"Once we recognize these deepest desires and soul-fulfilling elements of our perfect idea of place, we can begin to plan."
the RICHES are in the NICHES
holiday DECORATING made easy
how to accomplish CHANGE in your business
understanding FOAM for home furnishings
a DESIGN plan that WORKS
busFIRST AID in the workroom
Holiday Decorating Made Easy
by JoAnne Lenart Weary
Source: JoAnne Lenart Weary
Source: Judith Hicks
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Sh-h-h, don’t tell anyone but I have a secret. I have lost my holiday mojo. I remember the days when promptly after Thanksgiving dinner, I was dragging out boxes, making bows into the wee hours, and decorating every surface of my home. I dragged out the boxes…but they are sitting there waiting for me to start the magic.
I know what you’re thinking…JoAnne, you do this decorating stuff for a living; your house should be dripping with holiday cheer. The reality is life has been crazy. (I know you can relate!) I even considered skipping it this year, but I love to sit in my house and look around at twinkling lights, beautiful bows, and decorated mantles. So here are a few of my tips for holiday transformation. Hopefully, it inspires you AND me!
1. Shake it up!
I was talking to someone who said they do the same thing every year. In fact, they take photos to replicate it exactly. Now, I love tradition but come on, let’s shake it up. Move that collection of houses around for your holiday village. Hang that wreath you hung over the fireplace for years in the foyer to give it a fresh, new look.
Or, wrap that stairway garland at the base instead of on the handrail, like this created by Gina Paris and Judith Hicks. This look was a big hit at one of the homes on our holiday house tour last year. And please, please, do not keep the same ribbon for more than a few years.
2. Establish a color (or colour, for our Canadian readers) story
The options are to complement or contrast. This is the one time of year, where matching colors doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about your existing color story; have fun with it! Use the tried and true color ratio of 60-30-10 and use each color three times. Weave a core metallic color throughout the home for cohesion.
3. Determine your aesthetic
Are you a minimalist or maximalist kind of person? In this tree, we pulled out all the stops and filled it with ribbon, ornaments, and fillers. It suited the client’s desire for more.
If you are a "less" kind of person, use larger items with big impact and a simpler color story.
4. Learn to make a bow
If you can make a beautiful bow, you can make anything look special. Two tricks to great bows: ribbon with wire and chenille stem to cinch the bows. Wired ribbon is forgiving, and chenille stems are easier to work with than florist wire. Think of ribbon the way you think of fabric patterns - mix and match; keeping color or theme as your point of commonality. Check out this easy to follow video from Michael’s.
5. Pack more punch above 36”
When I teach my decorating and staging classes, I share my Decorating in the Zone approach to achieve vertical balance. I divide the room into the Function, Power, and Skyline Zone. The zone where the eye lingers the longest is what I call the Power Zone and is 36" to 78” from the floor. This would include the mantel, art on the walls, lamps, bookcases, etc.
Focus your attention where it matters most with seasonal art and unexpected decorations. In this dining room, I added a dowel between two chandeliers, decorated with hanging ornaments and garland in a color story that coordinated with the tree in the room.
6. Be ready with a small gift for guests… expected and unexpected
One year, I rolled up scrolls, each with a message and personal coupons. I then placed them on my foyer tree. My guests were encouraged to choose one when they came through the door. The coupons were good for everything from a home-cooked meal, to two dozen of my famous home-made pierogi, or a night of babysitting, etc.
Another way of doing the same is this fun idea that features mugs tied to the foyer railing, each filled with goodies.
7. Decorate in unexpected places
Create visual surprises for the eye by popping color, texture, and interest in places you might not typically decorate. On this project, we simply fastened ribbon with double back tape to the cabinet doors, cut a small buttonhole in the ribbon and hung a light-weight swag with custom bows.
8. Mix textures for interest
Here we mixed saplings cut right from the woods (thanks to my Husband) with faux Christmas Trees. We laid lights on the laminate floor, covered it with fiberfill and Voila! Our woodlands theme was a hit and easy to do. Placed at the far end of a room, it had great impact.
