April 17, 2013
by Melanie Coddington

Girly Modern Guide to Kitchens: Part One

If you have ever spent weeks planning, prepping and cleaning your entire house for a party, only to have everyone pile into the kitchen for the whole night, you already know the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s the landing pad for families to come together, break bread and share stories. It’s where friends pour glasses of merlot, pull up a chair and get down with the latest gossip. And it’s ground zero for amateur chefs to embrace their passion with culinary masterpieces or – in my case – disasters.  Whether it’s the warm ovens, the sauteing garlic, or the quiet morning moments with a strong cup of coffee, there’s a magnetic pull to connect in the confines of the kitchen.  So when it comes to designing kitchens, it’s vital to have a good understanding of yourself and your family’s needs so you can create a beautiful and functional dream kitchen.


Kitchen by Coddington Design

Developing a plan for your dream kitchen can be daunting.  You want it be beautiful but you also need it to be streamlined and reality friendly.  Let’s face it, most of us are not going to clean, pack up, and store the toaster every morning.  To get the real deal on what would work best for your home, we’ve come up with a Girly Modern self-inventory survey to help create the clearest vision of your dream kitchen:

o How often do you cook?

o Is the kitchen a culinary haven or a place to microwave some grub and go?

o What appliances/features are must-haves? 2 dishwashers? A command center? Built in espresso machine?

o Do people gather in the kitchen often?

o Should we factor in seating at the island or counters?

o How does your kitchen play into your daily routine?

o Do you entertain formally? Should the kitchen be closed off to other rooms?

o Do you have small children? Should the appliances be out of reach of small, curious fingers?

o Is there a memorable kitchen that you just can’t get out of your head?

These questions will lead us to a solid understanding of what role this space will play in your life and how to integrate it with the larger design theme of your home.  Once we get a blueprint of ideas formulated, we can start getting detail specific. Since every kitchen tells a personal story, here are a few examples of customized ingredients used to make a dream kitchen come true.  We hope it lends a little inspiration!


Breakfast room by Coddington Design

Let’s keep it real about what you do in your kitchen.  If watching the news while you eat breakfast is part of your daily practice, let’s find a way to incorporate a tv into the design. Or maybe wine is your passion? Wine storage can be very easy and inexpensive with simple wine slots. This Coddington Design kitchen has a built in storage unit in the connecting breakfast room that integrates seamlessly into the overall design.


Kitchen by Steven Gambrel

If an open, airy feel is on your kitchen wishlist, look to the shelving for a solution. Removing cabinets and liberating their contents can really change the room’s landscape.  In this kitchen by designer Steven Gambrel, the open shelving gives a softer and more flexible feel to the kitchen and can be a perfect design move for smaller, cramped kitchens.  A word of warning though, open shelving requires pretty plates and an organized personality. If you lean toward the clutter-y side, you will want to keep those cabinets in place!


Breakfast room and custom fixture by Coddington Design

Lighting makes a room and the kitchen is no exception.  Kitchen lighting needs to be not only design minded but functional. With all the innovative new light fixtures out there, it is getting easier to find something special to add that extra “spark”. For those times when the perfect fixture can’t be found, I have them custom made, like the one in the breakfast room above that I designed for a client.


image from found on Pinterest

In part two of our series on creating your dream kitchen, we’ll tackle the golden rule of kitchen design – the work triangle! We’ll also show some beautiful examples of working with kitchen-friendly color and finishes.  Stay tuned!

Sagrada Família

March 19, 2013
by Melanie Coddington
1 Comment

Sagrada Família: Girly Modern Goes to…Church

Breaking up winter’s post-holiday dreariness with a trip to a design infused locale has become a seasonal ritual for me.  This year my partner and I snuck away for 9 days to Barcelona.  Two really important things happened to me during this trip: One, I broke up with United Airlines’ miles program and to quote Taylor Swift, we are never, never, ever, getting back together! Two, a dead architect brought me to tears.

Since this was my first trip to Spain, my senses were simply blown by a culture rich in beauty, detail, and inspiration.  We were lucky to be able to stay in my friend’s apartment in the Gracia, a neighborhood with a distinct Catalonian feel.  We indulged in a handful of touristy outings with our digital cameras snapping away, lounged over unbelievably delicious dinners, and even took a cooking class in an attempt to keep the epicurean dream alive upon our return to San Francisco.

