CHARLESTON, W.Va. — We were recently working with a client on furnishings for the new home they had built from the ground up. Their house was nearly complete and the discussion quickly went to the multitude of small details and decisions they had to make along the way.
When constructing a home, there are not only big decisions — like floor options and kitchen layout — but also small ones, such as switch plate covers, faucets and molding profiles. Often these “little” decisions have a tremendous impact on the aesthetics and even the function of the house.
The same principle applies, to an even greater degree, to home furnishings. It’s largely about the details. Taking the time to focus on the details of any piece of furniture you are considering for your home is time well spent.
In particular, the upholstered furnishings you decide upon will dictate the style, functionality, usability and comfort of the space.
When deciding on upholstered furnishings, the sky is often the only limit. With furniture manufacturers offering a broad range of fabrics as well as offering to use C.O.M. (customer’s own material), even the most basic chair or sofa frame can be fully customized.
The choice of fabric is the most important detail after you have decided upon the size, shape and style.
Fabric is the dressing to the furniture frame that can transform it from elegant to casual or from traditional to funky.
The texture, pattern and color used on a chair or sofa should reflect the personalty and use of the room it is to be used in. Just as you wouldn’t wear jeans and a T-shirt to a formal party or a ball gown or tuxedo to the beach, your upholstered furnishings should also be “dressed” appropriately for the spaces they will be in.
Creativity and thought are required here. We often spend a considerable amount of time assisting our clients through this process, gradually narrowing down the fabric choices until we find the perfect fit.
At times it is not simply a single choice. When purchasing custom-upholstered furnishings using complementary or contrasting fabrics on a single piece is an option and sometimes quite desirable. This can be as simple as doing welting in another fabric or as dramatic as covering cushions in a bold print with the rest of the frame done in a complementary color.
Once again, the only limit is your (and your design consultant’s) imagination.
Legs, arms and nail heads
With the fabric choice made there can be a myriad of other options and you should explore them. Choices in finishes of any exposed wood on your upholstered piece can be natural stains from blond to dark as well as a multitude of colors.
The decision you make about the color and style of the legs, base or arms of an exposed wood upholstered piece of furniture is another detail which can change the overall look in a dramatic way.
For some pieces, this also may mean deciding to use metal instead of wood for exposed areas of your chair or sofa. This varies depending upon the manufacturer but you should consider all of your options.
Other details, such as buttons on the seat cushions or back or the use of nail heads, also are often customizable and can be tailored to your needs. Using a bright, shiny chrome nail head instead of one with a dull finish can mean your room will have the “bling” impact you’re looking for.
The same principles apply for other furnishings in your home, like tables, cabinets, chests and lighting. Attention to the little details are what can often be the difference between a piece of furniture which “makes do” and one which is perfect.
This goes for vintage as well as new furnishings.
Questions to ask yourself when searching for that perfect piece include not only size, style and finish but also usability. A chest with drawers that are too small for the sweaters you want to store in it will ultimately become a frustration.
Take your time
Obviously, all of these decisions will take a little time and you should plan on taking some.
We work closely with our clients to make it as easy as possible and our experience has been the ones most pleased with the end result are the ones who have dedicated some time to considering their options and who have paid close attention to how the details of any piece of furniture will complement their home.
If approached in this manner, it will not only be fun but also beneficial as you will have fine furnishings to enjoy for years to come.
Chuck and Connie Hamsher are collectors of 20th-century design and art and owners of The
Purple Moon in downtown Charleston, which specializes in mid-century, industrial and contemporary home furnishings and accessories.
Follow The Purple Moon on Facebook or visit them at www.thepurplemoon.com. Chuck and Connie can be contacted at 304-345-0123.