9. Get creative!
Use things in new ways. Something as simple as the round Christmas ornament can become a bud vase by gluing ribbons to form a cradle around the ornament. Remove the top, add some water and a touch of bleach. Now add long-lasting miniature carnations and hang from the tree, chandeliers, and the window frame.
10. If you love holiday decorating…turn it into a business
If you are reading this and already have a business, consider adding this service to the mix. For over 20 years, holiday decorating added 30% to my annual revenue. This could be a great launching pad for a new business. There are many more holidays besides Christmas and a plethora of busy people, who just don’t have the time to do it themselves. From birthday parties to corporate events, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July…many holidays that need someone with your talent. In fact, most holiday decorators begin planning and ordering for the next season in January, at To the Trade Only Markets around the country.
Other holiday decorators work with what the client already owns with a budget to freshen up with new ribbon or additional holiday décor, purchased retail. Whatever way you want to structure your business, there is great money to be made in seasonal decorating and event planning.
MORE INSPIRATION: Look at the next page to see fabulous inspiration from your talented industry peers, Angie Morse and Anne Runde. Thanks to Angie and Anne for sharing with us. I am already inspired and off to work some magic. Wishing all of you a joyful holiday season!
JoAnne Lenart-Weary has been creating beautiful homes for over 40 years and teaching others how to do the same, for over 20 years.
As a Subject Matter Expert, JoAnne is a frequent contributor to blogs and social media programs around the country. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, such as IDS, WCAA, IWCE-Visions, RESA, IAHSP, and more. JoAnne has appeared on HGTV, ABC-TV and is a frequent contributor for industry magazines. Learn more by following JoAnne on Facebook.
Source: Max Kim Bee Photography
Find Your Creative Muse
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The Pittock Mansion is a French Renaissance-style château on over 40 acres, overlooking downtown Portland. The mansion was originally built in 1909 as a private home for London-born Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana. It took five years to construct the 14,000 square foot home. In 1964, it was rescued by the city for $225,000.
For nearly a half-century, the Pittock Mansion has been decorated for the holidays. It is open to the public from the week before Thanksgiving through December 31.
For the past decade, local designers, Angie Morse of The Room Stylers and Anne Runde of Anne Runde Interiors, have been design volunteers for the making of all things "merry and bright" at the Mansion. Angie and Anne met while attending design school and each has her own successful Interior Design business. Angie specializes in soft furnishings, accessorizing, and home staging, while Anne is known for her stunning bathroom designs. Both have won multiple Designer of the Year awards from the Interior Design Society, most recently in the category of Holiday Design. Angie is also a design instructor at the Heritage School of Interior Design with locations in Portland, Denver, and Seattle.
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This article first appeared in Cynthia's blog which you can read here.
A couple of years ago, I traveled to Denver for a Craftsy Instructor Summit.
I met AAAAAAAAAAAmazing people, plenty of them.
But one, in particular, stands out in my mind. . .
Her name is Beverly Johnson. Otherwise known as, “The Fairy Bra Mother.”
Based in Ontario, Canada, Beverly has created a complete resource for the “home sewist and independent custom bra maker”. Her online store carries everything from lace to underwires. Her shop hosts live hands-on education. Her online Craftsy classes are among their best selling.
She’s created an enthusiastic global community of bra makers.
I was beyond tickled. This charming lady is no timid seamstress: She is a fierce and resourceful entrepreneur. She identified a tiny-but-viable market and set to work meeting it.
Beverly should be something of a muse to all of us.
Many upholstery shops feel like they’re chasing a small market, and they, therefore, try to chase all of it.
That’s some old school thinking.
If Beverly can build a business around bra makers, you can certainly get more selective in your services.
Rather than chasing every consumer, consider the real perks to a niche marketing strategy – ESPECIALLY if you’re an overworked army of one.
