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10 Feb

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Pro-Tip Tuesday: How to Mix Patterns

16 Jul
Mixed patterns fashion

Few of us can pull this off: for several reasons….

Mixing pattens can be difficult.  Flip through fashion magazines and you’ll see skinny, gorgeous, stylish people walking around in stripes with paisley looking like they just stepped out of some wildly hip coffee shop that you’d be afraid to order a latte in (latte is so last week).  Ditto with the home mags, somehow the pros can throw 12 patterns together and still come up with a room that  you might actually pay someone to design.  Most of us try it ourselves and end up with, well, last week’s latte.

Pro Tip

This week’s Tip is inspired by the the stylish folks at Decorum Home. We visited Beth Beach and Christopher Beach last week and got some sage advice on how to combine patterns without embarrassing yourself.

Do: Stay in the same color family.  Leave mixing green and pink stripes with blue paisley and taupe polka-dots to the pros.  The combination below is great because while the patterns are very different, they’re all in the same color family.  My only suggestion would be to add a pop of one more color in a few places (probably a solid) just to mix things up.

How to mix patterns: Do

Geometric, floral and solid, but with similar colors. A Do!

Don’t: Use similar scale.  These two could go together if one was much bigger, but they’re too busy together as they are.

Pattern mixing Don't

These could give you a headache if used too close together.

Below is an example of pattern-matching done right; similar color palette, a mix of textures and pattern sizes, good textures.  (P.S. if you love this, it’s all available at Decorum Home!)

Do: Mixing Patterns

Pattern-mixing Do!


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Red Chair Market connects buyers and sellers of quality, unique furniture in Austin, TX and the surrounding metro area.  Keep up with us as we expand to other Texas cities soon! 

Shop now for great finds on new, used, vintage and antique furniture.


There’s No Kelly Blue Book: How to Price Used Furniture

9 Jul
Coffee beans and cup

Relevant, I swear.

Ah, the market.  And by market I don’t mean capital M Market, as in Red Chair.  I mean the whimsical market that defines the price of everything, in many cases with little regard to its useful value or original price.  Did you know, for example, that the most expensive coffee in the world is “processed” through the intestinal tract of the civet in Asia?  That’s right; you can pay a premium of up to 1000% to have your coffee pre-digested.

“OK, interesting I guess”, you may be thinking, “but why bring THAT up? Especially given that some people may read this during mealtime?”  The point is, the price of many things is pretty subjective.

How to Price Used Furniture

Pricing used furniture is tricky.  There are some tangible factors like quality of construction, materials and brand name that are fairly obvious.  But the reality is a lot of those things don’t seem to be reflected in the eventual sales price.  Much depends on the whims of fashion, which can be strange and difficult to predict. I mean,who’da thunk monkey-poop coffee would be all the rage?

I have an ulterior motive with this story.  I want you to sell your stuff on Red Chair Market.  And if it’s priced too high, nobody will buy it, and you’ll blame us.  And that makes me sad.  So I did some research to make sure everyone’s got realistic expectations and can walk (or click, I guess) away from the experience with good feelings.

So you don’t think I’m just making things up (never happens), I talked to some experts. First was Karen Schilffarth, a veteran of the furniture consignment industry and manager at Cierra in Bee Caves. Along with some very positive feedback on the Market, she confirmed my great fear: many of the used items on the site are priced too high. Yikes.

The next stop was the fine ladies at Design With Consignment.  Both Lisa and Sharrin have also been in the furniture biz long enough to know what’s what. Among many other pearls of wisdom which we’ll get in to, Lisa drew me a brilliant chart which really explained it all.  I’ve recreated it below with some embellishments that I hope she agrees with. She used the example of those venetian mirrors that were the thing several years ago, but you can imagine any “hot” style or item: chintz sofas, shag carpet, Nagels.

Furniture price lifecycle

So obviously the cycles of fashion are a biggie, but there are a few other factors to consider:

Location, location, location.  According to Lisa, blonde wood and wicker will always be somewhat fashionable in Florida.  Colonial will never look completely out of place in Boston.  And a Texas Hill Country house can probably handle a few antlers.  The reverse is also true; try selling that antler-table in Boston.

Duncan Phyfe dining table

Beautiful, and plentiful.

