The thing that distinguishes this project from the many bench tops that I have previously custom made is the wooden lip that I constructed on the underside to form a “box top” for the bench cover (as you can see in the photo below where the upholstered cover is shown upside down). You can see this lip even better in the second photo - one that I took during fabrication. If you have ever done upholstery yourself, it’s sometimes interesting to see the guts of a project. But, be warned..…..it’s seldom pretty under there!
Since many of my clients need bench seats and banquettes, here’s another example. In this case a tufted banquette that I constructed last year for a busy family with two toddler boys who definitely benefit from the cleanability of a Sunbrella fabric.
My client loved the diamond tufting suggestion to go along with her French chic design, but we opted to eliminate any buttons, lest they be picked apart by curious kids (and catch way too many crumbs.) I also reupholstered the chairs in the photo which my client found herself at Brimfield (the thrice-annual antiques fair in Brimfield, MA which I blogged about before: A Great Outing - Brimfield Antique Fair).
This banquette project was particularly challenging because my client’s contractor did a superb job of making the bench back angled for comfort. So, it was a good geometry challenge to construct the banquette back with the proper angles to meet in the corner (always nice to use my engineering background a bit in my Interior Design endeavors). This project was a good example of how you can turn a window seat or dining banquette into a custom focal point that also works well for the comfort and function of your family.
Next up on my diamond tufting tour is a reading nook I created for a home office as part of another client’s master suite. This time I suggested button detailing on that beautiful purple chenille. My client tells me her teenage daughters love to lounge in the nook to do homework and talk/text on the phone. The upholstered back boards are secured to the walls with metal cleats, which was a super easy solution to ensure the backs are attached firmly into wall studs.
I also mounted a tufted headboard that I constructed for a client’s Vermont vacation home with similar metal cleat hardware. This was a particularly good solution for the headboard since the hot-water baseboard heating sits directly below the headboard (meaning that any legs on a standard headboard would not sit flush against the wall). It’s all about custom design solutions, both in form (aesthetics) and function!!
I hope you have enjoyed this short review of tufted bench and banquette projects I have done in recent years in my upholstery workroom. Diamond tufting is a great way to get a polished custom touch into your window seat and bench projects. This is the kind of “light upholstery” I love to do!
Tonight we plunge ahead into 2018! With the New Year’s fresh start in mind, I thought I would share a cool video sent to me by some friends in Texas showing some innovative designs of truly transformative furniture.
You will love this video from Creapills, a French furniture innovation company.
Enjoy, and best wishes for a Happy New Year to you all!
I am a fan of Caitlin Wilson, a West Coast interior designer, textile artist, and fellow blogger. Caitlin has a design shop in San Francisco, and her design aesthetic has been molded with extensive international travel and living abroad in London, Dubai, and Hong Kong. No wonder I love her and the international influences on her textile patterns!
I recall fondly a week-long trip to Hong Kong focused on textiles (silks! brocades!) and a terrific trip to London a few summers back where we enjoyed seeing the traditional architecture and the modern influences as well. Here is a photo of the Thames and Parliament taken from our “go-round” on the London Eye that shows the mixture of the traditional and the modern.
But on with this week’s post. Many of my clients ask me for help with pillow size and placement on a sectional sofa, which is indeed tricky. Especially that central zone which lots of time needs to have the most comfortable pillows for TV watching and lounging (by people of all ages). Caitlin Wilson gives some terrific advice for styling a sectional in two distinct ways in one of her blog posts: “Design 101: Lesson 3 - Sectional Styling”
I’ll focus on the style that I prefer here. It’s one I implemented recently with a client who requested a “summer refresh” on her sectional. As you can see from the diagram below, Caitlin recommends a large sectional be grounded on both ends with large 24” square pillows. Then, three 20” pillows, and a rectangular one to make things interesting and to perhaps showcase a terrific fabric.
For my client’s sectional, I fashioned the 20” geometric pillows out of the gorgeous embroidered fabric showcased on the relaxed roman shades on my site’s homepage. Looks totally different, doesn’t it, when pieced like that? And so Celtic-inspired. For the three 24” pillows, I made a banding from a small braid on top of a cream colored linen and then used that as an inset band. I felt that plain 24” solid pillows would look just too ho-hum against the chenille sofa, and an inset banding would give just the needed interest without stealing the show from the geometric pillows or the embroidered vine rectangular pillow.
So, who says pillows are not important in decorating?!!! Pick up any magazine and you’ll probably notice the pillows first. While you might actually finalize their details toward the end of the decorating timeline, it is essential to have a gameplan on fabrics, colors, and designs for pillows from the start.
Are you perhaps thinking that after the whole room is done (draperies, rug, seating, color), you’ll somehow come up with the perfect pillows at HomeGoods? Now that bit of snark might be a bit unfair, as I have seen lots of terrific pillows at HomeGoods, and some can form the inspiration of a scheme for a room, but I advise you to appreciate the impact of pillows up front in your redesign plans. After all, your guests and family will be sitting right next to the pillows, and quality craftsmanship with appropriate fabrics makes a big difference. With today’s sofas and sectionals done primarily in solid fabrics, pillows are essential to bringing color, pattern, and some life to all that sofa fabric. Bottom line, pillows do count! It’s also a nice idea to have a summer set of pillows and a winter set of pillows. For a modest price, sprucing up your pillows can have a large impact on your décor.
I must go now, as I have pillows to design and fabricate today for a client who has an L-shaped banquette (which I upholstered in a tufted design in a gray Sunbrella) along with new chairs (which I just reupholstered in a small chevron pattern). She needs some new pillows in kid-friendly fabrics to round out the seating area, and I’m up for a pillow challenge on this rainy summer day. Are you a pillow-lover too? If so, then I’m in good company!
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.