Turning Scraps into Gold

Irwin Weiner ASID -- It's always easy to decorate when you have so many ready-made furnishings and accessories to choose from. We take it for granted that we can walk into any dealer or showroom, and pick up any catalog and either order what we want, all ready to go, or slightly customize an item with a few minor tweaks.

Today's economy might make us look towards other solutions, and apply a bit of imagination while saving some money. I recently had a client ask me to find a large tapestry to hang in the blank marble expanse above a fireplace, partially filling the void between the mantle and the top of the room's tall cathedral ceiling.

Good tapestries cost a fortune, and I didn't want to break my client's budget or burden him with a request to "fork over the cash" for an extravagant decorator piece. After almost giving up the search and settling on an expensive but great item, I came across two tapestry fragments on the 1st Dibs website. What a find!

The creative lobe in my brain began to kick in and I crafted a client proposal that included professionally washing and restoring the fragments by a conservation group in Manhattan. They do a lot of work for museums and churches. Then I had them quote mounting the fragments to a new fabric backing and adding some decorative trims. The client was delighted, and we proceeded to transform the tapestry fragments into a new work of art.

I have also purchased oil portrait fragments that still have a figure or scene fairly well preserved, trimmed the canvas to focus on my new subjects, and added professional mats and frames to transform an inexpensive work of art into a gem of an accessory. You can save a lot of money by purchasing "broken" items like a damaged painting or fragments of tapestry or vintage fabric, and fixing them up to great effect.

Here are two videos on the tapestry: one has me walking you through the transformation process and the other is a slideshow of how we hung the finished product in my client's home. Enjoy!