They resist stains and look great doing it: Meet our high-performance fabrics!

Do you find that the most memorable stains seem to happen in slow motion? The wine glass tips over, the cup of coffee wobbles, the kiddo squeezes the grape juice box and a purple fountain shoots upward. Slowly, torturously—because you're too far away or too slow—the liquid falls through the air and lands before you can stop it. It leaves a permanent stain on your furniture and a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. And how about the stains you find after it's too late? Like when your beloved pet stains the sofa during the night and leaves it for you to find in the morning. You try to laugh it off and tell yourself that "life happens"—except in this case, life just happened to soil your major furniture investment. Never fear; high-performance fabrics are here! Ethan Allen introduced four lines of them in Fall 2017: a linen blend, a textured chenille, a herringbone, and even a plush velvet (yes, you read that right: velvet). In Fall 2018, we'll be introducing even more high-performance upholstery fabric options, so you can dress your furniture in style and protect it, even in your household's heavy-use areas.

What Is a High-Performance Fabric?

High-performance fabrics give you an extra line of defense against all kinds of stains: liquid spills, oil-based blotches, and even streaks left by crayons and markers. Red wine and soda can't sink into a fabric designed to cause liquid to bead on contact with the surface. Muddy paws are no match for a fabric that can be easily cleaned with soap and water. It may sound like magic, but it's actually science: a stain- and liquid-repellent material covers the surface of each fiber to prevent stains from taking hold. And when you choose high-performance fabric, you don't have to send style to the cleaners; these fabrics feel and look beautiful in all kinds of spaces.

What Happens when Life Happens?

When paw prints, coffee spills, crayon marks, and salad dressing dribbles come into contact with a high-performance fabric, they're easy to clean. Mix enzyme-based detergent, like Tide laundry detergent or Dawn dish detergent, and warm water. We recommend a solution that's about 1% to 2% detergent, or about one tablespoon of detergent mixed with a quart of water, which you can easily store in a spray bottle. Once the slow-motion spill lands—or when you find the surprise stain—spray it lightly with solution. There's no need to soak the fabric. Blot it—don't rub—with a paper towel. This simple process cleans up fresh marks and removes most stains.

How About when Life REALLY Happens?

These fabrics are fantastic, but they're not bulletproof. Some stains are more challenging than others. For tougher stains, like oil-based stains, let the detergent do the work. Spray, let soak, and blot, repeating the steps until the stain has dissipated. Some substances are really tough to remove from a fabric. The worst culprits are lipstick, nail polish, and every parent's worst nightmare: permanent marker. Ethan Allen offers Guardsman Gold Complete furniture protection plans for those times when even high-performance isn't enough. These plans also protect your investment when fabric rips, tears, or gets punctured or burned—in other words, when life gets overwhelming.

Life-Proofing Your Space

In today's world, formal living rooms are largely a thing of the past. We want our kids and our pets with us, and we want them to be free to climb, play, and explore without worrying that their messes can't be undone. Ethan Allen furniture and accessories aren't just for looking at; they're for living with. For even more options that can help you kid-proof, pet-proof, and life-proof your space, check out our post on high-performance pet-friendly rugs. To get even more great tips on designing great spaces that are easy to live in, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.
As any pet owner knows, keeping a stylish home looking its best can be a constant battle. From the entryway and living room to the bedroom and dining room, our beloved animal companions have no problem resting their cute paws and claws anywhere (as you can see in this recent photo shoot we did to celebrate National Pet Month)! But that doesn’t mean your style has to go to the dogs. Here are five easy pet-friendly furniture and home design ideas that will make a difference.

1. TAKE COVER

More than likely, your pets are sharing the bed with you—or taking it over! To keep the fashion factor high in the bedroom, invest in high-quality, machine washable bedding that can withstand the regular care that’s required with pets. Our bedding selection offers a wide array of beautiful styles in 100% cotton that can easily be brushed, vacuumed, washed, and ironed to keep your bed dressed in its best. The Abriella floral duvet cover and shams offer fresh, pet-friendly bedroom style. The duvet cover features hand pockets and interior corner duvet ties that make it super easy to remove the duvet insert for cleaning.

2. DRESSED FOR SUCCESS

The best furniture for pets is dressed wisely. Our all-new selection of high-performance fabrics offers worry-free fashions for indoor upholstery pieces, including plush velvet, tailored chenille, herringbone, and linen in a variety of colors and patterns. These beautiful, durable, pet-friendly fabrics repel spills, resist moisture and odors, and are easy to clean so you don’t have to sacrifice your style for your pets. The Borini Ivory high-performance fabric has the look and feel of a classic twill so you can finally have that cozy, light colored sofa you’ve always wanted.

