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015: How to style fun chairs + super good DIY furniture makeover tips with Wendy Conklin

If you have an affinity for chairs or DIY furniture makeovers, this is your episode!

I sit down with my favorite chair designer to talk stying fun chairs, how to mix & match prints and make mis-matched chairs work, some amazing tips for giving your furniture pieces a makeover — like what you should use instead of wood glue for furniture fixes — and more.

You can download this episode from Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify – or listen to it below!

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CHATTING WITH...

Wendy is a chair stylist, designer, and a fellow diy-er who has a passion for colorful, antique and antique-inspired chairs.

get in touch

Instagram: @chairwhimsy // Website // Email Wendy

 things to check out:

Wendy's Upholstery Course Waitlist

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Leave a review on itunes - Screenshot your review before you submit it and send it to [email protected] and we'll send you a free interior design project guide to help you design your space step-by-step

#OBSESSED

what i'm loving this week

BaskEt Walls — Literally baskets, hung on a wall.

This is a perfect alternative to the usual options like wall art or mirrors. It's all of the texture, while still keeping everything neutral.

I snagged these baskets from the thrift store — so cheap — and hung them using small command hooks looped into the weave of the basket on the back.

 

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A post shared by CARA NEWHART🥂 Home+DIY Blogger (@neverskipbrunch) on

Here's the tips ya'll:
— Snag your baskets from Goodwill ( $1-2 each 🙌)
— Go for a variety of sizes, shapes + textures
— Use command hooks to hang them up
— Once they're up give it a day or so, then come back and add more / rearrange (I totally have some more to add to fill in a few of those gaps 👌)
— Search "boho basket wall" on Pinterest for all the inspo

WAIT, WHAT?!

stuff we just need to talk about

Kings used to boss furniture styles 

the vastly abridged version

Way back, there weren't furniture designers — instead there were official furniture makers to the king and the king dictated styles to them and they made it.

Then, the furniture became a trend among the rest of the country as the people looked to royalty for style.

 

let's talk about it!

Did you know this!? Any fun furniture history facts?

Leave a comment below or use #MakeSpacePodcast to share your response on social

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EP 15 TRANSCRIPT

...just in case you wanna read

Cara: 00:00 You're listening to the Make Space podcast, episode number 15.

INTRO: 00:22 Welcome to Make Space — a home design show made to inspire you to create spaces you truly feel at home in Cara Newhart. Sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than pin worthy rooms. To tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feed your soul and inspire your creativity from home design strategies to decor, advice to interior design, tips and tricks. These conversations help you dream up a beautifully lived in home. Cara is to designer and chief creative enthusiast behind never skipped brunch. Her work has been featured in print publications like people style watch and Denver style magazine as an influencer. Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon, H&M, Twitter and Thrillist. Here's your host, Cara Newhart.

Cara: 01:21 Hello. Oh my goodness. You guys. Welcome back to the Make Space podcast. I am so excited to be here as I am really every episode, but it's especially a good day today. Um, just before we dive into the interview and I tell you who it's about and all of that, there's a couple fun new things. Um, the first thing is that I added a voice memo feature to the Listener feedback form. So if you want to ask questions or leave comments, you can hop over to neverskipbrunch.com/talk and then you can literally send in a message asking the question and if I choose to answer it on the podcast. Um, I will give you a little shout out and you can hear your very own voice on the podcast. I know there's going to be some of you that are like, that sounds like the worst and others will be like, yeah, I want to be on a podcast.

Cara: 02:15 So if that sounds like something interesting, uh, go leave me a message, go ask some questions that you want answered and uh, if it sounds like something you would hate, there's still a form right below it so you can write in as always with your questions. If you are new to the podcast. Um, welcome. I am so excited that you decided to tune in. This show is all about empowering the everyday girl to design a home she's in love with and tackle those big DIY projects without fear or intimidation. So hopefully that's you and that's what you're here for. But if you're not, that's, that's the kind of stuff we're going to be talking about. So if you're a guy, you are welcome to stay. Listen, if you do want to stick around, um, a really good reason too is an upcoming interview I have in two weeks with HGTV star in one of my very favorite interior designers, Leanne Ford.

Cara: 03:13 Um, I did a little precast, a little preview episode of our interview, but you do not want to miss this. So scroll down and hit that subscribe button or I guess it's up probably on your phone. Um, hit that subscribe button so you don't miss an episode, especially this episode that's coming up in two weeks. Okay. Time to dive into what we're talking about today, which is all things, furniture, makeovers, upholstery. I am sitting down with my very favorite chair designer. I bet you guys didn't know that I had a favorite chair designer, but I do. Her name is windy Conklin and she's absolutely amazing. You guys. Her style is so fun. Full of color, full of prints, which is absolutely my favorite thing as a color and prints enthusiast. And if you like my style, you're probably on the same page. So let's jump into this interview. It's packed with little tidbits and tips. Um, she has a lot of good advice for mixing prints in your space and how to select prints for upholstery. Um, she nails like a mismatched chair, look really well, so she kind of gives some insight into how to do that. So without further ado, Wendy Conklin

Wendy: 04:30 hello?

Cara: 04:31 Hello. How are you?

Wendy: 04:33 I'm great. How are you Cara?

Cara: 04:35 So good. So glad to have you on today because we haven't really talked about furniture yet. And if there's someone to talk about chairs, it's definitely you.

Wendy: 04:44 Oh, fun. I love talking about chairs.

Cara: 04:49 I know! So can you share, um, how you fell in love with chairs and how you got started designing them?

Wendy: 04:55 Well, it's kind of weird because I always have loved chairs and like, I didn't want to admit that to anybody because I thought what a weird thing to really like. Um, and I remember it was probably back in, I dunno, it was back when Nate Berkus had his TV show on in the afternoons and he was there and one of his episodes, he was talking about how he just had such a thing for chairs. And I was like, Oh my gosh. Okay. So I'm not the only weirdo out there, you know, who liked this. Um, but I've just kind of always loved them. I mean, I, they just light up a space. You can do so many things with them. They don't have to take up too much room if you don't want them to. And, um, so, you know, I, I, uh, I just kind of, I've always loved them for whatever reason, um, and drawn to them.

