Austin shops em­brace bold look of vin­tage fabrics

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & STYLE - By Kristi Kingston Amer­i­can-States­man Staff

In fashion, much is get­ting re­made these days. Driven by the econ­omy and the eco-push to re­use and re­cy­cle, ar­ti­sans and de­sign­ers are craft­ing niches out of re­fash­ioned vin­tage scraps. In home de­sign, it’s less so. For one, there is just not enough of it to go around, and if there is, it’s not of the right qual­ity.

Frankly, there’s so much work in­volved in ac­tu­ally find­ing vin­tage ma­te­rial for in­te­ri­ors, that most peo­ple sim­ply don’t even try. That’s also what makes it so spe­cial. In a time of mass-pro­duced, vin­tage feels fresh. Two Austin-owned busi­nesses have carved out a slice of their work us­ing vin­tage fab­ric.

Spruce Up­hol­stery

Nes­tled along La­mar Boule­vard in the High­land neigh­bor­hood, Spruce is one in a clus­ter of mom-and-pop spots. It’s a clean space, with con­crete floors and the fur­nish­ings for sale clus­tered in con­ver­sa­tional group­ings. Bright col­ors and whim­si­cal pat­terns dom­i­nate — from a Dun­can Phyfe sofa in just-shy-of mid­night blue vel­vet to a chan­nel-back chair out­fit­ted in a vin­tage silk flo­ral print that was once a drap­ery. There is a fem­i­nine, slightly kitschy vibe, with can­dles scat­tered on ta­bles and aprons hang­ing for sale.

It’s still more ser­vice than re­tail space, with cus­tom up­hol­stery mak­ing up the bulk of its busi­ness.

The store sells fab­ric and its re­tail cre­ations (ev­ery­thing from lamp shades to tufted head­boards), teaches up­hol­stery work­shops (dur­ing non-sum­mer months) and does its cus­tom work. It also has a vir­tual store on

Fab­ric takes cen­ter stage with bolts in the mid­dle of the room, and then in sam­ple books hang­ing along a wall. A small por­tion of that fab­ric is vin­tage, but not for lack of de­sire.

“We would love to do ev­ery­thing in vin­tage fab­ric, but it’s re­ally hard to find that much quan­tity,” says owner Amanda Brown, who gets most of Spruce’s vin­tage fab­ric from eBay. For that rea­son, she in­cor­po­rates vin­tage fabrics for mostly smaller up­hol­stery pieces — benches, chairs, lamp­shades or pil­lows.

She ex­plains the al­lure of cus­tom up­hol­stery and vin­tage is in its rar­ity: Not ev­ery­one has it.

“In Austin es­pe­cially, peo­ple want an in­di­vid­u­al­ized style.”

The al­lure of vin­tage also has its roots in the re­turn of color and big prints.

“We’ve just kind of come out of this beige era,” said Lizzie Nguyen, a mem­ber of the up­hol­stery team. “Peo­ple are be­ing more risky with the col­ors they’re choos­ing.”

Vin­tage makes for a good spring or sum­mer look, be­cause “a lot of the vin­tage fabrics are bright and have a lot of veg­e­ta­tion,” says Brown, who con­cedes that with such short win­ters here, it works all year.

For those seek­ing some­thing less overtly fem­i­nine, geo­met­ric prints are an­other op­tion. The best choices for vin­tage fabrics are cot­tons and printed linens, says Brown, who ad­vises folks to stay clear of polyester be­cause of its give.

For re­tail work, Brown says, Spruch might wait on fin­ish- ing a piece of fur­ni­ture un­til the store finds just the right fab­ric.

“What we try to do is pair fab­ric with pieces that go to­gether, but are not that typ­i­cal. We wait for the fab­ric to come along that just clicks,”she says.

Cush Cush De­sign

Known largely for her work with drap­ery, Stephanie Moore is the woman be­hind Cush Cush De­sign, which sprung from her re­tail fab­ric store Cush Cush Fabrics and Fur­nish­ings, which closed in 2004. She now runs her busi­ness out of her home, a stone’s throw from the French Lega­tion Mu­seum, and takes on projects both large and small — from one-off pieces — to whole-house and com­mer­cial busi­ness projects in­volv­ing win­dow treat­ments, wall fabrics, pil­lows and bedding.

One room off the en­try of her home serves as workspace, with a large cut­ting ta­ble dom­i­nat­ing the room and bolts of brightly col­ored fabrics mounted on walls. Still more bolts and sam­ples are tucked into cor­ners. A large wall hang­ing made from a vin­tage cot­ton print with over­sized flow­ers in pur­ple, pink, orange, yel­low and greens com­petes as a fo­cal point.

Moore is pas­sion­ate about fab­ric, vin­tage es­pe­cially, be­cause of the hand­i­work and la­bor in­volved.

“The fin­ish­ing, lovely touch of the room is fab­ric,” she in­sists.

She points to one par­tic­u­lar bolt, a white cot­ton print with over­sized green flow­ers and flour­ishes of orange and gold, where she can feel the ink printed on top of the fab­ric. She picks out places where the pat­tern was out of reg­is­ter. Rather than see­ing these as flaws, she says they add to the fab­ric’s charm.

The bulk of the vin­tage fab­ric she has now was found by a friend in the back room of a fab­ric shop in Mon­ter­rey, Nuevó León. Moore bought up as much of the fab­ric as she could.

She at­tributes a cer­tain amount of her fond­ness for vin­tage fabrics to the in­flu­ence of the 1970s, the era of her youth.

“I think it’s sort of nostal­gic. You see it, and you’re sort of pulled to it. Now, you don’t see as much color in fab­ric.”

Moore says that about 10 per­cent of her work is with vin­tage fabrics and that cus­tomers seek her be­cause they know she has vin­tage fabrics and sells them. She now has just shy of 30 pat­terns that she es­ti­mates are from the ’60s and ’70s. The ma­jor­ity are largescale flo­rals or damasks; some are Gre­cian pat­terns.

Be­cause of the color and use of over­sized pat­terns, Moore says, vin­tage fab­ric is some­times bet­ter suited to ac­cent pieces. But she also sees an over­size print as a per­fect op­tion for a win­dow treat­ment, es­pe­cially in a smaller room, where it be­comes a state­ment piece.

“A ro­man shade is re­ally great for a large bold pat­tern, be­cause it can sim­u­late art on a wall,” she says. “I can build a whole room off the fab­ric.”

A vin­tage silk rose print cov­ers a chan­nel-back chair at Spruce Up­hol­stery.

Thao nguyen amer­icanstatesman

Stephanie Moore’s vin­tage fabrics in­clude bold prints like these.

larry Kolvo­ord amer­i­can-states­man

Thao Nguyen

At Spruce Up­hol­stery, a Dun­can Phyfe sofa has been re­cov­ered in lus­cious blue vel­vet fab­ric. The shop has fur­ni­ture as well as fabrics for sale.

Amanda Brown

Stephanie Moore

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