The Internet was on fire last week. A Scottish bride posted a photo of the dress her mother wore to her wedding and asked a simple question: what color is this? Within hours, tens of millions of people all over the world were hotly debating. Everyone but the Pope had an opinion.
What in color-nation was going on?
The Great Dress Debate illustrates some important truths. Everyone sees color differently. Some people don't see color at all. Then there are those who see greater variety and depth in color than the average Joe. Which explains a lot about the mystery of interior design.
Brian, Hanover's new assistant store manager, has a gifted eye for color. He proved it this week when the moving guys dumped a newly consigned salmon-colored sectional in his showroom. "Damn," I thought as I passed it by, "that is one ugly sofa."
In a few moments of inspiration, though, Brian whipped together a furniture vignette that included the sectional, a pair of mousy brown chairs and a rug in a bold geometric pattern. Suddenly, the ugly sectional looked stylish and modern. The brown chair was transformed into a crisp accent piece.
Suddenly, I wanted to take it home. What the heck? "Sometimes," Brian explained, "ugly plus ugly equals awesome." (Men, do not try this at home. This formula does not apply to your closet.)
Color is complex - and necessary - in successful design. Most of us struggle with it. That's why shopping for furniture and home accents is stressful. Mistakes are common but avoidable if you shop at FCG.
Some tips: shop in a showroom, not online. (Colors can be distorted by your computer.) Take fabric samples so that you can how see the color interacts with the light in your home. We are happy to loan a cushion for a day or so.
Bring color samples or photos of your walls, rugs and upholstered pieces when shopping. Our design-savvy associates will happily help coordinate a palette that will work in your home.
If you are still panic-stricken with color phobia, have no fear. Diana, my wife and a certified ASID interior designer, is offering a four-week series of evening classes at our showroom in Plymouth. Her color class is every student's favorite. Sign up now!
"I'm going contemporary!" She was seventy, if she was a day, a prim white-haired Yankee by birth and breeding. She thrust a photo at me and added, "I just ordered this camelback sofa and I need some funky end tables to go with it."
"Contemporary" is the hot new word in decorating. Queen Anne is out. So is chintz. Ruffles are a crime. Pyramids of pillows are passé. Most of our customers, young and old, are seeking a look that is sleek, sharply-defined and serene.
What they are calling contemporary is really classic design. Barbara Barry started the trend a decade ago when she created an amazing sofa with a sharply contoured arm, borrowing from a style that had been very traditional in England. Mitchell Gold took the same look and outlined the sofa in nailhead trim. That's been a huge hit for his stores.
From Baker to Crate and Barrel, you can now buy a variation on that theme in almost every furniture store in the U.S. They're calling it transitional. Maybe people are tired of the word - even the concept - of traditional. You, our customers, are calling it contemporary. It looks and feels new and fresh.
True contemporary is Lucite. Contemporary is metal, plastic and modular sofas. Visit Roche Bobois, where the showroom is filled with strangely curved pieces of furniture sitting low on the floor like giant slugs. Works in Europe. A tough sell in New England. That's contemporary.
At Furniture Consignment Gallery, we might dabble with the ultra-modern every now and then. We have no law against Lucite. What we do best, though, is high-end, traditional re-interpretations of the finest furniture ever made. Call it what you may - traditional, transitional, contemporary, modern - we know what you mean.
So when Yankee matron with the twin-set cardigan and the sensible shoes tells me she is looking for a more modern look for her retirement penthouse in downtown Boston, we have exactly what she wants on our floor.
Rain soaked and sweating from the stress of battling traffic, I found my seat right in time for the start of my son's middle school graduation ceremony. I was really excited that I was able to flee the showroom so that I could savor a few last moments with my son as an eighth grader. Sure, it isn't the same as commencement from high school or University, but I was still looking forward to this moment.
It was a nice ceremony featuring a well behaved crowd. Students thanked teachers and parents. They reminisced about the past and peered into the future. No one lit a firecracker. No one pulled a prank. All in all, the ceremony was safe, predictable and, well, maybe just a little disappointing.
All across America, commencement speakers are delivering the same speech to a new crop of graduates: "Be yourself!" "Take a stand!" "Make a difference!" Meanwhile, as a society, we're doing our best to squelch any sign of originality or any spark of dissension.
Neutral is the watchword of our times. That's how we communicate, dress and decorate our homes. Afraid of offending a neighbor, we paint our houses with the same palette of beige, grey and taupe. We shrink from expressing an opinion that might cause a tirade on Twitter or Facebook - and for good reason. The court of public opinion is harsh. Offend someone and you'll pay a high price in your life or your business. Neutral is safe.
