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The Art of Furniture

As furniture goes, it’s primary function is functionality, right?

Chairs are to be sat on, tables used for eating at, beds for sleeping. It’s pretty clear that much of our belongings are meant for functionality. The means of which to live a fairly comfortable existence. But when does furniture, for all it’s form and functionality, become art?

It may surprise you to know that some of the earliest embracers of furniture as art were architects. Their passion for creating inspiring buildings naturally turned to creating furnishings that would coincide with their projects, thus making sure the atmosphere as a whole would project a kind of beauty as seen through the imagination of the architects by the people.  A chair became more than a chair. It was adorned, shaped and molded with carved woods, gold filigree and beautiful fabrics. It had  varying shapes from tudor style to Louis XVI, which have all become iconic shapes we live with today. Even in the 20th Century, it was architects such as Charles Mackintosh, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, or Eames that explored the sculptural nature of what furniture could be with new materials such as glass and steel, or bent plywood. It is these architects that sparked the flame that turned merely functional items into art.



Hair on Hide lining garnet dyed fiberglass chairs from the 1950s as transformed by Carter Averbeck

A recent exhibition at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis explores the relation of furniture in conjunction with modern art to showcase the true beauty of a notion we have lost in society; that of seeing furnishings as art. Artist/ Designer Carter Averbeck of Omforme explores the limitless possibilities for elevation of form to become more than the sum of its parts. Chairs from the 1930s get a makeover worthy of avant grade appeal, mid century chairs get a bolt of color and texture to enhance their sculptural shape even more so. Averbeck says that we’ve lost the art of furniture appreciation in the mass market culture. That our fast moving culture now doesn’t even recognize innovative design says a lot about the value we place on convenience over aesthetics. It is why we purchase things that are good enough; we won’t have it long before the next purchase. Our brains aren’t attuned to the art of the detail.

Today, replicas of iconic, decades old design have become de rigueur. “I call the first part of the 21st Century the Golden Age of Replicas. It’s a recycling of old concepts, but certainly not an exploration of new design anymore” says Averbeck. Now, no one has to think about exploratory design because we’re told what to like. Manufacturers regurgitate old design = consumer dollars. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs for designers trying to break the mold into new territories as once did Eames, or Gropius.

These days it’s expensive to produce artful furnishings. The amount of time and effort needed to create new items has a price tag, one that most consumers won’t pay. While the public can appreciate such beauty from a new version of a chair per se, it is never thought of as something to live with.

Yet in Averbeck’s world, it is,..

Carter’s formula for exploring new territories in artful furnishings by innovative restyling has found a new audience. One that is tired of having the same design shoved down their throats, who yearn for new ideas and versions of home decor or interior design. Omforme has proven to be the candy for design junkies who aren’t always searching for new, but definitely something different. Averbeck doesn’t regard himself as a pioneer, or even an innovator, but as an artist keenly attuned to seeing the potential of beautiful transformations within furniture. Walking through Circa Gallery seeing both modern art and unique furnishings together, gives hope that the art of furniture will survive.

Damia Chair: 1930s restyled chair in pleather by Carter Averbeck

Artemis Chair: Antique leather, deer hide and tapestry. Restyled by Carter Averbeck



Four Myths About Dark Interiors


Scared of the dark? Don’t be. I’ve got your 4 reasons to not be right here:

Fear of the dark is a very real thing. No I’m not talking about nighttime and monsters under the bed: I’m speaking of painting your walls a dark colour. Even the thought of doing so conjures up irrational fears in others. Dark colors get a bad wrap in interior design but they don’t have to. We are going to dispel some myths about “the dark” and shed some light on why it can enhance your home’s interior.

You’ve probably already got a few concerns swirling around in your mind:

What if:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             , encloses the room?                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ,.. feels too heavy?                                                                                                                                                                                           ,…soaks up all the light from windows?


I can dispel these myths and fears right now:

Myth Buster #1: Dark colours enclose a room:

Courtesy of

Dark colours don’t always enclose a room. As a matter of fact, it may even expand a room by wiping out any borders we see such as where walls meet ceilings or floors. Dark room can give focus on things such as views from a window, acting as a virtual frame for the beauty that takes us beyond a room’s borders. The key to many a dark painted interior is Gloss paint, and that brings me to the next Myth:

Pro Tip: When painting a room in a dark tone, use a satin to semi gloss paint to help reflect the light back into the room – keeping a balance to the atmosphere even though a dark tone exists.

Myth Buster #2: Dark Colours are heavy:

If you use darker tones in your interior the correct way, they will never feel heavy as much as they will feel grounded. For some of us, it will even have a cocooning effect that can calm our senses and bring us back to center. The key to keeping a dark coloured interior from being heavy is to make it glossy. Use of a gloss paint will reflect light from any source and bounce it back into the room.


