Sunday, August 29, 2010

Refusing to Accept "Discontinued With No Stock Available:" Custom Embroidery to the Rescue!

I posted a few weeks ago about my client's house fire and showed you some photos of the destroyed home office and game room.  All of the upholstery and textiles (including my custom drapery designs) on the main level of the home were destroyed as well, including these embroidered silk Kingston swag valances in the master bathroom.  If you're on my mailing list, you'll probably recognize this room from one of my postcards:

This master bath ended up being one of my client's favorite rooms in her whole home.  This is what it looked like when I first saw the room in the summer of 2008:

Stark white painted cabinets, partially marble-tiled walls that blended into the builder-blah pinkish neutral paint color on the rest of the walls, and builder-grade light fixtures in a much more traditional style than what my client had in mind. 

My client had already purchased plantation shutters from someone else before she brought me in, and was auditioning various rug options in front of the tub area.

The client wanted something contemporary, something with an Asian feel, but very restful and not so contemporary that her traditionally-styled mahogany furniture in the master bedroom would look out of place.  The first thing we changed was the lighting, choosing a dramatic Asian-inspired lantern pendant and coordinating sconces from Fine Art Lamps' Singapore Moderne collection.  The window treatments came next.  I didn't want to drill into the marble tile on the wall above both windows, so I knew I wanted decorative ceiling hooks for these swag treatments.  When I couldn't find stock ceiling hooks with the right look for this project, I designed these geometric wrought iron ceiling hooks to coordinate with the light fixtures and had them custom-made for this client.

And then there was this fabulous embroidered silk fabric from Pindler & Pindler.  The little chocolate brown square embroidered medallions were the perfect complement to the client's silk oriental rug.  We trimmed the swags with this square veltet bead trim from Kravet and papered the non-marble portions of the walls with a chocolate brown grasscloth wallcovering.  The cabinetry was repainted and warmed up with a brown glaze as well.

The textured brown and gold damask wallpaper in the water closet was just a fun little hidden surprise that repeated some of what was going on in the master bedroom. 

So, fast forward to today.  The grasscloth wallcovering needs to be stripped and replaced, and the window treatments were most likely tossed into a dumpster because they were so badly damaged by smoke and soot.  It's sad, but at least with good insurance coverage everything can easily be replaced, right? 

WRONG!!  The embroidered silk fabric has been discontinued from the mill in our colorway, it was exclusive to Pindler & Pindler so I can't source it anywhere else, and there is no stock available.  I begged P&P to custom order another bolt for us from the mill, but the answer was no.  I was told that this fabric was still available in Hot Pinkish Red colorway (no!), Sickly Mint Green colorway (no!), or Weirdly Orange-Yellow Gold colorway (no!).  I searched the designer showrooms for hours, with the assistance of the showroom staff, and we could not find any acceptable substitute for this fabric.

Then, between sobs of desperation, for some reason I thought of my poor, neglected embroidery machine, waiting patiently for me in my studio beneath a dust cover while work and family life pull me in opposite directions.  I started looking critically at the sample of unobtainable fabric in my hand.  The embroidery motif was a simple satin stitched design, very similar to a traditional monogram motif.  The stitch density was pretty light.  It was a single-color design, about 3 1/2" square; I could digitize the motif myself with my Artista embroidery software, and stitch it out in the medium-sized embroidery hoop, marking the motif placement carefully, repositioning the hoop, stitching the motif out about 350 times...  Yes, for a short, crazed moment, I considered attempting to personally embroider evenly-spaced medallion motifs on 16 continuous yards of silk dupioni...  Then I came to my senses.  Princess Petunia's pettiskirt is still exactly as I left it the last time I blogged about it.  Yes, I could probably digitize the motif with my software, but I'm not exactly a professional digitizer, and the thought of rolling out all that fabric, marking it, embroidering it, and re-rolling it without any catastrophes is a bit overwhelming.  Or so the local commercial monogrammer told me when I asked whether she might like to tackle this job.  "You want me to do WHAT?" she stammered, backing away with a look of fear in her eyes...

However, I found a couple of terrific resources, and I am going to have this fabric recreated on plain silk taffeta by a custom embroiderer.  Richards Jarden of Embroidery Arts is custom-digitizing the embroidery motif in a commercial embroidery format for me, working from a scrap of the original fabric.  Then Kadire Biberaj of European Designs is going to custom-embroider the silk yardage in her workroom in Virginia before sending it off to my drapery workroom for construction of the window treatments.  Kadire specializes in custom embroidery for interior designers, and her monogrammed linens are in the current White House.  She once recreated 80 yards of a discontinued embroidered silk fabric for celebrity designer Barry Dixon, who proclaimed that Kadire's version of the fabric was of even higher quality than the original. 

I must admit, I love a challenge, and I enjoyed seeking out and finding these talented individuals.  I also get a certain satisfaction from fighting back against discontinued status instead of crawling away in defeat.  But the best part of all of this is knowing that my client, who has been through so much, and lost so many mementos, photos, irreplaceable antiques and artworks, will at least get to enjoy her beautiful bathroom again, with every detail exactly as it was before. 


Anonymous said...

This is hands down one of my favorite treatments of all time! The sum of all the parts is what makes it too. I'm very excited to hear about the embroidery from Kadire. How did you find her?

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Tammi. I spent the better part of a day doing internet research (that's where that history degree comes in handy -- the answers are always out there if you know where to look for them!) and found several companies advertising custom embroidery services for interior designers. I found several articles from a variety of sources praising the quality and professionalism of Ms. Biberaj's work, and ultimately selected her company based on the work posted in her gallery and the caliber of the designers who were so strongly recommending her.

Anonymous said...

I am in the process of doing a similar treatment as I do not want to puncture the venetian plaster next to the fireplce. Also these are 2 high ranch small windows as there is no molding around these windows... This is a great idea. You should design more of these as there are not alot of fine ceiling hooks out there! Audrey

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