Wendy: 05:44 And, um, it kinda got started in 2012 I took a couple of upholstery courses and I'm here in the Austin area and learned how to do it correctly. I was kind of already doing but not correctly, not with the right tools. Once I took the course, it's like, Oh, this is so much easier with the right tools. Yeah. Oh, that's how you do that. You know, cause I was just fudging it. Um, and just, and, and so I took two courses kind of back to back. And, um, it was in the middle of my second course. I thought, okay, I think I can open an Etsy shop and I think I can probably make some money. Yeah. A redoing chairs for people. And so at the end of that course I did, I had like five pieces that I listed and it was just a side hustle.

Wendy: 06:31 I had a different career at the time. And, um, within two weeks I had my first sale to New York city and I was like, Oh shoot, I've got to figure out how to ship this. Gosh, you know, so it was like one of these things that you jump into and you're like, okay, I'll worry about the shipping and stuff later. And then when it happens, it's like, okay, um, but you know, it just over the years has snowballed. Um, and you know, I figured out a lot of things along the way and I figured out, okay, people don't want to just buy what I want to create. They want to buy something that can be customized for their space. And so then it kind of became more of, you know, working with clients that way and it kind of expanded so much. I was kind of working two full time jobs.

Wendy: 07:12 It was very hard. Um, so I was able to a couple of years ago, quit my day job and do this full time. Um, so I've been very lucky and just a, and, and last year I launched, um, my own line of antique inspired chairs because, you know, I mean, I love old French chairs and old Victorians and things like that, but they do present problems because of, some of them have, uh, issues will be in sturdy and you know, you can fix them and everything, but some of them are beyond repair. And so I thought, what if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could have something that looks antique but that super sturdy and strong. And, um, so that's what I did and that was quite a journey to get to that point to be able to manufacture them there. They're made in Italy. And, um, so I kind of have two sides of my business now. I still have my Etsy shop that pays the bills and, um, my other one, you know, it's growing, you know, it's just, it's, it's taking off in his, you know, slow growth at first, always. So, but it's something really fun. And so I, I like kinda having a diverse set of things that I get to do actually.

Cara: 08:21 Yeah. That's so cool. And I think that's part of just being really creative is I think we kind of need that diversity so we can stay interested in, you know, it's always something fun and new. Um, so how often do you put out collections? Is it seasonally or, cause I noticed in the spring one,

Wendy: 08:39 yeah. So, um, my last big collection within the spring and it really did have a lot of florals in it, but it also had some Mexican textiles and authentic textiles from Mexico. So, um, that was the last one that I put out and I'm just kind of in this fall, probably late in the fall, early winter I'm going to put out a small collection. So I tried to twice a year to put out something new. Um, it's always, um, an interesting process. I get, uh, I get an idea and, or I see a fabric and I'm like, Oh my gosh, okay, I have to use that. And then my mind just starts turning, you know, and it's always there working its way out in the back of my mind, you know, what should this look like? What should I pair the fabric with? You know, what, what, uh, stains or paints do I need to use?

Wendy: 09:28 What would be really attractive for people? Um, so, you know, it's just, it's kind of the creative process is very interesting. How, and then, and then it'll hit you when you're in the shower at the gym. On the boring treadmill or something like that, you know, it's like, Oh, that's what I need to do. And then you get all excited. So yeah, it takes me a while to figure it out. But I think my brain is always kind of subconsciously working on something new. I just have to, I'm very visual so I have to see something and then it sparks an idea.

Cara: 09:59 Yes, I'm the same way. And that's why I love Pinterest is because there's not often where I see something and I'm like, Oh, I exactly love this exact thing, but it's like, Oh, I could take this idea and I could turn it into this whole other thing that's like similar but not. Um, no, I really love that and I love really just how distinct your style is. I think I first found you on Instagram. I'm not even sure how I want to say like a blogger friend tag do or something along those lines, but instantly, like your style is so distinct and I'm like, uh, patterns and Prince enthusiasts. So it really caught my eye. But, um, I know I have a lot of listeners and a lot of followers that are really interested in getting that look, but very intimidated, um, to style bright colors and loud prints. Do you have any like, styling tips for someone who's kind of in that spot as far as like how to do bright color and fun prints and not make it feel overwhelming or too playful?

Wendy: 10:58 I think that, well, what's really on our side is the whole neutral phase that we've all gone through. Um, in the past 10 years is kind of beginning to be over. And, um, but the good thing is most of us have made our spaces neutral. And if you ha, if you want color start with one thing, you know, whether it be pillows or whether it be a chair. I mean, of course I say do a chair, you know, but I'm completely biased, you know, in that. But, um, you know, bringing in something of color said it in the room because to me it's like the story begins to unfold in that room. You bring in one thing and then you'll bring in something else to go with it. Or maybe it's two chairs that are going to be the big pops. And I see them kind of as a, a piece of art.

Wendy: 11:46 You know, if it's something that's bright and colorful, instead of hanging something on your wall, bring in the chairs. If you have like a white wall, white walls, that's ideal because it can handle so much color. So I redid my living room a couple of years. Uh, let's see, a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago almost. Um, it was a, a tope color, you know, the real neutrals and everything. And um, I started by painting the walls white because I thought, okay, I want a different look and I want to layer a lot of color in here, so how do I do it? So I painted them white and then I just began, I brought in some colorful chairs, then I brought in a rug and now I have a couple pillows. And um, I still have the basics of the room being neutral. I've got a black, a Chesterfield sofa, um, that just kinda is the neutral part.