This morning, I opened my mailbox to find ten Restoration Hardware catalogues wrapped together. The twenty pounds of RH catalogue is a great marketing idea that will be talked about by many, but what I noticed is a few hundred pages of greys and beiges. Not a splash of color to be found. It's not their fault, it is who we are as a people right now. We would rather be safe than sorry.
So my advice to graduates is to skip bland and go straight to unique. We are not naturally neutral. What the heck, I'm thinking of painting my house Margarita Green. Not beige. Not grey. And definitely not taupe. Why not?
Congratulations to the class of 2014. You have big things ahead of you and many challenges. In addition to solving the world's problems you need to find a way to add some color into your life and ours.
She burst into the showroom like a dervish of interior design, bracelets jangling and coattails billowing. Trailing closely behind were a husband, a daughter and a soon-to-be son-in-law who seemed cowed by this new and unstoppable force of nature taking charge of his life.
As mother-of-the-bride, she'd planned every detail of the wedding down the last sugared flower on the cake. Now, she was on a mission to decorate the couple's new home. Her help was non-negotiable, apparently part of the fine print of the marriage contract.
She stopped abruptly at the first piece of furniture in her path, a Stickley cherry end table. "Look!" she commanded. "You won't see this at Ikea. Hmmm, $225. That's a great buy."
Daughter leaned in, eyes wide with wonder. Future son-in-law looked panic-stricken. What was his role in this drama? Agree? Disagree? Meanwhile, husband stood back, arms folded across his chest, clearly signaling that young couples should make their own decisions about tables, chairs and lamps.
To his surprise, Mom seemed to get the hint. She gave a last little speech on buying quality furniture then sent the couple off to explore our store. The young couple meandered off and discovered, to their delight, handcrafted furniture perfect for their starter house.
That morning, the couple excitedly took the first steps towards feathering their first nest. Beaming, they bought a Venetian mirror and agreed to think about a Bradington Young leather set on the second floor.
'Tis the season to be wed. Parents of the brides and grooms, you may be tempted to drown that young couple with well-meaning advice. But, here's my advice to you: RELAX! Sure, they're bound to make a few mistakes but if you point them in the right direction, they'll eventually figure it out on their own.
They met as teenagers at a clam shack on the Cape, and fell in love. For the last twenty years, they've worked hard to build a marriage, careers, and a family. On Thursday, the couple and their two young sons stopped by our showroom shortly after leaving their lawyer's office. "We just bought a house!" the wife exclaimed. "On the Cape!"
Summer is coming and they have big plans. They want to take the boys to Old Silver Beach. Dad grew up playing volleyball there. Mom was a waitress at a restaurant in Woods Hole. Lunch there is on the agenda, too. They envision a summer filled with sandcastles and picnics. But first, they need furniture.
Buying the house tapped out the savings account, the couple admitted, but they wanted the place ready for fun by Memorial Day - in ten days! Thrift shop stuff is tacky. New furniture wasn't an option, either. "It's expensive and it lacks character," Mom said. "And we don't want to wait weeks for delivery."
For this family, Furniture Consignment Gallery struck just the right balance of quality products at an affordable price.
With the help of our sales staff, who are skilled at interior design, the couple quickly picked out a house-full of furniture from our three stores: two leather love seats, a cocktail table with storage for puzzles and crafts, and a sideboard for the foyer. The sideboard is perfect for stashing away keys, cell phones and all the other flotsam of their busy urban life.
They also snagged a hardy maple dining set and some end tables for the living room. At our store in Plymouth, they discovered a classic bedroom set by Michael Ashton - and were delighted to learn that we carry a line of new mattresses to complete the deal.
After that whirlwind shopping spree, the couple had one last concern: delivery. No problem, we told them. Furniture Consignment Gallery's movers would carefully pack up all the furniture they'd selected from the three stores into a single truck and bring it to the house in Falmouth.
With heavy rains in the forecast for this weekend, it is the perfect time to feather your summer nest. Stop by one - or all three - of our stores. Whether you're heading to a beach cottage or a mountain lodge, you'll find everything you need for that second home at FCG.
Shopping for my wife and my mother is overwhelming. First, there's the gift. Maybe some flowers. Then, I've got to elbow my way through a mob of guys at the card store and snag one of those pink, beribboned pieces of poetry before the rack is stripped bare.
Every year, I dread the ordeal. What if the store runs out - and all that's left is a single dog-eared card addressed "To My Significant Other" or "To the Woman Who is Just Like a Mother To Me"?
So, guys, I'm going to make it easy for you this year. Furniture Consignment Gallery's three stores are loaded with quality consignment furniture that your wife and mother will love.
Our Plymouth store has just put lots of items on final markdown, among them a cherry server with a baker's rack by Drexel Heritage as well as other pieces by Domain, Pennsylvania House, Ethan Allen and Widdecomb. For someone who is setting up a home office, we've got a beautifully detailed black corner desk with hutch by Habersham.