3. TREAT YOUR EYES

Food bags and pouches stuffed in cupboards can be an unruly annoyance, especially if you have multiple pets. Keeping colorful biscuits, jerkies, and other treats fresh in stylish glass containers on your kitchen counter is an easy, chic solution. These Glass Cork jars are food-safe and come in three different sizes—great for storing different treats for multi-pet households.

4. HIT THE FLOOR

Every rug may not be suitable for a pet-friendly home but every pet-friendly home can definitely have a stylish rug! Save your pretty plush styles for low-traffic areas (if there’s such a thing) and opt for indoor/outdoor rugs for your active living spaces. The La Grange rug has the stylish look of a flat-weave wool rug; you’d never know it's woven from high-performance fibers that can withstand muddy or litter-laden paws. Plus, it’s reversible! The Mickey Mouse stripe rug is braided, just like a classic rag rug, from durable fibers. It’s also reversible for double the style!

5. PLAY CATCH

From chew toys and leashes to catnip-filled mice and bouncy balls, your pets’ playthings definitely need a home! Interesting boxes and baskets can catch the clutter in style. The lightweight yet durable Fantastic Felt storage baskets have a fun, fetching look and can easily be moved from room to room for pickup and playtime. Where do your pets like to make themselves at home? Tag photos of your pets getting comfy in their favorite spots with #ethanallenpets on Instagram so we can see and share them. And if you need some help with pet-friendly furniture and home design ideas, just ask one of our designers—their services are free! They’re available at your nearest Design Center or they can come to your place, if you’d like.          

Ethan Allen's own Florence Grazi takes you behind the design to reveal the latest fabric trends!

One of Ethan Allen's biggest passions is personalization: making it possible for you to customize our styles in ways that help you express who you are. Our collection of 1,000+ textile fabric and leathers is one of the ways we make that happen, and the mind behind our fabric collection is our director of fabric and leather, Florence Grazi. We start by briefly introducing you to Florence and giving you a sense of her arc as both an artist and a trend spotter. Then, we'll dive right into what's hot in the world of fabric right now and share some images of Florence's favorite fabrics.

Meet Florence

Florence knew she wanted to be a textile designer when she was fifteen years old. Like so many of us, she was inspired by a great teacher; in her case, the teacher was Joan Busing, a printmaker with whom Florence studied art. Joan often invited former students to return and share their work with her current students. One such guest, a student at Syracuse University, introduced Florence to designing fabric patterns with gouache, a paint that blends some of the behaviors of watercolor with the opacity of acrylic. "I was totally enamored," Florence remembers. "I thought, 'This is what I want to do. I want to do something where I can just play with this stuff all the time.'" On a college evaluation visit to Syracuse, she met a senior student in the surface pattern studio who had interviews lined up at both Ralph Lauren and Hallmark. Seeing the chance not only to perfect her art but also to build a rewarding career, Florence earned a BFA from Syracuse and started putting her knowledge to work. She began her career with Stacy Garcia, who had just launched a design house in New York City (Florence also interned with Garcia during her degree program and considers her an important mentor). At that point, Garcia was running her startup from a basement, with a focus on design for the hospitality industry. She has since branched out into residential categories, moved into office space, and become a sought-after speaker and designer. For Garcia, Florence developed patterns for both upholstery and soft goods fabrics (think bedding and pillows), along with patterns for wallpaper and carpet.  She then moved on to Kravet, where she developed signature looks for midrange and licensed fabric collections—most notably, the Candice Olson collection. Ethan Allen has been a place where Florence's passions come together: designing fabrics, spotting trends, and developing finished products that people will love. She credits her predecessor, Anne Lekow (now Ethan Allen's senior director of upholstery merchandising), as a mentor who helped her combine both her product development experience and her trend-spotting know-how with an appreciation for how every fabric will look once it's applied to a frame. In fact, Florence says the most rewarding part of her job is seeing the gorgeous fabrics she works so hard to develop come together with a frame to create the perfect piece—that point at which the two-dimensional becomes three-dimensional. "The coolest thing I ever saw was the conveyor belt of furniture," she says with a laugh, recalling a visit to one of Ethan Allen's North American plants. "I thought, 'This is the moment. This is the moment I've been waiting for.' All the different furniture coming down the belt. All different patterns, all different frames. Fashion is something I look to for inspiration. This is my fashion show. That's my runway." Throughout her career, Florence has had a passion for knowing what's next in the world of textiles. Without further ado, we bring you Florence's take on the latest fabric trends.