#1. BE THE EXPERT
You probably can’t be the best at everything (sorry!), but maybe you can be the best at SOMETHING.
Specializing allows you to delve deep, and become the knowledgeable, complete resource (some) clients are looking for.
There’s an upholstery shop in Minnesota called Galaxy Custom Booths. All they do is build custom residential booths.
As the owner of a teeny 1950’s kitchen, let me tell you that a built-in-booth is a game changer — no stupid chairs to climb over. Just sliiiiiiiiiiide in with your coffee. NICE.
Often, residential booths are built by a well-intentioned handyman. The upholsterer gets to show up later and figure out how to magic fabric on. Meh.
Paul Klapperich, owner and CEO of Galaxy, has the skills to do the whole job right – and they’ve been doing it since 1974. “I like to think we are the best at what we do.”
You bet your butt.
I built the simple booth in our kitchen. It’s alright. Will I be adding booths to our St. Paul list of services anytime soon? hmmmmmmmmmmmmm NO.
Klapperich has created an entire business around doing the job well. He’s solved a million problems the rest of us haven’t even discovered yet. And he didn’t do it by offering a full palette of upholstery services. He did it by honing in hard on one niche he felt uniquely qualified to meet.
Go get ’em, Paul. Anyone who asks about a custom residential booth? I’ll happily send them over. Even if they didn’t ask, I’ll put it in my blog and try to send them anyway.
Because EVERYBODY should have a booth in their house, for reals.
Click here to visit Cynthia's blog and read the rest of her thoughts on "Rocking the Niche Upholstery Market"....
Cynthia Bleskachek has been doing upholstery professionally since 2001 – before that, she grew up making buttons and pulling staples in her mom’s home upholstery shop. Her journey has cultivated a deep love, and appreciation for the character, and quality of older furniture – in a market overwhelmed by disposable options, re-upholstery provides a viable alternative. The Funky Little Chair began as a Facebook blog of sorts, sharing bits of education from whatever project was on the “horses” in the upholstery shop. Now in St. Paul, MN, Cynthia provides upholstery services, as well as hands-on education for students of every level. Cynthia is an instructor at Workroom Tech in Tryon, NC, has an online class available through Craftsy.com, and was a featured presenter at the 2015 Minneapolis Junk Bonanza, with TV appearances on Kare 11 and Fox 9. She is a member of the Professional Upholstery Association of Minnesota and currently serves as chair of their education committee.
The Riches are in the Niches
by Cynthia Bleskachek
Shasta Breitkopf, Cathy Tucker, Elki Horn, and Cathy Stich attend CWC '18
Unique Expressions had great success at the Custom Workroom Conference and Marketplace in Spartanburg SC!
Cathy Tucker and Cathy Stich demonstrated how to use the different Draw Matic products designed to allow workrooms to operate more efficiently and reduce measuring mistakes to increase profit margins. Elki Horn demonstrated how she uses the clamping bar connector, shown below. The connector is Draw Matic's newest product, and is designed to connect multiple clamping bars.
More efficiency in the workroom will ALWAYS result in higher profit margins.
Unique Expressions is also your source for :
A Design Plan
by Monique Becker
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This article first appeared in Monique's blog which you can read here.
Here’s the thing about our homes: they make us feel. Insert any adjective you like: mad, sad, joyful, safe, excited, happy, real, magical, depressed, exhausted, energized, relaxed, on and on…. I’m willing to bet my next lifetime of paychecks that the negative adjectives above are not words you’d use to describe your dream home. “Yeah, I’m looking for something with an 'Adam’s Family' feel – dark, dreary, dirty, depressing and lacking any soul,” said no one ever. Yet, we decide that when we screw up our own design choices, we must live with them as our penance for the next thirty years.
And this is where I found myself. Trying to make that stupid hand-me-down couch work, drinking out of blue glasses that turned an ugly shade of puke green when you drank anything other than water out of them, and living with a yellow paint color on the walls aptly named “Chicken Scratches.”
