Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everything You Need to Know About Arranging Art

Artwork can be a great way to add color and personality to a room but when it comes to arranging it, a lot of people don't even know where to begin. Here a few tips from Linda Crisolo, the director of merchandising for in an interview with Better Homes and Gardens.

In the Living Room:
1.) Artwork is often the center of attention in a room. Make sure to place artwork at eye level. The only exception would be in the living room. The general rule of thumb for hanging artwork in the living room (where people are most likely sitting rather than standing), is to hang your art one hand width above your sofa or love seat.

2.) Make sure that artwork is in proportion with the furniture it is hanging over, whether it be a bed or sofa. According to Linda, "make sure artwork is at least two-thirds the size of the sofa or sideboard."

3.) Instead of going through the frustrations of hanging, rehanging, hanging, crying and then ending up with walls that look more like a pincushion than an actual wall try tracing out your artwork on paper and using painters tape to hang your templates. No damage to your walls or you ego with this method.

4.) Whenever hanging multiple pieces make sure to balance them visually. Linda says, in uneven arrangements to hang your heavy piece on the bottom left and with even arrangements to hang the heaviest piece on the bottom middle.

5.) Mixing and matching is also a fun way to create a "gallery look". Add vases, flowers, decorative plates or anything else that goes with the room's decor. Always make sure to put the most prominent item (usually your artwork) in the center and work outwards from that focal point.

6.) Linda also suggests "when hanging multiple pieces around the room, don't try to make the bottoms or tops of frames level. Level the middles." This comes in handy when trying to hang multiple pieces around rooms which, in the real world, have doorways, hallways and windows to maneuver around.

In the Bedroom:
1.) When hanging artwork in your bedroom and intimate spaces, choose artwork that is personal like family portraits. Also stick with just one theme like all color photos or all black and white photos.

2.) Odd numbers are always best when grouping. This creates a definite beginning, middle and end with your pieces.

In the Kitchen:
1.) Always make sure to hang artwork and photos away from where they could be damaged by heat, smoke, water or food splashes. Choose instead, behind a bar or over a dining table. Linda also suggests staying away from putting "kitchen art" in the kitchen. "I tend to shy away from pictures of asparagus in the kitchen," she says.

In Any Room:
1.) Consider how much wall space you have available to you when hanging your artwork. Use smaller pieces in smaller areas and larger pieces in larger areas offering viewers to be able to step back and enjoy the artwork that is there.

2.) Your artwork arrangements should reflect the style of the room they are in. Symmetrical arrangements are usually viewed at as more traditional where as skewed arrangements are often looked at more for modern rooms. Also make sure the artwork itself reflects your personal style. You wouldn't want an modern abstract piece hanging in your country style kitchen.

3.) You don't always have to hang artwork. Try experimenting with different places around your home to put your prized pieces. Try propping a picture up against a wall or even a piece of furniture.

Don't let hanging your artwork become a hassle. With everything decorating there is no wrong or right way to design and decorate your home. Always use art that you like and put it where it will be enjoyed by you and your guests. Show off great photography by highlighting them in your room. Play around with different size and color frames for you pieces. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet the Staff: Kat

Time for yet another Meet the Staff. Thankfully, we finally got Kat back from some extended time off due to some medical issues and we couldn't be happier! We are glad she's feeling better and back to her old self again!

Carrie: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Kat: Sending our customers different fabrics so that they can choose the style, color and type of fabric that they want.

Carrie: How would you describe your personal design taste?
Kat: Clean and Classic - Black and White

Carrie: What's been your most fulfilling job experience since working for Interior Mall?
Kat: Taking on the sample department. It has been a challenge but a good one.

Carrie: How do you spend your time outside of work?
Kat: Singing with my band "Street Legal"

Carrie: What item from the website would you like to add to your wish list?
Kat: The Sinatra Mirror item #135280

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Has Going Green Gone Too Far?

Everywhere I turn now, it seems I am bombarded with "Go Green". Hybrid cars, reusable shopping bags, longer lasting CFL lightbulbs, compost piles and recycled EVERYTHING. Just in doing some research for this article, I was overcome with pages and pages of blogs, tweets and facebook posts. Don't get me wrong. We only have one planet and the better care we take of it the longer we will have it for. I'm all for doing my part and turning the water off when I'm brushing my teeth or reusing my cloth shopping bags but I feel peer pressure (like I'm in High School all over again UGH!) to turn my clothing inside out and wear it an extra day or something to help save water and cotton! So is this new trend going too far??