Pattern in Textile and Design: It's Back!

We all know the usual advice for decorating a room: Start with neutral investment pieces and add colorful or patterned accessories to personalize the design. If Florence had her way, she'd turn that advice on its head—today. "I think that people turn to neutral because they're comfortable with it, and it's an investment, and you can live with it for a long time," she says. "I would love to start with a pattern and with color. And I'm starting to see that with some of the higher-end designers who have blogs and also in high-end publications." Florence has noticed a trend toward more large-scale botanical patterns, including tropical prints and florals. "There's really an emphasis on bring the outdoors in," says Florence, "but what's next for florals? I don't know that it's necessarily super traditional or formal. It's like a new construction. Florals that are big bouquets—they're showing them now at triple the scale. Old-school bouquets shown on a black ground at twice the size. It's all about changing something to make it for today rather than repeating history." In fact, people seem to want a fresh take on something already made: "A really traditional damask from the eighteenth century can be new again with a change in construction or a change in color." Florence points to a metallic damask that Ethan Allen recently released, a metallic print on a linen ground. "It's high and low. I love the juxtaposition, the mix of something shiny with something dry." Even solids, she says, are incorporating that mix of matte and sheen to add a sense of dimension. Florence also loves to see ancient techniques like block printing, which originated in ninth-century China during the Tang Dynasty, take on new life in today's fabric patterns. One of the fabrics she developed for Ethan Allen's Passport look, Mandron Pool, is a great example. See how this performance fabric is made.

Color Is Everything

Florence's love for pattern goes back to the days she spent in her high school teacher's studio. "It's my core," she says. "It's my heartbeat." She's equally passionate about color, and that passion is essential because textile fabrics are often the first place Ethan Allen's merchandising team starts when creating a new look. For Uptown, which released in Spring 2018, Florence found inspiration at a textile fair she attended in Italy. What she saw helped her develop the signature Uptown palette, which consists of deep jewel tones and light gemstone hues. Amethyst and eucalyptus, a color Florence describes as "slate-y teal," are the core colors. To pair beautifully with Florence's Uptown palette, Ethan Allen created an all-new finish called champagne brass. The team also chose cooler brown tones for many of its wood finishes, which look gorgeous with the fabric palette and the new finish—all built around Florence's initial concepts. "This is the thing about color and design, period," Florence says. "It stems from somewhere in history; it regenerates itself. People say, 'We've been there; we've done this.' Not this way. It's all about figuring out the angle." When it comes to color, Florence sees pastels as the on trend, particularly grayed-out hues that pair beautifully with finishes like lacquer, crystal, brushed metal, or Lucite. "I think what's happening is there are light grayed pastels, like blush, mint, and lavender—I think these are becoming the new forms of neutrals. Also light, soft grays rather than charcoal." In other words, blush is so much more than millennial pink; it's en vogue because it pairs so beautifully with stylish finishes, wall colors, fabrics, and decorative elements. Other on-trend colors that pair beautifully with gray include—
  • Greens are available in a wide range of shades—eucalyptus, sage, olive, moss, grass—and they have the added benefit of bringing the outdoors in. One example is Ethan Allen's Lallana Emerald fabric, a bold tropical print in a range of greens, with a hand-sketched look that makes it modern and fresh.
  • Apricots that are less coral and more soft and fresh; think a light peach.
  • Limoncello, which Florence describes as a yellow with a hint of Dijon mustard.
  • White in shades of pearl and graceful cream; with today's high-performance fabrics, you can upholster in white without worrying that stains and spills will shorten the life of your fabric.
Again, it goes back to interpreting familiar things in new ways. "I love anything that has a little bit of history. It makes something feel grounded. Color is an opportunity to set a mood, where depending on what you're going for, you can make something more serene or more exciting."