Park Gruell by Gaudí

Park Gruell by Gaudí

I made this!

I made this!

After a particularly late night of Egyptian pizza (don’t ask) and too much Spanish wine, we overslept and had to cut out a sight or two from our last day. We raced from the Picasso Museum to the Sagrada Família where we were seriously bummed to see a line formed around the block. We begrudgingly took up our post at the back of the line at 2:59pm and at 3pm security guards stood directly behind us to officially close down the line. It seemed excessive until we saw how many people tried to sneak in behind us.

Sometimes procrastinating can pay off because once we entered the church we were rewarded with an almost eerie quiet and empty view. The moment I stepped into the Sagrada Família I cried, which I’m pretty sure I haven’t done since the final episode of Gossip Girl aired. I was immediately swept up in a palpable moment of serene beautiful and sudden peace.  It just took my breath away.

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

A little history on the extraordinariness of the church of Sagrada Família:  It began in 1882 with architect Antoni Gaudí at the helm.  It became the centerpiece of his career and he continued to work on it until his death in 1926.  After having devoted 43 years to the project and it was only 20% complete, Gaudí replied “My client is not in a hurry.”  The Sagrada Família remains a work in progress with Gaudí’s concepts intact as various architects continue to build his vision.

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Gaudí was a deeply religious man who found his inspiration in nature. Using the shapes and geometry of the natural world, he created an interior that is amazingly otherworldly.  The patterns of honeycombs, seashells, and cypress cones can be seen throughout the church.  Even the large support columns, themselves a feat of engineering, were created as an enveloped forest with a dense canopy above.  For me, the Sagrada Família did the impossible.  It evoked that jaw dropping awe and unnameable connection I have only experienced in nature.

We took a zillion photos so here are a few of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy them!

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Casa Milla by Gaudí

Casa Milla by Gaudí


that’s me never wanting to leave Barcelona




February 11, 2013
by Melanie Coddington

The Girly Modern Guide to Headboards

If sleep were a person, we’d all most likely be in couples counseling.  We are either not getting enough, the stuff we’re getting is embarrassingly shoddy, or we have to schedule date nights with our REM sleep.  I love sleeping, lounging under duvet covers, and slow moving mornings without alarm clocks.  While my busy design life tends to keep me from pressing snooze, it does keep me close to creating beautiful bedroom designs with one of my favorite decor pieces:  headboards.

Headboards are those things you didn’t have in your 20s but finally saw the light in your 30s.  They are the cornerstone of beds and sometimes the entire room.  If you’re new to the world of headboards, don’t be afraid.  For the novice, keep it simple.  A single color or simple striped pattern on a clean, linear design is your best bet.  Here’s a great example of a two-toned striped headboard in a straightforward rectangular design.

1Photo: Designed by Kerrisdale Design Inc.

Single toned headboards can also anchor a room that has a more complex design pattern.  This solid heather grey headboard for my client’s master bedroom adds a clean, modern grounding effect to a room with multiple colors and textures.

2Photo: David Livingston

For the more headboard savvy amongst us, it’s time to get down with some patterns! Patterned headboards have the power to compliment the overall design theme of your bedroom whether it’s calm, sophisticated, or girly modern.  Patterns also open up an entire new realm of creativity.  Colors, textures, and shapes are all up for grabs with patterned designs.  To avoid a frenetic palette, pair a subtle color with a more active, detailed headboard shape. Such as this single striped, rustic red pattern on an intricately designed, cutout headboard. Have fun with the shape but consult a professional if you are going this curvy!

Photo:Nursery Notions

Or the flip-side, pair a more detailed design with a gentle sloping shape.


Photo: David Livingston


Photo: Source

I love to use fabric in my Girly Modern designs but on a recent project for the Napa Showcase, I couldn’t decide between upholstered or wood for the headboard.  I went with the best of both worlds with this custom design of pale blue upholstery on a dark wood frame.

6Photo: David Livingston

If clocking in at the sleep factory means a bedroom filled with soft lines and muted tones, we think this Barbary Barry designed bed is inspirational.

7Photo: Source

It’s never too early to start teaching the next generation about the beauty of headboards. Here is a great example of a headboard I designed for a young client with black-accented cutouts for a custom look.

