FOURTH FLOOR WALK UP

Brooklyn based lifestyle blog by Lauren L Caron

Create

CREATE | Artfully Crafted Gifts

CREATELauren CaronComment
Watercolor painting by Traci Page. 

Watercolor painting by Traci Page. 

For the giving season this year I'm all about giving art. Art is something that can cost pennies to thousands of dollars, but whatever it may be, it's going to be personal and meaningful. More so than the next sweater or electronic.

Recently, a friend of mine, gave me one of her original paintings. I was so touched by the gift, especially after thinking about how she spent time creating this piece with me in mind. I had mentioned that I was interested in purchasing a similar one that she had created and was shocked when she made a new one for me to have?! I was so excited about the gift and the idea of hanging in on my wall, that on my way home from lunch I popped into a local framer. In less than two weeks I'll have it home with me.

In the past year I've met and began following several wonderful artists that I'd love to share with you. As well as a few new framing companies that take all the stress and effort out of having your own work printed, framed or both. 

ARTISTS TO FOLLOW

JungleWild_1000px.jpg

TRACI PAGE

Traci began her career in advertising, then fashion specializing in product development, and most recently jewelry. Traci typically paints with watercolors and often journals her travels and experiences through the palette. Taking account her career path, Traci has a great eye for details and a passion for luxury, which lends itself well to my favorite series of her's, The Lines + Facets collection that include saturated, slightly abstracted jewels. She also accepts commissions on pet portraits, paints foliage and food studies. You can follow Traci on IG through @PageTraciWatercolor.  

DANI SCHAFER

Dani's abstract paintings are beautiful and boundless with expressive brush strokes. She combines strokes of opaque saturation with sheer shimmery metallics perfectly marrying masculine and feminine palettes within each piece. The love the abstraction of her work, and how you can see the movement and the freedom within her hands. She also partnered up with Design Love Fest for free computer wallpaper downloads [here]. I have one on my own desktop and love how it makes my computer look as though it's a part of the gallery wall that is hung behind it. Every few months I change up the image but it's always something similar. On my wish list is a canvas painting of hers, I'd love to have it framed in a white frame with a large matte to give the painting space to breath, hang it on a wall with a mix of modern and vintage artwork... I can see it now. Dani's IG account is @DANISCHAFER

I DREAM OF JEANNE

Jeanne has also recently shifted careers, moving away from PR and Marketing in fashion to illustration and painting. She chronicals her swoon worthy travels through watercolor along with translating instagram shots from her A-List of friends and bloggers. Her work can be found at Kennedy Waston in Seattle and online [here]. She also accepts commissions through her website. Jeanne's IG account is @IDREAMOFJEANNE.

DONALD ROBERTSON

If you haven't already heard of Donald Robertson, then you should definitely take to following his instagram feed. He is what the world is calling an Instagram sensation, having blown up within the past year. I first heard of him through Alessandra Branca, when we collaborated on the Branca hall at Bergdorf Goodman. She commissioned him to paint a vignette for an Architectural Digest feature. Within a year, I was telling my boss and boss's boss about him and trying to convince them to collaborate. Not long after I left, he did a collaborative window installation and just this past weekend had a holiday pop-up shop at the store. I can't say that I was the reason for his collaboration with BG but I can pat myself on the back for putting the bug in Linda's ear. His work is definitely up there in price, but if you're a fashion lover like myself, then you have to at least grab his book that was published this year or an ornament at the BG holiday shop. You can follow Donald @DRAWBERTSON.

INSLEE BY DESIGN

Inslee is an illustrator who has been commissioned by both private clients as well as major brands and retailers. She has collaborated with several companies to bring her original whimsical designs to print on phone cases, calendars, napkins (embroidered) and more. A few of my favorites include the French chic vibe paintings... the croissants, topless sunbather and the Time Out (print). You can find her here @INSLEE.

Gallery wall with new print, framed and printed by Framebridge. 

Gallery wall with new print, framed and printed by Framebridge. 

CREATE YOUR OWN

If you're thinking, none of these artists meet your taste or style, there are so many others out there selling gift worthy work. A different path would be to have some of your own personal work printed and framed. I decided to do just that for my family this year, with a series of personal photographs that I had printed into a calendar using Artifact Uprising. Parabo Press also sells custom printed calendars.  

