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Every Piece of Furniture Has a Story: The Life of a Saarinen Womb Chair

By Tandy Hennings

The design of this iconic chair dates back to 1946, by Finnish-born architect and furniture designer, Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950). Popularly called a “womb chair,” its enveloping form is one of the most recognized representations of mid-century organic modernism. 

By applying foam molded over a fiberglass shell and upholstered in high quality wool, Saarinen created a single-piece form that perfectly facilitates a relaxed sitting posture. Saarinen commented on his design philosophy, saying “The necessity of changing one’s position is an important factor often forgotten in chair design.” The first-edition chairs were manufactured by Knoll design firm in the U.S.A. following the original specifications of the designer. 

The dimensions of this chair are as follows: 

H 35.5” W 40” D 34”

Seat H 16”

Arm H 20.5”

The Saarinen womb chair that I now own was purchased by my mother in 1960 or 1961, in consultation with her brother, who was a mid-century modern architect. When it was new, the chair was upholstered in a blue fabric. It is shown below, in the family living room in Bellevue, Washington. The couple pictured were guests at a Christmas party.

 Saarinen Womb chair on the left, upholstered in blue; Bellevue, WA

This chair remained in the living room of the family home in Bellevue, but the fabric became worn. My mother had it reupholstered in a hot pink fabric, probably during the 1990s. The original, blue fabric was left in place. However, the new layer of pink fabric was much less durable than the original. Due to the intense sunlight that entered the living room, with its full-on western exposure, the pink color quickly faded.

Eventually, the fabric itself became so worn in places that the underlying blue fabric showed through. Nevertheless, the chair remained a prominent fixture in the home. It was used as a prop for family group photos, as shown below.

2007: Saarinen Womb chair at the center of a family portrait, Bellevue, WA

Late in my mother’s life, her dog took to the chair, claiming it as her own. I expressed an interest in owning the chair eventually, stating that I would like to have it reupholstered in a beige-toned fabric. My mother was enthusiastic about the idea and offered to pay for the work herself, immediately. I demurred, saying, “Not as long as the dog has it.”

2017: Saarinen Womb chair, severely worn but still loved, Bellevue, WA

After my mother’s death in 2020, I took the chair to Queen Anne Upholstery in Bellevue. I selected a light beige colored fabric. The artisans who performed the restoration stripped down the chair to its fiberglass form, removing the pink and blue fabric and the underlying padding. They replaced the severely worn cushions. The result of their fine work is now situated in the living room of my and my husband’s home in Kirkland, Washington, as shown below.

2020: Saarinen Womb chair, Kirkland, WA
(restored by Queen Anne Upholstery – Thank you!)

To me, this chair is a precious work of art. It is also a memento of family times and of people I have loved who are now passed. My new challenge is to keep my cat off it.

[Related: Every Piece of Furniture Has a Story: A Well-Traveled 18th Century Hand-Carved Corner Cupboard]

We understand that certain pieces of furniture represent family, tradition, and treasured memories. Queen Anne Upholstery can help you maintain these stories and keep their history alive by restoring and reupholstering antique furniture. Our expert repair, restoration, and refinishing services can breathe new life into family heirlooms.

Contact us today to get started.

Luxury Yacht Interior Design Trends

If you own a yacht, you know that choosing the right interior design trend is just as important as if you were furnishing your house on land. 

In order to create the perfect home-away-from-home and design a custom yacht interior that represents your personality, you should be aware of the upcoming luxury yacht interior trends. From the importance of sustainable materials to space-expanding glass design, here are five luxury yacht interior trends to look out for.

Sustainability

Sustainability is becoming more of a priority when it comes to designing interiors, and luckily in this day and age more and more eco-friendly and environmentally safe materials are on the market than ever before. From bamboo carpeting and reclaimed wood furniture to LED-lighting, yacht owners are making moves to create a “greener” environment on their boat.

[Related: Four Interior Boat Improvements to Keep You Comfortable Onboard]

Curved and Rounded Furniture

Did you know that interiors featuring rounded or curved areas can inspire relaxation and creativity? Chairs with rounded edges and couches or sofas with long, flowing curves can play off of the hard, straight lines of your yacht, and give off a much-needed feeling of calm.

