my family generates in the common areas of our home. My husband and daughter are clutter agnostic. They could care less if they sat in a pile of clutter every day of their lives. I finally gave up trying to organize my husband’s office and instead, relinquished the keys to that cluttered man castle many years ago. In 5 minutes, he can find anything I ask for from that place, so who am I to criticize his methods? My daughter lives in clutter, gets outstanding grades, is a “good kid”, but loses everything in her life. I don’t want to nag her, but I do remind her that she would be able to find things much easier if she  consistently put things away where they belonged. She listens…sometimes.

However, I AM outstanding at keeping clutter out of my closets and most storage areas.  I do not hesitate to throw away, consign, sell or give away things that we are no longer actively using. I have always believed that we really don’t need all of this stuff and we could really help declutter the planet if we shared our things once we were done with them.

So, here’s the big tip of the day! Decluttering your closet can make you money. Your teen’s closet can also make he or she money. Consignment shops are everywhere and are always looking for high-quality and even mid-quality clothes, shoes and especially purses. There are great online consignment shops such as Tradesy.com, Thredup.com and Linda’s Stuff on eBay. These companies have perfected the art of consigning online and are great resources if you don’t have local consignment options. Now, unless you have a job where you are required to wear expensive designer outfits every day, don’t expect to make a fortune. What you can expect is to make $100 here and there for items from major department stores. Locally, the consignment shop, Plato’s Closet, is great for teens. Have your teen go through his/her closet and fill up a bag or box, take them to Platos and register as a consigner. They will look through the items right there and within minutes give you a cash or credit offer. By the time they develop the offer, your teen has usually found a few items to add to their wardrobe, so the exchange is great. “Free” new clothes. They have ski apparel to cocktail dresses, guys stuff and LOTs of girls stuff.

Another option, and a faster, more altruistic one, is to clean out your drawers and closets and take them to the nearest nonprofit thrift store such as Goodwill or The Arc. Not only will they take almost all of your items, they will resell them to people who need a bargain and with that money, help those in need or with disabilities.  Its a win win for everyone.

I have helped several friends clean out their closets, providing much-needed support in letting go of college clothes they haven’t worn in 15 years, jackets with shoulder pads and pants that fit five years and two kids ago. Not only that, fashions change quickly and new items can add a kick to your style for not much money, so why not get rid of those things that have been lingering in the deep recesses of your closet for more than two years?

If you want some help refreshing and decluttering, lets do this! Drop me a line at revenewinc@gmail.com. I will help you declutter your kitchen, closet, you name it and ultimately, maybe, help you get calm and focused.

Slipcover VS. Reupholstery, the Battle for Salvaging Your Furniture

lHeart reupholster

In my first post college apartment, I didn’t have a sofa and didn’t have access to a good thrift store, so I sewed my own. I found a McCalls pattern that called for three huge slabs of 6″ thick foam rubber pieces with two long flat-topped triangular shapes on the side for the arms. The pattern was for the slipcover over those pieces as well as huge pillows for the back and a quilted matt for the seat area. While this sounds awful, it actually turned out great and was a breeze to move. Literally, I picked the whole thing up and walked it downstairs to the moving truck. I could also take the cover off and wash and dry it at the laundromat. At 22, this was the best sofa in the world. I think I had it for 5 years.

My love affair with the ease and versatility of slipcovers started with that project. Seventeen years later after Elyse was born, I started a custom slipcover and window treatment business so that I could spend more time with my her. Fortunately, in those 17 years, I had gained a lot of knowledge about slipcovers and for updating upholstery.  So, this blog is about updating your furniture with fabric.

When your upholstered furniture gets worn down, stained or shredded (that means you, kitty parents!), it may be a candidate for a renewal. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you know the history of this piece of furniture? Is it important from a design perspective or is it a piece that has importance to your family? Do you know where has it been? If you buy it from a consignment or thrift shop, take the cushions off and examine the frame. Does it have an unpleasant odor that cannot be taken out? If so, pitch it. Even Goodwill won’t take the piece.

2) Is it structurally sound? Are the cushions firm and not sagging? Is the frame strong and not bent or broken? Is is solid? No squeaks? Do you like the basic shape of the piece? If the cushions sag, but the rest of the piece is in good shape, you may have to have them rebuilt by a professional upholsterer. This will be about $50 per cushion, so be prepared to spend that. 

If its a good piece that has fabric with irreparable damage, like this lovely chair with kitty shredded arms (note the tape):

photo

there are basically three options for you:

Option 1) Purchase a loose slipcover online or at a store like Pottery Barn.

Potterybarn lose fit

These are not fitted to your furniture but rather draped over them and usually held on with side ties. These are in expensive and easy to take off and wash.

