Friday, January 4, 2013

Redecorated an un-decorated house!

By: Andrea Schuch

It's me - from beyond the grave! Well, not beyond the grave... just beyond the state line. I made sure I submitted this blog post before I left in September. debi Ross (yes, with a lowercase d), a designer based out of Orland Park, IL got her start in floral design. It should come as no surprise that one of her specialties is holiday decor. She knows all the ins and outs of the holidays, including how to deal with the lack luster look of a home after the holiday decor comes down and goes back in the closet for 10 more months. Here are some tips, tricks and ideas on how she deals with these dilemmas. Enjoy!

AS: Holiday decorating can be very taxing on all of us, what services do you provide to help them? dR: Through Special Looks (a division of Inside Looks) we provide a full range of holiday decorating services to both our residential and commercial consumers. We’ll put up your tree, stairway railings, fireplace mantle decorations, plan the parties, shop for special gifts, etc. Additionally, we will decorate the outside of your home or office. The client that takes advantage of our services is usually looking for the same type of attention to their holiday decorating as they give to their daily home or office décor. Our clients know that we will address all the details of decorating and leave their home or office perfectly decorated and spotless, ready for them to step in and enjoy. Special Looks operates year-round to provide “seasonal” decorations, party planning services, flowers for special occasions and gift baskets.

AS: What is the biggest request and the most stress relieving to turn over to you for your clients during the holiday season?
dR: I think our greatest value to our clients is letting them come home and see their decorations up and ready for the holiday. Our clients are busy professionals who do not have days to put up their holiday decorations. If we bring four staff members into a home or office and spend three hours on-site that saves the client 12 hours of labor. Most of our clients don’t have that kind of time to give to any project. We come in and within a short period of time complete the job. They come home or back to work and “poof” the job is done. The client is now free to focus on the “joys” of the holidays.

AS: After all the holiday decorations come down and the normal accessories go back up, what is your number one request from clients to change?
dR: Our biggest request is to make the environment fresh and bright. Chicagoland winters are not traditionally sunny times and after you bring down all the Winter Holiday decorations these same spaces seem empty and boring. If we can offer some bright new colors and fresh touches it can minimize the dreariness of the winter days. This is also a wonderful time for making lists of goals and plans for the new year. Traditionally, at this time of year, consumers are looking for something new, some changes and we are poised to present their room through new eyes. We help with plans for color changes, upholstery, carpet or window treatment updates. Our focus is always on the “big picture”. What do the clients want for their rooms, we make the plan, then execute it as they like. After a busy holiday shopping season most clients are happy to let us do the shopping for them. All their regular spots are out of everything, sales, clearance .. .we walk in with all NEW things . . .bringing the world to them. We also emphasize how much money we can save them by bringing many options (vendors) to them. Think of the gas they can save!

AS: What is the easiest fix for after holiday decorations blues?
dR: Color. Add a bit of something bright and it makes all the difference in the world. New pillows, fun new accessories, updating picture frames, a fresh floral arrangement, potpourri and candles always work in January.

AS: Do you find that some clients will have a winter décor that they keep up after the holidays?
dR: We have lots of requests to delay take-downs. Two of our clients won’t let us back into their homes until the middle or end of January. They like to schedule some winter parties and really hate to let the Christmas season go. Most of our commercial customers are just the opposite. They want the decorations up early and taken down immediately after January 1. Evolution is our hallmark. Most clients are just anxious to see what’s next! If a clients wishes for winter decorations it’s more in the way of pine cones and winter berries and branches rather than garlands or ornaments. We also move them into Valentine’s Day or Springtime after winter . . . we like to keep finding reasons to return.