Mid-Century Modern Themes

Mid-century modern really never goes out of style. When incorporated into your yacht’s interior design, these touches can create a classic, sophisticated, yet comfortable atmosphere. The inclusion of elements such as sustainable reclaimed wood, refurbished vintage furniture, brass, and velvet and leather yacht cushions can create a timeless ambiance.

Glass

When your space is limited, utilize design tricks to help promote the feeling of wider, more open interiors. 

One upcoming yacht design trend is the use of glass. Incorporating glass into your interior design can emphasize the harmony between the inside and the sprawling sea outdoors. Transparent paneling details, floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors, and clear glass tables are two examples of this trend in yachts.

Leather

Leather not only fits in with the mid-century modern theme so popular with custom yacht interiors, but it is also a high-quality, luxurious material that adds a level of sophistication to any interior. 

From barstools to yacht cushions, leather is a great choice for furnishing your interior. Leather is also durable, fairly simple to clean, and holds up against UV-ray exposure.

If you’re looking to shake up your yacht’s existing design, or are just starting on your journey and need assistance with creating your custom yacht interior from scratch, Queen Anne Upholstery can help. We have years of experience furnishing and upholstering yachts, fishing boats, ski boats, and more. 

Queen Anne Upholstery offers a wide variety of upholstery services for custom yacht interiors, including:

  • Custom seating
  • Helm seats
  • Fabric, leather, and vinyl seats
  • Benches
  • Marine-grade vinyl boat cushions
  • Deck cushions
  • Custom window coverings
  • Custom bedding
  • Repairs

Contact us today to get an estimate and let’s get started!

Queen Anne Location Closing After More Than 80 Years

Queen Anne Upholstery & Refinishing began in 1936 with a shop at the top of Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. We proudly became a part of that community, and have maintained a location in the area ever since. In the subsequent decades, both the Queen Anne area and our company grew significantly. And while our showroom has moved several times, it’s been an integral part of the Queen Anne Upholstery & Refinishing legacy. 

Now, as we continue growing as a company, we look to the future. After over 80 years, we are closing our current showroom on Elliott Avenue. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve our customers in the area, and we thank the community for being such a large part in our success over the years. 

During this transitional period, it will still be possible to make appointments at the Elliott Avenue location. Our Seattle presence will remain after that showroom is fully closed, as we have a showroom in the Montlake area near University Village. And to promote and support ongoing growth, appointments will be available at our renovated showroom in South Park, and can be made over the phone or by email request.

We thank you for your continued support, and look forward to continuing to bring a little extra joy to your living spaces.

Every Piece of Furniture Has a Story: A Well-Traveled 18th Century Hand-Carved Corner Cupboard

When Christine came into a collection of gorgeous hand-carved furniture that had been in her family for generations, she knew she had to take special care to keep it around for many more — so she went to Queen Anne Upholstery. Here’s her story:

“My name is Christine Hansen, and I currently live in Bellevue, Washington. I moved here from London, England. About four years ago, my aunt died, and she left everything to the boys except for the furniture and all the worldly goods. The family theory has always been that the pieces were made specifically for the family, because there’s the same hand-carved design on each of the pieces. So we were thinking they were from sometime in the 1700s.

In the 20th century alone, they went to India, and when they got kicked out of India the family was sent to Kenya. When they got kicked out of Kenya they went to Tasmania, and then finally to the Isle of Man, which is between Ireland and England. So [the furniture has] been through tide and storm and who knows what else. 

I love them to bits and I had to find some place that was going to turn them back into the pieces I knew they were. These pieces are very important to me because I became an orphan when I turned 18, and I had only some family in India, and a little bit of family in England, and that was it. So I had never had a presence, I never had a home in the sense I could look at something and know it was mine, or it was part of who I was.

When my aunt died and left me this furniture, I had to take it. It wasn’t a matter of saying, “Oh well, you know we’ll just put it in a local sale,” or whatever. I had to have it because it is part of who I am. 