Another company that prints, and has a ton of frame options is Framebridge. They offer free shipping of your goods both ways, that means if you have an original or print of something that you want to have framed they cover the shipping fees to have your artwork shipped to them, and back when it's framed. They also print photographs that you can upload direct to their site. 

I decided to print and frame a few of my favorite photos that were shot on my phone. Half expecting the quality to be meh, they ended up turning out beautifully. I chose one from our vacation to France when we road the Camargue ponies, I snapped it while on horseback - one of my favorite places to be on earth. The other is of our dog Max, chilling on the sofa. I love his coy expression because he's actually not allowed on the sofa.

As for the frames, I purchased one simple, modern black for the Camarague image and for the framed picture of Max, an antique silver leafed frame. Both frames are a nice quality. 

One more place that has a number of favorite go to frames is West Elm. they carry polished, and brushed brass and silver toned frames that come with mats. For a recent Union Adorn commercial project, we bought several of these and framed various look book prints within them. 

FRAMEBRIDGE

ARTIFACT UPRISING

PARABO PRESS

I hope I gave you some ideas for gifts, that are a little out of the ordinary. I think it's so important to celebrate people's talents, and this is an easy way to do so! Happy Gifting! 


 

All images are from the artist's website, or taken by myself.

CREATE | A Jewel Box for Your Accessories

CREATE, SPACESLauren CaronComment

In the last few years I've built up a pretty nice shoe and accessory collection, making it a point to invest in some statement pieces and purchasing others when I come across a great sale.  Now into my thirties (yikes!), in addition to investing in more grown up pieces, I've also decided that it's time for a more grown up way to store them. And what better solution than a jewel box that can not only store but also showcase them! I was lucky to be gifted an old cupboard with glass doors that is about 50"h x 40"w x 13"d - the perfect size. The cupboard on it's own was looking drab (see before picture after the jump).  However, a simple paint job and wallpapering on the inside with a rich jewel toned print, transformed the piece from shabby to chic. My last step was to purchase glass shelves cut to size. I figured glass would be the best option, it's virtually invisible and will not detract from the objects or the wallpaper. The glass company I used is Bear Glass, they're in the city, but also ship nationally and have reasonable prices. They will cut to whatever specification you have and if you're looking for mirror have a great range of options. My shelves were 1/4" thick and I asked for eased edges - so that they're not sharp.

Create a Jewel Box For Your Accessories | Lauren Caron
Create a Jewel Box For Your Accessories | Lauren Caron

Since the shelving unit is a little below eye level I wanted to create a vignette of personal items on the top. I hung a candid picture from our wedding day on the wall as a back drop along with a bust for hats or jewelry. As well as framed images of my grandmother and my dog Rita. In the boxes I am storing miscellaneous soft accessories and scarves. On the shelves, I mixed and matched bags with shoes to add a little extra interest. At some point I may place the bags back in dust bags but I think since they're behind glass, dust should not be too much of an issue. Also, I have the unit next to window but there are curtains and blinds that I can pull to prevent sun damage.

If you'd like to have a similar custom display unit, its most definitely possible. It's not the cheapest of the cheap, DIY project but definitely a statement piece. If you have the time and the resources to comb flea markets or antique stores, you can start there by looking for a cabinet of similar proportions. If you do not or would like to save time, the unfinished furniture store should be your first stop - the Millstores always have inexpensive unfinished bookcases or armoires. Next, you can purchase wallpaper from Design Your Wall or Decorators Best's - my cabinet only took one standard 11 yard roll to cover, the wallpaper I used is by Cole & Son, it's a Fornasetti design called Malachite in green. Lastly, a paint color of your choice for the outside.

Wallpaper Tray | Lauren Caron
Wallpaper Tray | Lauren Caron

Wallpapering is surprisingly easier than I was expecting. The most important step is understanding the repeat. Each pattern has a set repeat that is measured horizontally and vertically. You need to figure out what that pattern is. Each piece you set on your object will determine when you have to make your next cut. Otherwise, applying paper is quite easy. It involves wallpaper paste, a roller or brush, and a table or surface to use to apply the paste. Other supplies needed are razor blades, a straight edge and measuring tape, a sponge and a spatula of some sorts to help smooth the paper onto the wall. If you're going to try it out for yourself there's a pretty good tutorial on this website [here]. A good place to start also, is with small things like a tray - which is the first thing I did when I tried wallpapering for the first time [see above].

