Behind The Scenes: The Barrymore Buffalo Plaid Custom Chair

May 2, 2016 +

The weekend has just passed but I'm already looking forward to the next one. I've slowly been gathering furnishings and essentials for the new cottage and it will feel good to finally get them in place next weekend. The custom buffalo plaid Barrymore chair has been made and I'm excited to get it into it's new home.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm new to the custom furniture process. Some of you might be as well so I thought I'd share what I experienced. Custom furniture can be quite an investment and lots of retailers claim they produce a quality product, but what does that even mean? What are the hallmarks to look for? Barrymore Furniture kindly let me have a behind the scenes look at their manufacturing process and there's so many interesting things I want to share with you.

1. Selecting The Chair and Custom Options

My first step in the process was selecting the chair. This meant walking around the Barrymore showroom and sitting in too many chairs to count. I'm a huge online shopper but when it comes to a chair or sofa, that's something I need to see and feel and sit in before I buy it.

The first thing I was looking for was the style of the chair. Did I want a low back or high back? Exposed feet or covered? A swivel base? Rolled English arms or sleek square arms? Now here's where things got tricky because even though there were 200 styles of chairs and sofas to choose from, any of these models could be further customized.

From the firmness of the seat cushion to the style and colour of the leg, to adding nail head trim or a valance or casters, there were dozens of custom options to consider. I ended up choosing the Carlton Wing Chair. I loved the modern lines of this wing back chair. It feels fresh yet traditional. It's dramatic and eye catching and I thought it would showcase the fabric beautifully.

2. Choosing The Fabric

I already had my sights set on the buffalo plaid but it was worth perusing the thousands of fabric options at Barrymore and seeing what else I should consider.

Plaids and stripes, I love you so much. Aside from the buffalo plaid, I really loved the French stripe (2nd from left) and the multi-stripe (furthest right). They had a casual beachy quality that could work at the cottage.

I also briefly considered a floral pattern. See how perfectly the floral pattern is matched on the top and sides of this seat cushion? That is a mark of true craftsmanship and it doesn't happen by accident.

3. Cutting The Fabric

It all starts with the cutting of the fabric. Templates are laid out and each fabric piece is cut by hand. No computerized layouts here. It takes real skill to lay out the templates and and see in your mind's eye how all the pieces will fit together - before a single cut is made.  Ensuring that a stripe is centred down the back of a chair or that a floral is matched perfectly across a seam... all of those important calculations are made right here.

Once the fabric is cut, it moves on to be sewn. One thing I noticed at Barrymore is that they use a truly handmade process. One person does the cutting. Then another one does all the sewing. One more does the web and coil, and then someone else does the upholstery. A number of skilled hands are needed to bring a single product to life.

4. Web and Coil

Since 1919, every Barrymore chair and sofa has been handmade right here in Toronto. All of these chairs and sofas start with a 100% Canadian kiln-dried hardwood frame.

Eight-way hand tied coils are attached to the frame. If that sounds time and labour intensive, it's because it is! One sofa takes about two hours to complete this stage. But this method is the gold standard in upholstery and produces a comfortable product that is heirloom quality and will last generations.

It surprised me to see how clean and neat the product looked at this stage. If you look closely, you'll see that scrap materials were used to line the frame. There seemed to be little wastage or excess on the factory floor or in the products themselves. In fact, there seemed to be a lot missing... no big heavy machinery, no hoists to move products through in quick assembly line fashion... it was all being done by people, methodically and skilfully.

5. Cushion

I found this part of the tour the most fascinating. When you think of a foam cushion, you probably think of a block of foam wrapped with some sort of batting. I was surprised to see the level of construction that goes into a single cushion: the inner core and front edge consist of high-density foam which is then sandwiched between two layers of convolute foam. The convolute foam provides cushion and air flow while the high-density foam provides resilience and support right where you want it most, at the front edge of . So smart!

The foam is then wrapped in a thick two-sided duvet for ultimate comfort.