My favorite piece is the corner cupboard. It was always by a giant fire, so you can imagine the kind of damage the wood had gone through. Today when I came to pick it up, I had never seen the interior detail! The same kind of beautiful cutting on the outside was on the inside, and it was as smooth as silk. It was a new piece, it really felt like it was a new, living piece of wood.

Queen Anne Upholstery was my only choice, and these pieces wouldn’t have survived 300 years if people hadn’t cared for them, and I was not going to let them go. So I had to find someone — and I did, with Queen Anne. They would not let my furniture die, and it’s alive today.”

Every piece of furniture has a story. Let Queen Anne Upholstery help you tell these stories, and keep their history alive. Our expert repair, restoration, and refinishing services can help breathe new life into cherished family heirlooms, brighten the appearance of antique furniture, and keep these pieces alive for many years to come.

Contact Queen Anne Upholstery today to discuss your project with one of our in-house experts, or request an estimate today!

Disinfecting Porous Household Materials

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Regardless of your current schedule, whether you are still going into an office some of the time, or if you’ve transitioned to working remotely full-time — you are probably spending a lot more time in your home than ever before. The spread of coronavirus and the concern for keeping healthy and sanitizing our environment are at an all-time high, so knowing how to properly sanitize your furniture and keep up your defense against harmful germs is important. 

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

Although you might be cleaning around the house more than usual, the difference between cleaning and sanitizing is key to distinguish. According to the CDC, cleaning is the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from objects and surfaces, while disinfecting includes the use of chemical agents to kill germs, further lowering the risk of spreading infection.

EPA-Registered Disinfectants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a list of registered disinfectants that are qualified for use against COVID-19 through testing against similar viruses and pathogens, which you can find on their website. Look for products on the list or that have an EPA registration number on the package to ensure you’re doing the most to disinfect your household.

Regularly cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces such as your desk, kitchen table, and bathroom sink is relatively simple, but knowing how to disinfect upholstered materials isn’t as common knowledge. Here are some examples of how to properly disinfect household materials such as carpets and rugs, leather furniture, and pillows.

[Related: How to Clean and Protect Outdoor Furniture]

Carpets and Rugs

You can disinfect soft, porous surfaces such as carpets, rugs, and curtains by dusting and vacuuming the surface, and then gently cleaning with soap and water or a natural cleaning solution. After the initial cleaning, launder the items according to the care tag or manufacturer’s instructions, and finish by applying a cleaner that includes an EPA-approved disinfectant. Air dry overnight for best results.

Leather Upholstery

If you need to disinfect a leather chair or sofa, vacuum the creases and crevices and dust off the surface. Then, wipe down the leather material with a mixture of hot water and dish soap on a cloth. Although alcohol cleaning solutions that contain at least  70% alcohol are effective against the coronavirus, you want to avoid using harsh cleaning sprays that contain alcohol on your leather furniture because it can damage the topcoat. Let the leather air dry or use a blow dryer at least 12 inches away from the surface.

Pillows

To disinfect your pillows and pillowcases, remove the dust and hang them outdoors to air out. If something is washer and dryer safe according to the care tag, launder on the warmest setting safe for the fabric. Dry your pillows on the lowest dryer setting or leave outside to air out. You can also disinfect a pillow by spraying the material with a fabric cleaner that contains an EPA-registered disinfectant (such as Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist) and gently wiping it down.

Queen Anne Upholstery can answer questions when it comes to the care of your household furniture, and we can also team up to assist with your new reupholstery project if you want to upgrade your furniture to something that can be more easily disinfected (or something that is more your style). Contact us today and let’s get started!  

Interior Decor Styles We Love: Tropical

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We know that deciding on an interior design style is tricky — but Queen Anne Upholstery & Refinishing is here to help with some inspiration. Whether you’re looking for something rustic, clean and minimalist, or funky and bohemian, we’ve got you covered with pictures and information about each style.

Tropical interior decor has been steadily rising as one of the most popular interior design styles out there. With its fresh breezy palette accentuated by natural materials such as wicker and rattan, big leafy plants and bold artwork, tropical decor is a sultry, soothing, and all around fun interior style that is easily achievable.

