Monday, December 19, 2011

That's A Wrap!

We've just placed the last (for the time being) of our rush Christmas and Hanukkah orders on the loading dock. It's been frantic, and our seamstress, Ana, has been truly heroic in finishing the dozens of custom requests we've received in the past weeks. Now it's time for year-end inventory and a week of planning for what promises to be our best year yet.

Not that I can complain about the last year; folks, you've been wonderful, and I am humbled and flattered by your patronage.

The big news is that shortly, we shall be unveiling our newest lace curtain pattern, and I promise you that it will be the most spectacular lace panel to be woven in the past century!

I make this claim with no reticence or qualifiers. No other lace curtain pattern in production comes even close to it; It's of a style that has been ignored by so many for so long, and will be unique in its field. I've shown it to a select few, and I've never seen such a response in my tenure. And there are other surprises that shall accompany it! So watch this space, and be amazed.

Finally, I wish you all the happiest of holidays, and thank you again for making 2011 such a great year for us.


Dan Cooper, President
Cooper's Cottage Lace, LLC

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Above and Beyond

This post started out as a promotional piece mentioning that Cooper's Cottage Lace had just sold lace curtains to the set of the television show Pan Am on ABC. But overnight, it turned into an example of how far we're willing to go for a customer in need.

The first order of our new Regency Panels had arrived on the set in Brooklyn, NY, last Monday, as requested. The next day, I happened to be in Manhattan visiting clients and meeting with the photographers of my next book to discuss layout and content. A call came in the afternoon; the set decorators needed more lace, but it had to be on set in Brooklyn by 8:00 am the next day.

Mind you, the lace was in the warehouse in Amherst, MA, 175 miles north of New York City. And it was too late to get it on Fedex. The shoot was scheduled for 9:00 am...panic ensued. So, I trained home, arriving around midnight, set my alarm for 3:30 am, and drove the lace down to Brooklyn, arriving at 7:03 at the gates of Steiner Studios. (I had left an hour to spare, in case traffic got ugly). I turned around, and returned to Amherst at 11am, in time to complete the day's work, content in the knowledge that the show would go on...

Watch for the episode "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" on December 4th; I'm told that's the air date!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lace On Loan

"I'd like to place an order, but if I don't like them, may I return the lace curtains?"

Of course you may; but in truth, merchants would prefer not to have returns. It means that inventory that could be with other customers is somewhere out in the world, and funds have to be credited.

So, we've pretty much solved this problem with our Loaner Program. If you're "not sure" about which pattern or width will work best for you, simply call or email us here at Cooper's Cottage Lace, and we'll send out previously opened panels or factory seconds of the lace curtains that interest you, and you can try them out in your home for a couple of weeks. All we ask is that you mail them back when you're finished.

We're frequently praised for this service, as it's such an easy way to try our products with no obligation. Please contact us today!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recreating the Carpet at the North Carolina Capitol

As mentioned previously, one of my jobs is as a historic floorcovering consultant for museums, state capitols, governor's mansions and private homes. I was contacted by the curatorial staff of the North Carolina State Capitol; the existing carpet in both the House and Senate chambers was in tatters and a trip-hazard, and thus in desperate need of replacement, and so I flew down to Raleigh, inspected the carpets and measured the rooms. It was a massive job, requiring 1,200 lineal yards of goods, and I directed the persons charged with acquiring the carpet to an English mill that specializes in high-grade Axminster carpet. The job was completed recently, and I thought I'd share images of it with you. Thanks to the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites for the images!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Regency Revived

Following up on your phenomenal response to our Art Deco lace pattern, Cooper's Cottage Lace has again collaborated with Steve Bauer of Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers to bring you another post-1900 pattern for your Dutch Colonial, Tudor Revival, Bungalow or other early 20th century house. Regency adapts the delicate Neo-Classical motifs of the Adam era to coordinate with the furnishings of the American Colonial Revival from 1910-1940 (although it looks just as beautiful in any Federal, Greek Revival or Victorian home dating from 1790-1900!) The addition of this graceful and elegant lace curtain panel to our line creates the finest collection of Colonial Revival, Old Colony and Neo-Classical lace patterns available today. The Regency panel promises privacy whilst permitting an abundance of light to filter into your home. Available October 1st, it will be sold in our standard widths of 20, 33 and 47 inches, and lengths of 54, 60, 72 and 90".