Supply and Demand.  Take for example, the Duncan Phyfe table. Graceful lines, gleaming wood; they remind me of my grandmother’s dining room.  Unfortunately, they remind EVERYONE of their grandmother’s dining room, because everyone’s grandmother had one.  So while they’re classic and well-made, they’re also quite abundant.  Now that I’ve brought it up, you’ll see a DP table in every antique store in Austin.

Southwestern bedroom

Whitewashed logs, pastels, feathers…the whole nine yards.

Going To Extremes. There’s southwestern and then there’s Southwestern. If your item is a very stylized version of what was hot, it’s going to eventually look more dated and will be harder to sell.

So What to Do?

This is a very long-winded way of providing some guidance to you on pricing furniture that you’re going to put on the Market.

Start by looking at the chart above.  Is the style of your piece in the peak, decline, trough or resurgence? There aren’t hard and fast numbers to the decline and rise of price, but it should give you the basic idea.

In Style

If your piece is in excellent shape, relatively in-style or very classic, a reasonable color, well-made (solid wood, quality upholstery), and especially if it’s a recognized and respected name brand; then start with 40-60% of the original price.  So if your coffee table was $1000 new, start pricing it a $400-600.

“Argh!” you say.  “It’s practically new! You’re so mean.” OK, but remember this: according to Edmund’s, even a car loses 8% of its value the minute it’s driven off the lot. And most people can get 20-30% off at a good sale.

If you just know it’s worth more, price it higher and see what happens.  If you sell it quickly and for your asking price, you can call me and tell me I’m full of monkey poop. I’ll still be thrilled because you’re happy.

Just Old

What to do if you’re in the trough?  Sadly, if something’s really in the trough and it isn’t an artisan-crafted example of the style, you won’t get much at all. I’m so sorry. That said, you could paint it, change the knobs, add some new pillows.  Or you could hold on to it; blonde oak WILL come back someday.  But you probably just want to move it along, so price it as low as you can live with and look to the future.


Colonial maple table

Gorgeous, solid wood…but a “retro” Formica table would probably go faster.

Not everything that’s 30-50 years old counts as vintage, in fact, this category is especially susceptible to the whims of fashion. So for example, the sleek, modern stuff from the ‘50s through ‘70s is on fire right now. The cherry colonial dining set is not, nor is my much-loved white French provincial bedroom furniture.

If you think your piece qualifies as vintage; poke around some stores or on eBay for ideas.  Remember, however, retail stores can and will charge a higher price because they offer services like charming salespeople, delivery, returns and credit card processing.


Finally, if you think your piece qualifies as antique (usually at least 80 years old, if not 100), you might want to have it appraised.  Mention the appraisal in your ad; take a picture if you got a written one.  Price it slightly lower than the appraisal.

Let Go with Grace

White leather tufted chair I’ll leave you with this.  Buy what you love; a quality piece that calls to you or something fun and trendy that gives you a thrill. Think of it as investing in your surroundings and general well-being, not specifically in that item.  When it’s time to move it on, let go with grace.  Your sofa or dining table has given you hours of enjoyment and utility (hopefully) and it has probably paid you back already for its price.  Take what you can get, and use that boon to donate to your favorite charity or buy an accessory for the new piece you’ve fallen in love with.

For more suggestions for selling on Red Chair Market including taking photos, writing descriptions and more, visit our tips page.

Wordy Wednesday: What is a Coffered Ceiling?

26 Jun
Coffered Ceiling in Bedroom: Redbud Custom Homes

Beautiful coffered ceiling in the bedroom: Project by Austin’s Redbud Custom Homes

There are many types of decorative ceiling treatments: coffered, tray, vaulted, beamed, and my personal favorite, popcorn-texture coated.  OK, not really.  My little cottage had popcorn texture on the ceiling when I bought it, and it was one of the absolute worst remodeling chores I did. I have very strong negative feelings towards whoever invented that stuff.

Fortunately, better ceiling treatments are in style now, and one of my favorites (really this time) is the coffered ceiling.  Basically it is a sunken panel on a ceiling, usually framed in fairly heavy beams. Right now it’s super-hot to do them in rustic or reclaimed wood, but they are often done in painted millwork in more traditional homes.