Loose Slipcovers

Pro: Inexpensive. Easy to purchase. Easy to wash

Con: Loose fitting. Inexpensive looking. Best suited for very casual rooms.

Recommendation: If you have choose to go this route, get some T-pins from JoAnne’s Fabric. You’ll find these in the home decoration section and are call upholstery pins.

Secure the slipcover with these pins by tucking in the sides of slipcover between the cushion and back/sides and pinning it it place to look neat and minimize bunching. Try not to pin these in obvious places where they will be seen.

Option 2): Slipcovers made specifically for your chair or sofa. If you have to do slipcovers and can’t afford reupholstery or want to change your look frequently, this is the best option of you. Some manufacturers, like Crate and Barrel, sell slipcovers for their furniture. These can be pricey, but look terrific. If you have to make them yourself or have someone make them for you, a custom slipcover will require about 12 yards of fabric for a sofa and about 6- 7 yards for an arm chair. If you have a distinctive pattern on the fabric, buy a few more yards so the pattern can be run properly on the piece. This includes “naps” such as on corduroy where the fabric has to go a certain way. Best choices for fabrics are cotton, linen/cotton blends, faux suede, etc. Be sure the fabric is soft to the touch. I purchased a gorgeous linen online but when I got it, it was scratchy. They call this “hand”. If it has a good “hand” it is nice to touch and sit on in shorts :). Avoid heavy or stiff fabrics like tapestry, heavy corduroy, heavy velvet. These will be stiff and will not adhere to the shape of the piece. The fabric should be easy to clean either in the washing machine or by dry cleaning.

You can sew them yourself or hire a professional seamstress. If you have them professionally sewn, be prepared to pay about $800+ for a sofa for labor + the cost of your fabric. Don’t skimp on the quality of the fabric. Buy the best quality you can afford since it will wear better over the long haul.

tight slipcover piped slipcover Fancy slipcover sack cover

Pro: Looks neat, like they were made for the piece (which they were). Can be easily removed and cleaned. Can change the look of a piece according to your taste or mood. Its fun to have a summer and winter look with slipcovers. You can have piping on the cushions and other trims to make the piece uniquely yours. You can even slipcover a sleeper sofa. Ive done it before and its not hard if you know basically how to make a slipcover.

Con: Good slipcovers can/should be expensive when made by others. Its like buying a well-made, well-tailored suit for your sofa made out of quality fabric. If you have never sewn one before, but have intermediate sewing skills, look online for a class on how to make them. This is an expensive project to undertake without the right skill set. Expect to spend at least $400 on your fabric alone for a sofa. Never slipcover these types of pieces: leather sofas, chairs or sectionals, wood trimmed Victorian style furniture, highly stuffed or channeled chairs/sofas, highly scalloped or detailed back furniture.

Basic How To’s: Start with making the cushions and be sure to put zippers in the cushion covers. Don’t attempt piping if this is your first slipcover. When making a slipcover, lay the fabric upside down on the sofa/chair and cut/pin accordingly. Whenever I make a slipcover, I feel like I am creating a couture dress for the sofa. Its that meticulously laid out and cut.

Option 3): Reupholstery. This is a great option if:

A. You plan on having the piece for a long time and know your fabric choice wont change for a while.

B. You have a highly styled piece, such as this Victorian chair, that doesn’t have the simple lines that a slipcover is suited for.Victorian reupholster

C. You have very contemporary furnishings, such as a mid-century modern piece, that would lose it’s essence with a slipcover.

orange mid-century

Pros: Looks the neatest of all of the options. It can transform the look of the piece and extend the life of the piece by many years. This is particularly suited to “important” pieces that are either handed down in your family or purchased as an authentic period piece that you wish to maintain its integrity. A professional reupholstery job can also reconstruct the cushions and repair any frame damage.

Con: This is usually not a “do it yourself” project unless it is just for dining chair seats. Therefore, it is the most expensive option for renewing tired or damaged furniture.  An easy chair starts at $800 and goes up from there. If the piece has a strong odor, I do not recommend trying to mask it with reupholstery since the smell is probably embedded in the cushions and deep within the piece. Its best to throw those pieces out, unfortunately. Some things just can’t be renewed, as hard as we try.

Thats it for renewing your furniture. I hope this was helpful! Id love to see your projects or your before and afters.

Go Ahead and Pop Some Tags

photo-2

While this blog is primarily about finding and using beautiful previously loved things for your home, I want to share the joys and rewards of doing the same for your closet. If anything good has emerged from the Great Recession, it is the renewed interest in shopping consignment and thrift stores to build an interesting wardrobe.