8Photo: David Livingston

And this is where I lay my head every night.  This simple, white headboard was designed to resemble a Chanel handbag. It’s a favorite spot for my shi tzu, Parker, who enjoys hiding under the custom designed bed skirt. Notice the layer of cream silk organza – super practical with two small dogs – not!

9Photo: Joe Fletcher


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November 7, 2012
by Melanie Coddington
1 Comment

Girly Modern Goes to Wine Country: Part II

If there’s one thing I love in this life more than decorating, it’s wine!  I was ecstatic when I received an invitation to design the guest suite at the Cardinale Winery for the first-ever Napa Valley Showhouse.  Cardinale is one of my favorite stops in wine country,  their cabernet sauvignon is delicious.  I mean, really, so so good.  Anyway, as you can tell by that professional and descriptive review, this is clearly not a wine blog.  Back to decorating…

Traditional Home invited me and 10 other talented designers to their inaugural Napa Valley showhouse event.  My mission was to design a room in Cardinale’s on-site guest house which includes a large living and dining area, kitchen/family room, a master bedroom, downstairs cocktail lounge and tons of outdoor space.  In my last post, I shared my design process and the inspirations I used to transform the master bedroom with attached bathroom and balcony.  And now for the finished product! The Traditional Home issue won’t hit the stands until next spring so here’s a sneak peek of my designs and the details.

I was immediately drawn to the view from the guesthouse.  A picturesque landscape of California realness, I knew this balcony, attached to the bedroom, had to be a welcoming and functional aspect to the design.  I used Lane Venture lounge chairs and side tables with Sunbrella yellow zebra fabric to keep the space inviting and unencumbered.

In the bedroom, I wanted to portray a girly modern elegance complete with luxurious fabrics.   The Icarus wing pendants by Tord Boontje in the corner added a sense of airy lightness to connect with the balcony view. Throughout the bedroom, I had specific ideas of the design and feel I wanted to convey so I created a lot of custom looks for this room. The following are custom designs by Coddington Design:

  • Wing chair upholstered in Lee Jofa fabric
  • Settee designed in silk mohair generously donated by Christopher Hyland
  • Glam and fun puzzle coffee table

The bedside table is actually a vintage writing desk from Empiric with an ebony finish and cream lacquer “boots” on the legs.  We custom-designed the platform bed and headboard with light button tufting and wood outer framing to complement the existing hardwood throughout the room.  The headboard’s fabric is by Romo and the tiffany-blue lamp is from Coddington Design.

The custom bed linens were sewn by Madina Aryeh including the pillowcase shams in bird fabric by LuluDK.  The double sided blanket is by Pindler and Pindler and the solid throw pillow is by Malabar.

I created the vintage feel in the attached bathroom with aqua and coral toned wallpaper by Thaibaut.  The asymmetrical gold mirror is by Monument and the Randolf gold leaf 2-arm sconce from Coddington Design completes the feeling of relaxed rustic charm.

The bathroom’s custom Roman Shade was handcrafted by Madina Aryeh of San Francisco.

It’s the official Coddington Design company belief that people who don’t like unicorns are against magic so we parked these stone beauties, on loan from Monument, as the design gatekeepers to keep this beautiful oasis full of good vibes.

It takes a village to design three rooms in six weeks!  Thanks to Madina Aryeh for making the gorgeous drapes, bedding, and bathroom shade, James Bacchi and Annette Shutz  from Arthaus, Seth Pariser from Christopher Hyland, Lisa Chadwick from Dolby Chadwick Gallery,  Paul Rattay and David Livingston for the beautiful photos.  The team at Coddington Design loved working on this project and we hope you enjoy it, too!

The showhouse is on view until the November 11th but If you can’t make it to Napa Valley in time, be sure to take a virtual stroll with this video tour.


November 2, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Girly Modern Goes to Wine Country: Part I

When my phone rang with an offer to design a room at a Napa winery, I thought I was dreaming.  In August 2012, I got the call from one of my favorite magazines, Traditional Home, to design a showroom in one of my favorite places, Napa Valley.  I was invited to participate in the first Napa Valley Showhouse which involved a guest house on a working vineyard.  It took me about a second before I sealed the deal with a resounding “hells yeah!”

