Architecture and Design

Zen and The Art of Furniture Reupholstery

There comes a time in your mid-30s when you start to figure out some things. Like, you're not really that good at dancing, yes you should get that looked at and no, you shouldn't try to do that yourself.

My ottoman is a perfect example. It's a square. Well, a rectangle, but that point is it's a simple shape. Nothing too fancy. No elaborate detail, just a big ol' rectangular cube of pale turquoise fabric that no longer matched anything. I didn't want to throw it out completely, it was only two years old and only had one cat puke stain on it. MIRACLE. But I definitely wanted it updated. And different. Like something ... custom. I knew what I wanted, but I didn't have a freaking clue how to make it happen. Fortunately for me, I met a guy named Phillip McVean. The man can really tie a room together.

I found Phillip through his booth at Indie Genius. I liked the fabrics he chose and the sort of deconstructed look of his work. I had almost purchased a chair from him no less than three times and I kept his PandK Upholstery postcard on my fridge for approximately five months. I like to never make up my mind about anything ever, but I was so over having not matching furniture. One Sunday I finally said, "Fuck it," and called the number on the postcard. Kristi, Phillip's girlfriend, answered and told me to email him with pictures, dimensions, etc. so I did. I said, "Here's the deal, I'm not even sure I can afford you, but I really hope I can." He said no worries, that he'd work with me and then quoted a price. Much to my relief, it was one I could afford.

I dropped my ottoman off about a week later at his studio. Now, I'm going to have to pause for a second and tell you how amazing this space is. It's in Oak Cliff at Zang Boulevard and Beckley Avenue and he shares it with another artist. There are things in there you will honestly not believe. Like just fucking amazing. Like yes, I have to cuss they are that gorgeous. Picture big cats covered in velveteen fabric and metal studs, a giant plaster ostrich and a custom angular bench/tchair/settee thing that Phillip was just, you know, tinkering around with. I wanted it all, but instead I just wandered around saying, "This is amazing. Ohmygosh, this is amazing. And this? Amazing." It's a good thing I'm a writer with such a huge vocabulary, right? As I roamed, Phillip explained that the guy he shares space with has done windows for Neiman Marcus and they're both teaming up for a holiday window project at Van Cleef & Arpels in New York. Now that's a big freaking deal.

Since I'm nosy by nature, I asked Phillip how he even got into this in the first place. He said he went to school for fashion and did that for a couple years only to realize it's really cutthroat and back-stabby. That's when he decided to start doing this. I like when a person can carve out their own path: Phillip had a talent but didn't care for the industry, and now he channels his creativity in this variant of design. I think it's the truest testament to an inventive soul -- seeing something not as a problem, but as a puzzle to solve.

I'd already sent Phillip pictures of my living room, so I said, "Whatever you want to do is fine with me." That's it. No color scheme, no "Well, I was thinking ...," no nothing. I've never done that before, and when I got back in my car I realized, "Well, this could suck." Fortunately, I had faith. Phillip said he was basically going to draw inspiration from my couch and told me to stop by anytime. I said OK. And I had every intention of popping in. Not necessarily to check the progress, but just to see what other amazing things were being created. The thing is, I never got a chance.

I dropped off the ottoman on Thursday and it was ready on Saturday. I was stunned. How could it be ready so fast?!? When I picked it up I couldn't have been more thrilled. It was perfect. He took my pale turquoise blob and turned it into a handcrafted piece of art. He reworked everything and now there's storage -- the top comes off. It's covered in an old Army tent from Vietnam which is double cool since my dad was actually in the Army in Vietnam. Phillip didn't know that, but it's one of those amazing things that happens when something is just meant to be. The red and navy striped bottom was hand-painted by Kristi and she included a poem pinned to the ottoman, too. Both Phillip and Kristi signed their names in my storage compartment -- such a simple little touch that transformed an already special purchase into a treasure.

You can tell they both love what they do and take a tremendous amount of pride in doing it. When you're slowly but surely refurnishing your house, those are precisely the type of people you want to know. I already told Phillip I'd be back in a couple months for an armchair. I now find myself visually scavenging the rest of my furniture, thinking, "What else could I re-cover?" If you have something that needs a fresh coat of fabric, give them call or send them an email. PANDK - 817-490-8856 or [email protected]

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Allison Perkins