Spruce on the Loose
Design lovers fête furniture visionary and Design*Sponge blogger in South Austin style
It wasn’t too long ago (okay, seven years — that might seem long to you) that we were raving about Spruce, our new interior design discovery/gift from above, itself a brand-new and quite wonderful upholstery design service and workshop.
Spruce owner Amanda Brown and crew (known as “Sprucettes”) don’t just reupholster old pieces of furniture; they reinvent them with unexpected colors, textures and patterns. They also hold a democratic attitude about what kinds of furniture is deemed worthy of being reinvented, having rescued countless no-name pieces on their way to the Dumpster.
Guests gathered at Mockingbird Domestics to celebrate Spruce owner Amanda Brown’s new how-to book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design.
From the beginning, Brown and cohorts joined this aesthetic with their own DIY roots. Their upholstery workshop and showroom are in the same building, and they do the bulk of their work there, sending out furniture only for structural repair.
They also spread their can-do gospel outward, offering upholstery classes from the get-go. In 2010, Brown began a monthly upholstery basics column on popular blog Design*Sponge and put out a series of instructional DVDs.
The relaxed crowd at Spruce compatriot shop Mockingbird Domestics last Friday wasn't there to examine Spruce’s latest furniture magic, though; guests had gathered to celebrate Brown’s new how-to book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design, and hear about her plans for a book tour that will include hosting upholstery workshops in cities across the South.
The affair was both homey and fresh, as was FoodHeads’ take on Southern comfort food: nestled in the middle of Mockingbird's updated takes on classic American dishware, furniture and décor, its gourmet fried chicken, pickled sides, biscuits and deviled eggs worked perfectly. Sprucette Katherine Barona’s incredible miniature cream pies, ice cream sodas, banana pudding and oatmeal cookie sandwiches were irresistible complements.
Brown was lively and lovely in her deep-magenta, patterned dress; she stuck mostly to the front of the store, greeting visitors amid a few of her redesigned furniture pieces and well-staged piles of books and DVDs. Her putative touring vehicle, a bright-red VW van called the Chair-iot, was parked outside. "It probably wouldn't make it out of the state," she admitted, but it is a stylish embodiment of her go-for-it philosophy.
Kids and grownups milled easily about, admiring Mockingbird's goods and Spruce creations. On the back patio, a small group gathered around a work table for a quick lampshade workshop. Their enthusiastic stapling was a great backdrop to the chattering crowd that gravitated inside toward dusk to enjoy one another and the fine design on display under the store's homey, glowing lights.