Myth #3: Dark Colours are drab:

Have you ever tried searching for that perfect little black dress but nothing was “black” enough? Or the richness of your favorite garments have started to fade with repeated washings? You’re not alone in being disappointed when there isn’t enough colour in the things we gravitate to in our wardrobes. When it comes to dark and dramatic tones, we actually do not crave the “darkness” of a colour, we crave the intensity of it. The saturation of it. There has been study after study in the fashion world that the saturation a deep navy has been found to be more desirable than a lighter, more washed out version.

Pro Tip #2: Intensity of hue can make any dark colour exciting.

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Myth #4: Dark colours are depressing

Black, gray, navy and hunter green have all been given a bad wrap; yes, dark colors do represent depression in many ways, but it’s not the fault of the colour itself. Colour is colour; you either like a certain colour or you don’t. All white rooms have been shown to make people feel just as uncomfortable as all black rooms. So if that’s the case, why blame certain tones in the spectrum as depressing? The key to making sure that a dark room isn’t depressing is to create harmony in colour. What I mean by that is creating a colour story like the image above where hues of soft earthy paprikas and red ochres create a calm, not depressing, interior. This is an example of the cocooning effect displayed to perfection. But an opposite or complimentary colour from the walls can have a lively effect like the image below – making sure that there’s no room for solemness in this interior.

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So the lesson here is: If you want to be afraid of the dark, remember, it’s only in your mind. Dark can be, and is, lovely in many an interior designed room.

Can Minimalism Be Bold?

Minimalism Living Room

For many, a minimalist approach to design is unsettling. Assumptions of cold, harsh environments proliferate the mind. As modern day consumers, we are emotionally tied to our possessions. They are what define us, our style and our self worth. The more you have, the richer you are, (so the saying goes). Minimalism is a stance against excess but it doesn’t have to mean going without. Here are a few tips we employ in our interior design practices when the client wants to pare down and explore a minimalist approach to design.

Minimalism doesn’t mean spare: When going for a minimal look within a room, replace the word “spare” with the word “curated”. The best pieces you can pick to furnish a space should have a special or artful (almost sculptural) presence to them. Not everything has to be modern in flavor, antiques and heavily adorned pieces can be used. The trick is getting the balance of impactful furnishings and space to coincide. Think of an art gallery, the focus is one the art and not extraneous stuff. The same can be done with furnishings.

Minimalism can have colour: Mention the word minimal interior to most people and the thought of a blank white room comes to mind. Yet minimalism isn’t about a lack of color but rather the judicial use of it. Keeping a simple palette of three colours can keep things in perspective and the use of color helps promote a bold statement without all the adornment.

Minimalism Library
Minimalism isn’t about losing your possessions: As is thought, one must get rid of all their possessions in order to live a simple life. This really isn’t the case. However, editing what really matters to you within a space helps focus your view. The photo above showcases two main collections that were very important to the client: Books and a vintage glass collection. Both are cohesive by being grouped together and that’s what makes this room work. A limited collection of items help keep the feeling light and not compete for attention from the viewer.

Minimalism doesn’t mean going without: Believe it or not, one can live quite comfortably in a minimalistic environment. It’s all about paring down to the basics: what you really utilize on a daily basis. Do you sit in every chair in your house? Do you use those three sets of dinnerware with regularity? Most of us are apt to repeat a familiar routine daily, using only a few items. The rest is just “stuff” we look past without a thought. Having a few things to admire and utilize is becoming more important in the new millennia than having lots of possessions that get no attention at all.

Minimalism Bedroom

Popular assumptions of minimal interior design of being cold and harsh are starting to fade into the past as people realize that one doesn’t have to sacrifice style in order to create a fully realized environment. Minimalism is more about a way of life and how to lead one in its simplest form without losing the luxury of a warm and inviting place to dwell in. Less clutter in your home is less clutter in your mind.

DIY Table A Pro Furniture Designer

I have the fortune of having a mighty river in my back yard: The Mighty Mississippi.

I often go on lovely walks there during the warmer days and enjoy the water and parks along the way. One day I was walking and noticed beautiful pieces of driftwood that had washed up on tiny patches of sandy areas along the river and I knew I could do something inspiring with those pieces so I grabbed them up, went home and put on my design cap. Here is what I came up with:


Driftwood and Iron Table

What you need: Driftwood, iron pipe plus fittings, a drill, drill bits and a table top (I used an old piece of marble I had)
IMG_7065Once you get your driftwood cleaned up and dried out you can decide how you want to place it for best aesthetics for your table. Take your iron pipe and start playing with the physical layout until you come up with a plan as to where you will bore holes in the wood where the pipe will slide through to create stable legs for the table top. Mark your areas and the direction you will be drilling in; often it will not be at a 90 degree stance as you can see from the final photo.

