Middletown’s Sew Fine becomes Oak & Velvet, offering custom furniture, reupholstery – Shoreline Times
MIDDLETOWN >> Traveling down the road of an interior design career I took a detour a few miles in. The road sign read âStop! âDesign your own furniture lineâ and I got off.
Connecticut happily had a lot of work-rooms that would make my designs. It was economical, too. I could get the look of the NYC showrooms without big mark ups and shipping fees.
Unfortunately the Connecticut brick and mortar businesses have taken a big hit. The generational feature in this craft canât be overlooked either. The majority of great upholsterers learned this skill very young and usually from a close family member. Those generations are disappearing.
Imagine my delight when I discovered the furniture factory Oak & Velvet. When you hear the name Oak & Velvet it conjures up a dichotomy, a contrast of solid and soft, rustic and elegant.
Once I got to know Michael Ciborowski the owner, I realized how the name Oak & Velvet fits him. Michaelâs a solid, smart businessman with a friendly and willing approach.
For a long time Michael ran a small re-upholstery shop called So Fine ,500 Main Street in Middletown. Recently, Sew Fine morphed into a gigantic loft space on Johnson Street in Middletown and added handmade custom upholstered furniture along with their expert reupholstery.
The two story, 1,000 foot long converted building has had a lively business heritage. Finished in 1896 it housed the Keatings Wheel Factory. It broke ground as the first totally electrical factory in the United States working closely with Thomas Edison. Winning first place was in its DNA Keating was awarded title for the first U.S. patent on a motorized bicycle in 1901 soon to be called a motorcycle. Harley-Davidson trailed by two years in 1903.
A few more iconic businesses made Johnson Street home, like Remington Typewriter. Unfortunately, by the late 20th century, the abandoned building was out of business.
Luckily it was revived and the loft space Oak & Velvet occupies has a very cool, at the risk of being cliched, Brooklyn feeling.
The seeds of Oak & Velvet were planted by a teenaged Michael. He worked in a friendâs shop and soon struck out his own at 19. Putting an ad in the local paper, setting up in his parentsâ garage, he could barely fill the orders that flew in. Soon he was running a business in the main part of town.
In the beginning, Michael learned a lot from a Long Island seasoned pro who taught valuable life lessons. Michael recites the rhetorical quote from this mentor [Long Island accent please]âYou donât have time to do it right, but you have time to do it twice?â and âIf the seatâs no good the jobâs no goodâ
Cutting corners like reupholstering over old fabric is a no-noâ¦so many upholsterers try and skip this time consuming step.
Michael has kept the personality of the previous loft tenants, a fencing club, to show off his beautifully crafted handmade upholstery. Underfoot run miles of hardwood flooring ,with the visible original 12-x-4 metered fencing tapes. An old timey bar and pool table top off the clubby ambience.
Along the walls are an array of fabrics to choose from. His private labeled line, textures and linens are from U.S. weavers. The two story loft has enormous windows bringing in generous natural light so helpful in scrutinizing colors when choosing fabrics.
The custom product starts with eight-way hand-tied springs over solid wood frames fastened with corner brackets and metal dowels. An unusual feature in upholstery, Oak & Velvet serges their seams, it prevents unravelling and is a signature of a quality product. Michael buys his lumber and cushion fills from a Connecticut source. The lumber is hardwood and the cushion fills are feathers to foam.
We recently had a hypo-allergic client and Michael customized the pillows and cushions with foam that sat like 50 percent feathers and 50 percent down.
The multicultural staff at O+V add to the unique nuances of a finished product .Multi-talented artisans apply dressmaker details like tufting, cording, pleating, flange trim and nail heads. You dream it, they can create it.
Michael is proud that his business represents five different cultures and they pull together to give back to the community.
Oak & Velvet is hosting their second annual charity event April 29 from 6-11 p.m. The showroom is opened for a night of live music, drinks, dinner and dancing. Along with the chance to win a signature set of O+V furniture, all proceeds from the $40 tickets will be donated to the American Heart Association.
Now thatâs a solid and soft gesture.
Editorâs note: Jennifer Walker is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers [ASID] website on Houzz.com WalkerInteriors LLC. Located in Stony Creek; phone: 203-453-1153; email: email@example.com.
Write a Reply or Comment:
You must be logged in to post a comment.