For a reference I wanted to show before and during pictures - the before is such an awful shot (I have to remind myself next time that it is a good investment to have a good before image.)

Before Image of Cabinet
Before Image of Cabinet
Create a Jewel Box For Your Accessories | Progress Shot | Lauren Caron
Create a Jewel Box For Your Accessories | Progress Shot | Lauren Caron

Now that I've finished this project, I'm dying to work on the next. It's such a good feeling when you accomplish a project all on your own. So empowering! And I hope, inspiring for you. Thanks for reading.

My Best
My Best

DIY Upholstery: A French Chair with Double Welt Cording

CREATE, SPACES, VINTAGELauren Caron16 Comments

Last weekend I decided to recover the little French chair I purchased at Brimfield [I blogged about that trip here]. The fabric I wanted to cover the chair with was a lucky find from B&J fabrics, a black and white Ikat print. Other than exhibiting the lovely before and after photos I thought this would be a great opportunity to explain how easy it is to reupholster a fixed seat chair, including how to make double welt cording!

A quick heads up before we begin:  It would be wise to take a look at the current condition of any chair that is planned for recovery. If the seat is in rough shape ie. moldy or sagging then it should be replaced.  Which would include purchasing new foam and batting to re-shape the seat.  This is a step that I did not have to take but if it is necessary, I would suggest discussing this is with an experienced amateur or professional, because it may just be best to pay to have the chair repaired and recovered.

 

The tools necessary to upholster a chair from start to finish are:

  • A pair of fabric scissors or sheers
  • Measuring tape - preferably the flexible kind
  • An upholstery nail remover
  • Staple gun and staples or nail gun and nails - be safe please!
  • hot glue gun and extra glue sticks
  • sewing machine and thread
  • double welt cording feet are best, but a common zipper foot will work too

The very first thing to do before tearing the chair apart, is to measure the area that will be re-upholstered, so that you will know how much fabric to purchase.

  1. It is important to measure the widest part of the seat - front to back and left to right.
  2. Next you want to measure the side of the chair where the welt cording will be affixed.  Because the cording wraps around the entire base of the seat, you'll need to account for more fabric than expected.  Cording should be sewn along the bias, there is more stretch in the weave, it also helps the look of the pattern and how it meets with the seat upholstery. The bias runs diagonally along the pattern, please see the direction of the arrow below. I'll go more into cording in Part 2.
  3. In my case, I only needed about 2 yards of fabric - Please note: the measuring photos are from after I upholstered the chair, because I originally forgot to document this part. Oops!

railroad vs non-railroad fabric Photo credit: Plintz & Chintz

* Once the chair has been measured, you'll want to figure out how much yardage is needed. Most upholstery fabrics are 54 - 60"wide.  Patterns typically run vertically as it is unrolled from the roll. The other style of pattern application is where the fabric runs horizontally or perpendicularly along the roll. When choosing a fabric or figuring out the amount of yardage, you'll need to consider how the pattern is applied as it may affect the amount of yards you'll need to do your upholstery.

Now that you've figured out how much fabric you'll need for the project, you want to remove the current fabric.  Cording must be removed first, it is very easy to remove as it's typically only affixed by hot glue. Once the cording is removed, you'll have to take the fabric off, the first thing you'll notice depending on the age of the chair is that the fabric is either stapled or nailed onto the frame.  In my case, the fabric was mounted with upholstery nails.  I used the upholstery nail remover to take each nail out, making sure not to scratch or knock the gold leafed frame.

Once the old fabric is removed you can use the old pieces as a pattern guide as to how you will place your new fabric.  You can place both the seat and the cording on top of the new fabric and map out where your cuts will be.  Be careful to test that the pattern lines up with chair.  For example, I centered one of the shapes in the middle of the front of the seat. I also used the old welt cording to figure out how I could cut the new fabric  for the welt cording.

For the next few steps you will need the staple gun

Now for the best part of the project.  Place the fabric on top of the chair and began stapling in the back at the center.  From that point move outwards towards the sides of the chair, stapling either side of the center each time. This helps to keep the the patten secured.  Move onto each side from there, all the while pulling the fabric taught - but try avoid pulling it too tight.  Keep in mind the shape of the seat cushion, if you pull too tightly it will effect the cushion and possibly cause the fabric to tear later. However, if you do not pull the fabric tightly enough, it will loosen over time and all your hard work will have gone to waste.  Lastly, staple as closely to the wooden edge as possible, without stapling the finished wooden parts - anywhere between 1/8" and 3/8" from the edge is good.