Wendy: 12:39 And uh, and the white walls and everything else is just kind of bland, but the colors can really take center stage. And so that's what I would say, just make sure that everything surrounding, if you really go super bold on chairs, make sure everything surrounding it is more a neutral, very white, maybe white and black look great with the big pops of color. Um, so I, I don't think you can go wrong by doing that. I, I just spent a set of 10 chairs for our client and she wanted every chair to have something different on the front and the back and the seat. And so, um, you know, and she, she had a very, she had a white room with a big black restoration hardware round table, just huge, that can handle 10 chairs and, and so I was like, okay, so you have the right space. And so it gave me such Liberty to just run with colors and I, the only boundaries were what colors does she like, you know? And then I could just, and honestly it's my favorite set right now because it turned out so dynamic and the space can totally handle it. Um, with, if there was so much other stuff in the room, it would be overwhelming and probably not a very good look. But because, because we had neutral palette to start with, that's where we got lucky, you know,

Cara: 14:04 for sure. So for that eclectic look or like a mix look that has like a ton of variety in, um, items that are usually all uniform like chairs, um, it has like a sort of collected feel. Is there such thing as too much variety? Like are there elements that you need to keep uniform in a space to make it still feel pulled together? I'm kinda thinking like the style or shape of chair, um, certain print

Wendy: 14:31 I would say definitely. Um, so either you want all the chairs to have the same color on that, like as far as paint or finish or they all need to be the same style or maybe both. Like in this case it was both. I needed them to all be a whitewash and I needed them to all be the same shape so that it's not distracting because when there is so much a variety of, of patterns and prints and fabrics, you gotta have something, something kind of stable and color too, you know, you can't go completely bonkers right now. I have had clients who they want everything different and nothing even tied together or matched at all. And Oh, it was so hard for me to do it and I kept trying to talk them out of it. I kept trying to say, well are you sure? You know, is this, are you sure? Cause I really would recommend this, but they're your chairs, you know, and I've had a couple of people and you know, we kinda call it, um, color throw up.

Cara: 15:32 haha I love that phrase

Wendy: 15:36 I had never heard that before in this. Yeah. Oh my goodness. You know, they commented and I'm okay. So I think there are things that you, you can stay with if you want to get the really best look. But on the other hand, I'm also a firm believer that people should live with what they love. And it doesn't really matter what everyone else thinks, you know? So I think if, if it matters to you and you want, even though you want it to be filled, collected, and eclectic, but you still want it to make sense, those can be the rules. But if you don't care about things making sense, then I say, do whatever you want. We'll walk in there and you love it. Um, I think that's fantastic. And I, I really bristle when people say, Oh, it has to be this certain way.

Wendy: 16:20 Because I think for too long, we've all tried to follow rules that don't quite fit what we love and it doesn't make us happy. And that's the whole point. When you walk in a room, you want to feel joy, you want to look at whatever you have. And for me, it's chair. So I look in the and I'm like, Oh, this makes me so happy. I'm going to have a great day. You know? Huh. So, um, I think it has such potential in people don't realize the impact it makes on you mentally, uh, to have something that's colorful, that's beautiful, that gives you energy, um, and starts your day out great. You know, and, and it's just very underrated.

Cara: 17:01 Yes, it totally is. Oh my gosh, I totally agree because I am the same way where I kind of need color to help kind of pump me up and feel energized. And the funny thing that you said about the rules, how we've all been like following them and it hasn't made us happy. It's like the rules also always change. Like just when we figured them out, like now we're doing something different. You have to redo your whole house and like going with what you love will never get you wrong.

Wendy: 17:26 Ready? Farm house. Yeah. This is going to change pretty soon, but it's a great, it's a great neutral to start in and bringing them back to color. Yes. Yes. So there's obviously no right way to mix fabrics, which I think is probably where people get hung up. But do you have any advice for mixing and matching fabrics or prints when it comes to upholstery more specifically?

Wendy: 17:51 [inaudible] so I think, um, as far as if I'm talking about a chairs or a sofa or a seatee, something like that, I would say the on the front, yeah. The bigger the pattern, the better. I mean to go as bold as you can because that you don't have a lot of real estate there, especially on a chair. It's very small and you have to make sure the prints not too big. I guess it's possible that you could get a print that might be too gigantic that you really can't even take it in. But that's kind of rare. And so I always say go big on the front. I say the back side. So if you want to mix and match the backside to be something small and maybe, um, a two color way, like a yellow on white or you know, just two colors on the back, uh, maybe something with white or something with a, with a, another neutral color.

Wendy: 18:45 So small prints on the back, big prints on the front. And if you care about the seat as far as, you know, durability or whatever. I mean a lot of people out there may have like young kids and things like that. And I deal with a lot of that. Um, you know, I say get like a performance velvet. You can do vinyl. Some of these vinyls are absolutely amazing. Yeah. To feel them. You think they're leather and they aren't, but they're so durable. And so if you have little ones as easy to wipe off, but you could do leather too. I mean a lot. I have a lot of people and then the most durable is cowhide. Honestly. I mean, cause you think about it, cows are outside and you know, they get hosed off with rain. And so durability that's the most durable would be a cow hide.

Wendy: 19:27 But um, and you can even get colored cow hides. You know, I've seen a lot of those around and sparkly ones and all kinds of stuff. But yeah, I think, I think go bold on front and, or if the seat, if the, if the durability isn't that big of a deal, you know, I go with like great big old Buffalo checks on his feet. I think that that's a really great look with a floral on top. And I've done some of those. Um, but it, but it needs to be like a 2-color way, you know, just like the back side. So if the top is super colorful, tone it down just a hair, you know, for the seat and then really make it smaller on the back. But sometimes some of the prints are so bold that it really needs to cover the whole front of the chair. And it's very weird that it's, it's really a visual thing. You have to hold it up and you have, or at least I do, I have to hold it up. I have to think about it because it could get a little crazy. Um, depending on the colors and everything. So it's really, what does your eye tell you? Does it bother you if you were to put this over the whole chair or do you think it would be just what a big impact that would make?

Cara: 20:28 Yeah, yeah. That's so true. Just kind of like visual balance and making sure, um, you're going for that. So with, with doing like the pattern, the smaller print on back, is that because like you're pushing the chairs into a table so you don't see the front as much? Is that the thought process?

