Some tips on pro­vid­ing home­made love to those spe­cial rooms

The Progress-Index - At Home - - ASK A DESIGNER - By Melissa Ray­worth

No mat­ter his client’s taste or bud­get, in­te­rior de­signer Brian Pa­trick Flynn fol­lows this rule: For ev­ery large, man­u­fac­tured item that he adds to a room, he also in­cludes three hand­made pieces.

They might be any­thing from “patch­work pil­lows and hand-wo­ven throw rugs to a re­pur­posed ob­ject made into a ta­ble lamp,” he says.

They could be ex­pen­sive or to­tally af­ford­able.

The key is they were made by a per­son, not a ma­chine.

“Hand­made ob­jects have be­come more and more in de­mand over the past 10 years,” says Flynn, of Flynn­side Out Pro­duc­tions. “Peo­ple seem to re­ally love the story be­hind how things are made,” and they want their homes to have the mean­ing and char­ac­ter that hand­made pieces evoke.

With flea mar­ket and craft fair sea­son in full swing, we’ve asked Flynn and two other in­te­rior de­sign­ers — Betsy Burn­ham of Los An­ge­les’ Burn­ham De­sign and Dan Faires, host of HGTV’s “Dan Made” — what kinds of hand­made items they seek, where to find them and how to use them in dec­o­rat­ing any space.

What works

It’s eas­i­est to start small, with hand­made ac­ces­sories. The items on your cof­fee ta­ble might in­clude handthrown pot­tery or hand-painted trays, side-by-side with books and other masspro­duced pieces. Hand­made can­dle hold­ers and pil­lows are also easy to find, as are lit­tle sculp­tures and other small pieces of hand­made art.

“Any ac­ces­sory col­lec­tion should in­clude or­ganic or hand­crafted items be­cause, hon­estly, who wants shelves full of man­u­fac­tured knick­knacks?” asks Burn­ham.

Go­ing a bit big­ger, pot­tery lamp bases are great ad­di­tions to any room, says Burn­ham, as are hand­made quilts and knit throws.

Flynn likes to have one or two hand­made fab­rics in ev­ery room — for in­stance, the ar­ti­sanal fab­ric of Zak and Fox, which Flynn says “look like they were made by tribes hun­dreds of years ago, but some­how they also seem mod­ern.”

Faires sug­gests cus­tom-made light­ing: “There is so much bad light­ing on the mar­ket these days, so this is an area where I like to cus­tom­ize the piece to fit the style of the space. You can get so much bang for your buck with a hand­made light fix­ture in any space.”

If you’re look­ing to add a large hand­made piece to a room, such as a ta­ble, reach out to lo­cal car­pen­ters for price quotes based on your spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Where to find it

Flea mar­kets and craft fairs are per­fect places to buy hand­made or just browse for ideas. And the In­ter­net, of course, has made find­ing hand­made items easy year-round: and Un­com­mon­ are two pop­u­lar sites, but a quick online search will likely turn up in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal crafters in your area, too.

When you find some­thing, try to dis­cover a bit about its history. Burn­ham’s clients en­joy hand­made items more “when they know the prove­nance and the story be­hind a piece,” she says. They get a fur­ther boost know­ing they’re sup­port­ing a par­tic­u­lar artist or ar­ti­san.

Hand­made pieces also can speak di­rectly to your history. Ask around for lo­cal pain­ters and pho­tog­ra­phers whose work cap­tures the re­gion where you live, then see whether their work

Hand­made pieces also can speak di­rectly to your history. Ask around for lo­cal pain­ters and pho­tog­ra­phers whose work cap­tures the re­gion where you live, then see whether their work speaks to you.

speaks to you.

“These are the items that be­come the fo­cal point and con­ver­sa­tion pieces in the room,” Faires says.

Us­ing hand­made decor

Flynn loves to place ob­jects made from stone or other ma­te­ri­als with “or­ganic im­per­fec­tions” on smooth, ma­chine-per­fect sur­faces.

“When I’ve got pris­tine book­shelves to dis­play in­ter­est­ing things,” he says,

“I love the jux­ta­po­si­tion of a fluid, biomor­phic shape with rough tex­ture against some­thing rigid and lin­ear. That cre­ates vis­ual ten­sion, some­thing de­sign­ers use to add depth.”

You can also mag­nify the ap­peal of some­thing tra­di­tional — a clas­sic fire­place man­tle, for ex­am­ple — by hang­ing a col­or­ful, whim­si­cal piece of hand­made art over it.

Or make your own par­tially hand­made piece by adding your cre­ativ­ity to a fac­tory-made piece of fur­ni­ture.

“While I’d pre­fer all seat­ing and beds in my house to be hand­made by ar­ti­sans, some­times man­u­fac­tured items are just more af­ford­able and ready right away,” Flynn says.

“To make these things a bit more per­son­al­ized, I’ll add some­thing unique to them, like hand-blocked wall­pa­per to the back of book­shelves or lo­cally crafted sconces to a wall cov­ered in 50-cent white sub­way tile from the home im­prove­ment store. It’s all about the mix.

Even lower-end man­u­fac­tured items can take on high-end style with a bit of hand­made as­sis­tance.

“I have Ikea cab­i­netry in al­most ev­ery house I’ve de­signed be­cause it’s prac­ti­cal. How­ever, I make the ready­made drawer and door fronts seem more cus­tom by in­stalling forged-iron or an­tique-brass hard­ware made by lo­cal ar­ti­sans,” Flynn says.

Ex­tra ben­e­fits

Go­ing hand­made means you can get ex­actly what you want and need.

“With the rise in pop­u­lar­ity of ar­ti­san goods, in­te­rior de­sign­ers have a much broader pal­ette,” Faires says.

You also may get higher qual­ity if you go hand­made.

“Hon­estly, most mass-pro­duced wood fur­ni­ture items are poorly man­u­fac­tured,” says Faires, who builds cus­tom fur­ni­ture for clients.

“I al­ways en­cour­age clients to think long-term.

“Pur­chas­ing solid, hand­crafted goods that are time­less is a much bet­ter in­vest­ment.”


This un­dated photo pro­vided by Burn­ham De­sign shows two sim­ple, hand­made wooden sculp­tures that add a ca­sual charm to this fire­place de­signed by Burn­ham De­sign of Los An­ge­les.


Above: In this un­dated photo pro­vided by Burn­ham De­sign, hand­made ce­ram­ics serve to per­son­al­ize this col­lec­tion of pretty and prac­ti­cal items ar­ranged on a desk­top in a home de­signed by Burn­ham De­sign of Los An­ge­les. Left: This un­dated photo pro­vided...

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