AS: What changes do you find brings the most cheer to clients post holiday take down?
dR: As we mentioned above, color and something fresh. Perk up an arrangement, change a bowl of potpourri, new candles, something that is bright and fragrant. We also use this time to talk about the “next” Christmas. No better time to talk next year than when you are taking down “this” year. We usually create a three-year turn-around on Christmas. We don’t want their decorations looking tired or faded. By phasing something in and out each year, we keep our sales in motion and guarantee that the client is always getting something new. If our clients are looking for a new tree or adding a new tree to the plan, we also offer a “lay-away” option for them. They can make regular monthly payments from February to December and easily budget in new decorations.

AS: Tell us how you got your start and how you landed in the interior design field.
dR: In October 1997, I had just built a new home in Orland Park, had been employed by Docter Florist and The Dutch Mill Interiors and Gifts for 14 years as their general manager when the owners of the store decided it had to close. I had a new mortgage and no job. Clients that had always arranged for their decorations for Christmas through the flower shop had no idea who was going to do it for them if the shop closed. This left them with no resource for their decorating needs. They assumed I would continue to do it so I did what I love to do--decorate. The staff that had worked for me at the flower shop now came on board with me in my effort to complete the decorations that we had done together for the past 14 years. We muddled through, got all the sites up and eventually down, collapsed under the shear weight of what we had accomplished and then decided that we COULD do it and just did. Thus, Special Looks was born. Now the challenge was to find a way to earn a living the other 9 months of the year. Luckily for us, when you take down holiday decorations, most clients comment that their homes and offices look a bit dreary and are in the market for something new. We stepped in, offered to make those changes and Inside Looks was born. We started by simply offering to do the simple things they looked for in January and kept the ball rolling through the remainder of the year. What started as a floral arrangement or bag of potpourri has now grown to drapes, furnishings, flooring, lamps, accessories and so much more. In March we begin our 16th year and continue to grown and expand at the pleasure of our customers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lining: Your Draperies Undergarments

By: Linda RuffJust like undergarments can make your outer garments look superb so it is that drapery lining can enhance the look of your draperies. After finally finding the perfect outfit you begin your search for the perfect undergarments and so it is with drapery as well. A bad bra can make any beautiful bodice have that “ What was she thinking look”. The same is with drapery: the right undergarments can make your outer wear look great or, well, not so great. With over 100 different drapery lining products to choose from, finding the right one may not be simple, but certainly not impossible.

Lining can not only enhance the appearance of your drapery and make them hang better but it also provides a sacrificial layer to protect your clients investment when expensive drapery fabric is used. The lining takes all of the damage that the sun can dish out. Not only should you think in terms of lining but also when choosing your fabric and treatment, consider whether or not an interlining is needed.

Interlining is the Under Armour© for your drapery. It enhances the performance of the drapery by improving its insulating value as well as improving the appearance of the drapery fabric itself by adding body and helping them to hang better. An interlining such as an English Bump Cloth will not only insulate but will give a thinner fabric a full body look, and will give your drapery the rich and elegant appearance you desire.

Does your client need to block out that racket made by a local train, a neighbor's little drummer or heavy plane traffic? Interlining not only insulates but also aides in blocking out sounds. Does it provide a sound proof room? No, but it certainly can help.

A few other things to think about when lining a window treatment is the lining color.

Color choice is often chosen to blend with the appearance of the outside of the home.

While neutral is usually the desired choice, it is not always “let’s do white”. There are a number of neutrals to choose from, instead of white, possibly ivory or even a putty color may be a better choice for the look from the outside. Sometimes we have to pin or tape those undergarments to our outer garments . To prevent your lining, especially the heavier black outs from flaring, make sure the corners are weighted and that the lining is tacked in a few places at the hem to the face fabric.

Did you know your Black out linings could be designated as a 2 pass or a 3 pass?

Passes are equal to layers, so 2 pass is 2 layers of acrylic foam and 3 pass is 3 layers of acrylic foam. Usually the bottom layer is black and the top is white or beige. With 3 layers or passes, the top and bottom are neutral while the inner layer is black. The 3 pass will provide more sound blocking and blackout qualities than the 2 pass due to the extra layer.