For example, I want to eat healthy, in fact, I would love to eat healthy but buying "organic" means paying 2 sometimes 3 times more than non organic foods. Who gets this money? Also recently, I found an article stating that the City of Minneapolis had declared that cars found idling for more than three minutes will now face fines. Really?!?

On the flip side, because of the recent trend of "Going Green", Congress has enacted many useful and beneficial laws regarding the preservation of wildlife, landmarks, waste reduction and water conservation.

So my question to you is, has "Going Green" gone too far??

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fabric Decoded

Everyday we receive dozens of questions about fabrics.
"Is this fabric suitable for upholstery use?"
"What does the cleaning code 'S' mean?"
"What does it mean when a fabric has been discontinued?"
"Can this fabric be used outdoors?"
Among these questions, we also get quite a few... interesting ones.
"Can patent leather be used for swim shorts?"
"If I set this fabric on fire, how quickly will it burn?"
"Can you send me samples of camouflage fabric for use as a wedding dress?"
I can't explain everything in this article but I would like to address some of the more popular questions that get asked.

Drapery vs. Upholstery
The best way to tell if a fabric is suitable for upholstery use is to check its abrasion rating. An abrasion rating is a series of tests (usually Wyzenbeek or Martindale) that determines how many "rubs" it takes before a fabric begins to wear. The higher this number the more durable and long lasting your fabric will be. If there is not an abrasion rating listed on your fabric it usually means it was not tested to be an upholstery fabric and therefore is better suited for bedding, pillows, panels and draperies.
Cleaning Codes
Each fabric is manufactured with a cleaning code. this code determines what kind of stain removal method is best for your particular fabric. The codes are as follows:
"W" - Means to use a water-based or mild detergent solution and spot-clean. Use the foam only of a water-based cleaning agent to remove overall soil or stain. As most household cleaning solvents are harmful to the color and life of a fabric, cleaning by a professional is recommended.
"S" - Means to use solvent only and spot-clean in a well-ventilated room. Using a professional cleaning service is most recommended.
"SW" - Means to use either solvent or water-based cleaner. Use the foam only of a water-based cleaning agent or pure solvents in a well ventilated room. Using a professional cleaning service is most recommended.
"X" - Means vacuum only.

How Fabric is Measured
Although this may seem like a no-brainer to a designer, we get asked a lot how fabrics are measured. A typical yard of fabric is the width, let's say 54", by the length 1 yard (or 36"). Although the widths of fabrics may vary, the length, one yard will always remain the same. One of the few fabrics that does not abide by this rule is leather. Leather fabrics are priced by the square foot and sold by either the half hide or the full hide. Hides will vary in size (depending on how large the animal was). A good rule of thumb when converting yards to square feet? 1 yd = 18 sq. ft.

Discontinued Fabrics
A discontinued fabric is a fabric that is no longer being carried by the mill that once produced it. A fabric can become discontinued for many reasons.
1.) It wasn't a good seller
2.) It is old
3.) The mill went out of business
4.) The mill can no longer get a hold of the pattern, yarns, dyes etc.
A good majority of our research requests are for discontinued patterns. Although we do not carry most discontinued patterns, we are sometimes successful in locating comparable fabrics. We have also found that Pattern A may be discontinued from Manufacturer A but may still be available from Manufacturer B.

Outdoor Fabrics
Outdoor fabrics are hugely popular and because of that we receive a lot of questions about them. Outdoor fabrics are those fabrics that can withstand UV exposure and weather. Each fabric that is suitable for outdoor use will have a UV Rating which lists how many hours a fabric can be in direct sunlight before fading will occur. No fabric is fade-proof and most manufacturers suggest covering or bring inside outdoor fabrics when not in use. Outdoor fabrics are also usually treated with some sort of Stain & Soil Repellent Finish. Fabrics suitable for outdoor use are usually very easy to clean, simply spot clean, and therefore hold up better to outdoor elements including pollen, dirt and rain. Another important rating to look for is whether or not it is Mold and Mildew Resistant. This is important because of weather elements that outdoor fabrics will face. You want a fabric that once wet, will dry quickly so that mold and mildew will not have the ability to form in or on your fabric.

