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DIY Decorating

Redecorating a room? Get out your inner Martha Stewart at these two new home decor stores that offer workshops.


Jason Ford

1. Home Decor Learning Center

Housed in a 4,000-square-foot Concord warehouse, Home Decor Learning Center offers tools and space for working on upholstery and sewing projects. Among its schedule of classes and workshops is Beginning Upholstery, with four three-hour sessions for $150.

Starting simple: A flea-market find such as a petite stool or bench makes for a perfect starter project, and owner-instructor Rachel Myers offers a colorful selection of fabric. I work with a yard of ornately printed cotton linen and a ramshackle bench abandoned in the storeroom.   

Embracing power tools: I quickly discover that upholstery isn’t just fabric and frills: Nearly all furniture has dozens—sometimes hundreds—of hidden staples to be removed. But from the staple remover to the foam cutter to the industrial sewing machine, I find using power tools is fun. That is until I accidentally jab my instructor. 

Learning from the best: “Time to give it a haircut,” Myers says, when excess fabric needs a trim. Her passion for upholstery is evident as she offers encouragement and attention to every student. (She even forgives my incident with the staple remover.)

Loving the result: My reupholstered bench—its floral fabric fitted snugly and trimmed with red gimp braid—has found a new home at the foot of my bed.

2041 Commerce Ave., Concord, (925) 798-4352, homedecorlc.com.

Amelia's finished bench // Amelia Arvesen

2. The Bloom Space

Part vintage collective and part DIY studio, the Bloom Space in Lafayette offers an inspirational environment for getting crafty. Workshops are held every month, including Chalk Paint 101, a three-hour, $95 class.

Honing my skills: Following Chalk Paint developer Annie Sloan’s techniques, the class experiments with rustic-chic, smooth, and white-washed looks on sample boards. The smooth effect is sleek, versatile, and easy to apply—which would have been handy a few months ago when I spent four weekends recoating my dresser.

Annie Sloan’s chalk paint is stocked in many colors at The Bloom Space. // Amelia Arvesen

Finding inspiration: Goods from 12 different vendors fill the charming shop, spurring ideas for creative designing and decorating. Among the furniture, home and garden decor, artwork, and collectibles, an old card table decopaged with a weathered map catches my eye.

Passing the time: My classmates chat away as we wield paintbrushes. I get to know a foreign painter brushing up her skills and a sporty mom looking to add pizzazz to her home.

Upping the ante: While others showed up to class with useful folding tables, I brought a humble picture frame. Next time, a TV tray I only use when I’m sick is getting a pop of color for permanent display.

3391 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 357-7168, thebloomspace.com.


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