Talking Out Loud With Janet Kain …..

There has been an explosion of entrepreneurs that are not in dot-com or finance.  These new waves of intrepid business owners are embracing more traditional job paths that forgo IPOs and embracing alternative careers.  They are artisans, crafts persons, shop owners and skilled collectors who are keeping time-honored traditions alive.  ”Talking Out Loud” is a chronicle of the conversations with these people about their work, life and inspirations……

I was introduced to pillows and soft goods of Janet Kain by a mutual friend and business colleague.  I am always excited when I meet individuals who find their passion a little later in life as I truly believe that it is that time we spend “marinating” that allows us so many distinct advantages in filling a market need.  Janet and her business partner, Sarin, sat down with me to talk pillows and what it takes to make the ultimate place to rest a weary head……

Janet Kain Collage

With all the various home décor products you could design, why pillows?

(Janet) While I was decorating my own home, I found that it was very hard to find high quality pillows that made a statement – bold colors and graphics, without having them custom made.   I realized there was a gap in the marketplace for people who wanted fabulous high quality pillows without waiting months and meeting fabric minimums to have them custom made.  Pillows are the one home décor product that has the ability to transform a room and can easily be changed whenever you or your room needs a pick me up!

JK Pillows

What makes a “good pillow”?  What are the three key things consumers should look for when purchasing a pillow? 

(Sarin) What we think consumers should look for is not just a good pillow, but a great pillow!  The first thing to notice is the quality of the sewing (things such as pattern match up, high quality threads and invisible zippers).  Next, great pillows should have the same high quality fabric on both sides of the pillow, not a less expensive fabric on the back.  Last but not least, look for generously stuffed inserts made of feathers and down.

(J) I jokingly say that if a fabric doesn’t scream “touch me” as I walk by, it is left on the bolt.  When selecting a fabric, what things are you looking for?

(J) Excitement of colors is the first thing that catches my eye, bold colorful graphics that make a statement.   Linens, woven cottons, silks.  Coolness to the touch for summer fabrics, plushness and luxury in heavier fabrics for winter and year round.  When looking at neutrals we are drawn to dimension such as cotton velour on top of linen ground – those definitely call out to be touched!

Decorative pillows are what I call the “crown jewels” of a finished room.  What are 2-3 other things you think complete a room.

(J) We fully agree with that!  I always say pillows to home décor are the equivalent of dazzling accessories to a little black dress.  A coordinating throw and a fabulous tray are two other finishing touches that tie a room together and complete the look.

BedroomJK_00047

All of your pillows are made in upstate New York.  Why was it important to you to have your products manufactured stateside?

(S) Quality.  To ensure the craftsmanship lives up to our high standards, we feel it is important to have the sewing done in the States to maintain the quality control.  It costs more, but it is worth it for quality.  We are also proud to be able to do our part in keeping jobs here in the USA.

You opened the business in 2008, right before the recession, but weathered the storm.  What did that time frame teach you being a small business owner?  Any words of wisdom you would share?

(S) What we found is that even when you’re not able to spend the money to redecorate an entire room, changing pillows is a great way to transform the room and freshen up your existing furniture.  For this reason, our pillows sold very well during the recession.  Starting a small business is tough in any economy, but as long as you don’t cut corners on quality, you can hopefully ride out the hard times.  A great tip we can pass along that we have learned is when budgets are tight, social media is an inexpensive way to get the word out about your brand, so don’t underestimate the power of that medium!

Janet Kain 4

Many designers dream about launching a signature line of home décor and accessories but you did.  What do you think was the one thing you would share with someone contemplating a similar move?

(J) Stay true to your vision and don’t deviate from your look.  Select items that complement your main product and fit within that aesthetic.

You have several collections on the web site.  What goes into creating a collection?  What can we expect from future collections?  What’s on the horizon?

(J) Pattern themes, colors that work well in certain settings and where we envision them being used.  We always stay ahead of the curve on home design trends.  Right now, plum and charcoal are hot, which we had in our fall collection and we see that continuing through the winter.  We watch fashion trends closely because of the strong tie between fashion and home décor.  Not ready to give up our secrets yet on what’s next, but you can sign up for our email updates to see what we have in store for next spring!

Mary Ann LR_00016

Life, like pillows, often gets tossed around, so as the final question, what would you say is your “recipe” for being on course and not letting the things that life tosses at you get in the way?

(J & S) The partnership between Sarin and me really helps keep us on track and focused.  We have very different skill sets and backgrounds and are able to bring both to the table to complement each other perfectly.  Having passion for what you do, setting priorities and a great partnership is the recipe that has led to success for us!

Thank you Janet and Sarin!  Check out all the beautiful pillows and soft goods on the Janet Kain website!  I have my eye on a pair of the Criss Cross Pillows and the cognac leather tray for a client…..and perhaps the  Sea Breeze Hourglass throw for me if I am a good boy come the holidays!

