A Designer Guide to Buying Upholstery

Upholstery is the most hard working furniture in the home, providing enduring comfort and establishing the personality of the room through its stylings and fabric. No one wants to regret this choice either on delivery day because the fabric doesn't compliment the room or a couple of years down the line because the sofa hasn't held up to wear and tear. 

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Our Market Insights

On our trip to the High Point furniture show this year, the MakeNest team focused on education and research, visiting our favorite sustainable makers in between a number of seminars covering everything from the lifecycle of trends to the latest perspectives on color theory.  We rounded out our trip with a visit to the venerable Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library, where the history and craft of furniture and design is reverenced with near monkish devotion.  Here we highlight a few of the big takeaways from our journey and discovery.


Mass Customization

There are a number of lifestyles for which mass customization in home furnishings can help solve problems and create opportunities.  For the millennial setting up their first apartment and the baby boomer down-sizing from a larger home, modular furnishings can make hard-to-furnish spaces into peaceful oases of organization.  In commercial applications, modular units make office planning flexible and efficient.  

Upon meeting a new resource this market, we are now in the beginning stages of collaborating with an Ohio-based maker who can create modular collections that MakeNest will design in-house, based on our aesthetic style and what we know is appealing to our clients.  The technology that our maker has developed makes optimal use of each sustainably-harvested unit of hardwood, all but eliminating waste and driving down costs to make custom an option for a greater number of clients.

Deco Renaissance

The fabulous Jenna Hall, a legend in international furniture design circles, places Art Deco style on the trend forecast.  Just before the advent of what we generally identify as mid-century design, there was an entirely unique period inspired by advances in furniture production. Mechanized technologies for adhering veneer led to supple waterfall fronts on dressers and sideboards.  Exotic and contrasting hues of wood veneers defined the proportions of doors and drawer fronts.  Then-new developments in plastics allowed designers to produce drawer pull styles that had never existed before.

As with all appropriations of an established aesthetic, the new trend will be interpretive and not a carbon copy.   As a designer, I can imagine how the satin glow of Art Deco finishes would offer a welcome contrast to the cerused woods of recent years - and how those same cerused finishes would compliment the fluid curve of Art Deco's waterfall fronts.  Thinking of the options opened up by 3-D printing, I see designers customizing hardware in ways that will bridge the divide between mass production and the consumer's desire for bespoke details.   

New Colors

At the Pratt & Lambert presentation, four highly-conceptual palettes - each based on a distinctive perspective - revealed dozens of new colors that will play a role in design in the coming seasons.  We studied a palette called Enigma, which embraces the power of deep and muted tones to convey mystery and even melancholy romanticism.  Through a collection named Intrinsic, we explored the use of saturated hues with strong dark neutrals to capture the immediacy and vivacity of nature.  In eight peaceful hues that take their cues from clay and minerals, the Purpose palette studies the use of gentle tones to produce a contemplative space for revery and self-exploration.  Driven by a point of view that celebrates innovation and altered realities, Pratt and Lambert's Convergence palette is a poem of pleasing demi-saturation and complimentary colors.

From my own perspective, and judging by the textiles that have been most inspiring to me recently, I feel that design is veering away from isolated pop colors and into complex blends of hues that exchange energy while creating more layered environments.  Pattern-makers are creating modernized florals and geometrics that provide a variety of tones all in one field.  From a design era that has embraced white space with a singular energy color, we will see a return to the vibrant multiple hues one finds in traditional printed goods.  This shift plays to the idea of environment as expressive and dimensional rather than austerely curated and Instagram-ready.


A new era in design is emerging, one in which the styles of the past are remastered, color looms large and diverse, and technology is bent to offer more options to a greater number of niche markets.  We're excited to be debuting designs we're developing with the many makers that contribute to our Nestology collection.  More inspirations are coming soon from MakeNest, so keep in touch to follow our design journey. - PM

Why Brick and Mortar Matters

Visit our studio to have a conversation with our sales experts, choose from our fabric and wood samples, and feel the superior construction of pieces made by artisans across the United States. Find your heirloom here - buy local, support artisans, go green.