Originally, coffers were as structural as they were decorative, reducing the weight of a stone ceiling.  In fact, the earliest example of a coffered ceiling can be found from Roman times (thanks, Wikipedia). The style grew to become a symbol of craftsmanship and elegance over the years.  Unfortunately, in the last several decades we’ve largely ignored our ceilings in construction, to the point of even eschewing molding.

Adding some texture back in to a plain ceiling can be a very distinctive way to liven up your space (see some more ideas below). In addition to looking good, it can also help with noise, all those nooks and crannies can kind of sop up sounds.  Frankly, however, it seems kind of hard.  Anything involving the ceiling naturally requires a ladder and holding things over your head.  That said, I’ll probably try it in the house at some point; likely starting enthusiastically it in secret when Mr. Handsome is out of town.  Of course I won’t finish it and he’ll have to help when he gets back, he’s taller anyway. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here are a few ideas we found on the interwebs if you think you might want to try it:

How to build a faux coffered ceiling

Traditional wood coffered ceiling

Ceiling panels – this looks easiest!

From This Old House – very detailed instructions

Some more examples in different styles:

Be sure to connect with us so you don’t miss anything!

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Red Chair Market connects buyers and sellers of quality, unique furniture in Austin, TX and the surrounding metro area.  Keep up with us as we expand to other Texas cities soon! 

Shop now for great finds on new, used, vintage and antique furniture. 

Define Design: Mid-Century Modern in Austin (Part One)

11 Jun

mid-century-furniture-chartGoogle mid-century modern furniture and you’re likely to find pages and pages of results.  If you’re at all in to interior design, the trend is hard to miss, and it’s especially the rage in Austin (see another chart at the end). But Mad Men aside–is it the chicken or the egg?–we’ve wondered why MCM has had such a resurgence in the last several years. So we found some experts around town and got their thoughts.

The simplest answer came from Jean Heath, proprietress of Uptown Modern and a mid-century modern maven.  “It’s time” she said.  Meaning, styles have cycles, and mid-century modern’s time has come.  Just like Happy Days in the ’70’s and the dreadful (though thankfully brief) resurgence of stirrup pants, things just come back around.  Many of us who are in the furniture-buying stage of our lives had grandparents with ’50s and ’60s furniture, and it’s natural to feel nostalgic for that time.  Amy of Remixologie had a similar perspective, “I think people are simplifying their lives. For many its is a reminder of a less complicated lifestyle. Less is more.”

The Jetson's

The ultimate mid-century modern living room, complete with robot.

The less is more is a hallmark of the broader Modern movement, begun in the ’20s as a backlash to Victorian excess (see more history on the Modern movement in our post on the Modern Home Tour).  But as the decades progressed, it became less of a political statement and more mainstream. Over coffee with Emily Belyea of Crestview Doors (also champions of mid-century style) we postulated that the prosperity and renewed focus on home life in the ’50s allowed many people for the first time to discard the hand-me-down furniture of their parents and grandparents and start fresh.  There was also a general feeling of relief and wellbeing after the war, and this probably let to the lighter colors and lighthearted designs. Major events like the moon landing seeped in to our everyday lives as well, leading to fun, “spacey” themes, and of course, the Jetsons.

So what are the hallmarks of mid-century modern furniture design, both vintage and new?


Barcelona chair

Iconic Barcelona chair (image courtesy of MoMA).

Back to the “backlash”,the original modern designers sought to be functional in all things, escehwing doo-daddery.  So MCM furniture is usually very clean-lined and functional.  Early modern furniture could sometimes be seen as stark, but as it gained acceptance by the middle class it necessarily became a bit softer and more comfortable. Also, for some reason, low backs were very popular.   Not sure exactly why, but most pieces from the day (and their current successors) are low-slung.

Natural Materials

Teak inlaid table

Inlays were also popular.

While plastic was having quite a heyday during this time, the current interest in MCM often focuses on the gorgeous wood pieces.  In the ’50s birch and maple were especially popular, trending toward teak and walnut (with some rosewood and mahogany) in the ’60 and ’70s. The best pieces are a celebration of the natural wood grain; lightly finished with not a lot of shine or deep stain.  Fabrics were meant to be durable, synthetic or boiled wool.  Nowdays we usually celebrate the aesthetic with modern materials, and probably a bit more pattern than was common back then.


