Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays

~ Walter, Cathy, Nancy, Linda, Jim and Carlos ~

Image from the Shirley Eustis House Restoration Project. Click here for details.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heller Holiday Open House

Casegoods shown are from The Classic Collection - NEW at Heller Furniture!

Take a break from the mayhem of holiday shopping and stop by for some holiday cheer at our newly redecorated showroom!

Come in and pick up your complimentary copy of our holiday how-to guide "Holidays By Design" where you'll find cost saving decorating tips, recipes and other goodies to make your holidays merry and bright!
Fridays and Saturdays in December.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Classic Collection: Inlaid Sidetable views

We are very excited about our new line of casegood furniture - The Classic Collection. We have a beautiful assortment of side tables, bureaus and occasional pieces that are made by hand using traditional methods and environmentally friendly finishes.

One of the most interesting aspects about all of these pieces is their design flexibility. Whether your style is traditional, transitional or modern - these pieces can work in many interiors. I thought it would be fun to create room vignettes around a few of the pieces to showcase their flexibility.

This snazzy inlaid marquetry side table has a strong geometric pattern that is softened by the cabriole legs.

Transitional Style

Modern Style

This beautiful demilune sideboard has a lovely inlay pattern and strong textural graining.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Glossary: Antimacassar

An antimacassar is a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or the head or cushions of a sofa, to prevent soiling of the permanent fabric.

Macassar oil was a very popular grooming product for men in the early 19th century (much like Jheri Curl in the 1970's and '80's) but was not popular among housewives who had to deal with the resulting soiled seat backs and arm covers. To combat the problem, doilies and fabric covers were fashioned to protect the permanent upholstery from permanent damage.

Antimacassars are still used today on upholstered furniture and commercial vehicles such as plane and train seats.

And there's your word of the day!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Extreme Makeover - Sofa Edition

Green products are all the rage today and it's all good for the environment. One of the best things we can do is to stop filling up the landfill with old furniture that's perhaps faded or no longer in style. If the general shape and size still work, then reupholstery is an option to consider.

One of our clients brought in this beaten up looking old sofa. While many would have discarded this piece, she had the foresight to see that this little love seat was a good candidate for an extreme makeover, especially as the size was right for their needs.


Sketches of different configurations were made to update the look. The biggest structural change was to the arms from thin to a nice rolled style with pleats. The back cushions on the original love seat were attached and we re-designed them to be taller and loose. The two seat cushions would be replaced with a single bench cushion for a cleaner look. And finally, the skirt was changed to a waterfall style - also adding to the fresher, cleaner look. Of course, we also rehabbed the frame and tightened up the seat springs for maximum comfort and longevity.

And here we have the finished piece! Fresh, clean and like-new!


While the price was ultimately comparable to buying something new, there is one less old sofa making its way into the landfill.

The mantra of the day is "Reduce, Reuse & Recyle", to which we can add "Reupholster"!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Take a seat

We've been busy restoring and recovering many beautiful chairs recently and wanted to share some before and after shots. From family heirlooms to new purchases - our clients have been bringing us some great pieces to bring back to life.


These carved chairs were made by a family relative of the client. The woodwork was dull and cracked in places and the fabric worn and faded.

The natural beauty of the wood was brought back to life in our wood shop and an unexpected fabric was added to the seat creating a restored and one of a kind piece that's good to go for many years to come.


This country French cane back arm chair was updated in a beautiful silk mini-plaid with corded trim.

chair detail - after

This designer wanted to create a coordinated mix 'n match look. She used two different styles of chair - cane back and upholstered straight back - and had them covered in the same fabric.





New cane back chairs were covered in a snappy blue check with contrast fabric on the reverse side of the seat back. In this case, the design called for us to remove the existing cane insert and add upholstery in its place. Changes to the original design on an existing piece of furniture can almost always be accommodated - just ask your upholsterer!

detail of back of chair - after


This particular client likes to mix it up with traditional fabrics on contemporary forms and, as with this chair, more modern fabrics on traditional style furniture.




This was quite a unique set of two chairs and a sofa. Made in Europe - these pieces had wooden backs and tufted seat backs. The new gray fabric really shows off the detailing of the tufting.

detail of back of sofa and chairs - after

We are all becoming more aware of our environment and giving consideration to the effect that piles of discarded furniture has on the planet. Reupholstery is environmentally friendly and offers so many custom choices to design and style. So, before you run out and buy a new chair, take a look in your attic or your local second hand store and see what you can find. You never know - grandma's old rocking chair could be the perfect fun - and funky - addition to your space!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Upholstered Headboards are Hot!

We see them everywhere - in magazines, movies, high end stores and Target. The luxury of an upholstered headboard cannot be matched. We want our bedrooms to be soft and comfortable, cocoon-like.

A custom upholstered headboard is the ultimate luxury. You have virtually a limitless selection of fabrics (including leathers) and design styles to choose from. We've been making a lot of the beauties over the last several months as the designers we work with are right on trend.

Here are a few of our favorite projects:

Upholstered headboard with hand finished wooden surround, upholstered drop-in unit clad in a hot pink linen.

And hand stained and distressed round wood surround with upholstered inset.

Our Florence style headboard in a modern geometric print.

A simple shape takes on a new level of sophisticating with dramatic tufting and nail head trim.

Even a basic square headboard such as our Athens style stands out with well coordinated bedding and textiles. This particular project was part of a bedroom makeover for WHDH televisions' "Room for Improvement" series.

Our Geneva headboard is soon to be making it's movie debut in The Women, which shot here in Boston last year.