Wendy: 20:46 Yeah, I think so. When you think about a table, regardless of where you enter a room, you're going to see a backside of a chair somewhere and you're going to see the front side probably peaking over the other side of the table. So it gives some visual interests without it, um, conflicting each other. So they compliment and it's not, Oh my gosh, this is, this is, you know, too big and bold in the back. It's like, Oh, that's kind of cute. Yeah. And then you see the front, you know, so it gives a lot of visual interests when you want to mix and match. That's the way I would do it. Um, I think if you have like the types of chairs that only have the seats on them that are upholstered and there's nothing upholstered on top, you can go as bold as you want, if you want to on those because it's such a small space of real estate on there.

Wendy: 21:33 Um, so it can handle a lot. But like in my dining room, I have my two in chairs, have a bold floral all over the front with kind of a small, tiny checked, uh, print tone on tone on the back. Um, and then my, I a balloon back chairs around a on the other seats and there a super cute, you know, just kind of ditsy, small print on them for real busy, but really cute. And it really just adds so much interest, you know, to the room. It makes it, Ooh, this is interesting. I bet. You know, and they look like old chairs, but they're not, you know, because they are, they're part of my collection. But, um, you know, I've, I, I swap out my tears all the time, so a lot of times I have antique chairs in there. Um, so it just kinda depends, but I'm always trying to think of something new, something to make a space feel like what you said collected and interesting.

Cara: 22:29 Yeah. I love that. That's really the best luck because anyone can kind of buy like a whole space new. But to find like to really collect it and piece it together yourself is where you get that interest in that like story I think. Yes.

Wendy: 22:43 Yes. It's the story that's for sure.

Cara: 22:45 Yeah. Yeah. Um, I know there's going to be a lot of listeners that talking about Prince, so like, okay, I like it. That finally clicked for me. I got it. And then there's going to be some that are like, wait, I'm still lost. Um, but I did want to mention you do like a fabric consulting service. Is that right? I do.

Wendy: 23:03 So I have clients who maybe they had their own chairs that they're going to upholster themselves or have a local upholsterer do cause they live in Massachusetts or something and they, it just doesn't make sense to ship something like that to me. Um, so, but they don't know how to pick out the fabrics for them and maybe they wanted a eclectic look, something that looks very cottage like or you know, um, collected. And so they'll contact me and say, you know, I need, I need help with fabrics, so I go fabric hunting. Um, and so I've been doing this for so long and it's still, it still takes a lot of time. It's a lot of effort and it's in like I was explaining before the brainstorming whole idea of just grabbing a whole bunch and then editing down. You know, that I don't overwhelm the client, but I want to give them enough choices.

Wendy: 23:49 Um, so yes, I go fabric hunting. Um, they usually send me pictures of their space, what their chairs are going to look like, um, if they're able to have them painted or they're going to paint them. Um, and so I kind of work from there. If I know the chairs can change and finish, then all I have a much broader, um, set of fabrics that I can choose from because then we can kind of decide what colors, you know. And so I send them all kinds of options and then we get on the phone and we discuss and edit down. Sometimes I go back because I knew they really love this, but they didn't like that. But they use a lot of questionnaire from me in the beginning. So I have a lot of guidance. Um, so most of the time, most of the time, the first fabric hunt that I do is successful.

Wendy: 24:34 They will find several things they really love. And then it's the problem of, okay, how do I whittle down what I want? Right. You know? Um, but then, then I'll make suggestions, okay, if you want this, this is what I would do and I would do this paint color. Or if you want this, you could go this direction and do that paint color, that would look really great in your space because you've got this hedge that's a similar color or something that would compliment the fabrics. Um, so it's very fun to get to do that. Fabric hunting is my most favorite thing to do, honestly. I love it. You know, and I used to hunt all the time online and I do still a little bit. Um, but what I found is that, and I've made the mistake of ordering something without ever seeing a sample of it or, you know, um, lots and posts and until it's not at all what I thought.

Wendy: 25:19 Um, so I started ordering samples long ago, you know, when I would see them online, you know, decorator's best.com is a great place inside fabrics and another one, fabric guru, um, fabric, Carolina, all those great fabric places. Um, always ordered the sample and sometimes the sample seven bucks, sometimes the samples of dollar 75, so I don't know why, but that's, that's kind of how I remember. I would get many of them and send that I thought were, Oh, that's kind of cute. I would get it. And I would fall in love with the vibrancy of the colors. It was amazing. The print was FET. Fantastic. And then others that I thought I loved, I would get it and be like, Ooh, okay, I'm glad I didn't order that one. You know? So yeah. Yeah. So it's, it's really a process. Um, and uh, just whittling down for the clients what they love. If they want the samples in the mail, I ship them the samples so they can look at them in their space and then make their final decision. But oftentimes people just trust the pictures and they say, okay, if you're suggesting this, then I think we're in agreement. We can go along with this and then we order the fabrics. So,

Cara: 26:24 yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. So kind of along those lines, and I know you have a course coming up that probably talks all about this, which we will cover in a little bit, but can you teach us a little bit about upholstery fabric? Like, I'm thinking like starting from square one, if I'm making over a chair and I walk into like Joanne's, is there a certain section I beeline it to? Is there stuff I avoid? Like,

Wendy: 26:48 yeah, so avoid the quilting fabrics because they're going to be way too thin. Um, but yeah, go back to the home decor. They have a huge selection already hanging up, you know, on the bolts in the racks. Um, hobby lobby has some good fabrics too, so that's another one if you have one of those in your town. But um, so in, but the best fabrics at Joanne's are the special order fabrics. And so there's usually a rack where you can see the samples of those and order them. Um, I would never pay full price. They always go on sale. I mean for sure 30% off you can usually get them. But I mean, I've gotten him at 40%, 50% off. I've even gotten them, I think once a year they go 60 or 70. I think it's 60% off. I think that just happened. So, but, um, so that's, and you can check out those samples, take them home if you want, which is great.

