Design Dilemma: Take “Yourself” Out of DIY


Bringing new life to vintage furniture is easier said than done. Design magazines and blogs make it seem like refinishing and reupholstery happens quickly and inexpensively. Here’s the truth from a woman who runs a chair hospital out of her garage: To do it right is a serious (and soul-killing) DIY project. Have the pros do it, and you are getting into spendy territory. That’s why my design antenna went up when I saw the results of a Cisco Brothers-Lumi Co. partnership: Character-filled, one-of-a-kind pieces you can buy off the floor. It could be time to clean out the garage.

Cisco, as the design-minded know, is a Los Angeles-based company that produces sustainable, good-looking furniture. Lumi Co., also based in Southern California, is a newcomer to the scene and is pioneering an eco-printing process that can put images on natural fibers without coatings. The two forces started working together, and Lumi Co. by Cisco Brothers was introduced at High Point this year.

The furniture forms are vintage, so most of the pieces are unique. However, in the case of the chairs showing the dome in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, there are several, as they were part of an old dining set. This is one of my favorites because of its style and local flavor.

Because of the limited availability, I’m guessing items in the line—which includes ottomans, pillows, sofas and accessories—will quickly become sought after art pieces. Right now, on the floor of the San Francisco Cisco Brothers showroom, shoppers will find ottomans embellished with Bay Bridge images and a clever Edwardian-era sofa with excerpts of Nick Bantock’s best-selling Griffin & Sabine printed on the back.

There’s nothing quite as boring as a room filled with new furniture. Older items with character and a bit of patina add a sense of history, interest and even excitement. The dilemma, as evidenced in my home, is the time and trouble required to make the befores afters. This collaboration solves the problem neatly and, with prices ranging from $220 to $3,200, purchasing the furniture won’t break the bank.

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