Your undergarments for your drapery are important to the appearance, stability and durability of your finished product. Don’t be scared or overwhelmed, but do take the time to choose your lining, finding the suitable lining for your fabric and the environment in which the drapery will be living in. If your outer fabric is Cotton than you may want to choose a cotton lining, Using a Cotton Sateen lining will add both weight and stability to your treatment, making it a good choice for swag treatments and it will help them to maintain their shape.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's your Momme, or should I say what is a Momme?

By: Wendy Khalil

The other day, I was talking with our interns on what gives value to a fabric and why some fabrics are $29.00 per yard versus $200.00 per yard. When I was getting my presentation ready I found a sample on our floor that was $1,100.00 per yard retail. As I did my research on the ranges in pricing, I found another fabric that retailed for $1,700.00 per yard. They both happened to be silks, very beautiful silks.  As I proceeded to show everyone these silks a really good question came up: What decides the price of a silk? I did some research and came up with some very valuable information. I hope it helps you to sell silks and the value of silk to your client.

Momme (pronounced moe me) is the quality determination for silk, just like thread count is to cotton or worst count is to wool. Silk is measured by weight either by grams or by momme. 28 grams equals 1 ounce, or 8 momme equals 1 ounce.
Any silk with a momme under 20 is considered light weight. Medium weight is 20-28 momme and any silk above 28 is considered heavyweight. The more weight to the silk the longer lasting it will be. The price of silk is not only determined by the weight but by the type of silk as well. There are two types of silk: cultivated and wild.  
The cultivated is going to be the more expensive of the two types. It is more glassy and translucent and it will show more of a prismatic rainbow effect. The silk filaments are anywhere from 500-1000 meters long in one cocoon. Several of these silk filaments are grouped together in unraveling of the cocoon to make one continuous silk yarn. The wild silk, on the other hand, is essentially woven with short or broken threads. This silk is found inside of the cocoon.  It is rough to the touch, has a lower luster, and wears very quickly.
The more body weight to the silk, the longer lasting it will be. When the weight of the silk goes up, the price and durability do as well. If a silk feels stiff to the touch it is because a finish has been applied. The finish gives it an artificial hand. If you wash a silk that has had a finish applied, you wash the finish away. Did I say wash a silk? Generally all silks can be washed. The heavier ones can be washed repeatedly and will still maintain their hand and original beauty.
The largest suppliers of silk are China, India and Japan respectively. These three suppliers may be the largest but the finest silk fabrics come from Italy and France. I don’t think that comes as a surprise!
This is just a small amount of information on silks. I hope you find it useful. When you present a beautiful, expensive silk to your clients - the information above should help you justify the price to your client.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fabricut remains rooted in Tulsa

By LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Published: 5/19/2012

Michael Guterman (left), chief operating officer of Fabricut, and CEO David Finer
stand in an aisle at a company fabric warehouse. They are second-generation officers
following in the footsteps of their fathers, Harry Guterman and Joe Finer, who
founded the business. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
To understand Fabricut's beginnings, you have to go back many years to when Joe Finer and Harry Guterman - two survivors of Nazi Germany - became friends during World War II.

In the early 1950s, they operated a drapery and slipcover store in Huntington, N.Y., and both had dreams of opening their own wholesale fabric operation somewhere in the Southwest. So Harry set out to explore locations and landed in Tulsa in 1954. Joe joined him five years later, and Fabricut was born. Today, the founders' sons, David Finer, the company's CEO, and Michael Guterman, its chief operating officer, continue what their fathers started, overseeing the Tulsa-based international wholesale distributor of fabrics, trimmings, decorative drapery hardware and wall coverings for the home-furnishing and hospitality industries. Here, David Finer answers some questions about the business.