Uptown Modern teal sectional sofa

Epitome of mid century modern.

In the 50’s and 60’s, much of the original upholstery was in neutral colors; black, white or brown, for practicality’s sake.  But color was added in accessories In the ’70s things started to brighten up, leading to the orange and gold many of us may remember.  Today, these colors are often tweaked to look a bit more contemporary, turquoise is becoming a deeper teal, mint is more emerald-y and harvest gold becoming more of a mustard.

So, now you’re intrigued.  But how to go about hipping up your place without making it look like a movie set?  Stay tuned for Part Two, in which our experts give you some tips and local resources.  In the meantime, check out the Market for some MCM finds!

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Pro-Tip Tuesday: Where to Hang Your Curtains

4 Jun

Hanging curtains can be scary, and not just because of the risk of toppling off the ladder enveloped in fabric. Draperies can make a huge difference in the appearance of a room, but to get the most out of your efforts you need to hang them in the right place.

Where to hang curtains

Pro Tip

Heather Harkovich of Heather Scott Home and Design gave us some good guidelines. Apparently, many of us are kind of miserly when it comes to draperies, hanging them too close to the window, hampering the view and making your windows look small and inconsequential. To avoid this tragic mistake, follow Heather’s advice:

  • The curtain rod should be hung at least 6″ above the top of the window, preferably 12″
  • Same with the width, the rods should extend 6-12″ beyond the molding
  • Place your brackets far enough out that the curtains clear the molding

See more details and suggestions on Heather’s blog.  Now get hanging!  And don’t forget to ask someone to hold the ladder.

See more Pro Tips; and be sure to connect with us so you don’t miss anything!

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Red Chair Market connects buyers and sellers of quality, unique furniture in Austin, TX and the surrounding metro area.  Keep up with us as we expand to other Texas cities soon! 

Shop now for great finds on new, used, vintage and antique furniture.  

Wordy Wednesday: What is “Live Edge”?

29 May

Reclaimed and rustic elements are THE thing in design today.  Seems your house isn’t complete if you don’t have something rescued from an old barn in Antatolia.  But for those of us just dipping our toe in these antique waters, some of the terms may be kind of confusing.  For example, what is Live Edge?

Definition: Live Edge (or Natural Edge)

Live edge refers to a piece of wood where the edge is left unfinished, sometimes even with the bark on.  Often the wood is reclaimed, but not always.

Here’s an example from Uptown Modern in Austin.

Live edge table at Uptown Modern in Austin

Live edge table at Uptown Modern in Austin

Austin Outdoor Living Tour: Surviving the Summer in Style

28 May

Ah, summer in Texas.  The heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes (how do those dang things live through a drought anyway?).  Austinites have learned to be creative about living outdoors, with pools, waterwise landscaping and of course, the Hot Sauce Festival.  This Saturday you’ve got a chance to see some more unique ideas at the 3rd Annual Austin Outdoor Living Tour.

This year’s tour features 5 houses, all with a different take on outdoor living.  From the uber-modern design on Winflo, reminiscent–to me anyway–of Palm Springs, to a classic Brentwood cottage fitted out with a breezy screened porch, you’ll get great ideas on how to make your home an outdoor paradise no matter what the temperature.

Austin Outdoor Living Tour

Saturday, June 1st


Tickets and more information

Here are a few things I”m dying to check out for myself:

The nifty ceiling treatment above the dining area, how cool is that?


This sleek concrete gas fireplace. P.S. love those chairs too!


The interesting multi-level architecture on this one, and how it relates to the outdoor spaces.


The custom concrete pots, infused with marble dust. Is that like extra-heavy fairy dust?


And finally, I’m dying to see how Mr. Handsome and I handle  hundreds of people wandering through our garden.  Yes, dear readers, this is the home of your intrepid reporter.  Please come by and say hello, we can’t wait to meet you!

Austin Outdoor Living Tour - Alegria

Pro-Tip Tuesday: Painting Crisp Stripes on a Wall

22 May
These subtle stripes add interest without overwhelming a small space.

These subtle stripes add interest without overwhelming a small space.