When I lived in Nashville in the mid-90’s, I had access to some amazing consignment stores that helped build my professional wardrobe in a city where the women dressed to impress. It was not unusual for me to spend a Saturday morning at my favorite secondhand store buying a Bagley Mishka suit and Prada cashmere sweater for less than $100.  I felt like I was stealing, the consigners, mostly music industry execs and society women, felt  like they were doing a great community service by selling their clothes to these shops. Everyone left a winner.

When I first moved to Denver, I sat next to The Denver Post’s fashion editor, Suzanne Brown, at a luncheon and waited until the end of the meal to ask this well-healed woman a very embarrassing question, “where are the best fashion consignment stores in Denver?” I didn’t want to appear cheap or tacky, but I thought she was the woman with the info, so what the heck. She gave me the list of the top shops and what each store was known for. Unfortunately, those stores didn’t stack up to Nashville’s. However, recently Goodwill opened a pre-owned designer label boutique in Cherry Creek, our affluent shopping area. The boutique is very impressive and is small, well edited, organized and provides a shopping experience similar to any other nice boutique only the items are very reasonably priced and one of a kind.

Déjà Blue Boutique
303 University Blvd.
Denver, CO 80206

If time permits when we travel, I get on YELP or GOOGLE to search for the top consignment shops and pay them a visit. Years ago while in LA for a girls weekend, I dragged my friends to Decades, the high priestess of resale shops. One of the most elegant stores Ive ever been in EVER, the well edited collection included Yves St. Laurent and Halston gowns. When actresses wear “vintage” on the red carpet, many times these pieces come through Decades. It was so exciting for me to go there. I ended up buying a pair of Prada sandals at a less fancy vintage place down the street. Whenever I wear them, I wonder what their LA story is and I remember mine.

http://la.racked.com/archives/2012/11/29/the_38_best_places_to_shop_for_vintage_in_los_angeles.php

However, shopping vintage isn’t just to find top designer items. Recently we were in our favorite funky CO town, Salida. Its an old town tucked next to the Collegiate Range in central CO that has become a haven for artists, cyclists and kayakers. Salida’s historic downtown is comprised of art galleries, antique stores, vintage clothing shops and coffee shops.  I love spending the day there. Their vintage clothing stores are  very specific, well-edited collections curated for specific customers. There is the sporty vintage clothing store with ski apparel, hiking clothes, etc. There is the mid-income family vintage store. There is the BoHo/Hipster store. There is the fashionable store for the Chico set. At the sporty store, my daughter found this adorable, circa 1980 Lake Placid, NY Winter Olympics-era sweater. So, this morning, in honor of the beginning of these Winter Olympics, she put it on, looking adorable, hip, cozy and happy.

Last summer, Rachel Zoe produced an amazing reality show, Resale Royalty, that featured one of the largest designer resale shops in the US called “Women’s Closet Exchange”. This store is massive, located in a suburb of St. Louis, and filled to the brim with top designer clothes and accessories. It was fascinating to see the women who consigned five LV bags at a time, how the store determined authenticity, how they priced and how they sold. It was a business class on how to set up, run and shop such a store.

There is so much more to discuss about how to shop vintage, how to find the best pieces, how to judge your piece as purchase worthy, that I will continue this blog another night. Right now, its time to bid adieu and thank you for sharing my passion on saving money, living and looking great and helping to keep our planet a bit less cluttered.

Welcome to a fresh perspective

Yesterday, I had a terribly chic, international jet setter friend over. She’s the kind of friend I have no idea why she is friends with me, but she is and that is a wonderful thing. Her life leads her to exotic locales with people you read about in, well, PEOPLE. Long story short, she loved my humble home. A lot. It was flattering and confirmed to me that yeah, maybe I do have some panache, some cool ideas. My home is filled with things I have found new, but mostly with things I have slipcovered, stained, repainted, created from scratch, pulled out of dumpsters and fixed.

My style and determination to make something old cool again started in high school. While I am WAY beyond those years, my passion for the hunt, the creation and the unveiling  has never wained in all these years. I have sewn since I was 8 and have found that that skill along with imagination and a leap of faith can lead to some very interesting outcomes.

This blog is about rediscovering passions, having faith in your creative muse and being fearless in expressing your vision. To kick off this blog, I have posted a photo of my girl, Rosie. Her indomitable spirit of adventure and unwavering love inspires me to be positive and confident. I will be posting photos of home dec ideas that prove that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have an amazing retreat that reflects who you are. The important thing about your home is that you should love being there with family, friends, furry companions and still have some money in the bank.

An indomitable spirit, unerring love. She knows a cozy spot more than anyone.

An indomitable spirit, unerring love. She knows a cozy spot more than anyone.