Texture Trends

Not everyone is up for upholstering their sofa in a bold pattern, and that's okay! Trendy textured fabrics have become a great way to add visual movement to larger furnishings; Florence calls them "plains with character." Tone-on-tone patterns, like herringbone, perform the function of a solid while adding dimension. "The way you can keep things interesting is by adding texture," she says. "People are using texture on their large-scale pieces. That becomes a bit of a statement, but it's soft, and it's easy to live with." Velvets have been on trend for a while, and they're gorgeous on large-scale pieces. (We featured our Oxford sofa in lush green velvet on the cover of our February 2018 magazine, and we even have high-performance velvets, like our Ramona Velvet in Ballet Pink.) Another on-trend textured choice for a sofa or sectional is bouclé, which Florence says can look incredibly chic when it's paired with beautiful accent pillows and textiles. And surprise!—tailored chenille is also in vogue, and Florence isn't talking about your grandmother's chenille. Today's on-trend chenilles get their look less from pile and more from fill and warp direction.

Putting It All Together

Florence spots trends in Manhattan, where she lives, and also draws inspiration from New York's thriving world of fashion. She talks to her huge network of suppliers to see what they're developing, and she shows them what she's creating to get a feel for how new designs could perform on the market. Staying on trend is important, but what ultimately matters to Florence is quality. "I'm a value shopper. I want to make sure I'm getting the best things for my buck," she concludes. "Since you're paying what you're paying for a piece of furniture, I want to make sure every fabric I put out there for anyone to live with has all the design touches that our clients deserve." If you enjoyed meeting Florence and getting the lowdown on fabric trends, here's what to do next:
  • Follow Florence on Instagram @friendsoflorence, and keep an eye out for her takeover of Ethan Allen's Instagram account on May 18.
  • Share ways you've personalized Ethan Allen furnishings with creative fabric choices, tagging them #EthanAllenDesign—we like to see them and share our favorites!
  • Get the latest design tips and trends by subscribing to The Art of Making Home.

HAPPY MOTHERS (OF INVENTION) DAY

They say a woman’s place is in the home, but we think it’s in the lab, too. This Mother’s Day, instead of offering up a breakfast-in-bed menu or list of last-minute gift ideas, we’re giving a shout-out to women whose inventions have made our homes safer, smarter, healthier, more comfortable—better. These are women who saw necessity as opportunity, women who imagined things that never were and made them happen. They were teachers, engineers, factory workers, scientists, housewives. And while they were not all mothers in the literal sense, we’re honoring them anyway—they’re all mothers of invention.

DISHWASHER

Josephine Cochrane (1839–1913)

Josephine Cochrane and her dish-washing machine, c. 1886 So maybe it wasn’t altruism that inspired this invention, but we still have socialite Josephine Cochrane to thank for saving us all from dishpan hands. In the mid-1880s, the well-to-do hostess from Shelbyville, Illinois, was known for her frequent, lavish dinner parties. Needless to say, there was always a lot of cleanup to do, but Josephine didn’t give much thought to the tedious task that fell to her kitchen staff—until she discovered they were chipping her fine china. Fed up, she took matters into her own hands and designed the first mechanical dishwashing machine that actually worked. She was awarded a patent in 1886 and founded a company (eventually known as KitchenAid) that would manufacture her machine, but it would be decades before the dishwasher became a commercially successful household appliance.

SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM Maria Telkes (1900–1995)

Scientist Maria Telkes was known as “The Sun Queen.” Maria Telkes got the sun in her eyes at an early age. Even in high school, the Hungary native found solar energy intriguing. At 25, after earning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, Maria emigrated to the U.S., where she worked as a biophysicist and later as a research engineer in the field of energy conversion. In 1940, she joined the solar research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she and architect Eleanor Raymond designed and built the Dover Sun House, the first completely solar-heated home. A prolific inventor who was awarded twenty patents over the course of her life, Maria also designed the first simple, easily operated solar oven for use in developing countries.

FOLDING CABINET BED Sarah E. Goode (c. 1855–1905)

Former slave-turned-entrepreneur Sarah E. Goode. There was no getting up on the wrong side of the bed for many who lived in the working-class neighborhoods of Chicago after the Civil War. Apartments were small and cramped, so beds were often jammed into corners, taking up the lion’s share of floor space. Sarah E. Goode would have none of it. Born into slavery around 1855, Goode and her husband Archibald, a carpenter, moved to Chicago after the war, where they opened a furniture store. Because so many of their customers lived in tight quarters, Goode invented what she called a “folding cabinet bed,” which, when not in use, folded up and served as a rolltop desk. It inspired the later, popular Murphy bed, but Goode made history for another reason:  She was the first African-American woman to be granted a U.S. patent.