Adding a stripe (or several) to a wall is a great, inexpensive way to perk things up without spending a lot of money.  You can go subtle with tone-on-tone, or go bold with contrasting colors.  It’s pretty quick too, but getting those really crisp, clean lines can be hard, and blurry edges can kind of ruin the whole effect. I suppose you could get away with it in a dining room and try to convince your guests it was the wine, but better to get them straight to start with.  So what to do?

We got a tip from Mary Pullen from Redux Home Staging and Redesign who learned the hard way after trying it on her own living room.

Pro Tip:

Tape your lines with painter’s tape, then run a very small bead of caulk along the edge.  Smooth it completely, let dry, then paint with your brush or roller moving outward from the tape.  The caulk seals the tape down to the wall, and painting away from the tape prevents you from pushing the paint under it.

Voila! Crisp, clean lines.

Here are a few more ideas for striping it up.

See more Pro Tips; and be sure to connect with us so you don’t miss anything!

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Austin Downtown Living Tour: Bye, Bye ‘Burbs

13 May
Towers on Town Lake Austin

This could be your view! Photo courtesy of Eric Moreland Properties.

The 9th Annual Austin Downtown Living Tour is this Sunday, May 19th, giving all us suburbanites (or, halfway-theres in our case) the chance to see what life could be like if we were smack in the middle of town, walking distance from the terrace at the Stephen F.  This year is even better, with free shuttles from the various locations, and champagne, drinks and nibbles at several of the stops.

Austin Downtown Living Tour Tickets and Details

This Sunday, May 19th


Towers on Town Lake Austin

The white lacquered wall moves to open up the kitchen to the rest of the living area. Photo courtesy of Eric Moreland Properties.

Your intrepid reporter had the opportunity to preview one of the VIP spaces; a super-chic penthouse at the top of the Towers at Town Lake.  This building is actually part of old-school Austin, one of the first high-rise condo buildings in the city.  The space is accessed by its own private elevator (ooh la la!).  Aside from the insane views (the image at the top is the living room), one of the things I thought was most interesting was the moveable wall of shelving that separates the kitchen from the living room. It offers great flexibility if you want to open the area up even more. The lacquered-black cabinetry in the kitchen is also really unique. See more pictures here.

Towers on Town Lake kitchen

Sleek black cabinets in the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Eric Moreland Properties.

Unlike some tours where, after wiping the drool off the floor, you have to leave the home to its actual owners, this tour features a lot of spaces you could actually live in without squatting.

The design challenges are different when creating spaces for unknown residents, and I got a chance to learn a bit from the designers who created the lobbies, interior finish-outs and model units for Park West and the Whitley.  While both of these projects had a rental or sales objective, I got a couple of interesting tidbits that any decorator can use, whether in a downtown loft or not.

Park West Austin Living Room

Serene yet urban. Photo: Jonathan Garza

Park West was designed by Tonya Noble of Noble Design, who did both the original and redesign of Kenichi. Clearly she’s got downtown chops.

This project provided an interesting opportunity to take an urban, industrial space and make sure that it’s livable and attractive to a variety of potential residents.  That required finding ways to both emphasize and soften the industrial feel. You’ll notice how she used organic elements to soften the hard edges, including a cowhide rug, a rustic wood table and live plants to give the space a liveable quality without getting cutesy.

The Whitley Austin Model

Well-thought-out lighting at The Whitley. Photo: Miguel Segura

Kathy Andrews Interiors was the designer at  The Whitley and also had the challenge of designing for a variety of prospective denizens.  The element I thought she used to particular advantage was lighting.  Notice the variety of light sources in the model, including recessed and under-counter lights in the kitchen (why wasn’t this invented sooner?, pendants and track lighting in the living/dining areas.  Because the space is designed to be flexible, she doesn’t know in advance where people will put furniture or artwork, so track lighting allows illumination wherever the resident wants it.

There’s lots more to see, so hop on the shuttle and cruise around downtown, imagining life as an urbanite.  It also happens to be Viva Streets Austin day, and several blocks of 6th Street will be closed to traffic to allow for strolling, rollerblading, biking and anything else active your heart desires.  Well, not anything, please use your judgment.

Have fun!