6. Upholstery

Finally, the last stage is the upholstery. I imagine that this manufacturing process has changed very little at Barrymore over the last hundred years. By the end of the tour, I got a better understanding of everything that goes into a custom piece of furniture: it's quality materials at each stage, an attention to detail, and skilled craftsmanship done by hand.

And here is a photo of my chair getting upholstered! So exciting! The chair is all finished now and I can't wait to show it to you.

The Love List

Apr 29, 2016 +

I love how paint instantly transformed this living room

A dresser with many lives

Meg posts an intriguing question... what do you think, is the Instagram bubble about to burst?

We launched ticket sales for BlogPodium this week and they are going super fast. Grab yours while you can!

Grand wallpaper in a small space
Julia's art is so lovely

A pretty spring house tour

One Room Challenge Week 4 - Doing The Dirty Work

Apr 28, 2016 +

Welcome readers and fellow ORC bloggers! If you’re new to Rambling Renovators, feel free to kick off your shoes, have a walk through my house tour, and check out my About page to see what we're all about. You can follow along on my ORC progress here.


Week 4 of the One Room Challenge has been a doozy. It's been said that this is when things get crazy and if this floor is any indication, they were right.

Last we left this tale, our dining room was looking like this on Thursday night. Remnants of Chloe's birthday party were still in the room and we hadn't moved out all the furniture.

By Friday night, we had this pretty sight. The vinyl top layer of wallpaper had been removed, we had covered up the floors, and our electrician had come and installed eight new potlights. Figuring out the lighting layout took a ridiculous amount of time. Don't look too closely but the potlights aren't evenly spaced (dang joists!) but it took us almost two hours to figure out so we're sticking with it.

Next up was removing the glue layer. We learned our lesson from removing wallpaper in the living room and went for the big guns, renting a steamer from The Home Depot. $20 and four hours later the job was done.

Now here's where we got a little ahead of ourselves. While Sean patched up some dips and holes in the wall, I went around painting paint swatches. What we really should have done was clean off the glue residue first (a solution of equal parts warm water and fabric softener did the job) because all those patches and paint just made cleaning the walls a little more difficult. Oh well.

Over the years I've come to realize that I can't live with bold colour on the walls. Muted soft tones that I won't tire of easily are more my style. I really wanted to bring in the blue from the adjoining dining room and picked shades that ranged from a light grey-green to deep robin's egg blue. The winner? You'll have to wait and see ;)

Now lest you think everything has been smooth sailing, here's a look at the other side of the room. Everything in this picture is now covered in a fine layer of dust (we sanded those patches without tarping off the room. Oops). We've been eating meals at the coffee table and I am quickly becoming claustrophobic in this space. But look at how much brighter the dining room is looking already!!

Things are moving quickly now. We primed and painted the walls, we installed the new bamboo blind, and by the end of the week we will have the ceiling smoothed which is something Sean has been waiting for for years. I personally, would have rather spent that money on pretty new furnishings but it's a compromise as it always is. He worries about the structure and I worry about the decor and in the end we hopefully have a room that we both love.

I can't leave you with a messy photo so here is one pretty thing that is making it into the room. 

The Let's Go print from Minted adds to the coastal feel of the room. I kind of want to crawl into this photo and see the view through that door. I got it in a whitewashed herringbone frame which really pics up on the natural tones of the bamboo blind.

Only two more weeks left in this challenge. If you're participating too, I'm cheering you on. Let's get this done!

The Love List

Apr 22, 2016 +

I love my new dark metal bed but my goodness, this rose gold version is a stunner

Palm leaves for your desktop! Go get 'em

A worldly shared bedroom

Don't type it, handwrite it - beautifully!

I just added these shoes in green to my summer wardrobe. Seriously, they are the most comfortable heels I own!

Smart storage ideas for small spaces

Instagrammer of the week.

Karine and her husband copied our plans for our Make Believe Station and made the sweetest version for their own kids. I love seeing how our projects inspire others!

Have a lovely weekend friends!

Before & After: A Soft and Neutral Guest Bedroom

Apr 21, 2016 + , , ,

Two posts in one day? I just couldn't wait to share... it took a while but the guest bedroom makeover is finished!

