Chad Stark’s Insider Rug Secrets!

Selecting hand knotted rugs is one of the highlights of our job as interior designers! The beauty of a handmade rug is unparalleled, from the subtle variations in the knots to the way the light catches the silk fibers. Stark Carpet has been the leading purveyor of high quality, handmade rugs to the design trade for over 75 years. We turned to Chad Stark, Senior Vice President, to get the inside scoop on carpet care and trends!

What are the three most important features to look for when selecting hand knotted rugs?

The most important things to consider are one’s budget, the reputation of the dealer you are visiting, and the design environment/performance concerns to be considered.

Everyone appreciates the beauty and craft that goes into a hand knotted rug but not everyone wants to wait 7-9 months. Can you delve into the process and explain what goes into creating a rug? How many people work on an average hand knotted rug? 

Rug making is the single most collaborative of all the art forms.  This is one of the reasons why rug production is supported and encouraged in poorer countries. A single rug employs so many people! Let’s start with the sheep herders, the wool shearers, the wool spinners, the dyers, the designers and factory staff, of course do not forget the weavers, but also do not forget all the people that wash, clip and finish your carpet and last but not least the fine folks that pack and ship that carpet to you! We are easily in the hundreds of persons required to make a single carpet. It is Stark’s job to coordinate all of these people in order to deliver our custom orders on time to the most discriminating buyers in the world.

Most of our hand knotted products take between 3- 9 month to produce based on complexity of design and the knotted quality. For a 9×12 rug each weaver can cover about 3 feet in width so to produce a 9×12 rug we are engaging three weavers for an average of six months working 8 hours six days a week. In total we are talking about 3,744 man-hours to weave just one 9×12 carpet. If one calculates the man-hours of all the other processes mentioned previously one should arrive at the logical conclusion that hand knotted rugs equate artistically to one of the greatest values on the planet!

What steps does Stark take to ensure fair labor practices and to prevent child labor at your mills?

Stark buys directly from the manufacturers in the countries of origin who we know have fair labor practices and without child labor. We have full time field staff working everyday on-site with our manufacturers inspecting and managing our production orders. Upper management spends months each year overseas vetting and working with its manufacturers to improve the quality of our supply chain. We believe our day to day contact with our manufactures is the best way to secure the quality of the work environment for weavers and our product for our clients.

Cleaning and caring for your hand knotted rug is so important. Do you have any tips for keeping wool and silk rugs looking their best?

Suction of your rug is the best way to go for day-to-day maintenance. For red wine drinkers, I always recommend they keep white wine in the house. If one spills red wine on wool or silk,  the best thing is to blot up the red with a clean cloth and then saturate the area with white wine lightly blot and let dry. A little known secret is white removes red.  

Rug pads: Why do we need them?

Padding reduces friction, slippage and impact pressure on the weave structure of hand woven carpets. 

What’s new and exciting in the world of hand knotted carpets? Any trends, styles, or manufacturing techniques that you are especially excited about?

This is an ancient industry based on 4,000-year-old technology. Manufacturing is very much the same as it always has been. The advent of CAD has made a huge impact on the designs being made today. Such detailed abstract and non-repetitive designs were never possible prior to the millennium.

In your opinion why do you think hand knotted rugs are so much more beautiful than other types of rugs? 

It is very simple. Hand knotted rugs are a reflection of their makers. They are beautiful, diverse, imperfect and therefore individual. No two are ever exactly alike…the same as their makers.

A huge thank you to Chad for his valuable industry insights!

Statement Wallpapers for Every Room!

The wallpaper resurgence is stronger than ever, with more manufacturers popping up offering everything from removable wallpaper to delicate, hand-painted patterns. With so many options it can become overwhelming to decide which style is right for your home. Never fear – we included tips below on how to effortlessly incorporate wallpaper into every room!

black grey metallic wallpaper

DINING  ROOM:  A dark, moody wallcovering is a fantastic way to make your ivory furniture pop! We love the subtle shimmer of this Omexco wallpaper in our client’s dramatic Pacific Heights dining room. Tip – paint the baseboard to match the dark wallpaper for a seamless look!

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POWDER  ROOM:  Bold, graphic wallpaper is perfect for tight spaces such as powder rooms or closets; it creates an unexpected surprise for you and your guests! We used Cole & Son’s Hicks Hexagon in this tiny San Francisco powder room.

grasscloth wallpaper

BEDROOM:  Grasscloth is a great way to add a texture to your bedroom, but who says it has to be neutral?? Phillip Jeffries offers plenty of saturated colors like this beautiful apricot that we installed in our client’s condo in SOMA.