Each fabric type requires different care and maintenance but with the right tools and information you can make any fabric last and last.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Top Ten Questions Asked of Us

Happy Friday!  I ran across this video and thought it was FABULOUS!  One of the top 5 questions we get on a regular basis is, "How do I measure my couch to figure out how much fabric I need?"   Well, ladies and gents - here's a GREAT video to help!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Second-Look Wallcovering

This is a new line of re-claimed vinyl wallcovering.  They will even pay the freight to send your old wallcovering back to their plant.  What a neat idea!!

 (pictured is Marquetry - Peridot from Cirqa Wallcoverings' Second-Look Collection)

Second-Look® is the first recycled vinyl wallcovering.

And they said it couldn’t be done.

LSI Wallcovering introduced Second-Look in 2006. Since then, we’ve added hundreds of new products to the collection in each of our three major brands—Cirqa, Plexus and Versa. Many of our standard designs also can be specified as a Second-Look recycled wallcovering.
Commercial vinyl wallcovering has always been an excellent choice for sustainability because of its durability and inherently long life cycle. Second-Look, a comprehensive post-consumer recycling program, extends this lifecycle almost indefinitely. The Second-Look wallcoverings you specify today can be repeatedly recycled to keep them from the landfill for decades.

Read more at their website:  Second-Look

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet the Staff: Candace

I know we haven't had a Meet the Staff in quite some time and we actually have a few new staff members to get to know so over the next 2 or 3 weeks we will be doing just that. Today we meet Candace! She began working with Tracy at the showroom a few months ago and has done a fantastic. We are thrilled to have her and I know Tracy is super excited to have her.

Carrie: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Candace: I love to be creative! Love getting to help people design their's fun to come to work!

Carrie: How would you describe your personal interior design taste?
Candace: Funky traditional
Carrie: What's been your most fulfilling job experience since working for Interior Mall?
Candace: Helping moms-to-be together fabulous baby bedding!!

Carrie: How do you spend your time outside of work?
Candace: Taking care of my 1 year old daughter, Ava! Also, since I'm from Missouri I spend a lot of time traveling back and forth between Fort Smith and Missouri.

Carrie: What item from the website would you like to add to your wish list?
Candace: Kirby Child's Chair and Tuffet #157523 for my little tot!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

How "Green" is your home?

Two or three times a year Hanley/Wood comes out with their Building Products magazine. In the latest issue they featured the Top 100 Reader-Requested Products and one of the coolest ones they feature is an Energy Dashboard.

This cool little gadget from Vantage Controls gives you real-time information on home energy usage; it can also provide recommendations on ways to reduce energy use and can predict how much money a homeowner might save if they implement the strategies. For those interested in going "green" and saving a little money this is a cool thing to own!

Cleaning your couch?

So, we all have that FABULOUS piece of furniture in our living room - the ONE thing that we just could NOT call a home without! So... what happens when someone spills their red wine on that piece while watching the latest episode of Design Star?? TRAGEDY, right??

Here are some suggestions from fabric manufacturer Maxwell Fabrics.

**Avoid overwetting.
**Do not dry in direct sunlight
**Do not dry with a hair dryer
**Do not use chemical cleaning agents.
**Alcohol based products will deteriorate PVC PVC may be cleaned with a water based product such as foam from a mild detergent, such as ivory flakes, flamorene brissel foam, upholstery cleaner and tide have been found suitable or a non-solvent upholstery shampoo - NOTE - ALWAYS test any cleaning agent in a hidden part of the furniture before using!!! **Ink and shoe polish will permanently stain PVC
**Avoid direct sunlight
**Polyurethane is NOT breathable

Any questions?  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Backyard Makeovers: 5 Easy Deck Revamps from Better Homes and Gardens

Create a colorful backyard escape by choosing outdoor furniture in a rainbow of colors. Mix and match warm pinks and oranges with cool blues and greens for a fresh contrast.

Transform outdoor seating with paint. An Adirondack chair in a cool blue hue stands out against the natural greens of the backyard.

Group chairs around small side tables for a relaxed setting. Have fun with your outdoor furniture. A fish-shape side table is a playful addition to this summertime hangout.

For an inexpensive splash of color, use sarongs or scarves around the deck. Hang them from a plant stand for a colorful accent.

Use unexpected accents to give your deck a punch of color. Roll out beach mats as an impromptu outdoor rug. Give accent pillows a summer makeover with a sarong, T-shirt, or linen skirt that doubles as a pillow slipcover.