Let's start with the bed. I knew I wanted a metal bed and this one was the exact style I was hoping for. I love love love it so much. Assembly was easy, the frame is sturdy, and I love the deep black brown colour.

The pillows were the jumping off point for the entire decorating scheme. I've long loved this print, Schumacher Pyne Hollyhock, and had the lovely Hollie Cooper whip me up a pair of covers. The fabric features tones of beige, charcoal, white, and wheat so I stuck to that very neutral palette. The walls were painted in a soft, barely-there grey, St. Paul's Cathedral P5214-24 by PARA Paints.

A few posts back I mentioned that eBay Canada had challenged to me to do a spring refresh on a budget. I still had a few dollars left so I spent them on a few key pieces for this room. First was the West Elm Ticking Stripe duvet and shams. We have the exact same duvet in our master bedroom (it's a classic!) in the black and white colourway, but the tan/wheat colour worked perfectly for this room. I love that about eBay - if a product has been discontinued or they don't have it in your size in stores, you can often find it on eBay.

The chandelier and medallion were also from eBay. I wanted a hint of luxury (it is a guest bedroom, after all) and the crystals do just that. The medallion was a must have. It just adds that extra layer of detail and brings texture to this very simple room.

I also added this clear glass lamp. It came as a pair but I only have one shown in this room. I had planned to take them to the cottage, but now that I see how good it looks here, it might have to stay! This room isn't that large so I wanted most of the furniture to be light, airy, see-through. This lamp is substantial but it doesn't crowd the space because it's clear.

For artwork, I headed over to Minted. This pineapple print was just right for the space, a bit whimsical and the whitewashed wood frame contrasts nicely with the other wood and metal finishes. Pineapples also symbolize "welcome" so it seemed apropos to have it here to welcome guests.

The side table is from Wayfair and again is destined for the cottage. The spool legs are so interesting and again add some texture to this room. I love the little pull out shelf, perfect for resting a hot cup of tea.

The built-in banquette got a bit of an update too. Here's how it looked in Chloe's old nursery. We gave the doors a fresh coat of paint and changed the silver handles for matte black ones.  The extra-long buffalo check pillow (oh, how I love you!) was courtesy of Tonic Living. Janine knows me so well and knew I would have just the spot for this pillow. Here, it plays nicely with the Lulu Leopard pillow also from Tonic Living, and a leaf print pillow from H&M Home. The simple wicker baskets were a challenge to find but I finally spotted them at Michaels (on 2 for 1 basket day, no less. Yay!)

I had originally planned to sew up new curtains and a new bench cushion cover, but when I saw everything together, I realized it all worked and I could just reuse them! Yes for budget saves!!

Speaking of reuse, I put the circular mirror originally hanging in our living room over the dresser. I had planned on having a piece of art there but there were some delays so for now, the mirror stays. It actually works quite well here and the brassy tones pick up on the other natural accents around the room.

I'm really craving simpler design and more breathing room in my interiors so I've dressed the top of the dresser very minimally with objects I already had. This room doesn't get used everyday so that means less to dust too ;)

A basket with extra throws or pillows is always a nice touch for guests.

I'm happy to have this room done. It turned out to be a very calm and relaxing space. And super comfortable.... which explains why Chloe no longer wants to sleep in her smaller room and instead claims this bed every night! Not sure if that makes this room a success or a failure ;)

Here's a quick look back at what the room used to look like, back in its heyday as Chloe's nursery circa 2012:

And the other side of the room. I'm so glad to trade the yellow walls and blue ceiling for a softer palette!

Are you ready to put together a cozy bedroom of your own? I've got some suggestions to get you started! Head over to to see my "Be Our Guest" collection of essential items for creating a comfortable guest bedroom. For more tips, check out today's Toronto Star Restyle Your Home section where I shared ideas with Vicky Sanderson of Toronto Star on how to mix patterns in a space like this.

Excuse me while I take a nap. This bed is calling my name!


© 2007-2013 Jennifer Flores. All Rights Reserved. | Blog Design By Brittany Douglas