Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Plans!

I have never been a stranger to a paint brush or a can of spray paint. I love to change the color of something to give it a fresh look. Some things in my home have been many different colors over the years and used in different rooms. I remember about 15 years ago, the Verdi-Green iron finish became popular. I learned how to achieve this finish by painting metal black and then doing a color wash with very thin aqua paint. I Verdi-Greened everything I could get my hands on. My outdoor light fixtures, patio furniture, pots on my porch, and concrete statues. Years later, the oil rubbed bronze finish replaced the verdi-green finish. Thus, I mastered the oil rubbed bronze finish on all my metal finishes. You start with either black or brown and do a color wash in the opposite. I have crackled, distressed, wormed, waxed and used silver and gold leaf. I have stripped, sanded, sprayed, brushed, glazed, and antiqued. No one ever told me I couldn’t do it. Things always didn’t turn out as I imagined, but I would keep trying to get the finish the way I wanted. Eventually, I usually achieved a successful end result. I love to repurpose a discarded item and give it a new look. This has helped me in our business at First Fruit. If we ever had an item that wasn’t selling due to the color, I painted it. If something had damage, we fixed it and painted it. If I had a customer that had a lamp, piece of furniture or anything else that needed to be a different color, I painted it. Over the years we have painted light fixtures, lamps, chairs, tables, beds, children’s furniture, baskets, candlesticks and many other items.

Several weeks ago, I found a pair of doors that we had in our inventory that had not sold. I took a look at them and decided that they were not selling because the hand painted fruit basket thing was strange looking, with odd colors and unidentifiable fruit? I had paid quite a bit for these, possibly another poor purchase like “Scary Bunny”. I decided to paint over the fruit motif with Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams. Then I decided they needed a monogram on each one. My head was swimming with possibilities. I could hang them in my master bedroom on either side of my armoire, one with my husband’s monogram and one with mine. I was so excited. I commissioned Dylan (my Graphic Designer Son-In-Law), to come up with the monogram for me. Well, actually, he took over back at the Sea Salt paint point up above. I think a customer needed me . . oh well . . . he hand painted the monogram, a brown stripe along the edge and glazed them with a wax/stain finish. They were amazing. I love them, they are one of my favorite things in my home.Every customer that saw them also loved them. People were wondering if we had any more doors that we could paint for them. I had an idea. What if he could do our painting, fulfill all my ideas that were swimming around in my head . . . . .all the ideas that were there . . . . .with no time to bring them to fruition.I was thrilled with my idea . . .I just hoped he would be just as excited. Good news . . . he was. Thus the birth of “The Painted Door”.

My son-in-law and daughter (Dylan & Kara) are no stranger to paint brushes either. Kara as an artist and Dylan as a Graphic Designer were constantly exploring ways to use their talents together. Perhaps you have been in First Fruit and seen their custom painted signs and picture frames. That adventure started in May 2009 when they made a sign for me for Mother's Day. That turned into special orders which led to an open door for Kara to stay home full time when their daughter Maggie was born in June. A year and a half later here they are, opening "The Painted Door". As they have grown their business to where it is today, they have perfected their art of painting, distressing, and antiquing furniture, as well as embellishing pieces with hand painted monograms and motifs of all kinds. Currently they are working on repainting lamps, trumeau mirrors, a restaurant bulletin board with the restaurant's logo and a kitchen Vent-A-Hood Cover. They are also painting/monogramming children tables and chairs and painting/finishing kitchen tables and chairs. So do you have brass lamps that are tired and outdated? Let them transform them for you. Have a piece of furniture you need a different color? Let the experts paint, distress and antique it. The Painted Door would love to help you achieve that custom look for your home. Below are examples of their recent work.

Happy Decorating

The Painted Door
194 Washington Street
Collierville, TN 38017
(901) 417-1864

Thursday, August 19, 2010


We have been as busy as little elves at First Fruit Collection. For those of you that have visited us in the last two weeks, you have noticed all the changes.

We replaced the yucky 9 year old carpet in the original space:

We tore out our old counter and installed new cabinetry and countertop:

We removed wallpaper (3 layers) and painted and put our logo on the back wall:

And . . . . . we did it all ourselves in one weekend! We started at the close of the day on Friday evening 5:00, and were basically complete by the open of business on Monday at 10:00. A big thank you to all of you who helped make this project possible. We couldn’t have done it without all your help.

