My eight-year old daughter, like many children, has a very curious mind when it comes to how things work. She has been known to take apart the dishwasher for example. So I can’t wait to show her these photos of how hand-tufted area rugs are made!

To hand-tuft a wool rug, loops of wool are pushed through canvas that has been stretched on a frame. The canvas has the rug design on it which can accomodate a complex pattern since each tuft is done individually. Take a look at this partially tufted wool rug:

Detail of Tufted Rug Outline

Check out the design on this partially tufted area rug!

Half complete tufted rug

This shows the entire area rug when it is half complete with the tufting process.

It is fascinating to me to see the detailed pattern on the canvas that the rug maker then uses during the tufting process. Hand-tufted rugs are great for high-traffic areas and generally last between 12 and 20 years.

Hand-tufted area rug stretched canvas

Here you can see the canvas stretched on the frame.

In terms of impact on the interior design of your home, hand-tufted area rugs deliver a huge bang for the buck. Not as expensive as hand-knotted rugs but still having intricate patterns and details, these types of wool area rugs provide a more budget-friendly alternative.

I’m already envisioning my eight-year old hard at play on a hand-tufted rug for her Polly doll’s house.

Ever look at the interior of a home and say to yourself, “Wow… this should look really great, but something just isn’t right here?” There’s a gut instinct response that is sometimes hard to put into words. And then, little by little you notice it. Everything matches. Like…everything. The chair fabric matches the pillow fabric. The wood type and style for the end table matches the dining room table. The living room curtains match the kitchen paint. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not into the “matchy-matchy” look. Home decor should reflect your personality and quite frankly, I’m just not that put together. One of my favorite quotes is, “I think my life would be easier if I could just get my selves to agree on something.” (Brian Andreas of Story People)

So imagine my love of pairing seemingly contrasting items for a surprising home decorating idea. For example, pairing soft textured fabrics with the rough feel of reclaimed wood.

Reclaimed wood table

Soft chair…rough table. Love it!

Try this: Take a look at the reclaimed wood table below and find something visually appealing in your house that would not be an obvious pairing.
Reclaimed Poplar Wood table from the Shandong Province

Reclaimed Poplar Wood table from the Shandong Province

Fun, isn’t it? I bet you actually came up with several items. When you free yourself to look at a broader range of options for home decorating ideas, the combination possibilities suddenly grow.
This is especially true of reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood touches a cord with us on many levels. There’s something about making something useful again that is appealing. It seems to embody the circle of life and ground us in Mother Nature’s worldview. Once a rarity, reclaimed wood furniture is becoming more and more accessible. Don’t let the industrial look of it scare you off. It just may be the piece that allows your other pieces to really shine.
Industrial buffet cabinet made of reclaimed wood

Industrial Buffet Cabinet Made of Reclaimed Wood

So the next time you see a home decor item that appeals to you don’t say, “Oh…but I don’t have anything that will go with that.” Stop for a moment and allow yourself to expand your design thinking! You’ll be surprised and happy with what you discover.
Vintage looking books tell a story on your wall shelf

Vintage looking books tell a story on your wall shelf

One of the things I love to do when I visit someone’s home is peruse their wall shelves or book cases. Not only do I discover my friend’s interests in books, I gather information about the things in their life they find important. Do they have books of a certain genre? Do they display a collection of items? Is there balance between spaces on the shelves where my eye can rest vs. spaces that contain something?

As you know, we just returned from the High Point Furniture Market and one of the coolest new implementations of a tried and true home decor idea was using covered “books” as design elements on wall shelves. Two displays from a vendor booth really caught our attention. These decorative books tell a story that will captivate.

Eiffel Tower Vintage Decor Books

A little Paris in your home!

When deciding how to place items in your bookshelves, the style of the shelving unit itself plays a part. Are your bookshelves more in line with vintage furniture? Or are they sleek with a modern appeal? How can you play with items of meaning to you while giving a nod to your own interior design aesthetic?

Wall shelves and book cases harbor endless possibilities when it comes to home decor. Whether you have your personal reading collection, decorative books, or display cabinets of your favorite treasures, each item you choose to place on your bookshelves should be thoughtfully selected.

Personal library floor cabinet

Just having returned from the High Point Furniture Market, it seems to be a great time to recap on new lines and evolving lines we found.

Vintage furniture was high on the list of “up and comers.” The “Restoration Hardware look” was found at multiple vendors. Some vendors had to to “rough up” their existing sleek style, while others who have done this classic styling for years, suddenly became more relevant.

Check out the our top picks in vintage chairs:

Super comfortable, with a vintage industrial look.

New designs on a century old pattern.

Who wouldn’t enjoy a pint on one of these perches?

Vintage sofas abound from multiple vendors. Love the tight tufted look.

Looks great in fabric or leather!

Or if you are really into vintage decor, grab one of the three hundred year old looks in a candlestick chair or antique desk. Incredibly rich in finish and style, but can still mix with modern furniture in the right application.

Pair this authentic repro with a reclaimed wood or glass table.

Reproduction Antique Desk – with dovetail joints and all wood drawers, this piece will last another 100 years!

The old adage, “History tends to repeat itself” might be a good thing here. The most popular styles in years past, were the ones that outlasted the rest!

All these quality pieces will be available in 2013 on Mill and Leaf. Don’t be a stranger!

Lately while prepping for the High Point Furniture show in NC, the focus at Mill and Leaf has been searching for the best furniture collections we can find. In our “upholstered search” I stumbled on an artist who has been using vinyl and thread for years to create (upholster) common objects other than seating! Check this out…

Vocho (yellow) – 2006 – Vinyl, thread and car parts

Texas 3-d artist, Margarita Cabrera views fabric (in this case vinyl) in a whole new way. Who doesn’t love a yellow Beetle.

Her earlier work, of a 80-inch, baby grand piano is my favorite. You can almost hear the crescendo of the music, though this upholstered piece has never been played.

Baby Grand Piano – 2005 – Vinyl, thread, metal & wood

The contemporary art lines of the loose vinyl and threads make these pieces scream for attention.

Now…back to looking for well tailored modern furniture. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Fall Inspiration

Austin, TX hiking view

The eastern United States has always claimed the most beautiful fall displays. Incredible interior home decor and exterior home designs have incorporated brilliant fall colors. But closer to the urban pulse, southern fall palettes include greys, muted brown, green and gold. This Austin area creek reflection would be a great jumping off point. No, not into the creek! Jump into a fresh room makeover based on this calm, organic palette. Your space with thank you!

When parents think of back to school, so many things come to mind. Carpooling or home schooling. Denim or school uniforms. Calculators or crayons.

No matter where your kids go to school, or even their age, one supply that everyone needs is INSPIRATION. Inspired students, from preschool to grad school seem to grab the best from their education. They jump at new challenges and new assignments as they strut their ideas, good or bad.

Anyone who remembers a truly inspired moment in their education, may refer to a particularly animated or knowledgeable teacher. Or access to equipment or facilities they did not have access to at home. But actually you can cultivate “inspired” moments and stimulate yourself or your students to think outside the box in your surroundings as well.

We loved Cortney Novogratz’s post on kid’s design spaces in the home. However, you could take this play idea even farther in an adult sense with a chalkboard wall in almost any room of your house.

Chalk board paint on one wall keeps the conversation going

Spaces that change with the seasons, or even change with the conversation, inspire us to use our creativity more often. Giving your room a “voice” with a magnetic board, posting area or even velcro on pictures that can evolve throughout the year will keep your space and your family or roommates inspired. Hopefully we’ve inspired you!