Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What's Hiding Inside My Sofa & Why Do I Care

Do you know what is inside your sofa and chairs? I'm not talking about the remote control or even a litter of kittens, but the things that are supposed to be in there, the guts. Knowing what's inside aids in making decisions about your own upholstery as well as in helping you guide your clients into making good furniture investments.  

The inherent problem with buying upholstered furniture is that, unlike a car, you cannot look "under the hood." The whole thing is covered in fabric. That stuff is pretty hard to see though. It's  all those details hidden under the fabric that add to the quality and, ultimately to the price of furniture. Paying for quality upfront will save money in the long run. The upholstered furniture will last longer and provide a really comfortable seat with fewer hassles.

What's inside? These terms will get you "in the know."

Frames: Kiln dried frames that are made of hard wood are far superior to other types of frames. Kiln drying makes a difference because frames of green wood will dry out once they are placed in your conditioned interior causing them to be unstable and wobbly at the joints. Green wood can also crack and split as atmospheric conditions together with humidity affect the wood. 

The joints should be glued, doweled and screwed with the corners further strengthened by the addition of reinforcing blocks that provide even extra support. Mortise and tenon joint construction is found in high quality frames and assures the joints will not break down under weight. Chipboard and staples are used in lower quality furniture and should be avoided.

Seating Support Systems: The best seating support is the eight-way hand-tied springs system. The furniture craftsman connects each spring to the adjoining one by hand using a strong twine. The twine passes front to back, side to side and then diagonally in both directions until each spring is tied securely. Each spring is tied in eight directions. It's this hand labor that adds to the  piece's cost. The number of springs, their individual quality and how they are reinforced also determines their superiority. Lower quality pieces may advertise that they are eight-way hand-tied but use a inferior spring and space the springs too far apart to offer good support.
Eight-way hand-tied springs also balance and even out the weight placed on them. Have you ever been bounced by someone sitting down on the opposite end of a sofa? This happens with sinuous springs that are spanning the width of the sofa. Sinuous suspension uses "S" shaped wires that are strung across the platform. These are the preferred seating support option for streamlined, modern sofas because there usually is not enough height in the overall design to fit tied coil springs into the seat. Since it is affordable option, sinuous springs are also used in regular style sofas to reduce production costs. These hold up fairly well and provide a softer (less firm) seat than eight-way hand-tied. Often, a sofa that develops a sinkhole at one end has sinuous springs that have popped loose or broken down.  Sinuous springs are frequently used to provide back support in sofas and chairs.
The very low-end construction is a web-suspension (like a hammock) that is attached to the frame creating a platform. It is more affordable, but will not last as long because it lacks support. In quality pieces, webbing is used in combination with the spring system.

Filling: Higher end furniture has quality padding or foam and Dacron batting wrapped around the frame to smooth the hard edges and cover all the corners. This not only rounds out the piece but protects the upholstery fabric from unnecessary wear from rubbing on wood.

For a really soft, luxurious seat consider down cushions. These are considered to be the premium choice and are also among the most expensive. Pure down requires maintenance, hand-fluffing, to keep them looking their best. There are different combinations of down fill which will lower the cost. Often black down will be used instead of white since it is less expensive and provides the same results. High quality cushions will also have down proof ticking (fabric covering around the cushion) to prevent feathers from poking through the upholstery fabric. 

Spring down cushions have a more supportive spring center surrounded by foam and then topped a layer of feathers encased in the down proof ticking. 

There are various densities and firmness of foam. High-resilient (HR) foam is Dacron wrapped to smooth the edges and provide a nice crown to the seat. Foam cushions can also be surrounded with a sumptuous down wrap for a plush crown. All foam compresses over time but a quality HR foam will provide a much longer lifespan. 

Regular polyurethane foam is inexpensive and will not last. For a sofa or chair that only needs to hold up for a few years or is in a space that receives little "seat" traffic, this type of cushioning is good enough. 

Asking questions about the construction of the furniture you are considering and knowing what should be inside will assure you get what you pay for. Understanding what goes on inside a quality piece of upholstery will help you make educated choices about your furniture and enable to you to purchase wisely.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Pantone Color of the Year!

Introducing Pantone's pick for the 2018 color of the year - 18-3838 Ultra Violet! 