In Hanover, we have dining room sets in every price range and in many different styles. We have a double pedestal "birdcage" table with a banded inlay by Henredon. The three leaves allow the table to extend to 162 " - and it comes with table pads to protect the gleaming mahogany finish.
Our Chestnut Hill store is chock full of one-of-a-kind pieces that would make for a memorable gift. We have a seven-drawer Italian lingerie chest with brass accents and a rose marble top for $1,199. Also on the showroom floor is a Louis XV bombe chest with delicate brass drawer pulls and a marble top.
Stop by one - or all three - of our stores. I'm sure you'll find something in one of our showrooms to make your significant other smile. With a gift from Furniture Consignment Gallery, you won't even need a card.
Despite the arctic cold, we're starting to see a predictable harbinger of spring. Realtors and home-staging professionals are flocking to our showrooms. They're hunting for furniture and accessories to update the homes they hope to sell in the next few months.
Some 40% of home sales occur between March and June. Homeowners are busy prepping for that brief window of opportunity. The smartest ones know that clever staging can boost the selling price significantly.
Staging is an art. And since we work with some of the best in Boston, I can offer some of their secrets:
First, update your lighting. Cheap fixtures and lamps from the 1970s are a big turn-off for buyers. So are cracked or stained lampshades. New lamps and shades bring immediate warmth and style into a home - and that's a purchase that won't put a big dent in your wallet. Our showrooms offer lots of choices from classic to trendy.
Put things in scale. Homeowners often roll out a rug that is too small for the room. Maybe it was a quality hand-me-down from a relative or they got a bargain at the rug store, and they figured that something on a bare floor was better than nothing. News flash: a small rug in a big room is like a postage stamp on a lawn. It shrinks the room visually. We have rugs in all sizes. If you don't find what you need in our stores, then softly gleaming hardwood floors are a better bet.
De-clutter. Pack up the dust-collecting tchotchkes. Nothing says Grandma like an army of Hummels. That could be a turn-off to the thirtysomethings looking for a chic nest in which to start their families. Also, take a hard look at your furniture. If potential buyers have to hold their breath to squeeze around a king-size mattress in the master bedroom, you've got a problem. Get rid of furniture that overpowers a room.
One last tip: beware the curse of IKEA. We've all committed a few sins in the name of frugality. Say you bought some particleboard furniture a few years ago. You hauled the box home and assembled it yourself. Now, you're selling your house. Keep in mind that nothing depreciates an upscale home faster than cheap furniture. Just a few quality pieces -- bought on consignment - would reinforce the concept of quality in your home.
Timberland boots.My son had to have them when he turned 13 in March. That's what all the adolescent boys are wearing these days, and he wants to be one of the guys. I remember being 13. I desperately wanted Converse sneakers with red and blue laces for my birthday. Thank God my parents listened. Those sneakers let me run with the pack - and probably saved me years of therapy. The "Tims" gave my wife and me the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with our son. We told him it isn't a bad thing to be part of the crowd, but there's a time to stand out and have the courage to be your best unique self. We just installed beautiful blue awnings on our showroom in Hanover. We want to grab the attention of passers-by because we're confident we'll wow you with our products and our people. Standing out is scary. Just ask my wife Diana, an interior designer. Many of her clients are terrified to make even the simplest decorating decisions. "What color do you like?" she asks when she starts a project. Some clients stutter and stammer as if she asked them to name their favorite child.This isn't a trick question.Even my five-year-old can answer it. But somewhere along the way in life, many lose the ability to say what we really like. Sometimes, Diana comes home from a job in a bit of a funk. "I wish they would relax," she says. "They're worrying too much about what other people think." This week, I visited our Plymouth store to mark down some items that have lingered too long in the showroom.There's an awesome fire-engine-red contemporary dining room table in great condition for $404. I thought it would fly out of the store when we first got it. I thought a designer would scoop it up for a client whose taste leans toward the funky and cool. Wrong. Where is your sense of adventure, people? Have some fun with your home. Be different. Look at it this way: furniture is less expensive and less permanent than a tattoo. And you're getting a great discount when you shop at Furniture Consignment Gallery. So give your home a personality-yours! - and stop by one of our three stores this weekend. We've got classic and we've got quirky.Relax and enjoy.
In the end, the room was utterly transformed. All it took was six weeks of hard labor - and a flash of creative genius.
This fall, Diana Frucci is one of 35 designers participating in the showhouse sponsored by the Junior League of Boston. Each designer was assigned a room in the Potter Estate in Newton, a rambling Victorian built in 1867.