DISPOSABLE COFFEE FILTER Melitta Bentz (1873–1950)

Melitta Bentz, inventor of the first paper coffee filter. If this inventor’s name sounds familiar, it’s because the name she made for herself over a century ago is still well represented in the coffee aisle of your local supermarket. Melitta Bentz went from clever housewife to inventor, entrepreneur, and household name in 1908 when she registered a humble invention she called a “Filter Top Device Lined with Filter Paper” with the patent office in Dresden, Germany. Melitta had grown tired of coffee that was overly bitter and full of grounds—plus she hated cleaning the sticky mess at the bottom of her pot. One day she punched holes in the bottom of the pot, and lined the inside with a sheet of blotter paper ripped from a school notebook. She filled the pot with grounds, set it over a coffee cup, poured boiling water over it—and the first disposable coffee filter was born. The Melitta company still manufactures paper filters today—along with ground coffee, single-serve coffee, coffee makers, pour-over manual coffee brewers, and accessories.

HOME SECURITY SYSTEM Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922–1999)

Home security system inventor Marie Van Brittan Brown. This invention’s got nothing on today’s smart houses, but hey, we all have to start somewhere. In this case, “somewhere” is Marie Van Brittan Brown’s hometown of Jamaica, Queens, where she lived with her husband, Albert Brown, an electronics technician. A nurse who worked odd shifts, Marie often worried about her safety in their high-crime neighborhood, so she designed a security system, showing camera images of the front door, that could be operated from her bedroom. She and Albert created a prototype that worked, and were granted a patent for the invention in 1966. Home security system technology has come a long way since then, but it was Marie’s invention that inspired it.

FOOT PEDAL TRASHCAN Lillian Gilbreth (1878–1972)

  Lillian Gilbreth: She invented the kitchen triangle, too.   Lillian Gilbreth made trash disposal a lot less icky when she invented a can with a lid that opened with the touch of a foot. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story of a woman who dedicated her life to problem solving both inside (she came up with the idea of shelves inside refrigerator doors—who knew?) and outside the home. Dubbed the “mother of modern management,” the inventor of the foot pedal trashcan was an author, industrial engineer, and mother of twelve, who with her engineer husband, Frank, tested efficiency ideas in their New Jersey home. Two of their children later wrote a best seller about growing up in the Gilbreth household; Hollywood turned it into a movie: Cheaper by the Dozen (1950).

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES Ruth Wakefield (1903–1977)

Ruth Wakefield, the mother of the chocolate chip cookie. One of our favorite home improvements of all time is the delicious aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Thank you, Ruth Wakefield! Ruth was a dietician who, with her husband, Kenneth, ran a roadside inn in Massachusetts in the 1930s. Ruth was known for her cooking, especially her homemade desserts, so travelers looked forward to stopping at the Toll House Inn (see where we’re going with this?). Legend has it that one day, Ruth was baking a batch of cookies when she discovered she was out of baker’s chocolate. She substituted broken pieces of Nestle's semisweet chocolate, but they didn’t melt as expected. The result was the accidental invention of what Ruth called Toll House Crunch Cookies. They were an immediate hit, and according to most surveys taken over the years, the chocolate chip remains the most popular cookie in America.
Our four-legged friends spend a lot of time on our rugs. And occasionally—for reasons pet owners are all too familiar with!— the rug gets the worse end of the deal. That's why pet-friendly rugs are essential household items for the savvy pet owner. To be considered pet friendly, a rug has to meet three nonnegotiable criteria:
  1. Durable
  2. Stain resistant
  3. Easy to clean
We have some rug recommendations that are sure to stand up to almost anything Fido and Fluffy can throw at them, from muddy paws to sharpening claws. These are also great rugs for high-traffic areas.

Pet-Friendly Rugs for Simple, Sturdy Elegance

If your pet prefers to snooze on a colorful rug with a subtle pattern, both our Willow Grove and Splendor Lake rugs are great options. The Willow Grove rug is a handwoven rug with a herringbone pattern. It's made from 100% UV stabilized polyethylene terephthalate—also known as PET, what a coincidence!—which is a durable polyester fiber created from recycled plastics. Another option, made from similar materials, is our Splendor Lake rug. This one has a subtle trellis pattern, and, like Willow Grove, is woven by hand. Both of these are indoor-outdoor rugs that are fade resistant with UV protection. PET is a quick-drying material that doesn't absorb liquids, so it's not prone to mold or mildew. These rugs are available in six colors and in three sizes to fit your space: 2'3" x 3', 5' x 8', and 8' x 10'. Even better: They're reversible for long-lasting value.