[photo credit: Janet Kain]

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Design Is All About Space Planning……

You will hear time and time again that in design, the devil is in the details and that is true.  However, I think the sin in design is not planning properly.  Yes, it’s great to goo buy that table you have been coveting for months but it also kinda blows when said table can’t fit up your staircase or overpowers the space that it was meant to occupy.  This is why designers rely heavily on floor and furniture plans when creating a space.  I believe in them so much that I dedicated my July SheKnows.com column to the whole idea of space planning ……..

DOUGLASS STREET Furniture Plan_Option 1 EDITED

In this month’s column, I show how the same room can look completely different using the same furniture but adjusting the furniture layout.  In addition, I give some simple tips to help guide your furniture placement and ensure you don’t make some costly mistakes when purchasing furniture for your home.

And I have some really sweet room sketches I am sharing also …. I think this is my favorite post to date so far, so check it out!  You can also check out other columns for SheKnows.com here.

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Okay, time to entertain my parents who are visiting from out of town along with my little brother.  Putting on my tour guide hat now…….and if you notice to your left……

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Orange Door…

I have been obsessed with doors since my visit to Europe this summer.  Fortunately, I love the front door to our home but that has not stopped me from dreaming.  I have been lusting after a door that says HELLO THERE – something that draws you.  We all know someone who can say – I am the house with THE DOOR and you know exactly which house it is.

So I was pleasantly shocked, surprised, elated when I saw this down the street from me….

One of the 1930s bungalows was recently repainted the perfect shade of greyed out green with bright white trim, however the door was sorely lacking.  I was hoping that would do something fun with it, but this exceeds all my expectations. The unexpected orange creamsicle hue is the wonderful pop of color to the house.  The young couple who own the house are fun and wanted to bring a sense of liveliness to the house but respect the architecture and the neighborhood.  In my opinion – it is the perfect, funky choice for a hip couple.

So what do you think?  Yay or nay to an orange door?  Okay, I am off to the dentist…..so not the way I wanted to kick off the morning.

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram (CourtneyOutLoud) for musings on design, food and just plain randomness.

Loving Out Loud: Restoration Hardware Vintage Illuminated Arrow…

I have a love/hate relationship with Restoration Hardware lighting.  I love the overall look of the pieces but their scale is so massive that unless you live in a castle, realistically they can’t be used.  I know I say “go big, or go home” but even I have my limits when it comes to lighting fixtures…..

However, a friend tipped me off to Restoration Hardware’s baby and children line which features more delicate (aka normal) sized fixtures.  Looking through the web site, I was smitten by their vintage illuminated arrow fixture:

I would love to see the piece in a kitchen or perhaps two in a bedroom flanking a bed.  It is a fun way to add lighting and sculptural interest to a space in a fun unexpected way.  I am pitching a client on using them in his library, so fingers crossed …..

So tell me, what is the wackiest light you have ever seen in a space?

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram (CourtneyOutLoud) for musings on design, food and just plain randomness.

Luke’s Woodshop…Custom Coffee Table

I had the great fortune of meeting Luke Austin while working on the Calvert Court project.  He is a fantastic furniture maker and restorer that we used to bring the house’s original floors and cabinets back to life.  Plus he is funny to boot and to be honest, you spend so much time in cramped space with your contractors and vendors, the last thing you want is someone you don’t like.

I currently kicked off the last phase of a long term project and was in desperate need of a coffee table.  The client already has a couch he wishes to keep and is good condition.  However, his current table can only be described as “sad”.  And what was more sad, I couldn’t find anything on the market that the price point I wanted to spend that was not just as sad as the coffee table he currently possesses.  As luck would have it, I needed to stop by Luke’s work room to drop off a project and ran across these….

They are side tables that one of Luke’s patrons commissioned.  While I personally think the video console tops and the ability for the inside shelf to hold pint glasses are a fun touch, they are not exactly my client’s aesthetic.  However, the general shape was interesting and with a few modifications, I thought it would be the perfect coffee table.

A quick conversation with my suggestions created this…

The video console glass has been replaced with smoked black/grey glass panes that will sandwich my client’s rotating photography prints.  The legs are slightly more angular and the area formerly for pint glasses was shrunk to accommodate remotes and magazines. We are doing a two-tone treatment with dark stained walnut on the outside and varnished unstained walnut on the inside.

I am super excited for the project and the client is chomping at the bit to get this puppy started which is always a good sign.  As a general rule, I am finding that doing custom pieces for my clients is a great option that isn’t as price prohibitive as people think.  Additionally, in some ways it is cost effective since trying to find the “perfect” piece takes man hours – hours that I charge for – so once you factor that in, your great deal may not be all that cost effective.

