As an ambitious, Nintendo-obsessed young boy, my mother often preached “Make us proud by finding something you love to do, then get paid for doing it…just as long as it’s not appearance-based OR in show business.”. I am [a] an interior designer [b] a TV casting producer. FAIL.
Four design series, three well-decorated homes, two rescue dogs and one spread in O at Home Magazine later, Mommy Dearest snuck an amendment into her little mantra. Could this have anything to do with SonnyBoy’s access to furniture at wholesale prices, high-end rug remnants and steep media discounts? Perhaps. But I prefer to think it’s my five years treading the entertainment industry waters without a shark attack. This conclusion rings especially true since my father equates success with “how you triumph over adversity and conflict”; based on his collection of elk, hammerhead and sailfish taxidermy, the dude knows a thing or two about triumph. Regardless, by land or by sea, I’m doing TWO things which I absolutely love…and people give me money FOR doing them. WIN.
When a new production company waltzed into town seeking smoke-and-mirror magic for their creative lounge, my team made a beeline for the set faster than a fluffer to flacid talent. Although the writer/producers wanted something dramatically Hollywood, each envisioned a different use of the space. One person saw the lofty 24 x 18 as a sophisticated writer’s retreat while others saw it as a place to throw back Hennessy with hot chicks and clients. Soon thereafter, ideas and requests multiplied like Gremlins after midnight: a TV director needed graphic backdrops for shooting reality-style interviews, two laptop-clutching writers insisted on power outlets galore, sound engineers preferred the concrete floors NOT to echo, and the staff editor wished for a sofa on which to kick back and scan raw footage. For a bunch of dudes unsure of what they’d DO in the space, they surely agreed on what they’d SPEND on it—very, very little. FAIL.
As a fan of conducting business for the sake of, I dunno, MAKING MONEY, another gated community-caliber design on a community theater budget wasn’t too enticing. Suddenly, my imaginary lightbulb flickered. The Decor Demon team had been gearing up to shoot a series of web videos and, coincidentally, our prospective new clients own cameras, sound equipment, lights, cranes and editing software. Two dumpster dives, eight reupholstery jobs and five weeks later, cameras rolled on THEIR new space…and on OUR new series. WIN/WIN.
If studio executives cast furniture in leading roles, the blue bombshell above would be the Marilyn Monroe of sofas. In true Norma Jean Baker fashion, our It Girl was plucked and polished to the nines before making her cinematic debut. Every part of the 1970′s sectional was nipped, tucked, pulled and sprayed—from the original fabric to the straps and foam to the mirrored base and the fancy woodwork. Discovered during a routine dumpster dive/fire sale run, my carpenter stripped her, sprayed her high-gloss white, then dropped her off for upholstery. To make our lady fit for her new men’s room, my upholsterer recovered the starlet in twelve-bucks-a-yard navy blue velvet, then glammed up her base with mirrored chrome veneer. For silver screen razzle-dazzle, we had pillows made in David Hicks “La Fiorentina” and two platinum-toned fabrics from Kravet.
Change in character
Best part of watching soap operas? Exit/entrance voiceovers: “The role of Billie is now being played by actress Lisa Rinna”. Same thing with this pair of has-been chairs. To seem less like crackheads and more like TV producers, we scheduled “castings” on garbage pickup days, then scouted potential “talent” before waste management’s arrival. While we encouraged both chairs to remain true to their original roles, going in a younger, more energetic direction was best for the overall project. Both cane-back and shield-back chairs were modernized with a high-gloss white finish, then updated with contrasting fabrics. For our shielded, supporting cast member’s much needed touch of graphic impact, we created decorative trim from Schumacher’s “Chevron Print” in Navy sewn straight up the center of its cool, new, blue mohair upholstery. As far as the cane-back’s update was concerned, we opted for black [now discontinued] faux snakeskin from Innovations Leather fancified with chrome nailhead detail.
Praising the bar
To facilitate both eye and liver candy, we outfitted a $349 IKEA “TROLLSTA” sideboard with barstock and A/V equipment. When things are all business, a stand-mounted flat panel graces the top’s surface; however, when it’s time to liquor up high-strung clients, Mr. 42-incher gets swapped for a show-stopping Jonathan Adler print from ArtThatFits.com behind vintage chrome-tipped barware. One very special Sunday, the vintage Gods blessed us with a pair of 1970′s chrome lamps which we basically stole from City Issue, then came across the kindred spirit chandelier found for $75 at a flea market. In addition to the blue/green/yellow work by The Talented Mr. Adler, we layered pattern on the wall using Graham & Brown’s “Viva: Black Gloss” at $80 per roll.
From its bold, formal wallcovering to its diamond-tufting and Hollywood Regency details, our laptop lounge was perfectly fit for Tinseltown bigshots. Pretty!—but who the hell puts wallpaper on cinder block? Me, duh. During our initial scout, both parties agreed there should be no trace left of the industrial hellish/brownish/reddish concrete wall; we’d make it disappear faster than a teen idol sent to rehab. First we painted the cinder block flat, ultra-white, then clad it with Masonite panels. Once my carpenter, Chris, attached each 4 X 8 Masonite sheet to the wall with concrete screws and a drill, my paper hanger, Mary, jumped in to adhere the “Ornate: Blue” wallcovering from Graham & Brown in four sections. Does Mary talk way too much and take way too many smoke breaks? Yes. Is she one of the best paper hangers in the business and worth all the stop-drop-and-huff-and-puff? Hell yes. For maximum seating, my upholsterer, Miguel, whipped up a diamond-tufted banquette covered in one of my go-to, repeatedly used, indoor/outdoor fabrics—Sunbrella “Velveteen”. Sure, the bitch looks sexy, but she can also handle spilled White Russians aplenty should a staff screenwriter self-destruct during his sixty-ninth script revision. IKEA came in handy when budgeting for affordable lighting and pedestal tables. Three “FADO” pendants light the space from above while a trio of “DOCKSTA” tables offer space for laptops, or in some cases, TV dinners and beer. Unsightly beige-ish concrete quickly fell by the wayside thanks to FLOR in “Rake Me Over”, Indigo.
Ready for her closeup
Our Big Momma project, as far as cost was concerned, was definitely the banquette. As the head writers stated many times over, ample power outlets were a HUGE necessity. So, obviously, we’d engineer the custom piece with outlets embedded into it—right? I know, so obvious. After Miguel upholstered all surfaces, he installed power strips snugly into three cutouts along the banquette’s lower facade. To glamourize Big Momma, we brought in the same sparkly silver pillows tossed about the blue velvet sofa, then embellished her armrests with chrome nailhead detail.
In addition to built-in seating, the writer/producers needed a few extra chairs for script reads and pre-production meetings. So, naturally, we took to the streets again in search of castaways. All it took to whip these misfits into shape was a coat of high-gloss, ultra white paint and 2 yards of super shiny, commercial grade vinyl.
Video killed the Internet star
And now, a suckfest in styling. Since this particular project had both video AND still photography components, there should have been two completely different methods of propping. Sure, the bold, cost-effective IKEA fabric draperies are show-stopping; however, they overpower the faux cowprint rug and apparently ate the damn chandelier. How about that chrome flea market coffee table completely hidden by the glare of its glass top? What a damn mess. Also, since when do rap-music-video-director-dudes kick back to Suzanne Kasler and Dorothy Draper decorating books? Perhaps it’s to distract them from the random chunk of safety yellow cheese sitting to the right? I could make excuses all day but instead I will use this sentence to [a] prove that it worked well in video format and [b] drive you to watch the first two webisodes of Decor Demon, the series here and here. WIN.