How has the business changed or grown since it started? How many locations or warehouses does it have?
Obviously, the company has changed and grown significantly since its founding in the 1950s. Aside from the changes driven by technology, transportation, information processing and textile production offshore, Fabricut and its family of brands are much more a house of style and design today, rather than a commodity fabric house, which was its historical foundation. We have a Tulsa-based campus (administrative offices, customer service, operations) with three warehouses, a warehouse in Pryor, and showrooms - 11 corporate and over 60 agency partners - across the United States.

Why do you stay in Tulsa? Have you ever considered moving Fabricut to another city?
I've never seriously considered moving Fabricut to another city. In 1954, Mr. Guterman literally drove into Tulsa, immediately liked it very much and planted Fabricut's roots. We have a strong employee group here, comprised of both locals and those recruited here from outside Oklahoma, who make up the backbone of our company. Each employee is a part owner of the company, and our culture is our strength. Visitors from around the world constantly remark how nice Tulsa is and how friendly the people are. Who would want to change that? We are here to stay.

What are your future hopes for the business?
They relate back to my father and Mr. Guterman's initial dreams, just on a grander scale. Fabricut has grown to be one of the world's largest international wholesalers of fabric, trimming, decorative hardware and wall covering. I would like to see that course continued by adding additional products, brands and selling opportunities here and abroad, as we see fit. And, of course, I hope that all of our employee-owners see Fabricut as an interesting and fulfilling place to work, a place to secure their families' future.

What is it like for you personally, knowing that you’re helping carry on a business that your father helped start?
I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction in carrying on the work of our fathers. They started with nothing but strong work ethic, a belief in themselves and - both being refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe - a belief in America.

Where are Fabricut’s products sold?
We’re a wholesale to-the-trade company. Interior designers, decorators and specifiers can purchase our products through our national network of corporate showrooms and partners, sample-book programs and through each brand’s website.

How many fabrics does the company have in stock? How many orders are filled daily? We have 110,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) across six brands and between our fabrics, trimmings, decorative drapery hardware and wallcoverings. On average, we fill 1,000 orders a day.

In today’s increasingly environmentally conscious society, what does Fabricut do to be eco-friendly?
Working with our sources, Fabricut has designated products that embrace eco-friendly properties and are manufactured using environmentally stringent procedures as part of our Environment Plus initiative. We recycle our cardboard shipping boxes and office paper, and also ship fabric orders using unprinted, recyclable shipping bags.

What kind of impact did the recession have on the demand for decorative fabrics and home furnishing fabrics? How is business today?
The 2008 recession had a severe effect on the home furnishing and hospitality industries, and especially on companies like Fabricut that provide products and services for both. We primarily depend on discretionary spending; people don’t have to have what we provide. In this recession, more than any other since World War II, Americans felt timid, unsure and extremely cautious about their spending. Our industry is highly dependent on the health of the housing market and, as we know, housing has yet to really recover. Fabricut’s hospitality division is just beginning to see a pickup in business as hotels, restaurants, casinos and health care facilities are starting to put money back into their properties.

Small, but significant
Despite having a number of large employers, Tulsa actually is a small-business town. About 94 percent of employment in the metro area is at businesses with 100 or fewer employees, according to the Tulsa Metro Chamber. And many of those firms are very small: Approximately 80 percent of total employment is at businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

Fabricut Owners:
CEO David Finer, COO Michael Guterman and Fabricut employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Date established/location:
July 1954, Tulsa Address: 9303 E. 46th St. Workforce size: 300 Tulsa-based and 100 across nation Description of business: International wholesale distributor of fabrics, trimmings, decorative drapery hardware and wall coverings for the home-furnishing and hospitality industries.

Friday, March 23, 2012

An Irish Kitchen is Just What We Need!