Plants and Natural Materials

Some spaces are best left simple and polished. Adopt a minimalist style in your bathroom with clean lines and light colors, and then add natural elements such as wicker baskets or rattan bath mats and rich green, humidity-loving plants to create your own tropical spa!

Breezy Shutters

The last thing you want your tropical-decorated home to be is stuffy. Gain the fresh, breezy feeling of being outdoors and emphasize your home’s natural style by adding wooden shutters to large windows in your bedroom or living areas.

Oversized Potted Plants

The perfect accent for any tropical designed room is an oversized, leafy plant. A large potted plant can serve as a statement piece just as well as any framed art or eclectic piece of furniture. Plants not only look amazing in the home, but have also been proven to help boost your mood and improve concentration and productivity, so it’s a win for everyone! Just make sure whatever plant you choose is nontoxic to animals if you have a pet.

Bold Wallpaper

Is your particular brand of tropical style more on the bold side? Consider adding a wallpaper accent wall! Wallpaper is regaining popularity, and instead of tiny floral prints that remind you of your grandmother, you can find all sorts of flashy, stylish designs. For a tropical decor, try lush palm leaf patterns or something with a jungle motif.

Tropical Prints

Sometimes all you need are some well-placed pieces of art to boost your decor and emphasize your theme. Browse Etsy for artwork by independent artists, and choose something colorful and simple, like these leafy prints from InspoPrint, or something bold and colorful, like Bex Parkin’s jungle and animal prints.

Is tropical decor right for you? Contact Queen Anne Upholstery & Refinishing today and we can go over the details to find out how to recreate this design style in your home. Our reupholstering, refinishing, and custom-design services can help transform your current interior into the tropical decor of your dreams. Schedule an appointment to view our premade furniture ready for purchase in our showrooms, or talk with one of our custom interior decorators to start your journey toward tropical decor!

Not sure if tropical decor is your favorite look? Check out these other interior decor styles: 

Interior Decor Styles We Love: Cottage

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When decorating your first home or redecorating your favorite space for a fresh look, settling on an interior design style can be nearly impossible. Do you want the crisp, modern look of minimalism? Or should you create a gallery wall and show off your eclectic treasures for a more bohemian vibe? Whatever inspires you, Queen Anne Upholstery & Refinishing is ready to teach you more about each style and help you make the right decision for your unique home and personality.

One of our favorite interior decor choices is cottage style. If your home is a cottage style house, every room is welcoming and friendly. Cottage style decor embraces the cozy and the casual without ever looking carelessly thrown together. Textured walls such as baseboards, stone, or exposed brick and vintage-inspired furniture pieces create a nostalgic atmosphere, while every nook and cranny of the home holds some special purpose — whether that be a secret reading corner or a built-in storage spot. 

Built-in Storage and Exposed Shelves

Cottage style kitchens are all about storage. Built-in shelving underneath the dining table or on top of existing cabinets is a great way to stash extra glassware and special serving plates, while at the same time decoratively showing them off.

Textured Walls

Exposed brick, wooden baseboards, or stone walls give off a rustic, earthy atmosphere, where you can imagine you are hiding away in a cozy, comfy little cave or secret fort.

Cozy Nooks

Every window seat, small closet, attic room, or under-the-staircase space presents the opportunity for a cozy nook when you have a cottage-style home. Add cushions and decorative throws to create a special spot for reading books or having your morning cup of coffee.

Vintage-Inspired Bathrooms

Bathrooms in a cottage-style home are all about vintage-inspired appliances that give you the feeling of luxury. Big claw-foot tubs and retro hardware are just a few examples of how to turn your bathroom into a cottage spa.

A Comfortable and Inviting Atmosphere

Above all, your cottage-style home should feel warm and inviting as soon as you step inside. Comfortable couches and casual throw pillows and blankets will also let guests know that they can relax and feel at home.