Wendy: 27:39 Um, but I would order from their special order fabrics, those you're going to get the best bang for your buck. You can do a lot of mixing and matching there. Um, they have some other home decor fabrics that, um, are, are kind of folded in half and they're around, they're kind of flat, but there, you know, like all the rest of their fabrics are not on a big bolt. Right. And so they're a little bit more narrow in width, but there are some really cute ones in that section too. A lot of the indoor, outdoor fabrics are fabulous now. I mean, they used to be five years ago, but they have so many prints. Yeah. That are so cute. So I often even look in there because the canvas that you can find, uh, the canvas cotton, um, is world durable. It's real sturdy, um, easy to clean kind of stuff. So, um, but if you have kids, the indoor outdoor fabric is amazing. So I always look at those as well. And sometimes I'll find something on a bolt. Sometimes I'll find, I'll mix it with a special order and then I'll mix that also with one of the other canvas fabrics that I love, you know? So I would say give yourself permission and the freedom do choose the prints that you are really drawn to that you think can make a really nice pairing together.

Cara: 28:55 Mm, I love that. That's so true. Um, so for people that are getting into making over like an old or beat up piece of furniture, what should they be looking for? Like let's say they haven't bought it yet, if they're going to Goodwill or antique stores or markets or whatever, what do you look for in a piece when you're shopping for it? In terms of like making sure it's worth the time and money to fix up?

Wendy: 29:18 So, um, a lot of the antique chairs, I would say go for more simple antique chairs. Something that if it has arms, that's fine, but I would make sure it has like the French arms where you know, it's hollow underneath because yeah, when you get into the bigger like antique or vintage wing backs and curved chairs, like if you're thinking about those on your own and you're kind of a beginner or a novice, you will not finish it. Yeah. I'm going to tell you, you're going to be pulling your hair out because there are really advanced techniques to doing those kinds of chairs. I would, I would stay away unless, unless you are hiring someone to do your upholstery for you. So then I would say, Hey, go for it. But, um, you know, there's going to be a, you're gonna expect to have repairs.

Wendy: 30:08 You're going to expect an arm to be loose. You're going to expect, you know, the backside of the chair hat comes loose from the, the front. You go wiggle it, you know, and people tried to put screws in the bottom to fix it, fix it. Yup. So, um, and I used to do that, so I'm speaking for myself, but I, you're gonna you're just gonna know there's going to be repairs. Um, but those are pretty simple things to fix. Um, I use instead of wood glue, um, because it's when you have something like that and if it has been tried to be fixed by Neal or a screw to keep something in, take out the nail or screw, let you know, wiggle the part away from the, wiggle the loose part apart, you know, take them up. Right? So you can see, you'll often see a peg or two that are coming out.

Wendy: 30:58 I would just take it, I clean it with a sand paper, get the, get the old glue off of there, kind of scrub it down a little bit with the sand paper. And then I use JB weld, the original formula. And you can get it at home Depot or Lowe's. You mix the two little um, things together. It's black and white. You mix it together, it turns gray and then you apply that and it's, it's an adhesive that has steel in it. So you, you apply it, you um, tie them together so it stays really tight in that joint and you set that aside for 24 hours and you know, once it cures in 24 hours, you will have a super strong chair. You're not going to have any wiggly stuff going on at all. I should have stock in JB. Well cause they for as much as I buy of that stuff, it's amazing.

Wendy: 31:44 But it's really the best product out there in my opinion for repairing loose joints on chairs or even if he had a dress or that had the front part of it kind of coming off or a desk or something where it had a part of a foot that was broken off. Um, as long as you have the other piece of foot, I would use JB weld, attach it right on there, leave it alone for 24 hours and it's going to be just as good as new when you're done with it. So that's the best way to repair.

Cara: 32:13 That's a really great tip because I feel like the default is wood glue. I didn't know you would just have had not as good of a fix.

Wendy: 32:18 I know I have a fixed, I know I have a neighbor who's a carpenter and he gives me all these great tips. So,

Cara: 32:23 yeah. Uh huh. That's awesome. So if let's say, let's talk more about like the durability side. If you have young kids besides just like picking a fabric that's durable, are there any like treatments to treat your fabric or if you fall in love with a print that's not totally like indoor, outdoor or waterproof, is there something you can do to it to make it last longer and wear better?

Wendy: 32:47 Well, um, you know, they used to have Scotchgard that was really, really good. And um, you know, because of environmental reasons and that's a good thing. You know, they, uh, the chemicals aren't as strong, um, right. So I'm not even sure that scotch guarding anything anymore is really such a help. Um, what I tell people is, okay, so if you fall in love with this fabric, and let's say it's a linen and you want to put it on the three fronts of your whole chair, that is not ideal for your little kids to sit in and eat spaghetti. Okay? Don't write it. But what I would say is those are the mom and dad chairs at the table or the head chairs and the kids. You just tell them, okay guys, these are your chairs in the middle. The kids do not sit on the in chairs, you know, that kind thing.

Wendy: 33:31 Right? You make a rule because if, if you, if you just have to have it, then it's your chair to sit in and, and not the kids chair. Um, you know, that's just one thing I would say. Um, I mean, but I have people who, okay, if you really have to have that fabric, let's just do something more durable on the seat. You know, just make sure that you pick a more durable, most fabrics today that are, um, designer fabrics and home decor fabrics have a special coding and finish in them to help them be stain resistant. So that's the one good thing is that most fabrics have it and it's built in. Um, I think with some places you can order like extra, um, there are some fabric companies that allow you to pay a little extra to get like some kind of other coding, put an extra coding put on it. I've never done that myself, but I know it's out there and I know it's possible.

Cara: 34:27 [inaudible] cool. Cool. So do you have any other resources for people that are looking to jump into DIY in their own furniture? Um, or learning how to upholster

Wendy: 34:37 well, as far as DIY in your own furniture? Um, if you want to talk about where to find stuff. Um, my best places are Craigslist, number one. Um, you know, any kind of Facebook marketplace that's becoming a great place to search. You know, just, you know, I always search for chairs, so put in what you want. If you want French chairs, you can be a little more specific and that's better on Craigslist. People on marketplace aren't necessarily being more specific in what they're putting up, being put dining chairs in or whatever you're specifically looking for. I mean, flea markets are great. Um, it's, you know, those are hit or miss antique stores and things like that, but it's always, I love going, I just went this weekend to round top. It's the big one here in Texas. It happens twice a year. And, um, you know, I'm always on the hunt for things like that.

