design ideas

shopping for pieces, design ideas

My favorite stores (and that's saying something!)

My best friends know that I'm generally a terrible shopper:  I'm generally not suggestible and never have enough time.  But there is one type of store that I could visit every day:  Fabric stores.  Rows of color and texture that I happily roam looking for inspiration, for an idea that will transform a well-worn seat into a work of art.  

Today I had two chairs in mind:  One, a fanciful chair that reminds me of a voluptuous 40’s film star in a cocktail dress.  The other is actually a matched pair of narrow, angular chairs that remind me of the set of Mad Men.  Because every chair requires a family of fabrics--related in palette but varied in style and texture--I first create fabric pairs.  These help me envision the possibilities for each chair.  I go so far as to sketch the finished chair using these fabrics in different ways, so I make sure I really like the final composition.  After all, these are expensive fabrics, and there's no going back once they're cut and tacked.

Here are a couple of fabric pairs…more to come next trip!

Pictured fabrics are from the Zarin Fabrics store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (  )

Pictured fabrics are from the Zarin Fabrics store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (

design ideas, shopping for pieces

Big deal.

Last weekend I dropped my daughter at college—big deal, right?  But that experience pales next to my first-ever visit to Brimfield Antique Show, a name which completely undersells the experience (  This show is so large that I’m sure you can see it from space.  It's so large that you have to plan in advance which of 21 fields you’ll visit because it has taken over the whole town.  But here's the unexpected plot twist:  Not many dealers focus on modern furniture, opting instead on 18th/19th century furniture or country tchotchkes for accessorizing.   So if you're looking exclusively for modern furniture (like me), this may make you feel a bit like you're looking for a needle in a haystack (I know I did)!

A couple of tips:

If you're looking for modern, you can do Brimfield in a day.  The biggest issue is that it's not organized at all, so you'll have to walk the aisles--but you can be focused, and that is actually your advantage.  

Look for dealers you can work with--not just product.  I found several with a good eye and a focus on modern: (located in The Meadow field), (located in the Heart of the Mart field) and (located in the New England Motel field).  

Bring a large enough vehicle to bring things home.  While modern isn't the star of the show, there are good pieces to be found at good prices.  Next year I'm borrowing a larger van!

So here's my bottom line:  Yes, Brimfield is huge.  Yes, there's a lot there that isn't what I'm looking for.  But it's still a big deal source for modern furnishings.