When I work with clients, I run into similar scenarios ALL THE TIME. We dream of creating the home that will nurture our soul and provide comfort for ourselves, our family, and our friends. But damn if we don’t drag our feet when we make a design mistake! “That is my mother’s couch, and while I hate the style and color, it’s in perfectly good shape. It would be a shame to get rid of it.” “I just bought this coffee table, and it’s so big I bang my shin on it every time I try to walk around it, but I can’t get a new one, or my husband will divorce me.” “I JUST had this room painted. Now it makes me feel like death warmed over, but I’m going to live with it until it grows on me.” So we walk around our homes depressed, black and blue, and make design decisions based on furniture we hate.
I realize we do not have unlimited budgets, and a complete furniture overhaul every time we make a bad purchase is not going to happen. However, we can start to tune into the designs that make our hearts beat a little faster and the objects that make our souls sing. We all have these things buried deep, and it takes practice and work to uncover them. But once we recognize these deepest desires and soul-fulfilling elements of our perfect idea of place, we can begin to plan. And that plan will prevent us from ever making another design faux pas.
When we discover and follow our innermost needs of place, we can climb that pyramid to become the best versions of ourselves.
I hear you now, “Wait. What? You mean that English roll arm sofa in the navy velvet is going to make me a better person? You’re mad.” While I may be a touch crazy – yes. Yes, it will make you a better person. Because every time you sit and sink into those luxurious seat cushions, it reminds you of the down feather mattress you slept on at your great-grandparents’ cabin during the summer when you were five. And the softness of the fabric was exactly like the muzzle of the horse they had on their farm that you got to feed apples to. And the rich blue of the material looks exactly like those summer night skies. So when you’re sitting on your couch, it’s oh so much more than a couch. When your children come demanding to know what’s for dinner, in your relaxed state you can calmly reply, “I’m not sure yet.” instead of losing your mind because – didn't they just eat an hour ago, and you have no idea what’s for dinner because no one but you ever thinks about it, and you haven’t thought about it yet, and just go play and quit bugging me. Who knew a couch could do so much?
Now, the navy velvet sofa may not be the best working visual for everyone. You might have the same feelings over a bright floral sofa with plastic seat covers that made the backs of your legs stick to them when you tried to stand up. (I have a similar memory with the plastic seats in the back of my best friend’s Mom’s avocado green Datsun. Those memories make me smile, but I’m not rushing out to find a car with plastic seats.) Whatever your memory is, that’s what’s important. And how to translate those positive memories into viable, tangible design options for your present lifestyle is what we work through together. Finding out that you had the knowledge and insight to create your perfect place all along is quite freeing — no more second-guessing, returning items, or living with bad purchases or animosity towards your bathroom color.
Join me for the FREE Mindful Home Challenge. Register here.
With over 20 years of sewing and décor experience, Monique Becker uses her passion for fabrics and color to create unique spaces inspired by her clients’ personal styles. She's a Certified Window Treatment Consultant, a Color with No Regrets™ Consultant, and holds certificates in Interior Redesign from the Decorating and Staging Academy and Custom Home Furnishings Academy. Monique is a two-time CHFA Alumni Award Winner with designs featured at the International Window Coverings Expo in Las Vegas, and she was awarded first place by Window Fashions Vision Magazine in their 2013 Workroom Ingenuity Competition. Monique is a WFCP Workroom Certified Instructor and an instructor at Workroom Tech. She recently launched her new brand of interior design services, The Enlightened Nest, where she teaches clients how to uncover their deepest needs of home.
Circle Time at the Library
Force Field Analysis:
Take Stock and Set Goals for 2019
Tuesday, December 18th
12:00 p.m. EST
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The Curtains & Soft Furnishings Resource Library presents Sue Fresconi for this Circle Time broadcast on Force Field Analysis: Taking Stock and Setting Goals for 2019.