By: Vicki Martin
A wall mounted cabinet, similar to a china cabinet.
This needs to be hung on a specially reinforced wall.
This piece is approx. 6' tall.
You may have heard that Camille and I were in Ireland last week, courtesy of HunterDouglas. What a wonderful place. So pretty, and the nicest people you could ever meet. While in Adare, we ran across an incredible kitchen cabinet store. Most Irish kitchens are small and basic, but this stuff was anything but! A young Italian/Spanish man and his family own and operate it. They had some of the coolest things we'd seen in a while so we thought we would share some photos with you. Loved the stainless steel door fronts, and the pewter counter tops. Very high end line called Marchi Cucine. See it at
You can drool along with us!

Diego Florio explains the cabinetry to Camille.
We loved this piece because it was such a cool combination of traditional and contemporary styles.

The counter top in the picture above is pewter.
The cabinets are made of oak, we thought it was interesting that oak may be making a big return - at least in Europe. 
We love the detail on this stove, which is actually a piece that is available stateside.
A page from their catalog showing the wall mount refrigerator.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

12 Tips On How To Think Clearly And Not Let Fear Control You In The Creative Design Industry In 2012

By: Andrea Schuch
Have you ever stressed out over a client meeting or had anxiety over an install? How did you handle it? Please share your stories below!

We have an interesting relationship with fear.  Many people enjoy scary movies and books, such as Psycho and The Shining.  The occasional (or not so occasional) visit to the amusement parks for thrilling rollercoaster rides also seems to keep the adrenaline flowing.  We look forward to Halloween where we can dress up as rather frightening characters.  That's when our relationship with fear is exciting, even fun. This isn't too surprising, since these types of situations give us a fair amount of control over fear.  Yet, what do we do with situations where our relationship with fear isn't fun or a thrill?  In fact, there are probably times where everyone has felt that fear is out of control, and that is downright terrifying in the Creative Design Industry.

Watch Out for Those Monsters!
Most can remember times when as a child, we were greatly concerned over going to bed due to 'The Monsters' under the bed.  Or as one of my friends insist… those monsters were on the ceiling!  Pretty scary stuff back then, but what about now?  How does fear show up in our lives and do we handle it as well as we would like to?  Dealing with fear isn't really fun, and many people would like to avoid or deny it.  Harry Emerson Fosdick once said, "Whatever else you can run away from, you can't run away from yourself."  Fear is much like our shadow - no matter how hard we run, it's going to dog us. 

The 12 Tips
Fear or stress can feel overwhelming at times.  So, how can we manage it better?  The following are some ideas to getting a handle on fear, so you can think clearly:

w        Get a reality check on fear.  Fear can become bigger and bigger in our minds until it takes on unrealistic proportions.  Discuss your anxiety or concerns with others to discover what is real and what isn't.  An example would be the individual who fears failure in everything he or she wants to do, where in reality that individual has always been successful.  That person needs to change his/her perspective.

w        Break the mesmerism of fear.  It is very easy to obsess over fear.  Breaking the pattern, taking a break, finding a distraction, getting support, etc. can help.  This isn't to say that we should ignore our anxieties, but obsessing over them won't help us to resolve them any faster or to enjoy life more. 

w        Anxiety can help us to grow.  George Herbert once said, "Storms make oaks take deeper root."  It can be very uncomfortable and even terrifying to face our fears, but at the same time, we can develop a more stable foundation in ourselves.  Usually, as we develop a pattern of facing and overcoming scary situations, we become stronger and surer in ourselves.

w        Find a balance between working on your own issues and helping others.  As Lewis Carroll stated, "One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others."  Finding ways to help others, by volunteering and such, can help put our own fears into perspective.  Additionally, use your own experiences with fear to help others to deal with their anxiety.  It is an interesting phenomenon in life that when we assist others, we in turn grow and help ourselves at the same time.

w        Develop a support network.  It is much easier to face fear and difficulties with the help of others.  Find someone who can gently, but firmly help you to handle the anxiety and not to enable your fears.

w        Pick your battles carefully.  Don't try to resolve everything at once.  If possible, work on one fear at a time and use small steps to making change.  For example, when I have worked on my shyness, I have chosen where to push myself and where to back off.  When I attend parties, I develop guidelines for what small step to work on and what is ok, like allowing myself a period of time to adjust to the situation. 