Showhouses are a double-edged sword.  The upside is that they are a creative free-fall, a completely blank canvas awaiting all the ideas that fill my sketchbooks.  I’m free of client responsibilities to incorporate grammy’s stuffy sofa or the heirloom collection of hand-knitted doilies into the design.  I could do anything!  Complete and total design liberation!  And that’s when the hammer drops.  I. could. do. anything.  Since I had been dreaming of designing at a vineyard for years, the ideas were fast and furious.  I took comfort in the wisdom of Donatella Versace, “Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.”  If that’s the case, my creativity was overflowing.

The only design direction imposed was simply “Napa Style”.  I knew I wanted to avoid the obvious and obscene such as grape leaf wallpaper border.  But I also wanted to steer clear of the a few of the current trends like furniture that appears to have fallen out of an airplane and rustic over-scaled pieces that looked as if they have just been pulled out of the world’s largest barn.  After a brief creative freak out that involved a kitchen table full of magazine tear-outs and speed-clicking through Pinterest,  I remembered I should stick to what I do best – girly modern. With some self-imposed boundaries in place, here’s the path we took:

Balcony Color Board


Bedroom Color Board

Living in the hustle of San Francisco, Napa Valley is my escape hatch into the natural world.  I knew I wanted nature to be a prominent theme in my design.  My sweetly supportive and enthusiastic assistant, Adrienne, quickly got on-board and found us the beautiful lambswool bench.  I discovered these stone unicorns and amazing wing pendants.  The foundation of the room’s design was built around this gorgeous bird fabric by LuluDK.  In a full circle side note, I realized last night that this is the same fabric used in Blair Waldorf’s new atelier.  If you don’t know who Blair is, read about my obsession here.

Bird fabric by LuluDK

Blair Waldorf’s new atelier (source:

I will reveal the finished design in the next post,  In the meantime, get a glimpse in this short video tour of the Napa Valley Design Showhouse.  If you’re in Northern California, check out the design in person before November 11th and be sure to sneak in some time to enjoy a few of the best wines in the world.  I recommend Cardinale, Robert Sinskey, and Kathryn Hall wineries.

September 5, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Girly Modern Goes Rustic

Last week, we laid out our design process and shared a few photos of the raw space for the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room (ADC).  This week I’ll take you on a tour through the finished penthouse.  I had such a blast working with the fun folks at Anchor and loved using the reclaimed redwood we literally pulled off their roof deck.  While using my Girly Modern style as a touchstone, I was able to incorporate a rustic, regional theme reflected through custom furniture, a signature bar, and a customer-friendly design flow. During this project, I scribbled in my sketchpad “industrial elegance.”  Let’s take a look!

Our custom rope knot pendant lights built by Dogfork Lamp Arts.

These industrial bar stools in metal and wood add a sense of casual refinement.

This custom designed bar was built by Todd Lookinland from reclaimed redwood and treated with a custom gray wash to enhance the natural texture. We had a few sets of narrow stairs to contend with, so he brought the bar in pieces and assembled it on site.

These display shelves were also custom crafted by Todd with reclaimed redwood and I added rope detailing to highlight the room’s subtle nautical theme.

The gray and yellow fabric for the throw pillows adds my signature pop of pattern to the room.

This distressed coffee table adds a bold element of shape and form to the room.  As a bonus, it can take a lot of drinks being spilled on it.

We had the classic chesterfield sofa made for the room.  I love how the vibrant yellow microfiber makes it feel modern.

For tips on how to re-create this design for your own home, check out our list of materials and sources in last week’s post.  If you would like more info on our commercial and restaurant design services, drop us an email at:  Inquires about winery design especially welcome!

Photo Credit: © Paul Rattay  |

Anchor - Colorboard

August 29, 2012
by Melanie Coddington
1 Comment

Designing the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room

There is a certain style that just defines San Francisco. Conjuring up ideas of crisp white masts on a Bay-side schooner or the quality, antique craftsmanship of a Victorian restoration, Anchor Distilling Company is at the heart of San Francisco style.  I was honored to interpret these distinctive inspirations when I was asked to design the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room.

One of the many reasons I was excited to work with the Anchor Distilling Company (ADC) is because they are all about the details.  Their focus is on very small batches of handcrafted artisanal spirits.  Aligning with my design practices, ADC works to create beautifully unique and richly nuanced products.  It was a perfect match.