Wendy: 35:27 So, um, I would frequent those places. I would frequent Craigslist probably every other day. If you're really looking for something specific it every day and put in the keywords like French chairs or French desk or uh, you know, antique buffet or anti cut, whatever you're looking for, try to be more specific and then broaden your search terms from there. Take off antique, you know, just search Hutch or go to the antique section of Craigslist, search through that with those same terms and then go to the furniture section. Because, you know, when I searched for French, sometimes it pops up, uh, refrigerators, I guess they have French doors, you know, so I don't know what I want, so I always have to click by owner when I search on Craigslist. So that's, that whittles it down and gives me my best options for that. Um, I know as far as [inaudible] upholstery, there are some good books out there and that's kind of how I first kind of dabbled in it was with the book.

Wendy: 36:28 Um, but there are some things that you miss when you're going to buy a book. I mean, a lot of them are very good. I know spruce upholstery, which is an Austin based company, they put out a book, um, with design sponge a couple of years ago, supposed to be really, really good. And I have friends who have it and they love it. So that's it. That's a good resource if you want to learn by a book. And I think that's a pretty thorough one. Um, probably on Amazon you could probably reveal a lot of good books that way. Yeah. Um, and, or if there's just a local, um, like if it's really something you want to learn, you know, take a class. I mean I was surprised to find that they had classes here in Austin and so I took two courses and they were 32 hours each. So it was kinda like going to a community college in a way, but [inaudible] you really learned that way and there are, you know, I'm going to have an online course and I'm going to tatted beginner beginners through that kind of thing.

Wendy: 37:23 So I'm step-by-step. So, um, I would search out things like that in your area or search for things online or get a book for DIY and [inaudible]. And I would also say if it's just furniture and you're thinking about repainting or whatever, I would say just don't be afraid. Just try something because yeah, sometimes I've painted something a certain color and I got it in the room and I really thought that that would've been a good color. Cause I took the paint up there and I looked good and it wasn't, but it's just repainting, you know, you just have to get over that mental block of, Oh, what if I don't get it right or right. If I make a mistake, well who cares? Just get up, get pink, clean your paint brush and painted a bit, you know, I'm going to take probably 30 minutes, you know, or whatever. Yeah. So I think just don't let those mental roadblocks of being afraid of making a mistake. Stop you. I wouldn't say try something because you never know. And maybe it won't be perfect the first time, but it might be, and it might be amazing and it might be just good enough. I mean, you know, why do things have to be perfect, right? Yeah. Make it good enough. If it looks good enough in the heck, I'm happy with it, you know, and I leave it there, you know?

Cara: 38:38 Yeah. And then if it's not perfect, you learned a bunch. So

Wendy: 38:42 absolutely everything is a lesson you learn. Either that it worked great or you weren't learned that it didn't or something in the middle, middle, like something worked and maybe something didn't work. It's just quit being afraid to try things because you're afraid that it's not going to be perfect and work, work out the way you wanted. I mean if it doesn't, you'll figure it out. It's, it's all feedback, you know?

Cara: 39:04 Yeah, yeah. For sure. So let's talk a little more about your course, cause that is so, so exciting. Um, what is it like entail exactly and then when is it going lot? Oh my gosh. Okay. So excited.

Wendy: 39:18 Okay. So, and you know, part of this is cause I never thought I would ever teach again and not that I wanted to or didn't want to, it's just I had put it out of my mind. And so this kind of came as a result of people damning me saying to you, teach you know, courses. I want to come to Austin. And I thought, well that's not really realistic for a lot of people to be able to come here, you know? But I thought, you know what, if I could do an online course, so, um, we're hoping it's going to launch. Um, we'll have everything fine tuned here pretty soon, but we're hoping it's gonna be the end of the month. It might be first week of November, but we're thinking it's going to be the end of the month. All the little elves, we're all trying to get all the little pieces together and make it perfect.

Wendy: 39:57 Is as good as possible. We can right now, right. We'll learn along the way. But it really is for beginners. If someone has not taken upholstery at all, this is going to be the course for you because I take you through, first of all, how do you strip a chair down and get it all the way down to the frame so that you can make repairs that you need to make on it. So, um, I teach you about the, the right tools. Um, I show you where you can get them online, you can order them if you don't have an upholstery shop, uh, in your area. Um, so everything should be pretty easy and laid out to be able to get all the tools that you need to make the course work. So we learn how to strip it down completely, get everything off of it, clean it up.

Wendy: 40:36 And then I teach, you know, how to repair. So what kind of repairs need to be made to this, you know, and of course where you can JB weld repairs is amazing. Um, and then the great benefit to this that I didn't have in my upholstery course as well as repairing a chair cause we never learned that either in that course is I take them shopping. So we go to Julian's and I show them a lot of the things I was talking to you about. You know, how, how I would pair fabrics together, what I'm looking for when I go in there, what catches my eye. So we actually filmed in Joanne's on a Sunday and no one stopped us. So quite funny. Um, and then we also shopped at just a little boutique fabric shop that, um, just to open to the public here in town to show them other things, other places.

Wendy: 41:21 So if they want to go to Calico corners or, or whatever, they can also go in those places as well. But, um, so the benefit to going into boutique fabric places is they often have books that you can order from. And these books are the designer, you know, uh, you know, where you can get, you know, Clark and Clark fabrics and you know, dura Lee and you can get, you know, Schumacher and all the really beautiful, wonderful fabrics. So, um, we talk about how do you find things in the books? How do you find things on the shelves that you want to mix and match they actually have in stock. Um, so it's a shopping spree of a whole lesson, you know, so it's really fun kind of getting in my head of how do I shop, what am I looking for when I put together things?

Wendy: 42:03 And then we learn that, you know, depending on whatever fabric you choose that determines the paint or finish that you'll do on your antique chair. So it's most likely going to be paint because it's very hard to re stain an antique chair when not already has a finish on it. I mean, you could strip it all off. That is a whole lot of work. So it's not that it's impossible, but boy, you're taking on a big challenge there, you know? So, um, how do we do that? How do we paint a chair? So I go through my [inaudible] favorite paint finishes that I love, do use on chairs. Um, I'm even going to share my favorite colors. If you're looking for a great black, if you're looking for a really cool neutral blue, um, yeah. You know, like a Navy or something like that. What do I use?