Rugs that Make a Bolder Statement

Sometimes, a space needs some bold pattern to spice it up. These striped pet-friendly rugs will wake up your space so your pet can cavort in style. Our La Grange rug is perfect for a relaxed space and versatile; you can easily picture it in a cottage or in an urban loft. It has a flat weave that's handwoven from the same high-performance fibers as Willow Grove and Splendor Lake. Like those two rugs, it's also reversible, and it's an indoor-outdoor option. La Grange is available in black, navy, or camel with a contrasting ivory stripe. It's also available in three sizes: 2'3" x 3', 5' x 8', and 8' x 10'. Let's turn to a different kind of striped statement: a traditional rag rug look with a slightly whimsical pattern. This rug is crafted from 100% polypropylene in a traditional braided pattern, and it's sewn around the sides to ensure it doesn't unravel. You'll never guess where we got the idea for this pattern: Mickey Mouse. That's right—this Mickey Mouse stripe rug is actually from our Ethan Allen | Disney collection, and it's inspired by classic color combos from early Disney cartoons. It's traditional with a twist, and when people ask you about it, you'll have an interesting story to share! Like our other rugs, it meets the pet-friendly criteria and can be used indoors and out. The reversible Mickey Mouse stripe rug is available in three color combos and in three sizes: 5' x 7', 6' x 9', and 8' x 10'.

Rugs for Kids' Rooms

Mickey Mouse isn't only for grown-ups. We have another Disney-inspired option for your favorite kiddo (or the kid in you): our braided Mickey Mouse rug. Like the Mickey Mouse stripe rug we showed you earlier, this one is reversible, braided, and made from 100% polypropylene, a material that stands up to all kinds of messes, whether they're made by little humans or furry companions. We love the concentric braid pattern and the bold color options (there are four). We also love the idea that you can place this rug anywhere. You can stand on it in front of your baby's crib and sing lullabies, or you can stand on it in front of your kitchen sink, doing dishes while your cat or dog watches (they want to help you, but they don't have opposable thumbs).

One More Thing

We have a gorgeous new line of Home & Garden fabrics coming out, including indoor-outdoor rugs that meet all the pet-friendly criteria. Take a peek at them in our latest H&G lookbook if you need even more pet-friendly rugs to choose from! Here's to all the fun we have with our pets—and how nice it is when the cleanup is easy!
It's Cinco de Mayo AND Kentucky Derby day? There has never been a day in the history of mankind that has demanded a party more clearly than this one. And there has never been a piece of furniture more ready for a party than our Lora bar. Check out this video of five ways to style our Lora bar We've decided to focus on the Kentucky Derby and the classic cocktail that goes with it: the mint julep. Let's dive into this great tradition, and, as a bonus, we'll also give you some pro tips on serving with Lora.

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby, which debuted in 1875, takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville. It's preceded by a flurry of local activities, including a spectacular air show and fireworks display called Thunder over Louisville. A general admission ticket to the Derby doesn't guarantee anyone a place to sit, and seats are premium price, so fans start flocking into the Downs early to grab space on the central lawn. And the hats—what would the Kentucky Derby be without these iconic fashion statements? It's also not Derby day without a cold, refreshing mint julep in hand. With an assist from our Lora bar, this cocktail is sure to earn a Triple Crown at your Kentucky Derby party.

Mint Julep Recipe

Although it precedes the Civil War, and reports differ over whether it was originally made with cognac or bourbon, the mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in the 1930s. Over 120,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs on Derby weekend, including 10,000 bottles of ready-to-serve cocktail, 60,000 pounds of crushed ice, and 4,000 sprigs of freshly harvested mint. Mint juleps are traditionally served in silver cups (in fact, the Derby makes sterling silver cups for the big day), and the cups develop a lovely signature frost on the outside as you stir the cocktail. If you don't have silver cups, don't worry—we won't tell. Just make sure to use good bourbon. Oh, and start this the night before your party; you'll need to make the simple syrup in advance. Ingredients 2 cups sugar 2 cups water Fresh mint Crushed ice Bourbon Silver julep cups
  1. Prep the syrup. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid is simmering and clear. Cool the syrup it and place it in a covered container along with six to eight sprigs of fresh mint. Refrigerate overnight.
 