Here are a few photos of the space before we began our design.

My goal was to design a tasting room to host exclusive events and spirit tastings for key ADC clients.  The space needed to reflect the intimacy and individualism of their distilling practices while never losing sight of Anchor’s deep California roots.  In the beginning, the vision was a small lounge but as the design gained momentum the project grew into a sophisticated speak-easy penthouse with a fully functioning built-in bar complete with sink, dishwasher, fridge and t.v. display.

Let’s take a look at a few of the major design pieces we used in this project.

A)  I chose these industrial bar stools by Wisteria for their simple elegance.

B)  This is the reclaimed redwood with custom gray wash that I used for the custom bar, display cabinet, and custom display shelf.  These were designed by Coddington Design and built by Marin-based carpenter Todd Lookinland of Lookinland Custom Building, LLC.

C)  We custom designed this chesterfield sofa and had it upholstered in a citrus yellow mirco-suede with widely spaced button tufting for a modern twist.  If you want one for yourself, check out this similar sofa from Neiman Marcus.

D)  I spotted this rustic coffee table from Anthropologie and loved the distressed metal legs and wood planked top.  It provides the room with a strong sculptural element.

E)  This is the custom display shelf used for premium limited edition and vintage bottles.  We had this built using the reclaimed redwood with custom gray wash and rope detailing. You can find a similar shelf here from Restoration Hardware.

F)  I incorporated my signature pop of pattern in this design with this gray chevron rug by Stark Carpet.  Here is a similar rug.

G)  We designed these custom pendant lights in rope knot patterns to hint at a nautical influence and had them built by Dogfork Lamp Arts.

H)  This industrial side table was perfect for the space and it was once available through Urban Outfitters. Here’s a close match that is available.

I)  This is the fabric for the throw pillows, the pattern is Savoy and the color is Mimosa!  They are made by Clark and Clark.

My color palette for this project was yellow and gray to compliment the industrial finishes and connect with the vibe of an exclusive speak-easy.  The wall color (J) is Benjamin Moore #1475 and the cabinet color (K) is Benjamin Moore Graphite #1603.

Every project has a budget.  In order to get the most out of the financial  parameters for this project, I used a few creative work-arounds to stay in the black.  Since Anchor has been in San Francisco since the Gold Rush years, using redwood was essential.  I was able to re-use the existing redwood lumber from torn-up decking.  I also mixed one-of-a-kind pieces such as the custom bar and lighting with off-the-rack retail items like the coffee table and bar stools.  Keeping the existing tile floor was a major budget saver.  Best of all, I accepted some of my design fees in booze!  (hiccup)

This project was a great opportunity to incorporate more masculine design elements into my signature Girly Modern style.  If you ever get the chance to sip a vintage port inside this penthouse tasting room, I hope it feels like a wonderfully classic San Francisco moment.

Stay tuned for our next post to see the finished design of the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room!


July 20, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

The Girly Modern Guide to Outdoor Rooms

I am crazy about summer!  This is absolutely my favorite season.  It’s that time of the year when a pair of slingback heels, a pitcher of mojitos, and a garden-picked salad are all you need for the perfect day.  My love for summer is rooted in my early years in the heart of the chilly redwoods of Northern California. Emerging from those misty, grey skies has made me appreciate everything warm and sunny.

Life al fresco never loses it’s appeal for me so I thought it was time to celebrate the beauty of outdoor spaces Girly Modern style.  With that summer feeling of lightness and liberation, I’ve vowed to leave my make-up, jewelry, and cell phone behind as I head into the wilds of Yosemite for an upcoming off-the-grid weekend. This trip is filling me with inspiration so let’s start with outdoor country spaces.

Outdoor spaces are often synonymous with simplicity.  Simple doesn’t have to mean drab or lacking in detail.  These two dining areas from Lonny Magazine are a great example of outdoor space that reflect the summer philosophies of inviting and casual while remaining creative and stylish.  While both looks focus on white as the central color, the detailing with accessories and the influence of the surrounding natural environment are just as essential to the overall design.

Outdoor bathrooms are not for amateurs but they are beautiful! They often appear as a mirage, delicately weaving into the landscape.  Outdoor tubs and showers are best when they are bare in design and function with ease.  We’re not looking for convenience or practicality.  With outdoor bathrooms, the goal is to capture the experience of summer.