w        There is a time and a place for everything.  In a world where many people believe problems must be fixed ASAP, I have a different theory about fear and change.  I believe that when pain or distress around a problem increases to a level that is higher and more intense than our fear, then we make the change.  Everyone has a certain pacing and to push too hard and fast can end in failure and frustration.

w        Don't give up and let it take over.  The old saying to get back on the horse, after it has bucked you off, is so true.  Plus, the longer we wait to get back on that old horsy, the harder it will be.

w        Find your anchor.  What is your true purpose in life?  What is your top priority?  Find something solid to trust in, something to lean upon.  I once read, "Not until tomorrow do we sometimes see clearly enough to appreciate the gifts of today."  I try not to live for tomorrow, so each day I strive to appreciate that I can get up and enjoy the sun shining, listen to the birds chirping and see the trees waving in the wind.  When the waves of fear or stress start to rise, it is important to have something to anchor your ship to.

w        Watch out for addictive behavior.  Many people use substances (like alcohol, drugs or food), events (like sex or shopping) and even people to numb out fear. If you find this to be true for you, seek out help.

w        Use resources to manage the anxiety.  There are many good avenues to controlling fear - mediation, yoga, exercise, support groups, counseling, writing, art, self-help books, etc.  The Internet is also quite helpful in gathering new ideas and information.  For those suffering from chronic anxiety or panic attacks, the Anxiety Panic Internet Resource ( has some helpful tips.

w        Seek out help.  When anxiety is out of control or you constantly get stuck when trying to resolve an issue, get help from mentors, a business coach, counselors, friends, clergy, etc.  If fear is an obstacle that prevents you from doing things you want or need to do, then you probably need assistance.

Making the Growth Choice
As Stewart Emory once said, “The absence of fear is not an option that is available to most people.  People are looking for that, but that is just not an option.  The difference between people who are really making it in the world and the people who are not is simple: The people who are making it in the world are making it and they have fear.”  He then continues, "To go forward we need to make the growth choice.  The fear choice is to retreat to comfort and avoid the fear.  The growth choice is to take fear as a companion and move ahead.  To have a life that is a joyful adventure, we need to be willing to take the risk.  Courage is the willingness to be afraid and act anyway."  We can’t eliminate fear, but we can find ways to manage it so we can move forward on to achieve our goals and dreams.

Discussion Points & Final Thoughts
According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC ( and co-author of Cracking the Personality Code ( hiring the right people is key to future growth.  If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to get a link to an article on this subject:

As we move into 2012, hiring the right team member can reduce the fear of missing goals, help to improve interpersonal communication, create opportunities and bring fun back into the work place.  It is helpful to remember that we all need assistance when it comes to dealing with fear.  So please feel free to share this article with team members, staff and friends.  It also makes for a great discussion for your next meeting.  Please click here for some discussion points:

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article.  © 2012   

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:  
Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  To order the book, “Cracking the Personality Code” please go to
By Ellen Borowka, MA, Lighthouse Consulting Services

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Items in the Showroom in January

By: Andrea Schuch
Can you even believe that it is already February? It seems like just yesterday it was Christmas, maybe because it doesn't really seem like winter with these warmer temps and lack of snow. Whatever the case, this year is flying by already. January seems like it was a great time for fresh starts for people as we had several new designers in the showroom as well as many new accessories.

This tea light holder to the left is decorative but also practical.

To the right is a faux leopard box that just showed up at our back door last week. Great piece because it has the feel of an animal print without the actual print.

Thumprints is a new lamp line that we picked up that has some very cool transitional lamps and hanging fixtures. The quality is very nice and if there are ever any problems, the lamp designer is on site - I talked to her about this lamp last week!
Lastly, is this great piece of artwork. We have two that coordinate and are quite large. Would definitely make a statement where ever it was needed!