Purple is a favorite of creatives, me included. It's filled with  mystery. It's not the bold assertiveness of deep blue and not the romantic flash of red but an even mix of both that creates intrigue. I love what a little ultraviolet does to punch up things in a room. Do you like it? Let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jan Showers fabrics - Kravet

This gorgeous collection of fabrics and furniture is Kravet curated by Jan Showers. It's subtle, glamorous, and sophisticated. I love the softness.

Dallas-based designer Jan Showers boasts a 30-year career in the industry that includes accolades of the highest honor. Her sophistication and warmth, poise and charming persona is translated into her work, which resonates with the designer who's looking for chic yet simple versatility and effortlessly casual glamour.
Glamorous yet versatile, the Jan Showers fabric collection presents a harmonious blend of sumptuous texture and subtle pattern. Drawing inspiration from vintage documents and European travels, the collection offers a beautiful selection of soft and serene shades in dusty blue, pale pink, golden yellow and celery green color stories.
Presented in 16 versatile silhouettes, the Jan Showers Furniture collection is a harmonious marriage between the charm and sophistication of Paris, Venice and London and today's easy, translatable design aesthetic. This beautiful mix of understated, traditional frames and stand-out occasional pieces takes inspiration from Showers' European travels.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Living With Leather Furniture

Leather furniture can be a great investment. Leather is a natural product and holds up well for everyday use. There are several things that determine the quality and therefore the cost of leather. Hides are split during processing into two or more layers. Top grain leather comes from the top surface of the hide. It has a dense cell structure and is best for furniture. Bottom layers, split leather, often identified only as real leather or pure leather are not as strong and are heavily processed with resins and applied texture. Split leather is used for clothing and accessories, like purses and wallets. Top grain is the natural top surface or fur side of the hide. If it does not have damage such as brand marks, insect bites, or cuts it can be sold untreated and is called full grain. Undamaged hides are rarer to acquire and therefore the most expensive. All the markings on full grain leather are natural. Buffed full grain creates suede. Cooler climates in Northern Europe where animals are kept in pens or enclosed pastures produce the finest leather with the least imperfections. Fewer than 5% of hides on the market are considered premium select, the very top grade. The cost of  leather is determined by the origin of the animal and by supply and demand and not by the location of the tannery.

Processed top grain leather is most common and still excellent quality. More cattle roam open ranges all over the world. Their hides are more weathered and have more scarring. To make them attractive for furniture, the imperfections are buffed out and sanded. Aniline dye is used to color the smoothed surface. Color can be applied by spraying on, hand rubbing or immersion. Most quality leathers also receive a clear top coat that encases the leather fibers and offers Scotchguard-like protection. With no protective coating, leather shows wear more quickly. Embossed leather has texture pressed into the surface by a machine. Embossing can offer a more uniform texture or even some unique design effects like pebble, crocodile and ostrich. Leather can be tumbled to soften the hand. Some scarred leathers are left unprocessed with the branding and imperfections visible. These work well in rustic or western design applications.

Here are a few things to notice when shopping for leather furniture. Leather seat cushions are upholstered with denim or canvas on the underside to allow the cushion to breathe and to let air escape when you sit down. Since leather is a natural product, small imperfections, even in processed leathers, are to be expected and are not considered defects. Color and grain patterns will vary from hide to hide as well as on parts of individual hides. Quality furniture makers work hard to match the color of hides on an individual piece of furniture and to position any visible imperfections in inconspicuous places. If there is a specific color desired, a color swatch sent to the manufacturer when the order is placed can be used to match the hides they plan to use. In lower end furniture, a coordinating vinyl is often placed on the back and even the sides to cut material costs and to make the piece more affordable. These pieces are called leather match or leather plus.

Caring for leather is uncomplicated. Regular vacuuming and dusting with a dry cloth will keep furniture in good shape. A quality leather conditioner should be applied at least once a year, more often if the piece is used daily, to maintain the leather's suppleness. Leather, like any upholstery fabric, will fade if exposed to direct sunlight. Precautions should be taken by properly covering windows with treatments or solar film. Leather should be kept at least two feet away from heat sources like radiators, fireplaces and wood stoves. Dry heat causes leather to crack. Cigarette and cigar smoke and other air pollutants can cause color changes and fading. Sharp objects should not be placed on leather furniture; durable is not puncture-proof. Cat's claws are not a friend of leather. As little water as possible should be used to blot spills. Household cleaners, soaps and soaking with water may ruin leather. For serious spills and stains, seeking a professional leather cleaning specialist is recommended. Minor scratches can often be rubbed out with a moist chamois or the oil from your fingers. Attention to these details will keep leather furniture looking its best and will improve its longevity.