Lemonade may be the only thing more summer than a porch swing.  Ella Boo gets Girly Modern with a swinging porch bed!  She even gives you the DIY lowdown if you want to add this to your list of summer projects.

A screened-in porch offers many options.  This is a great daybed perfect for summertime guests or a lazy afternoon snooze.

In my perfect future life, I’ll float effortlessly between my city apartment and my house in the country.  But even if you stay put in the city, you can still have a great outdoor space.  I definitely feel the need to dress up for these glam urban spaces.

These rooftop garden dining rooms are the perfect mixture of urban modernism with vintage elegance.  The simple furniture doesn’t compete with the power of the natural world.  This is also a subtle reminder that even fresh flowers and potted greens can bring in the power of the outdoors.

If you’re rolling your eyes thinking it’s all about linen and gauzy, pale fabrics, it doesn’t have to be.  You can get as bold as you want with outdoor spaces.  Just look at the color on this rooftop space and how this darker shade of carpeting creates a strong foundation for bright accent colors.

Here’s another vibrantly decorated outdoor space. At first glance you may not notice this room is facing an open oasis. Check out the view of bamboo trees in the mirror.  As a more sophisticated outdoor living room, this is the perfect spot for after dinner cocktails.

Summer never lasts forever so get busy creating your perfect summer outdoor space before the days get shorter and the skies get colder.


June 15, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Room Service E-Design Dining Room

Even though summer is the perfect time to play hooky, forward all calls to voicemail, and keep the blender whizzing with slushy patio cocktails, we’ve been logging in some serious hours to revamp Room Service by Melanie Coddington.  Room Service is our e-design service.  It allows you to do it yourself while having the detailed guidance of a professional designer at your fingertips.  With Room Service, you can design one room at a time, on your schedule, and within your budget while collaborating with the Coddington Design team.

One of the first e-design projects we worked on was a small dining room for a young family. They have generously allowed me to share their design with my Girly Modern readers.

There were a few challenges with this project.  The primary issue was that the space was small yet it needed to accommodate a family of four and also allow for entertaining guests.  The dining room also didn’t offer any storage so we needed to include space for stashing a few essentials while working within the client’s vision to create a light and airy feel.

Our first step was to recommend a light color palette with bright accents to keep the space open and inviting.  We created a swatch of possible color combinations and our client decided on their favorite.  Because the room has a large window overlooking a well manicured yard, the light gray wall color will compliment the view instead of competing with it.

Once the color scheme was in place, we focused on choosing furniture that would fit the client’s style and also moonlight as a place to store all the accoutrements of a dining room without any of the clutter.  We opted for a console with clean lines and plenty of counter space.  This was a twofold solution as it allows our client to store fine china, silverware, and table cloths out of sight while also acting as a buffet space when entertaining.

Next we offered options for the dining room table.  Since this would be the central piece, we recommended a round table in a light color to reinforce the theme of spaciousness in the room.  Underneath the dining room table, we suggested a hair-on-hide rug.  Many people think these types of rugs are high maintenance and precious but the truth is they are really easy to clean while also being water and stain resistant.  They are perfect rugs to place in high-traffic areas with the potential for spillage.  The rug was on the smaller side to avoid taking up a lot of floor real estate.

We wanted to add overhead lighting that didn’t obstruct the view.  Our solution was adding an airy chandelier by Lindsey Adelman Studio.

Once the heart of the design was complete, we had fun with the final details of finishes and accents to really build on the client’s love of strong, modern design.

To get a better idea of how our Room Service e-design works, here’s a closer look at the process.  Our team of designers works together with the client to produce three main components.

First is the detailed floor plan with an easy to understand legend.  We work directly with the client to get all the measurements and specifications.

Next is the storyboard.  This features all upholstered items, lighting, case goods, area rugs, art, and accessories.  The storyboard works in tandem with the detailed floor plan to deliver a complete view of the structure and the possibilities of the space.  Finally, we deliver the specification list for the storyboard where we actually hunt down all of the potential design pieces so our clients can purchase the items they want to include with just a click or two.