Our passion for quality and sustainable living really comes to life in our studio as we listen to the wants and needs of our patrons and guide them to the products that best suit them. We take a hands on and empathetic approach to sales - something that can't be executed online. 

find-your-heirloom-local-artisan-green-furniture

While competitors both online and regionally want to sell you something right now, here we want to help you select the right thing for a life time. That means we do the research and legwork to present only the best. Direct relationships with makers ensure quality. American artisans guarantee a small carbon footprint and sustainable resourcing. MakeNest staff promises an exceptional fit for the functionality and aesthetic of your home. 

What is gained in this model is an element of longevity for the consumer that is more valuable than the 'fast fashion' options available en masse through cold online retailers. Here in the sanctuary behind the bricks, construction and style are upheld in products that last a lifetime.  

The Crawford collection is offered in chair, loveseat, and sofa frames.  See more of this collection>

The Crawford collection is offered in chair, loveseat, and sofa frames. See more of this collection>

The Axis collection dining table.  See more of this collection>

The Axis collection dining table. See more of this collection>

Five Designer Favorites Vol.1

Hello, Nesters!

There has been a lot to inspire me this year - from finding new innovative makers to rediscovering classics that had fallen off my radar.  Not too long ago I would have been steeped in roughened woods with a grayish wash.  Today we have rediscovered the quiet elegance of walnut and cherry woods. After many long seasons of linens that pretended to be burlap, we see the uprising of lux velvets and graphic prints.  Even rusty finishes are ceding the way for a tsunami of molten gold faucets and fixtures.  Design is always changing, always expressive of something about the moment.  Perhaps our economy picking up has whetted appetites for things that lean toward the refined.  Here are just a few of my current delights.   

Sap Cherry Wood

I find the lighter sapwood from the outer portions of the cherry tree so engaging.  When selected artfully, the result is a striking hi-low pattern that adds immeasurably to the impact of understated furniture like our Heartland Table. For many years Queen Anne-inspired furniture cloaked the warm and deep grain of cherry in dark stains that essentially masked the wood's characteristic cathedrals.  Makers now are drawing influences from Arts and Crafts and especially from Mid-Century design, so the grain is left visible by the use of light clear finishes.  This is the way sap cherry is meant to be dressed.

Photo: MakeNest

Photo: MakeNest

Graphic Pillows

Our collection of pillows from Arnge embody everything there is to love about mid-century design.  The bold retro graphics make me want to binge watch The Dick Van Dyke Show for hours, while the kaleidoscope of colors are a study in harmony with just a skosh of friction.  Having been schooled in the finer points of sewing, I was pleased to see that the patterns match from front to back so that the design moves fluidly around the pillow.  Each one is made to order in the USA without the use of sweatshop labor, which is another reason to tip our hats to this maker.

Wool & Silk Carpets

When I was apprenticing in design back at the turn of the last century, my mentor was a dealer in fine hand-made carpets.  Helping to show her selections to her clients was an education. Peeling back dozens of beautiful carpets was good exercise, but it was also like peering into the pages of a journal from an ancient people.  Combining forms from nature and architecture, the patterns and colors - as well as the art of weaving itself - are part of a cherished tradition.  While wool is still the most common material in a hand-knotted carpets, the addition of silk adds highlights that outline the design and glimmer magically.  

Vinyl Rugs

I discovered the designs of Spicher & Co. a couple of years ago and am still finding new uses for these fabulous designs.  Not surprisingly, these graphics are created by artist designers and not fabricated from a short list of popular motifs.  Drawing inspiration from vintage linoleum rugs that were popular well into the first half of the 20th century, there is something about these rugs that feels simultaneously fresh and nostalgic.  I like using them because they add a strong graphic to a room and because they can exist in spaces where sometimes other rugs aren't ideal.  And these are printed in house in Pennsylvania, so we feel like they come to us from just over the mountain, as they say.

Deco Influences

When I first spotted this chair at market, I knew I wanted to put a whimsical and magical fabric on the frame.  With its graceful arms and deeply scooped back profile, I was reminded of chairs from my favorite 1930s black and white films.  This piece would have existed in a screwball comedy - in the country house of the haughty old aunt who wears a lorgnette, winds up getting a little tipsy on dandelion wine, and eventually comes around to like the mustachioed anti-hero her wide-eyed niece wants to marry.  Her house would have gilded things but also ruffles. For me those Hollywood sets are an escape into unabashed style.  So we outfitted this chair in a colorful Asian toile, trimmed her skirt in velvet, and the rest is history.

Thanks for indulging me on a journey through some of the things that have been in my look book and on my mind this season.

Cheers!

PM