  1. Prep your workspace. On the day of your party, place your simple syrup in a bowl along with a tablespoon on the top shelf of your Lora bar. Arrange your bottle of bourbon, a bucket of crushed ice with a small scoop, and a plate of mint sprigs near the simple syrup bowl, leaving yourself a little room to make each cocktail. You can keep a shot glass handy to measure your bourbon; a shot glass holds one ounce of liquid. Place your silver cups on the Lora bar's second level, along with some spare bourbon in case you run out.
 
  1. Make the juleps. Grab a silver cup and use the scoop to fill it with crushed ice. Add one tablespoon of simple syrup, plus two ounces of bourbon (two shots if you're measuring with the glass). Stir the cocktail rapidly to chill the drink and frost the cup. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

HOME IS WHERE THE PET IS

Today kicks off National Pet Month and we’re excited to have a reason to share our appreciation for pets. We’re passionate about helping people create homes they love—and that means more than just sharing the latest in home design trends, like the 2018 Pantone color of the year, and real interior design projects from our own designers. When it comes to the art of making home, pets play an important part.  They make cozy throws even cozier, have personalities as colorful as works of art,  and they bring more beauty into our lives than any piece of furniture ever could.

PET PICTURES ARE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

What better way to celebrate National Pet Month than with cute pet pictures! We invited some of our in-house pet owners and their beloved animal companions into the photo studio for pet portraits. We’ll be sharing them throughout the month, as well as some very special pet illustrations by Paul Shaw, manager of our Metairie, Louisiana, Design Center, whose beautiful artwork was recently featured in our State of the Art post. And we’d like you to get in on the fun too! Tag photos of your pets with #EthanAllenPets on Instagram and tell us what you love most about your pet so we can find them and share the love! So, let’s start celebrating with a look at a few ways pets bring joy and comfort into our homes:

They make us smile…

“The minute I come home, at least three cats come to welcome me! It always makes me smile to see their little faces!” Gwen Wilkinson, Associate Merchant and her clowder  “When you look at her, she just casually rolls over on to her back, expecting a belly rub.” Kyle Rodgers, Video Editor and Barbara the dog

...and sing!

“Quentin and I love to sing in the morning! We make up our own lyrics, but we both squeak and howl to get us in the right mood for the day.”  Paul Shaw, Design Center Manager, Metairie, Louisiana, and Quentin the dog

They make us laugh…

“He is obsessed with his Lamb Chop (dog toy) collection. There's a large basket of them near the front door from which he selects certain ones each day. At one point, we discovered that he had lined them up in front of the window so they could look outside.”  Greg McMahan, Senior Art Director and Clarence the dog

…and amaze us!

“Tater can hear a bag of chips a mile away. It’s become a challenge—we try to open the bag without it making a sound, but Tater comes running from the other end of the house every time. He can even hear cheese. I don’t know how he does it.” Donna Boccuzzi, Production Project Manager and her dog

They warm our hearts… 

“I love how they look up at me with such sweet eyes, even when treats are not involved.” Miller Opie, Social Media Creative Director and her dogs, Amelia and Django  “I have special ‘Chico and me’ time after I get into my comfies in the evening. I put a pillow on the bed and he curls up on that while I curl my arms around him.” Karen Marino, Senior Art Director and Chico the cat

 …and ease our minds..