Specification List To Storyboard Shown
A     Saarinen Dining Table
B     Jan Showers Marnie Dining Chair
C    Mateo Cabinet
D   Zebra Rug
E    Driftwood Table Lamp
F    Pair of X Turtle Shells
G   Onyx Zig Zag Ginger Jar
H   Drapery Fabric
I    Chandelier
J    Zulu No. 9
K   Pavillion Gray

We also supply our e-design clients with a photorealistic 3D rendering of the room according to our suggested plan. Clients really love this feature since it gives a great overview of the finished room and saves both time and money.

Interested in getting started with this sparkly new affordable design service?  Check out our Getting Started Guide and/or contact us today:  415.285.2821 or 310-876-1060.


April 25, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

The Girly Modern Guide to Re-Upholstery

I love vintage.  There’s nothing like it.  Sure, there are modern knock-offs but you can’t fake a vintage vibe. The real appeal for me is that no one else will have this item. Besides exclusivity, vintage furniture has a tendency to be well constructed with the ability to withstand the test of time. But the truth is that not all the components of vintage furniture are built for longevity, that’s why we have the art of re-upholstery. Since we love taking something mundane or unnoticed and transforming it into a vibrant, beautiful piece, re-upholstering has become one of our specialties at Coddington Design. Here are a few tips, inspirations and examples on how to re-upholster great furniture finds.

The most important part of upholstery projects is finding that perfect piece of furniture. Discovering a gem amongst the masses takes a keen eye, some technical know-how and an active imagination. Rest assured, you don’t have to dumpster dive or troll the street corners Portlandia-style to uncover unique, affordable furniture. But if you do spot the perfect curbside loveseat while you circle for parking remember the golden rule: if it’s wet or stinks, keep walking. Rain sodden or cat claimed cushions almost always mean the glory days are over.

I found this loveseat in one of my top secret thrift stores.  While the color was a bit hideous, I loved the size, clean lines and wood frame.

The potential was there so I grabbed it and promptly sent it off to the refinisher for a bright coat of decorator’s white.  After the leg work was complete, it then went to the upholsterer for a brand new down filled cushion and Holland & Sherry striped fabric.

When you do find a piece of furniture whose framework has been well cared for and is still somewhat sturdy, you want to ignore the current fabric.  This is the part where imagination is critical.  Textiles are such a powerful part of the design process that they may camouflage the potential of the perfect piece.  If you already have your new fabric picked out, envision the pattern on the new find.  If you haven’t yet chosen your fabric yet, look solely at the shape and structure of the furniture piece you have discovered.  Does it fit the overall design style and size scale of the room where it will eventually live?  If you’ve found something you love that has exposed wood, remember you can always paint or refinish it but it’s a more affordable and easier process if the wood is in good condition.

Here’s a great example of fabric distraction.  I stumbled upon a pair of wing chairs with beautiful lines and high backs.  They were upholstered in naugahyde, a unfortunate byproduct of the 70s.

Looking past that covering and concentrating on the bones of the furniture, I had the legs refinished in a cream white and chose a silk mohair for the new fabric.  I then added spaced chrome nail heads for a deeper level of detail and craftsmanship.


You may stumble across the perfect find during your search but then you actually sit on it.  If it feels more like a sack of old soup cans than the comfy chair you look forward to curling up in, don’t abandon ship just yet.  The upholstery process is more than just fabric.  When working with a professional upholster, they will also examine and replace any needed cushioning.

I thought I had discovered the gem of the year when I spotted this vintage tufted chair.  I wasn’t even going to veto the purple velvet fabric but then I sat in it.  The padding on this chair left around the same time Reagan left office.

I decided to work with it anyway.  I painted the legs myself and then had a professional replace the cushioning and upholster it in neoprene fabric.  Neoprene is the same fabric used for wetsuits and it is so functional it wipes clean with a sponge!

More for professionals than DIYers, here are a few upholstery details that can transform an average piece of furniture into a real showstopper.
⁃    Button Tufting
⁃    Contrast Welt
⁃    Adding down fell to seat backs
⁃    Spaced chrome nail heads: This technique looks best when the nails are not head-to-head or touching.

Re-upholstering is a creative process that can give new life to old furniture making it a truly custom addition to a home.  Here are a few of my favorite before & after examples of re-upholstering magic.

From CasaSugar:

From Apartment Therapy:

From CasaSugar:

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