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Designer Tips for Creating a Healthy, Non-toxic Home

Spring is off to a busy start at Niche Interiors! We embarked on a new eco-friendly project in Palo Alto as we put the finishing touches on Principal Designer Jennifer’s healthy home. A common concern we hear from new clients interested in creating a non-toxic home is “Will it still look beautiful?” Our emphatic answer: “Yes!”  Take a peek inside Jennifer’s family home for proof…

Can You Spy the Non-toxic Upholstery?
The great thing about non-toxic upholstery is that the most significant improvements are invisible! We can design the perfect sofa with sophisticated fabric options and unique design details using healthier foam inside the cushions. For custom pieces we specify natural latex foam wrapped in organic wool which contain no harmful flame retardant chemicals. Frames are built from sustainably harvested wood with non-toxic, water-based glues. This is a perfect solution for those who are chemically sensitive or who suffer from allergies.

Create a cozy, textural vibe by layering natural fabrics such as organic cotton and linen, and selecting wool rugs which are durable and eco-friendly. Choose zero-VOC paints which eliminate off-gassing, resulting in safer indoor air quality.

Ready to create your healthy home? Contact us to learn more about our eco-friendly interior design services!

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Behind the Scenes: San Francisco Interior Design Install

Installing a project is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of our job as interior designers. After months (or years) of considering every design detail, tracking furniture orders, and coordinating vendors, the day finally arrives when all the pieces come together. It’s impossible to capture the action-packed excitement with a single photo, so we created a time-lapse video with a behind the scenes look at our Telegraph Hill install. Warning: It’s not nearly as glamorous as it looks on television!

A successful installation depends largely on the prep work – itemized delivery documents keep everyone on track and floor plans with dimensions help determine accurate furniture placement.

Even with all this organization and planning there is a possibility of a curveball during every install. On a recent outdoor furniture delivery in Sonoma we created a labeling system for the client to easily pair furniture covers with the appropriate pieces. Armed with 25 custom labels we realized on site that the outdoor glue wasn’t adhering properly – luckily we had a sewing kit and were able to sew the labels by hand! Team Niche takes pride in going the extra mile for our clients – from ironing sheets and making beds to finding the perfect light bulbs, our goal is always to provide a turn-key experience.

Jen sews labels on outdoor furniture covers (Left), Anna installs felt pads on 20 dining chairs (Right)

The finished product! Happy Clients = Happy Designers.

Look Like a Pro: Lift a Few Moves from the Niche Playbook!

• Print furniture layouts for each room before your delivery. Add dimensions, especially for rug placement.

• Inspect all pieces carefully and thoroughly! It’s much easier to process returns if you document damages at the time of delivery.

• Don’t forget the felt pads – keep a pack in various sizes and colors on hand for all items that will sit directly on wood floors.

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Hot (and Not) Interior Design Trends for 2017!

Happy (almost) Spring!  Now is the perfect time to share our top decorating trends for the year, along with the fads that we are so ready to say goodbye to!

Say ‘Hello’ to these trends for 2017!

Handmade Ceramics // This is currently an obsession that’s taken over our entire office! With so many talented local ceramicists it’s hard not to start a collection. Two of our go-to makers are Erin McGuiness and Gerhard Ceramics.

Muted Palettes & Pastels // Keep an eye out for watercolor-inspired, tonal palettes with muted accents in blush, taupes, and powdery blues. Mix these hues with white and soft neutrals.

Greenery // We’re loving all things green indoors – think beyond succulents to ferns, cactus, leafy branches and indoor trees. Plants add instant life to a space with the added bonus of improving indoor air quality!

Say ‘Goodbye’ to these passing trends!

Brass Bonanza. It’s time for spaces with ALL brass to fade away. Instead, try mixing it sparingly with other metal finishes such as bronze, copper, black or natural steel.

Formulaic Bohemian. Your Instagram and Pinterest feeds are likely full of these bright spaces with textural wall hangings, baskets galore, Moroccan rugs and eclectic textiles. While we love a bohemian nod, this trend has gone too far!

Edison Bulbs. Been there, done that! Opt for clear round globes instead of old school Edisons for a more contemporary look.

Did we miss something? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Our Top 5 Go-To Paint Colors

Selecting paint colors for your home is a tricky endeavor – you may see a shade you love online but realize it looks far different in your own space. We’ve tried hundreds of hues in our projects and can wholeheartedly recommend these five fabulous neutrals!

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Moody Gray //  Benjamin Moore Storm AF-700
Ready for some contrast? A moody gray is a great way to create drama in dining rooms and living rooms, especially paired with crisp white trim.

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Warm White  //  Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17 
Searching for a white that isn’t too stark or yellow? You found it! This soft white is perfect for open concept spaces and modern homes where you want the architecture or art to take center stage.

Classic Navy  //  Farrow & Ball Hague Blue
A deep, intense blue that’s perfect for media rooms and offices or as an accent on front doors or used on cabinetry in bathrooms or kitchens.

interior design firm bay area

Neutral Taupe  //  Benjamin Moore Cumulus Cloud 1550
The warm, earthy tones in Cumulus Cloud make it a good choice for cozy and enveloping spaces.

Wispy Gray  //  Benjamin Moore Moonshine OC-56
Finding the perfect dove gray is no easy feat! Moonshine is a true silvery gray that doesn’t skew blue. We love it in almost any room, but it’s especially calming in bedrooms.