Diana's assignment was a challenge. A century ago, the "Lexington" room likely had been unhappy quarters for a servant. Dark, dingy and claustrophobic, it required a heart-thumping hike up three flights of stairs. Sunlight struggled through a grimy window. Squeezed into the room's tiny closet, oddly, was a sink.
Over the last few weeks, though, Diana worked her magic on the place. She envisioned the room as a cozy hideaway for a busy family's au pair. She covered walls and ceiling in a dramatic cobalt-blue damask wallpaper.
For furniture, she raided the two showrooms of Furniture Consignment Gallery. She took a gleaming Biedermeijer chest for elegant storage and a velvet wingback chair, which beckons the weary visitor to rest.
Beside the bed is a bold piece of art: a painting of a bare-chested and muscular man in a swimsuit. (Maybe the nanny is actually a ... manny?)
And as for that awkward closet, Diana came up with an inspired solution. She gave it a splash of color, painting the walls a vivid poison green and wrapping the sink in a sophisticated geometric print. Then, she filled the basin with orchids. If you design it, they will come - and they will fall in love with it. That's Diana's dream.An estimated 10,000 will visit the Potter Estate over the next six weeks, according to the Junior League, and they'll be looking for decorating moxie. (For tickets and more information, check out jlboston.org) After all, a showhouse is showbiz. Instead of greasepaint and glitter, this is a performance done in fabric and furniture, paper and paint. Attendees should all make that climb to the attic to spend a few moments in a very special place designed by Diana Frucci. They won't be disappointed.
Somber as undertakers, the couple trekked into our showroom four times in four days. They slipped in through the front door, ignored our cheerful greetings and made a beeline for the section featuring dining-room sets. There, they spent hours grimly examining one particular table and the matching chairs. Our sales associates volunteered their help. The couple brushed them all off abruptly.
Finally, our most personable – and apparently fearless – associate seized the opportunity as a personal challenge. Ms. Congeniality marched up the staircase to the second floor of our showroom determined to befriend this baffling duo. Downstairs, we took bets on whether she’d get anywhere with “Mr. and Mrs. Meany”.
“Oh, they aren’t mean at all,” she told us later, after a long chat with the couple. “They are just scared to death.”
Scared? Yes. In fact, they are terrified of decorating their home. Five years ago, the two moved into their home and the place still looks like an vacant warehouse. Paralyzed by fear, they haven’t bought a light fixture for the hallway. The result: a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling. Walls are bare. Entire rooms are empty.
Now, the holidays are coming and they are looking at the possibility of another graceless meal at the kitchen counter. But the alternative – buying a table and some chairs for the dining room – fills them with abject terror.
We witness such scenes all the time at Furniture Consignment Gallery. Many folks know what they like in furniture, but are afraid their taste is all “wrong.” Some fear making a design mistake with poor choices in color, size or scale. Others search endlessly for the perfect design, without a clear idea of what that might look like.
Often, customers will turn to me and say: “I’m sure your home is beautifully furnished.” Well, the truth is my home is full of the pieces that didn’t sell. There’s a dresser is in our foyer that sat on the showroom floor for over a year; it had been marked down almost to pennies. Finally, I took it home to put it out of my misery. And, believe it or not, we get more compliments on that dresser than almost any other piece of furniture in the house.
Not everyone has an interior designer on speed-dial. And decorating a bare room can be intimidating. Here are five tips to help you get started:
Break the ice with a small item. Like a sculptor starting with a new block of stone, everything gets easier once you make the first cut. Dive in and buy a lamp or a rug that appeals to you. After that first decision, things start to fall into place.
Personalize your home. Invest in pieces or furniture or art that matter to you. Loved that safari honeymoon? Display those tribal sculptures and gradually a decorating theme will emerge. (Think campaign chests and faux fur throws.) Did you inherit a beloved Victorian loveseat from Grandma? Honor her by using it in your home. How about that sloppy painting your five-year-old hauled home from kindergarten? Frame it! Showcase the personal, the meaningful, and the memorable. That’s the heart of true beauty.
Add some humor to your décor! People are too serious these days. My mom has a sign hanging in her kitchen: “Wine is sure proof that God loves us.” In our own home, my wife and kids have tucked action figures into obscure spots. Those hidden treasures always manage to grab our guests’ attention. It’s okay to be a bit goofy. Make your home special for you and your family.
Make a list of what’s important to you. Do you like organization or clutter? Some people feel panicky if things are not in the proper bins. Other feel as though they are in a dentist’s office when things are too orderly.
Relax and look for pieces that make you smile. Your guests can’t help but love a home that reflects a full – and well-lived – life. When my wife, the designer, returns from a job, I typically ask her how things are shaping up at the client’s home. “Good!” she’ll usually say. “It’s not my taste – or yours – but they love it, and that’s what really matters.”