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DECOR SCORE- Upholstering With a Paintbrush! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rose Bennett Gilbert Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 23 August 2012 04:53


Color, plus the courage to hand-paint the sofa's upholstery, insure that the sun shines into this porch all year 'round.

Q: We are trying to do up our new-old country house in time for an early fall surprise birthday party for a good friend. Mainly, we're working on the sun porch, which is enclosed but has windows all around. What's a quick and inexpensive way to hang drapes? What about slipcovers for the old sofa? Is it possible to buy ones that don't look like a mistake? A: Study the bright and cheerful sun room we show here. Does it look like a party's about to happen, or what?! It would have to be a surprise party, for sure: The real surprise is how much of it is do-ityourself and so kind to your piggy bank.

It helps that the designer is the highly talented artist Dena Fishbein, creative energy behind the Dena Designs studio near San Francisco, whose painted designs decorate a vast variety of products sold 'round the world.

We're looking at her own home, one of the sun-lit rooms she's turned into an easy decorating lesson for the more-orless talented readers of her brand-new book, "The Painted Home by Dena," due out in September from Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Dena gives you everything you need to adapt her ideas....except maybe the courage. The flowers on that curvy, little French settee are painted by hand! They are painted directly on the fabric using acrylic paints thinned to "cream" with a special emulsion (Golden brand GAC 900 fabric medium) that allows the paint to keep its soft hand.

But here's encouragement from Dena, who offers both how-to instructions and a fallback plan. First, she says, take the time to work out your design on paper, the same color as the fabric you'll be painting. Then she reassures, "Just know you can always slipcover in the future. ..."

Here are more easier-toborrow ideas from the artist's "Painted Home": curtains that are nothing more complicated than panels of fabric clipped to rings on metal rods mounted all around the room; a simple drum-shaped lampshade covered in bright paper to make a dramatic hanging lamp; bright throw pillows that pick up the color pace and add a "smile" to the scene.

Q: The sofa we loved when we bought it in the '70s has just gotten lower and lower over the years, so now we both have a struggle getting up! It is still in good shape -- we've always had it slipcovered -- and we'd hate to get rid of it. How would it look to add legs that would raise it up, say, six inches?

A: That depends on the basic style of the sofa. I'm guessing that yours, dating from the '70s, either had short little legs that could be replaced with something more lofty or sat directly on the floor. In that case, your good luck! Any carpenter can build a simple box frame that will raise it to a more comfortable sitting height.

One caveat: Unless you stain and finish the wood frame attractively -- or paint it an appropriate color -- you'll need a new slipcover, one that has a skirt long enough to keep the new support system out of sight.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the coauthor of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 04:56