Okay, I need to suit up as I am crawling under a deck today to look at foundations.  Not glamourous but the “design dork” in me is quite excited.  Now let’s pray I don’t encounter snakes, rats or the angry skunk because I will scream like a school girl – just keeping it real folks!

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Loving Out Loud: CB2 Galvanized Metal Planters…..

I have received numerous emails and comments about where you can find the galvanized metal planters I used on my patio last year……

They were sale purchases from last year’s CB2 outdoor line and until recently, I couldn’t find anything similar to share with y’all.  Fortunately, CB2 saw it fit to bring them albeit in slightly different shapes…..

The square planter comes in three different sizes and are a great price.  However, this style does not come with a liner which is highly important to prevent corrosion.  The Titan planter is the closet to what I currently have and does come with a liner.  At $90, it isn’t cheap but still less expensive than some of the other alternatives on the market for a rectilinear metal planter.

Today I am planting bulbs to see if I can soften a rather barren corner of the patio.  I am not sure if it too late in the season for planting, but I figure it’s worth a shot.  So do you have any gardening goals this Summer?

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Joyus Recap: Why Did He Do That……

Hey y’all !

It’s the  final week of voting for Joyus.com’s Viewer Choice Challenge!  I thought it would be fun to recap the process and explain some of my design decisions .  To give a brief reminder of the contest, myself and 6 bloggers were given a blank “white room” in which to create a living room space.  Each blogger was given access to artwork, furniture and accessories from a variety of companies such as H.D. Buttercup and 20×200 from which to decorate the room in 4 hours.

I opted to go with the idea of color, pattern and texture for my space after spying a great rug that I thought could be the unifying item for the space.

In all truth, that rug was a god-send as it helped me quickly cull through the various furniture and accessory options.  It took me about a half hour to pull the items I wanted to use in the space.   The rug inspired my selection of the purple chairs and grey couch as well as the inlaid trays.   With selections made it became a job all about staging and accessorizing.

So to address the “elephant” in the room – the vase with the tray on it that I used as a side table.  I have read through the numerous comments  on Joyus.com and to address the concerns actually, it was pretty stable.   But in all likelihood if I was to do this in a room that was not for “show”, I would epoxy the tray to the vase for added stability.  However, I think the point I made was valid – look for items you already have in your home and recycle them.  A tray plus an old pot could just as easily become an end table …… think outside of the box so you don’t have to dig inside your wallet.

I also got some flack for my “ban the bookcase” (BTB) comment but I still stand by it.  Unless bookcases are staged correctly, they become a catchall for clutter –and clutter my friends destroys even the best designs.  By stacking the books under the chairs, not only was I giving the chairs additional visual heft, I was using space that would normally be overlooked.  I love stacking large art books beside chairs, under furniture or in little niches.  I think of them as sculpture.   Honestly I can’t say the number of times I have found people sitting on the floor flipping through a new discovery.  As for them getting dirty, I have a dog who sheds so I dust once a week and have never had an issue with damage.

However, what surprises me most is the feedback I have gotten on the gallery wall.  Evidently, the votes are evenly split – folks either love a gallery wall or hate them with the same passion as they reserve for telemarketers.  Personally, like french fries, I have yet to meet a gallery wall I did not love.  Let it be noted that we weren’t given any large-scale pieces of artwork to use, so I opted to fill the wall space ala gallery style.  It allowed me to use the variety small prints we had on hand and create a unifying theme via their frame finish.  Using the paper templates were a quick and easy way to get the pictures perfectly placed in a quick manner.

Overall, I am still happy with the room I created.  Are there things I would change about it?  Sure!  I would love to have fresh flowers and real plants.  I would love to have a large-scale art piece for above the couch.  I wish I had added another end table beside the purple chairs.  And that list could go on…..

In the end, this was an exercise in thinking on your feet, using what you have in  interesting ways and sharing some tips on how to navigate the tricky terrain of decorating for yourself.  What I can say is that I had a TON of fun and learned a lot about how to work on camera.  My biggest takeaway from all of this is my newfound respect for Ryan Seacrest.  Honestly how he smiles for the camera, remembers what to say and doesn’t sweat like he just ran a 5K is beyond me.  I bow down to his overly tanned, slightly plastic self…….

Okay peeps, I am officially solidly in 3rd place.  I harbor no notion that I may win this thing, but I just don’t want to come in last.  I will even take Mr. Congeniality (which we all know is a cop out for the person they feel least threatened by).  I just don’t want to be last, so if you can help a brotha out, I would appreciate it.  Voting closes April 23 and each time you vote, you are entered to win a $1500 shopping spree from Joyus.com.

Okay I am off to see if I can precariously place any more trays on wayward vases!

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