Wendy: 42:46 What colors are they, you know, any kind of chalk pates that I might use. What kind of, um, topcoats or waxes or whatever. Um, and then the next one is, okay, how do you, uh, upholster the seat? I show everyone also have a list of resources where they can order all the supplies online, um, from the foam that you'll need because just getting foam from Joanne's, um, it's very from phone there, it's not going to be very comfortable. The green phone that they have. So you need like a medium density pink phone that to make it super comfortable and the cotton that you're going to need and the Dacron and all that. Um, and then we upholster the top part of the chair. If you have a top on it. Um, and then the last lesson is all the finishing touches. So what kind of trim are you going to put around to hide all the staples and the edges?

Wendy: 43:38 So it could be, you know, just a simple, what they call gimp. It's kind of like a ribbon, a raid that you can get from Joanne's or I do nail head tax or decorative tax. So, you know, how do you do that? I show it on a cow, hide in the lesson, but you can do it on fabric as well cause I have lots of clients who want, who wanted on fabric. Um, and then, uh, the last one is how do you, so double welt cord and so double well quarters, the, the two kinds of chords that it looks like it goes around and has a really nice stitch right in the middle of it. So I showed them how to sew a double welt cord. Um, honestly I don't know how to sew at all, but yeah, so double-walled court, that's the only way I can.

Wendy: 44:21 So I used to go into, uh, the place where I took my courses. And so my, what chord there? Cause I didn't have a machine and they would call me well cord, cause here she and I would have a whole bag of what Gord, that's all I can do. Um, so you do not need to know how to, so to be able to take this course at all. So I teach you how to do it though, if you want to do it yourself and you have the means to do it. So there's options, all kinds of options, uh, just depending on what's what's available to you. So, um, and then how you put on the desk cloth underneath and then, then you have your finished chair. I mean, it's just like an upholsterer would do it, you know, that you would pay. So you really learned the basics of, you know, how do you build, buy backs and things.

Wendy: 45:03 Um, I had someone asked me a week or two ago, would this apply to wingback chairs? And I'm like, no, no. I mean it does because it's six, but we are not doing wingback chairs. We are not doing, I remember in my course that I took down in Austin, someone brought in a sofa for their very first project and say, of course I did not finish during the 30 hour course and they had to do on another course and then some to be able to finish and it was so overwhelming and it, and it can be so discouraging too. If you can't finish something and feel successful at it, you have to start somewhere. It's a beginner. So that's definitely what this is geared for. How do we do it? How do we do it? Right. So I, I mean I shared everything that I do in this, this is exactly how I would do chairs if you ordered them from me, you know, so, yeah. Yeah. I'm super excited. So we're hoping, hoping by the end of the month. Um, if not, it'll be the next week. But um, we're getting, we're getting everything together. There's going to be handouts, there's going to be a lot, there's going to be videos and you can go at your own pace. You can rewatch the videos. I mean,

Cara: 46:08 yeah, that sounds so amazing. And I know just the way I learned, like I totally need a video. Like I'm sure there's great books, but I would, I need someone to show me and just like how approachable it is and the fact that you can just do it at your house instead of having to go somewhere. You have like a nap time or free time. Yeah.

Wendy: 46:29 I had my studio in the back. I did it all in my bedroom because we have a really big bedroom and a hardwood floor so I could do it up there without worrying stuff, getting in the carpet and everything. That, and my family was really happy when all that moved outside to my shop. So, uh, we're, we're all a lot happier. But it's definitely something you could do in your house if you got a spare craft room or something like that or even your garage. I mean, you know, for awhile there I did step out in my garage when it was really dirty, you know, dirty work gets done in there, you know, so, um, yeah, there's many, many options.

Cara: 47:01 Yeah. Oh my goodness. I really enjoyed this episode and I feel like I learned so much, so I can't even imagine how our listeners are feeling. Hopefully very inspired and ready to start some furniture. Make-overs

Wendy: 47:13 yeah. I love the, I, you know, I think it's in our blood DIY. Um, and I think maybe that's why a lot of interior designers go into their field as well because they had that itch to create something, um, something you can put your on to say, I did this, you know, so I just, it's in our blood to, to do this. And for many of us, it's what's, it's what energizes us, you know?

Cara: 47:38 Yeah. Every day. Oh, for sure. For sure. Yeah. So where can everyone connect with you online and on social?

Wendy: 47:46 Yes, so I'm on Instagram at chair whimsy. Um, and I'm also on Facebook at chair whimsy and Twitter. Um, I, my website is chair whimsy.com. Um, I have in a waitlist if anyone is interested in my upholstery course and I don't know if we can put them in the show notes or whatever the link to it. But yeah, it's all my chair whimsy side. It's just chair winsy.com back slash upholstery dash course dash waitlist. Um, they can go there and sign up for the emails that we'll be announcing.

Cara: 48:17 That's so perfect. Well thank you so much for coming on today. Thank you Kara.

Wendy: 48:22 Appreciate it. And it's just so fun to be able to talk to a fellow DIY or so.

Cara: 48:26 Yes. Yeah. I mean I could, I could take the rest of your day up with questions, but cause I'll have to let you go talk soon. Okay. Bye. Bye. Okay, bye.

#OBSESSED: 48:45 Hashtag obsessed.

Cara: 48:53 So this week I'm obsessed with basket walls, so if you have not seen what these are and I was really surprised that a lot of people haven't because I said something about it on my stories and then also to a friend and she was like, what? I did not know this was a thing and people were DMing me. Like what? That's amazing. Um, and basically all let it is, is baskets hung up on a wall. Um, except there's some nuances. First of all, you want a really good variety of baskets. So the ones that I used are like I have a triangle one, I have like a long torpedo shaped one. Um, different round ones like different sizes. Um, some are flatter, some are like they stick out from the wall more and then a really good variety of textures and basically you just hang them up on a wall, kind of grouped together, almost like a gallery wall.