Kristine Gregory is principal of Bedeckers Interior Effects, Inc. an interior design firm in Midlothian, Virginia specializing in custom window treatments and custom upholstery and providing a full range of interior products. Kristine is an Allied Member of American Society of Interior Designers, Past President of the Richmond Chapter of WCAA and a Window Fashions Certified Professional - Specialist Level. She is the only designer in the Richmond area who is an expert in both the psychology of color and personal organization. Visit her website at and view her watercolors at

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Art of Mixing

The Best Designed Rooms Don't Match

The best designed rooms don't come packaged in a box; they evolve. Furniture and fittings are layered upon and built over time. Rooms reflect the homeowner's style as well as the location and setting of the house itself. Combining different furniture finishes and materials in design creates spaces with both depth and character. Great design is based upon balance and contrasts. Nothing screams hotel lobby or pre-furnished apartment more than sets of furniture and exact matches of color, metal or wood.
Rooms where everything is uniform and matching are boring and easily passed through. They tend to be flat and uninteresting. They are also "safe." People are scared of making a mistake with decorating. There is a cost in redoing. If the furniture is sold as a set, if the paint colors and fabric colors exactly match, if all the metal finishes on the cabinet hardware, drapery hardware, and lighting are an exact match then it has to "go" and can't be wrong. Right?

Design is not absolute. There on no set rules for mixing finishes. Style is personal. This does not mean we can not help our clients through the process. We need to let them know it is ok and preferable to combine styles and finishes.

Nature is the best example of how things that do not match work together beautifully. One single tree contains hundreds of shades of green. It's this same mix of shades, the play of contrasts, and the blend of textures that make a room interesting.

I posed the question of mixing finishes to two very current designers located on opposite sides of the United States but who all have clients worldwide. Their responses offer insight not only to their personal design perspective but also suggest advice we can all incorporate into our work.

Washington DC interior designer, Barry Dixon frequently uses the surrounding landscape of a home incorporating exterior elements into the home's interior design. Lumber from the property is used in construction of the home itself or its furnishings. Outdoor colors are often inspiration for his interior palettes. Nature played a large roll in the design of his two fabric collections available through Vervain. Many of the pieces of his furniture have nailheads accentuating their lines. He also uses various woods and combinations of fabrics upholstery. Barry speaks of mixing finishes this way, "Not only do I love to mix finishes in a room, but I prefer to mix them. I love the way this relaxes a space. I'll tell my clients to avoid the "Bridesmaid's" approach, ie. dyed to match, in favor of a harmonic blend of metal and wood finishes. Find some catalyst that coerces the mix, an inlaid box or chest of multiple wood tones and species for example, and mix away.

Californian, Barclay Butera, is known for his varied design themes based on location - beach, city, desert, mountain, and town and country. His fabric line for Kravet Couture is based around these same themes. As with the other designers, exterior surroundings influence his interiors and his choice of finishes relate to balance and diversity. He responded to my question about rules for mixing this way, "I always believe there are no rules in interior design. Working with drapery, I love to mix oil rubbed bronze rings and end caps with burnished bamboo rods. Also nickel rods and rings with tangerine linen drapery banded in oyster white linen. Because I do work throughout the country, I have the opportunity to mix styles in many environments. I love what I do and it shows."
The consensus is "mix away" but not with reckless abandon. There must be consideration of the theme of the room, the location of the home, and a balance of elements in the space including wood, metal, color, and texture. Choose the mix thoughtfully and purposefully.

Here are some ways of mixing to spark your imagination:
~ Mix contrasting fabric textures, such as smooth linen with fuzzy chenille or slick leather with wool.
~ Blend exotic woods with metal in drapery hardware, like bamboo with oiled bronze.
~ Look for furniture that contains a blend of woods and use it to guide your selection of other elements.
~ Balance the use of wood and metal in the room.
~ Use nailheads to accentuate lines of a cornice, a headboard, or a chair.
~ Select a kitchen island in a painted finish while staining the cabinets.
~ Use a chopping block wood top on an island and select granite countertops elsewhere.
~ Tile a backsplash in natural limestone and insert a band of slick glass or metallic tiles.
~ Choose cabinet hardware that is unique and not an exact match to the appliances, lighting, and plumbing fixtures.
~ Break up sets of furniture and repurpose them. Lose the labels. Just because a table is sold as a nightstand doesn't mean it can't be an end table. Chests of drawers are excellent for storing dining room linens.