We would love to move into a larger space and add more merchandise, but we love the Square too much to move. So we decided to go ahead with some much needed improvements to our existing space. We just love to buy and pack our store full of pretty things, but our space is limited. . . . . especially now. . . . . we just failed our Fire Inspection . . . . he didn’t think our aisles were wide enough? Imagine that! I guess he just doesn’t appreciate pretty furniture. Don’t worry, we made the mandatory changes . . . . so if the place goes up in flames . . . . we can all run for the door . . . . side by side . . . our aisles are now that wide! : )

Happy Decorating


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Contrary to popular belief, the business of interior design is not glamorous. I don't know how many times I have told people what I do only to hear them say, " Oh, how glamorous . . . . . an Interior Designer!" That comment is usually followed by "my mother, sister, neighbor, dog and
my cat have taken design courses." They always help me with my interior design. I bet other professions, like an accountant, orthodontist, lawyer, engineer, or scientist, ever get this reaction when asked the same question. Why do women think of the profession of interior design one they can dabble in? Is it because they are women and think interior design should go along with their role as a woman?

I don't think I will ever have the answers to those questions. I only know that the profession of an interior designer is a business, and a tough, multifaceted one at that. I spend most of my days getting filthy dirty. . . . . lifting heavy boxes and furniture, wondering why they forgot to ship the shades with the lamps, pondering if I should sell the pictures as a pair, digging in the trash for harps that were thrown away by mistake, running back and forth between our two warehouses, cleaning the public restrooms, pricing and inventorying all the merchandise, and everything else that goes on behind the scenes.

Don't get me wrong . . . . I love what I do. Most of the time, everything falls into place and everything goes right. But time to time, the career can be frustrating, tiring, and not very glamorous. Whatever is going on, I know it will soon pass and we have to always praise God in all circumstances. He has given me this gift and I will continue to use it to bring Him all the glory. My goal is to always give our customers the best service and product we possibly can. I enjoy every one of our customers and they are a blessing to me. You are what makes First Fruit Collection what it is and what it will be in the future. Thank you all for all the business over the last 11 years. We have big plans for the future. More about that to come. Happy Decorating,


Monday, August 9, 2010

Southern Hospitality: Brand Your Dishes

I received some sad news this weekend about a friend of mine who has been battling colon cancer. Her cancer is back, this time in her lungs or her liver, my friend wasn’t sure which, and it doesn’t sound good. She has been on my heart and I have said many prayers for her since I heard
the news. I have thought of her husband, son and daughter and again prayed for them as they face this battle with her.

I immediately wondered what I should do, Facebook her, call her on the phone, or I could take her a meal. Would she need a meal now, or possibly when the necessary treatment begins. I wondered if I should even call, what if she is not ready to talk . . . . I pondered over what to do. Well, I could always send food. That is what southerners do. We carry food.

Like most women, we brand our dishes, especially our casserole dishes. We either use masking tape, red nail polish or a permanent magic marker. Otherwise, we’d never see our dishes again! We also save old butter and cool whip tubs just in case we need to carry something to someone and we say “Keep that . . . it’s throw away.” But our good dishes are definitely branded. There are many modern day beautiful monograms that you can now purchase to brand your dishes. Somehow I think they would lose their beauty with my Sharpie “HOOD” faded on the back of my french white corning ware.

I once took a “Five Hour Stew” to a friend at church who was recovering from surgery and I never saw that square cornflower blue 3 quart casserole again. That was 15 years ago, and I still remember that I never got it back. I asked her about it the other day, and she was amazed I never got it back. She had me describe it, which I did, in detail. I was sure she would produce it, but instead, she claimed all dishes were returned to the church kitchen. So . . . there is someone at First Baptist Church who still has my dish. I would look for it at the next pot-luck if I were still a member.

At pot-luck suppers, reunions, and fellowships, we can always spot the good dishes. You know the ones that are made from scratch, not wrapped in a plastic box from the grocery store (they are always the last to go). You can always spot the good stuff, the fried chicken, cheese cake, layered salad and deviled eggs that come from the experienced chef’s kitchen. We come to know their dishes, or we watch them walk in and make a mental note of what they brought. We hope and pray there is some left when it is our turn in line . . . oh Pat Jackson’s cheesecake . . . . so good and always gone!

For women who prepare the food, it is a labor of love. We do not do it because we like to spend all our time in the kitchen, but because we want to say to a friend in good times or bad, you’re part of us, you can count on us. It is one of the simplest, purest, most unselfish forms of friendship and compassion you will ever find. As I have watched women over the generations brand their dishes, grate coconut, sprinkle breadcrumbs over many a casseroles, save a gallon milk carton to carry some sweet tea, go through miles and miles of tin foil and plastic wrap, I have reached one conclusion: If your name is on your dishes it is probably written in The Book too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


How is a consumer to know what is inside the sofa they wish to purchase? Is it eight way hand tied, sinuous spring construction, or does it have a web construction? Is the frame solid wood, kiln dried, blocked, screwed and doweled together? What are the cushions made out of, are they foam, down, spring, or a combination of these? Is it tuxedo, camel back, rolled arm, lawson arm, T-cushion, attached back, pillow back, or a chesterfield. Is the fabric a print, a solid, a woven or something else. Has the fabric been treated with Scotch Guard, Fabric Coat or something else.

