How to give old furniture a new look

Alegre grew up in a multicultural household with parents who represented a mix of different cultures. They were always combining different flavors and styles in everything they did – in food, in traditions, and in the way they decorated the home.

“In our house, it was totally normal for us to have tacos and chow mein in the exact same meal,” she said.

Alegre’s father had a lot of big, solid Mexican furniture pieces that would last forever and that he refused to get rid of. There was one couch in particular that spanned the length of two entire walls, and over the course of 20 years, Alegre saw it go through at least five different fabrics.

“My mom’s famous saying was, ‘If it still works, why replace it?'” she said. “The funniest thing is, it’s been decades, and now I have that same couch in my home. It’s as old as I am!”

Like the couch, other pieces of furniture made their way into Alegre’s decor when her parents downsized into a smaller home. She was in her own space, and since she was a designer, she wanted it to reflect her style, not necessarily that of her parents. She didn’t want to waste perfectly good furniture, so she had to find a way to look at old things with new eyes.

“My challenge was to take old furniture that I was familiar with and make it fit into my new setting, to make it exciting and make it my own,” she said. “For example, I’d put a chair against a brightly painted wall, or put a piece of vintage fabric over an old table. Even though I had an apartment full of my parents’ old stuff, I had designed it to really reflect me.”

The appreciation Alegre learned to have for her parents’ old things started to shift her consciousness about design in its entirety. She started thinking about how she could curb consumption while creating inspiring spaces and ultimately packaged all of her ideas in an eco-friendly boutique and design studio, Green and Greener. Alegre hopes to share her philosophy and help shift our concept of Green design.

For 6 tips to make your place more of your own without relying on all things untouched, take a look at this article Alegre did for Apartment Therapy.

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Why I Make Wedding Dresses with a Story

Anna grew up surrounded by fabrics and patterns and pins. Both of her grandmothers were seamstresses, and so was her mom. When she was little, Anna would be given the extra scraps of fabric, which she would use to make outfits for her dolls.

Anna is Armenian, and says that Armenians like to party. Oftentimes she would end up making many of the dresses she would need for all those crazy parties. She discovered she had a talent for whipping together beautiful pieces on the spot. She thought about designing other types of clothing, but for her it was all about the dress.

She says, “A beautiful dress makes a woman feel her best. When I wear a great dress, I feel very feminine, but also empowered.”

Anna discovered five ‘feel-good’ dress styles and then started making them in white to create wedding gowns.

“Within six months, I had developed five styles that were similar to dresses I had created for myself over the years. These styles were flattering and made me feel good because they hug you in the right spots and don’t hug you in the wrong spots. They’re sexy, yet tasteful. Now, when I work with a bride, we choose the style that flatters her most and go from there.”

Many brides that Anna works with bring something significant from their past to embroider into their wedding dress, whether it be their grandmother’s old pearls, their mother’s veil, or even a note they received as a child.

Anna has even taken the vintage wedding dress of a bride’s mother and used parts of it to make a whole new dress. “I think it’s so important to have a part of your past with you as you move forward, especially for something so special as your wedding.”

She says, “When creating a dress, I often combine some of my vintage materials with something significant that the bride brought in, or use organic silk and hand paint it. Whether the bride wants something simple or elaborate, my goal is to make something that is very special to her.”

Anna herself will be getting married soon, and now, she’s working on her own dress.

“For my dress, I’m combining two vintage pieces that I really love. One is a vintage kimono, and the other is an elaborate, embroidered cotton piece that’s very translucent and beautiful.”

Anna centers her designs around the idea of transformation and becoming your best. For her, she feels that clothing can help you do that.

“When we put on something that makes us feel really good, we can become that good, we can be at our best. That is something I hope to always put in the dresses that I make for myself and for others.”

If you love vintage and want a dress that truly reflects you, visit Anna’s web site for ideas or information on how to work with her.

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So I’m a “weirdo.” Who cares?!

When Jennifer got a job as a secretary, the first thing she had to do was go and buy work clothes… she hated it. Going to work was fine–it paid the bills and everybody was nice–but wearing those stuffy clothes was a real drag.

“I’ve always been a little odd, but I really fit in. I thought, ‘They think I am just so Corporate America.’ I had on grey suits and little pink tops underneath. But the secretary next to me started noticing I had this crazy array of colorful socks, the ones where all the toes are a different color or with glitter or little animals. You go to enough corporate happy hours and eventually your secret is out of the bag.”

The receptionist would go on vacation, and it would be Jennifer’s job to cover the phones. She would bring boxes of beads and cubes of resin to work. “I would be sitting there with the phone in my arm, like, “Thank you for calling. Who would you like to speak to?” with my pliers, putting together jewelry.”

“I got featured in a magazine, and within three days, I had so many orders I had to make a life decision. I could either keep my job or make my jewelry orders. I ended up saying, ‘Why am I a secretary? I might as well do something where I can be more me and express myself.’ That’s what I’ve done full time for the last four or five years.”

The way that Jenifer feels free to express her creativity is both refreshing and inspring! “I try to express how I am in my work, in the way I look, in my house. Otherwise I would feel like I wasn’t being true to myself.”

So where can you see more from Jennifer? The Naughty Secretary Club. And as her grandma said,”You got to let it out, or you’re going to get sick.” So go and be yourself!

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