We have a wide selection of headboard styles to choose from or bring your own design to us and we can talk about your options. Our showroom is filled with fabric selections as well. And if you need the bedding to go with your beautiful headboard, no problem!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Craftsman's Eye

There's more to custom upholstery than meets the eye.

Floor Plans, Sketches & Specifications

Architects sketch of location for custom banquette seat

When you visit your furniture designer, don't forget to bring along a detailed floor plan that indicates where furniture will be located, as well as exact dimensions of the piece. Be sure to also include measurements for all doorways, halls, stairways and elevators through which the furniture will travel to reach its final resting place. Even the most experienced designers make fatal errors that are evident only upon delivery. Almost any space constrictions can be accommodated if they are known in advance. For instance, a sofa can be made to come apart and re-attach on site. Forethought is key.

What is the style you are looking for? Do your homework before you meet with a furniture maker. Take time to go through design magazines, trade journals and design books. Pull photographs of details such as tailoring, trims and the overall look you are hoping to achieve. Don't be afraid to take an upholstered arm from one photo, a back from another and a skirt treatment from a third --- good custom furniture makers are skilled in bringing the varying elements together. Pictures that show what you want will save a thousand words of explanation. If you are able to do a schematic sketch on your own - that's great. But if you are not, your furniture maker can still create a design from your photos and conversation for your approval.

Above all else, be as specific in your instructions as possible. Once you have instructed the manufacturer, ask for written confirmation of your instructions that includes a drawing of how the piece will look. Take the time to read the manufacturer's instructions and look the drawings over carefully. Design deadlines and budgets rarely permit costly errors.

Construction and Customization

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Let's face it, custom furniture is expensive. Ask the manufacturer tough questions to ensure that you're getting quality merchandise. Is kiln dried wood used for the frame? Are the frames dowelled, glued and screwed on corner blocks? Are stretchers used when required for added support?

Go over fine details of the design with your manufacturer. The thickness of the back, the seat and the seat cushions will affect the overall depth. The width of the arms can affect the seating space. Inside and outside pitch will determine the angle of the back. Discuss your client's special requirements with the manufacturer. If your client is especially short or tall, large or slight, the manufacturer can make design changes for which your clients will be grateful. After all, comfort is the final determining factor in the overall success of your design.

Fabrics, Fillers and Flame-proofing

Example of a client's purchase order for custom kitchen banquette

Don't forget fabric samples. Your upholsterer will need to see what you have selected and can help you make your final choice. Will the fabric run horizontally or vertically? How wide is it? How often does the pattern repeat? Will seams show? Wait until you consult with the upholsterer before you order the fabric. Even the slightest style change can dramatically alter the amount of fabric you need. It is also a good idea to bring along samples for any welts, gimp, fringe or tassels you plan on using.

Next, take a moment to consider fillers. Once again, be specific. Will the furniture be used extensively or only occasionally? Standard cushions are generally made of a medium density urethane foam wrapped with a Dacron fiber. A more luxurious, comfortable cushion, however, is made of innerspring and cotton wrapped in foam. White goose down is also favored for comfort.
If flame proofing is required, be sure to let the upholsterer know at the beginning of the project. This is especially essential for commercial projects such as restaurants or salons.

Of course, organic and green materials are also available for any upholstery project.

Tailoring, Treatments and Toss Pillows

Custom upholstery adds a new dimension to your design talents. The final details --- tailoring, treatments and toss pillows --- are crucial in determining the end result.

Ask your upholsterer to show you samples of how the cushions can be tailored (knife edges, box welted and weltless, Turkish corners, waterfalls and hand-sewn are among the finishes available). Finalize treatments for the arms (round arm tuxedo, square arm tuxedo, roll arm, and flair arm, to name a few); the bases and legs (plinth; will they be upholstered, painted or laminated? Will the radius corner have a recessed bull nose base? Harem, upholstered bun feet?, parsons legs, or castors?) If there is to be a skirt, how will it be treated? (Kickpleat, dressmaker's, pleated corners, ruffles?) What about the overall upholstering? Will it be tufted (diamond and biscuit), hand channeled, quilted, trapuntal? And, what form, if any, will the final topstitching take? (Double needle, french-style back, fox edge?)

When choosing toss pillows, talk with the upholsterer about how they will be used. Do they have to hold up for a family of five? Ask questions. A good upholsterer will cheerfully answer your questions and respond quickly to your special requirements. Your design reputation is on the line; never allow yourself to be intimidated or pushed into a hasty decision.

Details and Delivery

Prepare a checklist. Go over it twice. Make sure your order is confirmed in writing and is accompanied by a sketch. Don't be afraid to ask for a specific delivery date, but make sure you do your part and get all fabrics and trims to the manufacturer as promised.

Don't leave the final detail --- delivery --- to chance. If your manufacturer leaves delivery arrangements up to you, and many do, locate a reputable firm and take prompt possession of your merchandise.

Finished custom made kitchen banquette for This Old House, Newton project.

"The secret of success," said Benjamin Disraeli, "is constancy to purpose."

By seeking out quality workmanship and working in tandem with your suppliers to ensure faithfulness to the most minute detail, success will be yours.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Introducing Naturtex

We're pleased to announce that we're now carrying this fantastic line of woven fabrics by Naturtex. Made in Spain, Naturtex has a huge range of different fabrics for all residential and contract purposes.

The woven materials can be used in: Upholstery, Wall Covering, Headboards, and more!

We have a selection of samples so don't hesitate to come by the shop to check them out and we'll help you figure out the possibilites!