Are we confused yet? Have I used terms that sound greek to you? How are you to know if the upholstery you are looking at is a quality piece? You can’t X-ray the piece to know what is inside. You must rely on the knowledge of the sales person you are dealing with. How do you know if they know all the answers? From my experience, very few sales people really know their product. You need to have some knowledge when you are going to shop for upholstery. I will try to give you some information to help you decide what is right for you.

First, let’s deal with the construction of a sofa. This deals with the frame. High quality frames are made of seasoned hardwood, kiln dried to prevent warping. The frame is joined using dowels and corner blocks that are screwed and glued together. Legs should be extensions of the frame and not attached with screws. Center legs can add additional support.

Next, let’s talk about springs. The spring systems in upholstered furniture are either hand tied coils or sinuous constructions. Eight way hand tied springs are the highest quality. These funnel-like coils are tied with twine to each of the eight adjacent coils and attached to a heavy-duty webbing underneath with steel clips. This type of construction gives even comfort and prevents “bottoming out” of the seat no matter how heavy the sitter. Sinuous springs are S-shaped, flat wavy bands of steel that are fastened to the front rail and run front to back a few inches apart. These have a firmer feel than coil springs and are often used in lower price lines. This type of construction is typically found in medium price lines of upholstery and will usually last as long as the fabric, typically 7 to 10 years.

Now, on to the cushions. The frame and the springs are the foundation for the cushions. A good frame is padded with cotton or poly-dacron so that the upholstery fabric never touches the wood. Quality seat cushions and loose back cushions consist of a combination of down and other feathers wrapped around a polyurethane foam core, or loose down or feathers for back cushions. Test the quality of a cushion by lifting it. If it feels light, it may be made of poor materials. A 2 x 2 foot cushion should never weigh less than 2 pounds.

Now that we have discussed quality of construction, we are on to style. The rest is personal preference. Some people like attached back cushions, some do not. If the back cushions are loose, you can fluff and alter their position to achieve maximum wear from the fabric. If they are attached, they do not move, therefore always staying in place. Therefore, there are arguments either way, it is merely whatever you prefer.

There is also a choice of one, two or three cushions. The one cushion fabric can get stretched resulting in a more relaxed look to the cushions. The two cushion always puts the seam in the middle, and no one ever likes to sit on a seam. But, if only two sit on the sofa, this is a good choice. And there is the three cushion . . . now we have two seams, but better placement for 3 people to sit on the sofa. And then there is the “T” cushion. It is when the two end cushions fan out where the arms stops short of the front of the sofa. Some people like this type of cushion, but I feel that it looks a little dated and also makes the arm too short for sleeping on the sofa.

Fabric on upholstered furniture is broken down into a range of price levels, called grades, of fabric choices. These grades are determined by the price of the fabric, not the quality. An important factor to consider when selecting upholstery fabric is durability. In general, tightly woven fabrics wear best. Fabrics with the pattern woven in wear better than printed fabrics. Look at the reverse side of the fabric. If it has the same colors as the face, this fabric has been woven, and this typically wears better since the color goes all the way through the fabric. If the pattern is printed on the face side, the pattern can wear off with use.

Natural fibers include cotton, linen, wool, and silk. Natural fibers are the most comfortable to the touch and can be very durable. However, they can stain easier, fade in sunlight, and wrinkle more. Wool must be moth proofed before use.

Synthetic fibers have been developed as alternatives to natural fibers and are often blended with them. Polyester is strong and easy to clean. It withstands direct sunlight and is flame and abrasion resistant. Rough in texture, it is often blended with natural fibers to soften its touch. Oleflin is used to create heavy, textured fabrics. It is a coarse and bulky fiber that is strong and stain resistant. However, it does no wear well under direct sunlight. Nylon is the strongest and most soil-resistant fiber. Recent developments in nylon give it the look and feel of wool, It, too, is
sensitive to sunlight.

Now that you know about construction, cushions and fabric, you will be an informed shopper and be able to make your purchases with confidence. Never judge the quality of an upholstered piece solely by the fabric you see on it. The frame and support system is what is underneath the fabric, and this is what really counts.

At First Fruit Collection, we carry Temple, Highland House, and C.R. Laine upholstery lines. All of these are 8 way hand tied and hardwood frame construction. There are many levels of cushion choices in each of these lines, but all are excellent quality. I hope this has given you an inside look at upholstery. We look forward to assisting you with your next upholstery purchase. Happy Decorating, Lisa