Monday, June 13, 2011

My enabler ( a splurge)

Do you have a design sounding board?  You know, that friend or relative with excellent taste who you go to when you're making design decisions, just for (the right) second opinion?  Mine is my friend Sara.  When we both lived in New York, there were many flea market trips and purchases approved, many sessions of furniture rearranging, many design projects completed together.  I remember, after a longtime roommate moved on and I lived alone for a brief period of time, I used the extra room as a dining room (SUCH a luxury in Brooklyn), and decided to paint it this color (based on this picture.)

Sara came over and we had a painting party.  She slept overnight, and in the morning it had snowed, one of those peaceful snows where the world goes quite and you're left with something softer than the usual.  And we walked 12 blocks to the subway together down the middle of the street (the cars were buried) and we went to work.

Now I am in Minneapolis and Sara is in San Francisco, but we happen to be decorating our first real family homes at the same time (our forever homes, if we were taken with the idea of permanence, which I don't quite think we are.)  We catch up by g-chat regularly, swap pictures of progress in our homes, share links to fabrics we are considering, get a second opinion.  I can't count the number of middle-of-the-night emails I have sent with photo attachments that start out "what do you think about....." The number of text message photos from her with subjects like "WHAT has gotten into me?"

My living room has been, for some reason, a hard nut to crack, and when I first thought i figured it all out, Sara got an email with a lot of satisfied exclamation points.  After the ottoman project got under way, and since I can't afford grasscloth just now, all that was really left were three throw pillows.  Or, rather, the fabric or covers for some blank down inserts that are sitting on my loveseat and armchair.   This should not be difficult--should, in fact, be super fun--but I had dug myself into a corner of crazy specifications, and when I finally found "the perfect" throw pillow, it was an etsy find with designer fabric and well out of my price range.  But there was that money!  That my dad gave me for the vintage lamp!  The one my mom and I found at that sale!  That I did not buy!  And really, when it's perfect its perfect, right?

Guess who got the email?

That's right.  My second opinion.  My enabler.

I said something like this (okay, this exactly, plus some more):

Well, I need a throw pillow on the green danish armchair, and it needs to pick up on/ balance the African textile on the loveseat across the room, which means it should have some hot pink or raspberry in it, plus possibly some golden/orangey color, and then, to ground it in the room, it should have either green or brown, and then to keep things bright it should probably be on a white background or have a good dose of white in it.  A tall order.  And then throw in the fact that the scale needs to work around the very small pattern in another pair of throw pillows and the large tile pattern in the rug.  Plus the fact that it needs to work with the three rigid patterns in the room without being TOO rigid itself.

Oh, and it should be 20 inch square to work with the down insert I already have.

Oh my, writing it out like that makes me realize that of course this has been a challenge.

So I found this.  And I think it might be perfect.  On top of meeting all the above requirements, I like how the stripey edges pick up on the stripey ottoman and a modern painting over the fireplace which is--you guessed it--striped.  Okay, so perfect. Except it's silk moire--not the best for the kids--and it's $70--not the best for the busted budget.  But my dad recently gave me $60 to buy that lamp, which I did not buy.

So.  I should get this pillow and be done, right?

And just in case you don't want to link out to it, here's the pillow in question.

And guess what she said?
She said: yes.  Enabled.

So.  A few things.  I never fully believed in the power of designer fabric, generally thinking that you can fully get it done for less, but this may make a convert of me.  Also, thanks Dad!  And finally, for the record, Sara would have told me if this was a crap purchase.  Instead she said to go for it and then proceeded to pull and old silk jacket from her giveaway pile that might work for additional fabric in the room, and is in the process of sending me a picture.

Are you lucky enough to have a design confidant?  A style enabler?  Someone who will tell you the truth, yet support your crazy plans?  (I'm slightly jealous if this person is your partner.)  Also:  have you ever splurged on designer fabric?  Of course I'll share the outcome when this little old pillow cover arrives.  I'm strangely excited.


  1. Well now that you've posed the question I think I would have to answer no. Sadly I have no design partner. My best friends are not design lovers if you can believe that!! I do have lots of friends that I have great design discussions but no one person. I think I need to change that.

  2. Heather, believe it or not my sounding board is my Mom. We have slightly similar tastes and I can always count on her to be honest, even when I wish she wouldn't be! Also, re: your grasscloth dilemma, we have a local wallpaper store here that sells double rolls of overstock paper for $25. One of the patterns I'm considering is a faux grasscloth that is very neutral mixed with soft blues & greens. It really is a damned good imitation, even has some texture. Let me know if you want me to mail you a sample - I'd be happy to inquire whether or not they could ship it to you.

  3. My parents are my enablers for the following reasons:
    - Whenever I visit their home in Madison, I raid their storage room and come home with a treasure or two.
    - They pass on all of their nestings magazines to me and occasionally, as I'm flipping through one, there will be a post-it from my Mom on a picture saying something like, "Kate - you should do this!"
    - When they're at Home Goods, I'll get pictures of things they think they should buy for me or things they're buying for themselves.
    - Finally, I always have something I need an opinion on when they visit. This past weekend it was "Do I upholster a round coffee table I just on Craigslist (to mimic your recent creation?) or just paint?" Answer was just paint - there's enough pattern in the room already and upholstering it would make it too tall. The other dilemma they helped me solve was what color to paint the front door and sidelights we are having replaced in July.


Let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!


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