Once the fabric is completely stapled on, cleanly cut the excess so that it does not overlap the finished wood. Next upholstery trim should be applied to create a finished border that will cover the unattractive staples. There are several kinds of trim available from nail heads to decorative tapes. I decided for my chair that the best finish would be with double welt cording. Double welt cording is the piping that borders the point at which the fabric and the wood meet on upholstered pieces of furniture.  The piping is doubled in thickness in order to cover any unsightly nails or staples.

To apply double welt cording the tool required is a hot glue gun and extra glue sticks

Double welt cording is actually much easier than one would expect.  To make it entirely easier, I suggest you use a double welt cording foot - that can be found through Ebay and remember to purchase whichever matches with the brand of your sewing machine.  If the plan is to not use such a foot, than the common zipper foot should work as well.

With the cording completed you can now finish the chair.  Luckily, the cording is easy to apply with hot glue over the staples.

Below is the chair finished!  I think it looks so great in the entryway, it's also very useful for putting on shoes or working at my desk. The next step is to wallpaper the room!

 

DIY: Feathered Fedora Hat

CREATE, VINTAGELauren Caron1 Comment
fedora with leather bow

Want more details on the How to? Keep reading.

  1. After removing the leather strap, I wrapped the 3/4" width ribbon around the base of the brim.  I placed the seam where the feathers would cover it, on the side.
  2. Next I sewed on my feather pad - it comes exactly as you see it at the store.  There are many other styles of kinds of feathers too! I chose to place my larger feathers heading towards the back of my head.  I think they're more streamlined that way.  If you like the way this looks you can finish here or you can take it one step further, which is what I did.
  3. I decided this hat needed a little bit of bling, so I added a Trifari brooch that I found at Brimfield this summer.  This is just pinned on so it can be removed.  *Since making this hat I have actually ordered a brooch from Etsy that is brass with pearls - looks a little more vintage and suits the peacock feathers better.  Then, you're done! If you really feel bold feel free to add even more feathers, similar to my inspiration hat. Good luck!

Instagram around the house

CREATE, SPACESLauren Caron1 Comment

I'm sure you all think I have been slacking, and I kind of have been on posting but otherwise I have been quite busy.  I just haven't really had the chance to create formal posts about my hard work that takes up almost the same amount of time.  Don't be worried though, I have been taking documentation and posting tidbits (among other things) through my  Instagram account. For those of you who are not yet following me, you can on Twitter and Instagram - user name is 4thfloorwalkup for both (now that I got that plug out of the way). Here are just a few apartment photos that I've snapped in the past few weeks.

In order:

  1. We finally ordered Jack's office chair, it's here but the desk is not yet complete!
  2. I tried my luck at sewing heavy weight upholstery fabric cushions with cording and zippers. . . not so lucky.  I'm taking a break from that project right now, my sewing machine is as well.
  3. The curtains are hung, the faceted lamps are staying, and I purchased this sweet little brass alarm clock.
  4. Late night sketching in bed. I was trying to get out some design frustration on paper.  I still haven't found the right sofa for the living room and I guess the only way my OCD can feel better is if I sketch out my compulsions.
  5. Latest acquisition- a Neo-classical "X" stool for my also new dressing table.  Both are actually not new, just new to me. The stool needs to be reupholstered, my next challenge.
  6. Paint Job- Last weekend I painted the entire bedroom, it's hard to see in this photo but it's the same as in our last place (Benjamin Moore, Flat, Abalone).  The color scheme just works so well and I'm also not up for sewing new curtains just yet.
  7. The Bathroom- Along with painting the bedroom I painted the bathroom and changed out the fixtures.  The room is not completely finished yet as we still need to change out the light fixture and shorten the shower curtain to show off the new paint job.  I painted both the under belly of the tub and the door black (Benjamin Moore, Semi-gloss, Onyx)!
  8. This is just a cute picture of Rita. She seemed to be happy with the redo of the bathroom - same color scheme: black, white and little hints of brown!

And there you have it, some updates on the apartment.  Believe me, there are many more to come!