Making Sense of Samples

Starting from scratch is a bit overwhelming.  As I gaze around the living room, I have some vague image of a theater set whose production has wrapped, the remaining detritus awaiting its next destination.  The furniture couldn’t be more ill fitting for this space, and frankly it’s hard to believe that it worked in harmony in my other locations, but I know it did.

So much to do, so much to coordinate, so many potential mistakes that could be made.  How is one to know which path is right?  A single piece of furniture is expensive – try a whole living room full, a couple of chandeliers, some curtains and carpet.  Gulp!  I have made decisions about all these things, and I can assure you that they felt so right at the time.  How is it possible that my vision didn’t fit snugly into my reality?  Oh I made it work with a little nudging, a little budging, so perspiration and exasperation, but it wasn’t what I wanted, and I always secretly hoped there would be a time in the near future where I could divest myself of the mistake.  Come on, you must have felt the same way, no?

One My Way . Living Room

One My Way . Living Room

Here I go again, with fingers crossed, prepared to make decisions and also hope for the best.  The truth is, even the very best designers make errors in judgement, underestimate the volume of an object inside a space, select a fabric or carpet that has directional changes in color and texture – one that is adored, the other despised.  It’s all true.  So how can you minimize these types of mishaps?  Let’s start with the furniture – map it out. Get reams of craft paper and make templates for all the furniture you plan on purchasing and place them in and around the pieces you plan to keep and use.  Once that task is complete use boxes, pillows, blankets, books or whatever you have on hand to represent the height of the piece.  If the object is large like a table, sofa, or even a bench, the volume that you are building should be done on either end of the piece so that you have a visual understanding of how you will navigate through the space once the actual piece is there.  It’s most definitely NOT just about square footage, an armour can be a massive presence in a room.  Ensuring site lines and pathways are not obscured is part of the challenge.  As ridiculous as it may seem, the effort is a worthwhile one.

On my way to final decisions. Bedroom

On my way to final decisions. Bedroom

Curtains, carpet, and fabric for upholstered pieces can be just as daunting.  The tiny little samples they give you aren’t suitable for blowing your nose let alone a decision worth thousands of dollars.  So – what to do.  I can make a few recommendations, but they will not always be possible.  In the end you may just need to make a leap of faith.  If you are purchasing a carpet, something that is not custom, many stores will allow you to bring it home, and sit with it in your space for several days to ensure it works.  If you are considering a custom carpet, one that is either wall to wall or will be cut and bound to your specifications, ask if there is a place locally in which it has been installed that you could visit.  Seeing it in person, in a full scale application – even if it isn’t your own space, is helpful.  A few photos that you blow up large scale and throw down on your floor, while not perfect, may still be better than the 12″ x 12″ sample they sent you home with.

Fabric should be treated in a similar fashion.  Always attempt to get the largest sample possible.  As for the full size panel that’s on display, or buy a yard to bring home with you if you are purchasing wholesale.  The biggest sample you can afford for those in which you are confident are a go

, is a good investment when you consider the costly mistake that you’ll have avoided.

Don’t forget your sample boards.  Once you’ve gone through the exercise of finding the right sized pieces, with fabric you love, sitting on a carpet that has just the right amount of personality for you, they still have to speak to one another.  Lay them all out on a sample board and make sure they harmonize.  Go for one big wow moment.  There is only one conductor in the orchestra – don’t you forget – there’s a reason for that.

2 thoughts on “Making Sense of Samples

  1. I’m enjoying your writing, Jackie. Your ideas flourish and I have no doubt that with each new piece you will find it’s inner beauty highlight. Can’t wait to see your results. 🙂

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