Cara: 49:53 Um, and the different ways to do it are either to like group them really, really tightly and have like a little cluster, almost sort of like a cluster of flowers. Um, or what I did with mine, which was to add some space between them. And I did that because I wanted it to cover like a bigger area of the wall. Um, cause if I put them all together it'd be like one little area. So I spread them out. But this is basically first of all the perfect thing. If you are looking for something to add texture and not a ton of color, which is not usually what I'm doing. Normally I'm trying to add all the possible color but I did it. I styled it over a like bright Navy dresser so I wanted something neutral. Um, and I already have a lot of color going on on the top of the dresser cause I have like this fake grass plant.

Cara: 50:45 And then I also have a headband holder with all my multicolor headbands that I talked all about in episode 11, which is what I was loving for that episode. I made them a little organizer and they're on top of the dresser. They look super cute. Um, but the other great thing about this basket wall is, Oh my gosh, you guys, it's so cheap. I got all of these baskets from Goodwill. They were like one to $2 each for like pretty decent sized baskets. Like they weren't all tiny by any means. Um, so all in the wall was like under $20. I attached them with command hooks, which is great cause it's also a good renting option. Super good. If you probably like me are going to be changing it out, um, soon. Um, for me it's cause I'm moving so it's not going to stay around very long, but it's uh, it just adds so much texture and so much interests.

Cara: 51:38 Like it looks collected. It looks like it has personality. Like I had been, you know, traveling cool places and like gathering gaskets. Really. I bought them all the same day. Um, but they're really cute and, and that's what's fun about thrifted items is they have like a story behind them even if you don't know it. So I'm super in love with basket walls. If you want to check the show notes, you can see the one that I styled and then I would also hop on Pinterest and literally just Google like boho basket wall and you'll see all these different options. Um, but I'm excited to share this with you guys because I didn't know not everyone knew it was a thing and now you have like a whole other alternative to like hanging art or hanging a mirror, which is the basic to like wall decor things. This is like a whole, like a third option. So I hope you guys like it. If you do a basket wall, let me know like hashtag MakeSpace podcasts DM me on social. I want to see how it turns out because, um, this is definitely something like power tool free, super, super easy, super inexpensive. So I want to see what you guys do with this and how yours turn out.

WAIT, WHAT?: 52:57 wait, what?

Cara: 53:05 Okay. My, wait, what for this week is, it's really funny cause it's kind of nerdy and like fun historical facts, which is usually something that I don't like, but this is in relation to furniture design. So, so back in like the 1,617 hundreds, there weren't like designers, like there wasn't name brand people that designed furniture. Instead, it was basically like the King had a furniture designer and he kind of dictated the styles and then everyone like went with it. Basically. This isn't an abridged version by the way. Everybody like once goes with it because you know, that's what the King has and he's rich and it's cool. So basically, um, all of the French inspired vintage furniture. So a lot of the chairs that Wendy works with, um, of the like French vibe is from King Louie 14, 15 and 16. Um, there was three Kings in a row.

Cara: 54:04 They kind of like, you know, where the powerhouse of furniture styles really in the world. Like in terms of what people were looking to, we're looking to France to be like, what kind of furniture should we have? So Louis the 14th, his style was very like big and clunky and like I'm super strong and everything should be giant and opulent like me. And then Louis the 15th is where we get like think beauty and the beast like the more dainty like curvy legs and kind of like gold in lays and very like beautiful, um, carved type things. And then Louie the 16th is when we go back to like more straight lines but still keep like a, a, a more dainty look. So it has legs, straight legs. Again, not a lot of those curved ones, but they're more dainty versus like chunky. Like we don't like chunky legs anymore.

Cara: 55:03 So anyway, I just thought this was super interesting because like later obviously, um, designers become a thing and we're looking to like specific designers of furniture to be like, you know, this piece was so and so and this is a so-and-so and so-and-so designed this. But initially it was just the King, like mandating what he wanted the style to be and everybody just kinda went with it. Fun facts like this are the reason you go to design school. I think just so you can know the history behind a piece of furniture and if you don't care to know, it doesn't matter because if you love it, put it in your house. If you don't, don't put it in your house.

Cara: 55:55 And talking to all these amazing designers, that's the one rule that's emerging for me that you have to follow to build a house you love. So we, you know, we dive into all the details and all the tips, but at the end of the day, if you fill your home only with things you love, you will love your home, which sounds really simple but um, yeah, with a lot of people telling you what to put in your home and trends and trying to impress our friends. That gets lost a lot of times. But let me know what you think. Let me know if you enjoyed my furniture design history lesson, I hope you did a few, at least found it kind of interesting. Um, but share your thoughts about the podcast. Use hashtag make space podcast on social media. Feel free to DM me. You can email me and the team [email protected] or hop over to neverskipbrunch.com/talk to leave us one of those voice memos.

Cara: 56:50 Um, absolutely tons of ways to get in touch with us and let us know your feedback. If you wouldn't mind, scroll down and give the podcast some stars if you have time. I would love if you wrote a review, but even just giving it a rating and giving us some stars is a great way to help other people find us. I'm excited to say we've been consistently in the top 25 in the home category on iTunes. That's so exciting. At one point we reached the number one home podcast in Canada, so thank you to all my Canadian listeners. I've never been to Canada, but I've heard all of you are very nice and so yeah, thanks for tuning in. Thanks for spending time with me. I hope that I've inspired you to build a home that you are in love with and I'm here for whatever you need. Whatever questions you have, I'd love to connect and until next week, see you soon.

OUTRO: 58:03 Love this episode? Leave a comment on the blog post or use make space podcast to share your thoughts. If this is your first time listening in, be sure to hit that subscribe button so you can stay updated with the newest episodes. If you're a subscriber and you love the show, be sure to rate, review, or screenshot and share your favorite episode on social.

p.s. This post may contain affiliate linking for your convenience. I always share my honest opinion + these links don’t cost extra for you to use — thanks for supporting Never Skip Brunch! 

NEVER SKIP BRUNCH by Cara Newhart

I'm Cara, the designer & Chief Creative Enthusiast behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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