Kristine Gregory is principal of Bedeckers Interior Effects, Inc. an interior design firm in Midlothian, Virginia specializing in custom window treatments and custom upholstery and providing a full range of interior products. Kristine is an Allied Member of American Society of Interior Designers, Past President of the Richmond Chapter of WCAA and a Window Fashions Certified Professional - Specialist Level. She is the only designer in the Richmond, Virginia area who is an expert in both the psychology of color and personal organization. Visit her other blogs at and Connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Designer Fabrics with Roots in Richmond

Yesterday, I had the privilege to meet with Dana Gibson and view her new licensed fabric and wallpaper collection through Stroheim. I can't wait to use her bright, fresh designs in my clients' homes.

Dana is a Richmond artist known for her pottery, home accessories and designer pillows. At the 2012 NY Gift Show, Jeannette Chen, Stroheim's creative director stumbled upon Dana's booth and immediately realized Dana's fresh style was just the thing Stroheim had been looking to incorporate into its line of fabrics and wall coverings. After a two year collaboration, the Dana Gibson Collection through Stroheim was unveiled earlier this year. There are thirteen new patterns in multiple colorways that all beautifully coordinate.

Her style is vibrant and current. Dana says her designs reflect hopefulness and beauty. The patterns are presented in strong colors but each is tempered slightly with gray so they work beautifully with other saturated as well as grayed colors in a room.

The Gibson family has rich roots in design. Dana's great grandfather, artist Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944,) created the Gibson Girl who personified strong beautiful American women. Nancy Astor, the American-born English politician and first lady of Parliament and Nancy Lancaster, the creator of the English Country Style are relatives as well.

Dana's background in literature influences her designs. She says each each pattern has strong narrative. Historical personalities and her Richmond roots have also influenced this Stoheim collection. There are patterns named after Sister Parish, Lester Lanin, and even the local Fan restaurant, Kuba Kuba.

~Kristine Gregory, designer Allied ASID
Bedeckers Interiors

Friday, December 27, 2013

60- and 40-Watt Bulbs Banned for 2014: What You Need to Know

On Jan. 1, 2014, it will be lights out for standard incandescent 60- and 40-watt light bulbs. In order to comply with efficiency standards outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 2007, it will be illegal to manufacture or import them after Dec. 31. But retailers will still be able to sell off any remaining stock. In 2012, all 100-watt bulbs were phased out, and 75-watt bulbs disappeared the following year.

The old incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient — only about 10 percent of their energy output is converted into light; the rest is lost to heat. "Once all of our nation's 4 billion screw-based sockets have an efficient bulb in them, U.S. consumers will save $13 billion and 30 large coal-burning power plants-worth of electricity a year. The savings really add up," Noah Horowitz, senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council tells Yahoo Shine. He adds thatif you replace an incandescent bulb with a CFL (compact fluorescent light), you'll save about $50 over the course of the bulb's lifetime. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are pricey up front — they run about $10 per 60-watt equivalent, but over time they offer a savings of $100 to $150 in energy costs. The numbers are compelling, but that doesn't mean that some of us won't mourn the loss of the mellow light emitted by old-fashioned bulbs, especially the 60-watt version, which accounts for about 50 percent of household lighting in the United States.

Lighting artist and designer Bentley Meeker, who runs a successful lighting design company in New York City, isn't a fan of all of the new, more efficient bulbs. "The soul doesn't connect to LED, it's a visceral reaction," he tells Yahoo Shine. "Until the mid-1850s, the only light that humans were exposed to was daylight and firelight — incandescent bulbs have a color that is similar to firelight." He believes that LEDs and fluorescents can be fatiguing on the eyes and unpleasant to live and work with for long periods of time.

Horowitz argues that the transition to energy efficient bulbs has been smooth and successful and that the technology and choices are continually improving. He says the main reason people aren't happy with some of the new bulbs is that they are choosing the wrong brightness level and/or "flavor" (the color of light the bulb emits).