Is cottage decor right for you? Contact Queen Anne Upholstery & Refinishing and we’ll be happy to help you create this look in your home with our reupholstering, refinishing, and custom-design services. You can even schedule an appointment to view our premade furniture ready for purchase in our showrooms, or talk with one of our custom interior decorators to decide on the best way to achieve your perfect cottage style home.

Not sure if cottage decor is your favorite look? Check out these other interior decor styles: 

#PlushPups in Quarantine

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If one thing’s for sure during these uncertain times, it’s that our dogs are delighted that we are spending all this time at home. More walks around the neighborhood, more treats, more playtime, and most of all, more opportunities to relax with their humans. Now more than ever, these #plushpups show that you don’t have to choose between puppy snuggles and displaying your gorgeous furniture.

Choubi the Dachshund

Choubi knows that one way to make your neutral-colored couch look stylish and inviting is to add a couple of throw pillows in fun designs as accents. 

Tip: Switching out your current throw pillows for new ones is an easy and quick way to change the look of your furniture.

Zeus the Staffordshire Terrier

Zeus has been spending a lot of time outside with his family, and one of his favorite places to sit is on top of the wicker patio furniture. Use a vacuum’s brush attachment to remove dust and dirt from the crevices, and use a sponge or a cloth rag with a mixture of dish detergent and warm water to spot clean.

Tip: Don’t sit (or allow your dog to sit) on wicker furniture that is damp because it can cause the seat to sag!

Koa the Yellow Lab

Like Zeus, Koa loves hanging out in the backyard. However — she prefers furniture with upholstered cushions for maximum comfort. 

Tip: To take care of your outdoor upholstered furniture, check the care label on your cushions to see if you can remove the case and put it in the washing machine, or use a vacuum to clean dust and dirt (and dog hair) and a gentle natural cleaning solution to wipe down and clean.

Oliver the Cavapoo

This red leather tufted sofa is the perfect spot for Oliver to nestle up and watch a movie in the living room. 

Tip: Make sure your dog has their favorite blanket or add a nice throw to keep them comfortable and protect your leather furniture from their nails.

Tiberius the Great Dane

Tiberius agrees — working from home can be a drag, especially if your living room isn’t the most inspirational environment. 

Tip: Give your new workspace a pop of color and an art-deco makeover with a bright, vintage-inspired couch.

Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, taking care of our well-used furniture and creating a stylish atmosphere through interior design can climb to the top of the to-do list. Whether you need tips on what fabrics work best for your couch-potato pup or you’re interested in reupholstering your favorite, well-loved chair, Queen Anne Upholstery is happy to help!  

Request an estimate for your upcoming project today!

How to Clean and Protect Outdoor Furniture

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During the colder months, your outdoor furniture tends to go unused, neglected, and uncleaned. Now that the weather is starting to turn and the seasons are changing, getting your patio furniture back in shape and looking great should be high on your to-do list. 

Replacing patio furniture can be costly, so knowing how to clean as well as protect these pieces from weather exposure is essential, especially if they have upholstered material elements. Here are some tips.

Furniture Cushions

If your outdoor furniture has cushions, you’ll need to check the cushions’ care instruction tags before you start cleaning them. Depending on what those instructions entail, the following considerations may apply.

Basic Outdoor Cushions

For cushions that you can’t unzip and machine-wash, but which are made of softer and more susceptible materials to dirt than vinyl, here’s what to do: 

  1. Create a solution of dishwashing detergent, warm water, and 1 tablespoon of Borax and place it in a spray bottle. 
  2. Spray down your cushions, taking care to get into any crevices, until they are saturated on both sides. Let them sit for 15 minutes. 
  3. Spray the solution off with a hose and set the cushions out in the sun to dry. 
  4. Treat them with a fabric protector before they are completely finished drying, and vacuum as needed between cleanings to remove any dust or dirt.

Vinyl Cushions

Vinyl cushions are one of the simplest materials to get clean. 

Simply mix some dishwashing liquid with warm water, dampen a microfiber cloth, and wipe down the covers. Repeat as necessary and let the cushions air dry.