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3 Easy Spring Spruce-ups

Spring has officially arrived! Satisfy your urge to redecorate by switching up your accessories – small changes can go a long way! Bring in pops of bright, happy colors such as coral and aqua with new accent pillows for your sofa or bed. Be sure to temper the color with plenty of white to keep the feeling light and fresh.

Spring-pillows

Above: Accent pillows by Caitlin Wilson

Give your bedside table, entry console, or coffee table new life with colorful vases and geometric brass accents. The Headlands concrete tray by Alice Tacheny is perfect for corralling rings, bracelets, and delicate necklaces.

Spring-accessories

Above: Alice Tacheny concrete tray, Judy Jackson vases from West Elm, Hex candle holders from Jayson Home

Add a print or two to your gallery wall, swapping out moodier artwork for pieces with lighter color palettes.

"Going for a Swim" by Whitney Deal. Available through Minted.com

Above: “Going for a Swim” by Whitney Deal

Ready for professional help? Contact us to find out more about our range of San Francisco interior design services.

2016 Decorating Trends: Go Bold or Go Home!

Will redecorating be one of your New Year’s resolutions this year? Read on for our predictions on hot home trends in 2016. (Hint: They are anything but timid!)

Vibrant, saturated colors are popping up everywhere. From upholstery to walls and ceilings, bold tones such as emerald green, cobalt blue, and fuchsia will reign.

green-armchair

Rosy metals, such as copper and rose gold, are quickly edging out brass as the finish du jour. You can find pendant lights, plumbing fixtures, hardware and accessories in this pretty metallic.

It looks like the jungle trend is just getting started! From the runway to the home, botanical and tropical patterns are showing up in both traditional and unexpected color combos.

Osborne & Little Tropicana Wallpaper, Martinique 90210 Wallpaper

Are you ready to transform your home in the New Year? We’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more about our range of interior design and remodeling services in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Curated Holiday Tablescapes

With the holidays right around the corner, we have entertaining on the brain. Our designers scoured the internet for the most stylish tabletop accessories for your next dinner party, with winning combinations curated for every style and mood. Now, all you have to worry about is the food. Bon appétit!

Moody

Chic + Moody  //  Black  plates + Smoky glassware + brass accents

DWR Almoco flatware, Anthropologie Hearken Glassware, Kelly Wearstler Brushstroke Dinner Napkin, William Sonoma Alpico Reglisse Dinner Plate, Kelly Wearstler Diva Dish

Clean-crisp

Clean + Crisp  //  Modern stemware + White plates + Concrete planters

Calvin Klein Hampshire Stemware, West Elm Organic Dinnerware, Bliss Home Brushstroke Napkin, Concrete Geometric Mini Vessels

 

warm-natural

Warm + Natural  //  Stoneware plates +  Wood candlesticks + Linen napkins

Anthropologie Morandi Pitcher, DWR Torso Candleholders, Horne Tank Low Ball Glass, Pottery Barn Wheaton Stripe Napkin, Brickett Davda Plates from March

Ready to revamp your home? Contact us to learn more about our San Francisco interior design services!

How to Hire an Interior Designer

Thinking of hiring an interior designer but not sure where to start? You are not alone. Many of our Bay Area clients have never worked with an interior designer before and wonder what to expect. Read on for tips on streamlining your search for the right designer.

Palo-Alto-Interior-Design

Scope of work? Start by mapping out the work you want done in your home. Which rooms do you want to tackle? What types of services are you are interested in: Space planning, remodeling, furniture selection and purchasing? Determine a rough budget and timeline for your project. Many design firms schedule projects months in advance, so it’s best to start looking before you actually want to start work. Once you have a clear grasp of the scope of your project, start searching for a design firm whose strengths and services are a good match.

Start with style. There are many differences between design firms, ranging from the design process, billing structure, and philosophy. The easiest way to narrow in on your top contenders is to look at a variety of designers projects and see which portfolio speaks to you.

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Key Questions. Most designers will start with an initial phone call or in-home consultation before starting a project. The following are a few key questions to ask during this initial meeting:

1. Is the firm full-service or do they work as consultants? Full-service firms manage a project from start to finish, while consultants work on a smaller scale and will provide quick advice or guidance as needed. Be sure to ask whether they have a minimum project size or budget that they typically work with.

2. Who will you be working with? How many employees does the firm have  — Will you be working solely with the principal designer or with other designers in the firm? If the firm is larger, find out if you will have one designer as a main point of contact.

3. What are the billing practices? Most designers bill by the hour, with varying rates for each designer based on level of experience. Inquire about hourly rates and if an estimate will be provided based on past projects. It’s best for everyone to be on the same page before starting work.

Last but certainly not least – Pay close attention to the rapport you have with the designer. It’s important to make sure the designer “gets you” and that you can relate to them both professionally and personally. The design process should be rewarding and fun!

Niche Interiors is a full-service San Francisco interior design firm, specializing in contemporary, eco-friendly interiors. Contact us to find out if our services are the right fit for your project!