You've all heard the saying "keep doing what you've always done and you'll keep getting what you've always gotten." In this session, participants will take a close look at their businesses (or personal lives) and identify area(s) where forward momentum has not been what they want it to be. Sue will introduce a tool to break down the contributing and opposing factors so that attendees can create personal, impactful plans for progress in the new year.
Prior to the session, please listen to Episode #127 of the Sew Much More podcast: OPPORTUNITY THINKING SERIES – Taking Stock and Making Changes. In this segment, Jeanelle Dech and Ceil DiGuglielmo take a hard look at the time, effort, and cost of producing a weekly podcast and develop a path forward to insure the sustainability of the venture.
Join the Library today as a PRO Plus Member to attend this, and future, CIRCLE TIME events. Already a PRO or PRO Plus Member? Check your email for an invitation or go to the Library Events Calendar to register.
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How much does it cost to join? $75.00 per year.
Additionally, we offer business services such as premium digital newsletters and website design to help you cultivate and increase your client base. It is our goal to help you grow your business without adding additional staff. We are here to help you succeed, just “call the concierge!”
for Home Furnishings
Are you a professional or amateur upholsterer who has struggled to find the right foam for a project? Have you completed an upholstery job with foam, only to be disappointed in the finished product – how the foam performed, or how it held up? If so, then watch this video as Cynthia Bleskachek of The Funky Little Chair takes the mystery out of foam selection. Using samples provided by Fabric Supply, Inc., Cynthia explains and demonstrates the difference between two important numbers to understand for proper foam selection: IFD and Density.
BONUS! Click here for a FREE downloadable reference sheet on foam usage and selection.
20% off your purchase of $75 or more through December 31st in the Workroom Marketplace! Use code HAPPYDECEMBER
Why not? You deserve it...
Whether you've been naughty or nice, the Workroom Marketplace has a present for you! Enjoy 20% off your purchase of $75 or more through December 31st!
Check out your workroom supplies and use the special to stock up on needed staples to start the new year right!
Just enter the code HAPPYDECEMBER at checkout.
It's our gift to you this holiday season!
How to Accomplish Change in Your Business
by Michele Williams
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This article first appeared in Michele's blog which you can read here.
It’s come to this: You learned new ideas, set some great goals, and waited for results to roll in. Now, it’s time to evaluate the results. Are they indeed rolling in? Often, there’s a gap between the desire for making changes and actually creating the change. In large-scale business, there is a whole process for implementing new practices that often gets overlooked in small business. So, now’s the time to take stock: When it comes to implementing your new ideas into your current business, have you established a change management strategy?
Mind the Gap: Big Business as Roadmap
Big business understands that the gears of change move slowly and that across the organization, it can be a mammoth effort to get everyone on board, accept and apply the new ideas, and then follow through to enforce the new practices. On a larger scale, executives release changes in phases, leaders disperse instructions to managers, and employees receive multiple exposures to the plan to ensure their buy-in throughout the implementation.
In a small business, you’re the change agent as well as the recipient. How do you manage change throughout your organization?
Managing Change in Small Business
I’d say the first step is already in place: recognizing the need for change and understanding the type of change you’d like to see. Many ideas are rolling around your mind, from pumping up the power of your voice to understanding your financials better to improving profit. You’ve probably made some lists of goals, created a running to-do list, and worked with your profit coach to identify the change you’d like to make. That’s a great start!
So, let’s get to the next step, breaking the goals down into manageable actions. As a change agent for yourself, you need to link those goals to actionable steps with deadlines. When will you complete each? Map your strategy for change to a timeline so that you can see the big picture of growth.
Then, decide on mile markers, points in time that evaluate your process and demonstrate growth. When will you check on the process and review your progress? What will you use to measure the rate of growth?
Finally, continue to create buy-in with yourself; stay motivated. What will remind you that these changes are important? How will you keep your “eye on the prize”? Motivational strategies abound, from daily affirmations to coaching to calendar reminders, to stay focused on the big picture that makes this all worth it.
Are We Done Yet?