IMG_7076Make sure that your drill bit is exactly the same size as the pipe you are using. Not any bigger or any smaller, you want a tight fit. Here I used 1/2″ diameter iron pipe so I used a 1/2″ drill bit. Drill your hole in the marked areas for the pipe.

IMG_7066Once you’ve drilled the holes, start to insert your pipe. This isn’t going to be super easy as it is a tight fit. I used a heavy hammer to pound the pipe through the wood until I got it to where I wanted it. My table in the photo is 20″ high (with the table top on), so I needed to make sure that the pipes at the top point was at 19″ high. A part of my driftwood was higher than that, But I knew I could saw off excess wood I didn’t need to get the height required.

When I got the pipes through the wood, I added the iron caps at the base to finish off the legs and the angle fittings were screwed onto the other end to support the table top. I made sure everything was level and then simply set the marble table top onto the base. Since the pipes were tightly in place, gravity and weight keeps them from not moving or slipping and the table is sturdy enough for everyday use.

I thought about using a glass top, even that old fashioned safety glass that had the metal mesh in it for an interesting look but ended up liking the way the marble looked. You can experiment with any table top you like, since your driftwood base is organic in nature, there is no right or wrong table top material that can go with it and not look beautiful so play around with what you have and what you can find. I guarantee you’ll have a unique table to call your own.

IMG_7083 copy




Driftwood Floor Lamp

IMG_7063This was a very easy project as all I did was the same procedure as I used for the table above and I drilled a hole for the lamp rod to go through. In this configuration, all I did was unscrew the base of the lamp and push the driftwood into place and reattached the base. flip on the switch and you have a cool, seaside light to grace your home!



Making A Room w/the ACC

We are honored to be asked to participate again in the American Craft Council’s “Make Room for Craft” where we will be designing a room around three objects from artisans showing at the 2016 ACC event coming up April 8-10 at the St Paul RiverCentre.

The theme this year is based around the four directions: North, South, East and West. We got East and couldn’t be happier to have this direction. A mix of sinuous vintage and rustic ethnic pieces will be pierced by razor sharp modern design with a custom table by Carter Averbeck for Omforme, exclusive rug by Woven Arts and walls made of metallic orange tinged grasscloth made from recycled nylon.

For more information and to read up on the four designers chosen to create a room please go to Minneapolis/ St Paul Magazine’s story to ge the scoop.




Ask An Expert : Newest Feature of MHGS

Springtime is just around the corner. Time to start dreaming of replacing those last bits of Winter blues with the freshness Spring. This year at the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show, green is definitely the theme of the event. We are thrilled to participate  in this year’s Home & Garden show with a brand new feature “Ask The Expert” where four fantastic Interior Designers will answer your design dilemmas in 15 minute complimentary sessions throughout the event. There will also be a four panel discussion on the MainStage where we can answer everyone’s questions at once.

For the kickoff, I was personally thrilled that a local publication, Lavender Magazine decided to write about the exciting changes at the event, including a nice write up of our business and how it’s influencing the mindset of consumers on purchasing older-turned-new items and the quickly fading stigma behind such purchases. You can read about it here by clicking on the photo cover of the magazine below:



In addition to our presence, we will be joined by three other incredibly talented Interior Designers: Jacque Bethke, Lucy Penfield and Kelli Kaufer who will help answer all your questions from simple DIY projects to complete design inspiration ideas. For more Information of the show and tickets, please visit Minneapolis Home & Garden Show and we will see you there!



Our Obsession With Virgins

blue-small-tufted-sofa copyYes I know, the title is very subjective, enticing even, but I wanted to get your attention. I’m not really talking about “virgins” in the personal sense but rather in furnishings for the home sense.


That’s right, I want to shed light on the psychology consumerism; mainly the tendency to want “new” furniture, i.e. “viginal” products and furnishings because somehow, we think that’s better than anything old. When consumers buy new, they are excited. Feelings of being successful, on the cutting edge, fullilling desires for a well curated home with trendy items are all reasons to buy new. Old stuff in comparison has smells, stains, outdated fabric, the list of excuses can go on and on.  I get it. It’s a great feeling to buy new and I don’t blame anyone for wanting new stuff. It’s hard for me to not be enticed by those slick well crafted ads from  big box retailers, but I know a thing or two about purchasing older items that can rival your habit of buying new, i.e. “Virginal” never-been-used items. So I thought I’d share those tips with you before you go out and spend that hard earned money on something meretricious.