Give your deck the feel of being waterside even if it's surrounded by dry land. Bright white furniture and nautical accents create a seaworthy setting. Lay rugs over wood floors to define the area, or roll a runner down a narrow space to make a welcoming walkway.

Alfresco dining is an important function of any deck. Use indoor/outdoor fabrics in a nautical print to cover tables. Add red dishes for a pop of color. Accent the area with candles and lanterns to keep the party going all night.

Eco-friendly, maintenance-free, recycled-plastic chairs create no-fuss seating. A tall shutter serves double duty as an accent piece and a way to block out what's happening in the yard next door. Choose white pieces (or paint them white) for a fresh look.

Set a nautical tone with a striped indoor/outdoor rug and vintage buoys. Use rope knots to weigh down the tablecloth and add seaworthiness to the deck.

Create a contemporary setting with bold colors, sleek lines, and geometric prints. Lime green brightens this deck and contrasts with the wood furniture. Lightweight, portable outdoor furniture emphasizes flexibility.

Geometric shapes give the deck a modern feel. The lime green squares on the outdoor rug show off the outdoor room's color palette. Fabrics used throughout the area, such as the mix of plain and patterned napkins, are a quick and inexpensive way to incorporate the color scheme.

A solar lantern is an eco-friendly way to light the deck at night. Choose one with an attractive pattern to serve as a beautiful accent during the day as it recharges.

Outdoor dining is this deck's main function. A large farmhouse-style table and mix-and-match seating creates a casual setting for outdoor meals. Reds, oranges, tans, and browns blend nicely with the natural backdrop.

Hang an old-fashioned lantern for an attractive and useful accent. Lanterns add character to the deck during the day and serve an important function at night.

Use outdoor fabrics to soften the wooden atmosphere. Outdoor rugs, seat cushions, pillows, and napkins add a cozy touch to the deck floors, chairs, and tabletop. Choose patterns that share a common hue to create an easy mix of patterns.

This traditionally styled deck draws guests around the table and encourages conversation. Purple wicker seating is a fun twist on classic outdoor furniture. Outdoor fabrics, such as the rug and tablecloth, create a natural extension from indoor living spaces.
When the sun goes down, this solar lamp lights the tabletop. The attractive lantern serves as an accent during the day.

Damask and graphic floral outdoor fabrics create an elegant atmosphere. Mix these patterns with solids and stripes to create a more casual atmosphere.

Thanks to Better Homes and Gardens for these awesome tips. You can check out more great stuff from BH&G at

Which rub is the right rub?

We all know we want our fabric to be durable, but do you know how to gauge a fabric's durability just by reading a few numbers?

In the textile world, there are two main indicators for fabric durability. One is the Wyzenbeek Method and the other is a Martindale Cycle. While both tests are abrasion tests, they are not alike. A Wyzenbeek rating of 30,000 double rubs doesn't necessarily equate to a Martindale rating of 30,000 double rubs and vice versa.

The Wyzenbeek Method entails pulling a piece of fabric taut in a frame and subsequently rubbing it back and forth with an abradant (different fabrics may require different levels of abradant, from cotton duck to steel wire) until two yarn breaks occur or noticeable wear is observed. The number of double rubs is recorded as the fabric’s abrasion rating.

A Martindale Cycle is what is referred to as an oscillating test. In the Martindale test protocol, a fabric is mounted flat and rubbed in a figure eight like motion using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the agitator. The number of cycles achieved prior to a marked change in appearance (yarn breaks, pilling, holes) is the durability rating.

While both tests are a good indicator of how a fabric will perform, there are many other factors that will predict the durability of your fabric, such as fiber content, weaves, finishes, furniture design, maintenance, cleaning, and usage.

Both methods are recognized by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The way to compare Wyzenbeek vs Martindale ratings is with a 4:3 ratio.
For example:
40,000 Martindale = 30,000 Wyzenbeek
20,000 Martindale = 15,000 Wyzenbeek

Stroheim & Romann is now... Fabricut!

Stroheim - now under new management!

Fabricut Inc., the parent company of fabric brands Fabricut, S. Harris, Vervain, Trend and Fabricut Contract, has acquired Stroheim from JAB Anstoetz of Germany. The move adds a sixth brand under the Fabricut umbrella, expands Fabricut’s reach into the high-end textile, trimmings and wallpaper market, and continues Stroheim’s impressive 145-year legacy in the home furnishings industry.

For more, check out this story!