Here are expert tips to comply with the new law, as well as to balance energy efficiency and cost savings with aesthetics:
  • Don't inadvertently buy a bulb that's too bright. New bulbs are measured in lumens, not watts, which can be confusing. A 10-watt LED is as bright as a 60-watt incandescent, so if you purchase a 19-watt LED for a small accent light, it will seem glaring. The NRDC has a useful chart showing the light equivalences of various bulbs.
  • Choose different types of bulbs for different purposes. Meeker uses LEDs and CFLs to light hallways, stairwells, and basements, and for spotlighting objects. For living spaces, he prefers halogen incandescent bulbs. He says they are a great substitute for the old bulbs, especially if you use them on a dimmer.
  • If you want to use CFLs, choose the right color. Most people prefer the ones labeled "warm." The bulbs that are labeled "daylight" are bluish.
  • Bring the bulb you want to replace to the store so you can find an equivalent that is the correct size and shape.
  • The new bulbs don't work in recessed can lighting. You will still need to buy reflector bulbs, which are not subject to the same regulations.
  • If you have dimmers, chose a halogen incandescent bulb or LED. Most CFLs do not work with dimmer sockets.
Look for the words ENERGY STAR. "CFL and LED bulb quality can vary significantly," says Horowitz. "Be sure to only buy those that have the ENERGY STAR label," which ensures that the product meets the Environmental Protection Agency's strict standards for energy, efficiency, and performance. These bulbs are certified and tested by a third party and will save consumers an average of $6 in electricity costs per year, per bulb.

While Some people are oblivious to lighting, most of us are sensitive to it, so it's worth being thoughtful about your choice of bulbs. Meeker, who has illuminated such venues as the White House Rose Garden and the Burning Man Festival puts it bluntly: "If the lighting sucks, people will be miserable."

Click here to link back to the article on Yahoo!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Leopard Chenille Ottoman

It's my newest favorite thing. The perfect size, casters make it mobile, and it's just the right height to make the sofa "recline."  Fabric from Cowtan & Tout. Ottoman from Bedeckers Interiors, Midlothian, VA. Contact us to custom order.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ikat Check - two of my favorite things

Check out this video from Trend Fabrics on the Ikat Check in the Jaclyn Smith home collection. I love the fabric. It's a great "go-with" pattern.

"Ikat meets buffalo check, resulting in a traditional yet ethnic check, pattern 02604, that is an important addition to Jaclyn's third collection of fabrics. Upholstered on an ottoman here, it is also suitable for many other applications.
Introducing The Creation of a Collection, a new behind the scenes video series from Trend. Together with Jaclyn Smith, Trend's design team goes in depth into the inspiration, design, development and end uses of Trend's Jaclyn Smith Home--Volume III fabrics and trimmings, taking viewers on a visual tour of the journey from inspiration boards to final designs with finished product.
Trend offers beautiful fabrics at an exceptional value. Building on Fabricut's history of servicing the interior design industry since 1954, Trend carries the same hallmarks of quality fabrics, dependable delivery and reliable customer service, all with a personal touch."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin Muffins

I'm getting into the season. Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks, pumpkin protein shakes for breakfast and pumpkin muffins. I know there are some other pumpkin fans out there so here is my pumpkin muffin recipe. If you try it, let me know how yours turn out.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1/2 cup water
3 cups wheat flour (or half white, half wheat)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cloves
3/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg (freshly grated is the best)
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350
In a large bowl, mix together sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Add to the wet mixture and blend together with an electric mixer. Add raisins and/or walnuts (if desired.) Let stand one hour at room temperature.

Grease muffin tins or use paper liner cups. Enough to fill 24 muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes.
These muffins freeze well. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Goodnight, Gracie - Decorating with Pillows

Pillows are the perfect way to update a room, change it up for the season, or add some color or pattern to an otherwise plain space. Think of pillows as the finishing touch. Like jewelry or a scarf you add last when dressing yourself, pillows complete the look.

Larger scale pillows are in. Instead of a postage stamp sized pillow of years ago, today's pillows make an impact. 18" squares are on the small end. 20", 24", even 26" squares are perfect additions to sofas and beds. Layering pillows provides an opportunity to showcase your style and use different fabrics.

One of my clients recently shared with me these photos of her sweet pups, Gracie and Riley enjoying the new pillows Bedeckers created for her. Aren't they the cutest?