Machine-Washable Cushions

Although you can place your machine-washable cushions in the washing machine, wiping down and pretreating the cushions before doing so is still a good idea:

  1. Follow the same instructions for vinyl cushions, and then remove the covers from the cushions and check your care instructions. 
  2. Use a gentle detergent and wash your cushion covers in warm water. 
  3. To dry your cushions, tumble dry on a low heat setting.

Canvas Material Seats and Backs

Most canvas is machine-washable, so if your piece of outdoor furniture has canvas that is removable, you can easily machine wash on a gentle cycle. Reattach the canvas to your chair or chaise while it is still damp to maintain the shape.

For upholstered furniture with nonremovable canvas, you’ll need a bar of laundry soap or castile soap and a scrub brush. Saturate the brush with the soap and start scrubbing the canvas. After getting out all of the stains, dirt, and other grime, rinse well with water and let the canvas air-dry.

Air-Drying Tips

When leaving your furniture out to air-dry, it is important that you stand your cushions up on their sides to allow the cushions to dry as well as possible. Blot up extra moisture with a towel and ensure that your cushions or upholstery pieces are completely dry before setting your furniture back up for use to avoid regrowth of mold or mildew.

How to Protect Your Furniture

In order to protect and maintain the cleanliness of your outdoor furniture, you’ll need to take some precautions. 

Shake Out and Vacuum 

Make a habit of regularly shaking out your cushions to get rid of dust, dirt, pine needles, and so on as well as vacuuming pillows and cushions on a weekly basis. 

Use a Fabric Protector Solution

Using a fabric protector will help protect the material on your outdoor furniture from the elements. Find a solution that includes UV protection in order to get extra defense against sun fading and bleaching.

Store Your Furniture During Off-Season

To protect your outdoor furniture during winter and make cleaning easier for next year, cover or store your furniture in a safe area during the colder months. You can also wipe down and clean your furniture’s cushions and store them indoors to avoid mold and mildew growth.

Call Us for Your Outdoor Furniture Needs!

Queen Anne Upholstery has been specializing in outdoor furniture upholstery repair and restoration since 1936. Our staff is trained and qualified with years of experience, so you can expect the highest-quality refinishing and reupholstering for your outdoor patio furniture. If your furniture needs a makeover, we can help. 

Contact Queen Anne Upholstery today to learn more about our outdoor furniture upholstery repair services!

How to Protect Your Furniture From Child-Sized Disasters

Millions of families across the globe are staying home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Kids are spending more time in the house than ever before, which means keeping things clean and organized can be a little more difficult than usual. Check out these tips to help you protect your furniture from child-sized disasters, and keep your little ones safe at the same time.

Select Stylish Throw Blankets

If you have younger children who are likely to spill or make a mess, cover your couch or chair with a stylish (and easy-to-clean) throw blanket during playtime.

Get Your Child Their Own Mini Furniture

Having a miniature, kid-sized table for art projects or snack time will not only save your dining room from potential messes — your child will also feel special having their very own space just like their mom or dad’s.

[Related: Seven Ways to Breathe New Life Into an Old Couch]

Implement Closed Shelving

As tempting as it may be to display all of your knickknacks, games, books, glassware, and other trinkets in an open display, opting for closed shelving such as drawers or baskets will discourage little hands from getting into things they shouldn’t. Using containers such as baskets will also help keep things looking neat and organized.

Go With Leather Furniture

Leather couches and chairs not only look stylish and cozy, but are also easier to clean than other materials. Wipe down your leather furniture with a cloth dampened with vinegar and natural oil or other natural cleaning solutions to get rid of sticky juice messes.

Educate Yourself on Cleaning Your Furniture

The best way to child-proof your nice furniture is to know how to efficiently clean when messes happen. Vacuum up crumbs off your rugs and in the corners of your sofa before using any liquid cleaner. For leather furniture, gently wipe down with a natural oil and vinegar solution, and read the care instructions on fabric cushions to see if you can unzip them and throw them in the wash.

If your furniture is beyond an at-home cleaning solution, or you want to breathe new life into an old chair or couch, consider getting a professional to upholster, refinish, or repair your furniture. Contact Queen Anne Upholstery to see what we can do for you!