Meretricious: (Adj): A word meaning something that looks good on the surface but has no intrinsic quality and/or value.

Those large companies are betting on you falling for the bait.                                                 Call me when the cheap fabric wears out in a few months,……!


Recycling Isn’t Just For The Eco-Minded:
Xprod7491936_E67630052_TQ                                                                .           Did you know that furniture, just like fashion, recycles looks every couple of decades? In the furniture world, it’s usually about every 30 years. All one has to do is look at any successful big box retailer selling home furnishings nationwide to see that many of the furniture designs aren’t new. If you’re over 30, you probably grew up with some of those items showcased in fancy catalogues. They just have a new coat of color on them so to speak. But what consumers don’t know is that in fashion, how garments are made is still roughly the same. In the furniture industry, practices have changed dramatically; all in the name of mass production and profit margins that need to be met. What does that mean? It means you’re paying a higher price for a chair today that looks exactly like a chair made 30 years ago when quality standards were much higher and profit margins were less. Ok, so the chair you bought new today is gray in color and the old version is brown,….ever heard of painting the chair? Maybe new upholstery? You could save yourself some hard earned dough, keep the quality furniture and still get the trendy look of the moment.


The Age Of “Re-Issues”vintage-charles-and-ray-eames-dining-chairs_3

Have we lost our creativity? Nope, at least not in the smaller realm of artisans and craftsmen making exceptionally well made and innovative furnishings. That industry is alive and brimming with ideas but they are overshadowed by big box businesses that have large budget campaigns and rely heavily on what is now known as the “Re-Issue” of iconic furniture design. Talk about hitting the easy button, and the consumer falls for it religiously.

eames_woodenWe can thank companies like Design Within Reach for this burgeoning trend. Now everyone has an Eames chair in their house and, well, it’s not so special anymore is it? Considering your neighbors down the street have the same darn chair. Lots of retailers are getting on board with this trend, because it’s just plain easier to sway consumers on the tried sand true even if it lacks imagination. The goal is profits for these companies, not originality. Mental Injury: you’ve probably just paid twice to three times more for that new Eames chair new than finding an original version. Insult To Injury: the construction of the new one, well, it’s sub-par……..but it’s new. Virginal. No butt’s been in it except yours and that’s all that matters right? Call me when the wood joints come loose in a couple of months,..!

nanaLook To Grandma For Value

What’s the saying? “Those who haven’t lived and survived the bruises of life are void of character and possibly real beauty.” I had a grandmother who was the quintessential funny lady. Her legendary jokes and upbeat personality had people guffawing everywhere she went. She was magnetic; you were drawn in every time. By the end of a day with grandma, your sides hurt from laughing but you didn’t care, the experience of being around her was more important than anything. What most people didn’t know was that my grandmother had deep wounds and dark secrets, that in today’s age, are nothing to be ashamed of, but back in her growing up years, she was practically exiled for her mistakes. Tragedy and pain make for some of the funniest people around. She acquired dents and dings and it was those things that made her more valuable as she grew into an adult and finally into my super hilarious grandmother. I could never think of replacing her with a “new” version of grandma, just wouldn’t be the same. But we do this with our furnishings constantly – not realizing that what we are throwing away has more built in quality than what we are getting new. So I’m going to challenge your way of thinking by telling you to do this:

Replace the word “new” with “new for me”

By changing your mindset on what “new” is, and opting to purchase well made quality items despite being a little older or worn around the edges you will start to understand what quality in furniture is. Don’t let a dent or ding scare you. If it’s been around for 50+ years, it’s probably made to last and not fall apart anytime soon. By opting for the “new for me” approach, you can start to realize what you’re really purchasing are things with character. Just like my grandmother had. I don’t have my grandmother as she passed away a long time ago but I wish I did. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Buy quality, buy character, but something that’s had a good life, something with a soul,…just like you!



Awkward Photos With Bad Santa Event

Cannot wait for the shenanigans to begin at our upcoming “Awkward Photos & Brunch With Bad Santa” on December 6th from 11am – 5pm at our shop located in the uptown area of Minneapolis.


In order to get you in the right frame of mind, we though it would be great to inspire your craving for awkwardness in your own photo op by looking at these lovable-yet-awful examples of just how bad it all can be (in a good way of course). We hope to see you there and at your awkward best!

Remember, mischevieous elves will be handing out bloody marys in case you’ve a hangover from jingle belling the night before and of course you can stuff your face with donuts to amp the sugar high before your photo op.

See you there and at your

“awkward” best!

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