Gracewood Design: Elegant floorcloths and Canvas Rugs
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The evolution of a Custom Floorcloth

Much of the work we do is custom. This can mean anything from changing the colors or size of a floorcloth from our portfolio to creating a piece based on a pattern from an image, wallpaper, fabric, etc.; or creating something based on a combination of existing elements and the configuration of a room. No question, the latter is the most challenging. This is the story of a floorcloth we call “Olive Branch” which we first began considering in 2009 and delivered in May of 2012 (our typical production interval is 3 weeks, not 3 years.)

Carol contacted us in July 2009 having recently purchased a condo in Boston, looking for an “L” shaped floorcloth for her kitchen. We exchanged some emails regarding our process for making floorcloths, provided a sample of our work and gained a good understanding of the kitchen layout and approximate dimensions of the “L”. Then Carol got busy and we didn’t hear back from her until about two years later…then the planning started in earnest. Carol provided a favorite tea towel, upholstery and valance fabric, a brochure showing images of her dishes, photos of decorative cabinet fronts and other elements of the kitchen. She also provided a real size template of the floorcloth and a drawing that defined the measurements of each side of the “L”.

We considered all of the elements and then went back and forth with Carol on a couple of different design proposals. Ultimately, we agreed on creating a piece that had a cream background with some fauxing using darker accents with other colors derived from the valance and upholstery fabric; a lattice design for the body of the floorcloth (the chair upholstery fabric is a lattice design) and a border design that is derivative of a metal design that fronts the kitchen cabinets (a rendering of which is pictured here):
Cabinet Element

Figuring out what size the design elements should be to elegantly accommodate the “L” shape took many hours of calculating, and at that point we were ready to create stencils and produce a sample.

Here is a photo of our first sample:
Sample 1

We liked elements of the sample. The lattice is based on the shape of the metal door pulls in the kitchen and we love its open structure. The border pattern is charming, and scattering pieces of it throughout the lattice provides the opportunity to highlight its elements and break up what might otherwise appear stark. However, there was not enough definition between the border and the the body and perhaps not enough edge definition. We got some feedback from Carol and produced a second sample:
Sample 2

Now we were getting somewhere. The border pattern was reduced by 25% to allow for an outer 2” border, but we retained olive motifs in their original size where scattered in the lattice. Using the darkest faux color as the background for the border provided some definition as did the light blue pin striping on either side of the border pattern.

Carol liked this sample, but felt that the 2” dark blue border was too prominent. We produced a 2” strip of canvas that used the same dark blue color, mixed with a thinning agent that allows for visible paint strokes and the background to show through a bit. When laid on the second sample, it looked like this:
Sample 2b

We got the go ahead from Carol (and a request to increase the size by an inch all around.)

Despite the hours of calculations and the sample work, the production of this piece was still quite tricky, requiring a lot of layout work and measurement checking an re-checking.

Eighty plus emails and three years later, here is the finished piece:
Olive Branch

We received a lovely note from Carol after she received it:

“Just got the floor cloth…it is lovely, just perfect!  I couldn’t be more pleased.  The sizing, everything is right on.  I love it! Dan didn’t want to walk on it in his shoes, but I got down and hugged it.”

In Situ