“I was given the opportunity to adopt Tucker when we both were going through a rough spot in our lives. I cannot wait to go home at the end of every day and see my buddy.  All the stress melts away when I see him and life is good.” Andrea Fenton, Product Manager and Tucker the dog Be sure to stay tuned! We’re sniffing out a few more fun stories to share, including pet-friendly home design ideas, and a playful feature on Oliver (@oliver_in_charge), the famous Instagram pup who stole the heart of our Design Star, Nikki Brouillette.   https://youtu.be/iBYTh6X_soM        
Photographs and artwork make a home feel loved and lived in. The people in the photos or the images on the canvas are important to you. The frames reflect your style. Where you hang them says, "This matters." But some of us live in a different world – a world of good intentions and bare walls. "Someday," we say. "Someday, I'll put these up." And why? FOMU, friends. Fear of messing up! Well, banish those doubts. If you're a reluctant member of the bare-wall tribe, hope is here. You can do this. No more measuring, extra holes, crooked art, or – let's be honest – straight-up guessing where to swing the hammer. Ethan Allen artwork is fitted with no-wire hanging hardware and comes with everything you need to hang your new masterpiece just a few easy steps – secure, level, and with no measuring required. When you order artwork from Ethan Allen, the artisans in our Passaic, NJ, workshop frame it by hand and attach brackets to each frame. Your kit includes pointed plastic nubs that slip into those brackets to mark the wall exactly where you need to drill. It also contains wall anchors, wood screws, security washers, bumpers, a level and tape, and detailed instructions.
  1. To hang each piece slip a plastic nub into each bracket, then slide it to the side where the screw will be.
  2. Remove the backing from the bumpers and apply them to the frame back on the lower back corners. This will protect your wall from the frame and vice-versa.
  3. Remove the backing from one side of the tape and fix it to level included. Remove the other backing and gently secure the level to the center of the frame.
  4. Hold your artwork up to the wall where you'd like to hang it. When it's properly positioned and level, push the frame firmly against the wall. The plastic nubs in the brackets will leave small indentations in the wall where the screws should go.
  5. Put the frame down and remove the nubs.
  6. Put a nail into the hole in the nail home in the nub. Push the nail through the nub piece and line up the tip of the nail to the indentation on the wall. Hammer the piece into place. Do the other side. Once you get the nubs in place, just slide the brackets (on the back of your artwork) over the nubs, and boom! Your artwork is locked in tight.
Now that you know how easy hanging Ethan Allen art can be, why not plot a gallery wall? Find all the pro tips and tricks you'll need (plus a helpful video!) – and banish FOMU forever. https://youtu.be/yq31PJ_qSfo

Meet Margaret Francis, our Director of Wall Décor and Outdoor Living.

Making art is a little bit like breathing for Margaret Francis. She’s simply got to do both. Art has been an essential part of her life since she can remember; learning to use her mother’s vintage sewing machine at age six is one of her fondest memories. Because she’s responsible for curating Ethan Allen’s art offerings and developing our Home & Garden program, art invigorates her every day. Margaret is coming up on her one-year anniversary at EA, having moved here last summer from Chicago with her husband, Tedd, an architect who grew up in the Midwest, and their children: Kate, 4, and James, 3. They live in a townhouse that she describes as “eclectic with midcentury notes.” It’s not far from where Margaret grew up. She’s a creative and clever maker who enjoys sewing, quilting, framing art, and felting—as busy as she is. Ask her to tell you the coolest thing she’s ever made and she’ll say it’s her two kids. Margaret took a roundabout route from Boston University, where she earned degrees in psychology and women’s studies, to product development and merchandising, but she concedes she learned something every step of the way. (At one point she considered becoming a marine biologist but says taking chemistry was the game changer.) After graduating, she did a little of everything—from working as a house mother for students at the St. Thomas Choir School in New York City to handling client services for a financial software company. Frustrated, she finally saw a career counselor, took a battery of tests, and was told unequivocally that she should study industrial design. Margaret earned a master’s degree—in industrial design—from Pratt Institute three years later, and she took off on the career path that eventually led her to Ethan Allen. She worked in retail for more than ten years, where she especially enjoyed collaborating on home and garden merchandise and seasonal categories. Because she has both a good eye and an understanding of the art marketplace, her position at EA is a perfect fit. Our art program is multifaceted—from custom framed and exclusive prints to sculptural and dimensional work—with so many opportunities for Margaret to put her stamp on it. She’s very skilled at choosing mats, frames, and details, so there’s no doubt that she’ll showcase each work in the best possible way. And because she appreciates form and function, developing outdoor living ideas taps into her affinity for problem solving. Keen to bring fresh ideas to the Home & Garden category, Margaret hit the ground running.  She researched the market extensively and attended trade shows, looking for ways to “move the Ethan Allen needle” toward a more transitional and modern look, without overlooking our clients with more traditional tastes. Some of Margaret’s additions include color-coordinated fabrics from Sunbrella for long-lasting beauty; mix-and-match pillows; umbrellas in two shapes; and rugs that look and feel fab underfoot. Two new furniture groups (coming later this summer) will showcase the trend toward bridging indoor and outdoor spaces; look for weathered teak and elegant resin wicker, both with timeless indoor appeal. Along with versatility, quality, and durability, Margaret (ever the industrial designer) was determined that our new outdoor furniture would feel as good as it looks. One of her first directives: “Make me a more comfortable cushion!” Don’t miss Instagram takeover day with Margaret Francis on Friday April 27th. Margaret will be posting pix all day long!