Wait—not quite done…in what ways will you enforce the change? You’ll need to make sure things stick. What can you do to be accountable for the changes? One way is to commit a third party, someone outside of your organization who will expect to see your changes. For example, make an announcement and build an expectation in clients that you’ll work to achieve. For example, “Coming soon.. .” or “Next month, watch for …”
Change Takes Time
No matter the size of the business, any business will need to manage change with structure and strategy. If we go back to the beginning, let’s revise that initial concept to look like this: You learned new ideas, set some great goals, established a strategy to implement the goals, and plotted a timeline for results.
Now, you’re ready; it’s time for a change. Don’t stop - keep going - you have help when you need it - reach out.
Michele Williams is the owner of Scarlet Thread Consulting. Using her software development and interior design business background, she empowers her clients to charge what they are worth and to have confidence in their financials. Michele is a Profit First certified coach focused on the interior design industry, and she hosts the popular Profit is a Choice podcast. You can learn more at www.scarletthreadconsulting.com.
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Check out the pics that caught our eye this month! Don't forget to use #csfrl -to make sure you get noticed.
Photo credits and Instagram links:
Karen Barnes: @the_elegant_window
Jenny Lilly: @jennylilly_gracebydesign
Sally Hiatt: @ashadebetter
Patti Ayers: @pillowsandpleats
Alejandra Canales: @ac_designstudio
Lova England: @sewelegantdraperyanddesign
Kathy Geffen: @kathygeffendesign
Nancy Letts: @pinehousedrapery
Rose Mary LeBlanc: @rmlcustomhome
(Note: using #csfrl implies permission, so we may use in the Digital Digest - with photo credit and Instagram link, of course - without contacting you.)
Take me to the Library!
The Curtains & Soft Furnishings Resource Library hosts the industry's largest curated collection of educational resources for Custom Home Décor professionals. Membership to the library gives you access to a wealth of downloadable reference materials, videos, live events, and a community of support to help you design, sales, and fabrication skills, and start and grow a business.
Already a Library Member? We're excited to announce that we recently introduced several new features:
Experience the new Fly on the Wall educational series, featuring FLiP, our adorable fly, presenting video documentaries featuring a workroom professional or student apprentice fabricating a REAL custom home furnishings project from start to finish. FLiP will give you the lowdown from his unique location, on the wall!
Enjoy fresh, new perspectives on Kitty Stein’s classic Workroom Operations articles. Kitty’s sage and timeless writings are supplemented by video commentary from current thought leaders in the soft furnishings industry to give a modern perspective.
Access to select video lessons from the original CHF Academy’s Career Professional Program.
The new features are available for purchase as individual offerings through the Workroom Marketplace or as Library benefits in our brand-new PRO Plus membership level.
New Options for Library Membership:
Our current PRO-Level membership has been replaced by TWO new options to better suit your needs:
PRO Access members can participate in all topics of the Conversations & Support forums, and have access to the Library's extensive collection of industry archives including back issues of the Sew What? Newsletter, CHF Magazine, and The Drapery & Design Professional Magazine, and more than 100 hours of archived educational webinars.
PRO Plus members will enjoy all of the same benefits of Pro Access members, PLUS unlimited FREE access to ALL of the new features listed above, and other live and virtual events throughout the year. In addition, PRO Plus members are invited to participate in monthly Circle Time webinar discussions of current business and fabrication topics.
Current PRO-Level members will be notified when their subscription is up for renewal, and can select the new membership level that best meets their needs. Can't wait for your renewal date to experience PRO Plus? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to process your upgrade!
Not a member yet? Visit the Library today to sign up for the membership level* that's right for you!
*The Library still offers our free DIY membership level, with access to the M'Fay Drapery Pattern Support forum, back issues of the Drapery & Design Digital Digest, an assortment of free downloads, and more.
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December 2018 photo credits:
Cover photo : Cynthia Bleskachek, The Funky Little Chair
Angie Morse, The Room Stylers
Anne Runde, Anne Runde Interiors
Liz Kelly, The Workroom Channel
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