Outfit To Room Design Challenge: Fall Upholstery Sale Edition

It’s August and that means it’s time for Red Barn Mercantile’s semi-annual Upholstery Sale when all our special-order custom upholstery is marked down an additional 10% from the already below MSRP price.

To mark – or celebrate, in our case – the occasion, I like to do one of my favorite tricks, designing a room inspired by an outfit. When I asked Elizabeth for one of her favorite fall looks I was hoping for a softball, but she threw me a bit of a curve ball instead. This gorgeous teal pleated ensemble from Vince is monochromatic which, I’m not gonna lie, threw me for a loop. But, always up for a challenge, I took it head on. Below is my interpretation of a chic library or office outfitted with a John Derian settee from Cisco Brothers (which is on sale this month. Wink. Wink.) and a lot of that stunning color.

The Outfit

Chevron Pleated Blouse by Vince $325, Mixed Media Pleated Skirt by Vince $345, Pearl Door Knocker Earrings by Lele Sadoughi $150, Jaguar Midi Sac by Clare V $299, Davia by Stuart Weitzman $425


Because the color is so good and the sheen in this outfit is so bold I wanted to do something equally appealing in this room, so I am proposing painting the walls, built-in bookshelves, and trim in a lacquered finish (I’d keep the ceiling white, but if you’re really bold, paint it too!) That finish would bring in the same sheen as the Vince outfit. To get a sense of what I mean, see the below photo of our Design Collective partner Alison Giese’s living room. So dramatic, am I right?


Playing on the solid color of the outfit, I wanted to keep the settee in a similar color just a little more tone on tone rather than an exact match. The crushed velvet John Derian fabric adds a beautiful texture against the shiny wall. In order to keep the room modern, fresh, and a little unexpected, I would put a large-scale colorful vintage photograph above the settee and flank it with sconces for proper reading light (I’d frame it in black or brass instead of the white.) Two stylish brass tables form one big table in front of the settee.

The Room

Sconces, $569 each; Desk lamp, $655; 8×10 Leopard print rug, $1,440; Settee, $5550 MSRP, Upholstery Sale price, $3996; Alvin Teal fabric, $125/yd; Alvin Teal pillow, $200; Timor pillow, $145; Rattan chair, $529; Desk, $1840.


Tulu’s Alvin Teal fabric is for roman shades for any windows and for a throw pillow or two for the settee. Added to that is another Tulu pillow embroidered in gold.

The desk is a simple shape in black metal. It’s modern and interesting in what is usually a very serious room. Paired with it are a rattan desk chair to add texture as well as an alabaster art deco lamp to ping back to the pearl earrings in the outfit.

Inspired by a recent post Elizabeth did on one of my favorite animal prints is this leopard print rug.  Because animal prints are a neutral at home as well as on your feet. Top off the room with plants and a boatload of books in built-ins and you have one super sexy office.

If you need help designing your home, we have four amazing designers at the ready to make your office, bedroom, living room, or any room reflect your personal style. And, this month we have the added bonus of our semi-annual upholstery sale running now through August 31. To make an appointment email us at hello@redbarnmercantile.com.


  • The latest from Amy
Owner Amy Rutherford started Red Barn because she wanted to deliver a service — to provide both old and new in one place. No longer will busy shoppers be limited to reproductions or forced to shop multiple flea markets for the look or gifts they want. The trick in blending old and new, vintage and modern, classic and quirky, is balance. And Amy’s knack for mixing rustic antiques with urban chic has created a look that is both fresh and familiar.

Red Barn Mercantile opened its doors in September 2007 with a single vision in mind: providing old and new to offer our customers signature whole-room designs at great prices.

We’re more than a furniture boutique and provide more personalized service than a big box retailer. We work hard to bring you the highest quality furniture and gifts, the most unique conversation starters, wall hangings and accent pieces, whether they come from off-the-beaten-track flea markets, or the latest designers.


1117 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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