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Selling Well is the Best Revenge

By nature, business blogs are self-promoting; as proprietors, we use them as tools to publicize our products, and to inform our clients about new items or how to use and care for our goods.

And then sometimes, we just have to congratulate ourselves shamelessly.

I've just been informed that Cooper's Cottage Lace, LLC is the far and away leader in Madras lace curtains for the United States; a fact that makes me incredibly proud of our company. We began with the premise that we would make our mark not as the biggest, but as the best and most interesting source for Scottish cotton lace curtain panels in North America.

I could only dream that we'd do this well, and never in four short years, and certainly not during the bleakest economic period in 80 years.

So thank you all, I am truly honored by your patronage and enthusiasm.



ps: watch this space for our newest pattern, due out very shortly!

Friday, July 22, 2011

At Your Service

How many times have you been shopping online, found an interesting product, and hit the 'contact' button to ask the sales staff a question about some aspect such as size, delivery, etc?

And how often have you had to wait ages for a response, if you even get one? As a consumer, I am constantly frustrated at the lengthy or non-existent response rate from so many firms. (Are you hearing me, --- Door Company, --- Fabrics and --- Appliances? I went elsewhere, thanks for not returning my email...)

With that frustration in mind, I insisted that Cooper's Cottage Lace have the finest customer service in the lace curtain industry (and we do, just read our testimonials). Just this Monday alone, we received three unsolicited emails thanking us for responding so quickly and informatively.

This post is not intended to be self-congratulatory; it's the way business is supposed to be conducted.

So here's my promise; we will always get back to you as quickly as we can, usually within an hour or two, but always within a day...evenings, weekends and holidays included. If you wish, call 413-549-1063 or toll-free 888-433-7801 whenever you have a question. Chances are, I'll answer it personally in the off-hours.

Dan Cooper, President
Cooper's Cottage Lace, LLC

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Old House Writing

On any given day, my professional life veers between Cottage Lace, Historic Carpet and writing articles and books. I post my articles and seldom think about them again. Recently, I saw a reference to one of them, a piece on Old House Online's (Old House Interior and Old House Journal's) Facebook page that was promoting my article on Tiling on A Budget. I clicked on the link, and discovered that they had posted a bunch of my pieces; you can see them here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Washing Up

On The Care and Cleaning of Madras Lace Curtains...

Many people are under the impression that they need to launder their lace curtains frequently, when in fact the opposite is true. Unless you reside in a very dusty locale, you only need to clean your curtains once or perhaps twice a year. Often, simply shaking or vacuuming any dust off of them is a sufficient interim procedure.

While our mill recommends dry-cleaning Madras lace curtains, we at Cooper’s Cottage Lace have found that washing them either by hand or in cold water with a mild detergent on the delicate cycle works quite well. We have a high-efficiency, front loading washer, and this leaves the curtains barely damp upon finishing the load.

Drying your lace panels is the most important consideration; never put these 100% cotton lace curtains in a tumble dryer! We’ve found that the best method is to simply hang them back up on the rod, while they’re just slightly damp, or hang them over a shower rod. Don’t hang them on a line, as the curved deflection of the sagging line may distort the shape of the lace panel. Once dry, if you find that they are wrinkled, simply touch them up with an iron. Another method is to lightly sprtiz them with water while they are hanging, and to gently tug the wrinkles out; this is what we do at trade shows, rather than iron 20-plus lace curtain samples!

Because they are cotton, Madras lace may shrink slightly after they’ve been washed, but you can often iron them back into shape if they are still damp. You may lose half an inch, but this can be mitigated by lowering the curtain rod or hanging the curtain through the header instead of the lower rod pocket.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not with a Bang, but a Hammer…

While I do my best to write about lace curtains in this blog, I also touch upon anything historic, including restoration, interiors and the like. This current short piece may well become a prologue or epilogue for my forthcoming book "Houses & Spouses" which is the consolidated writer's versions of my infamous "Butchy Chronicles". The edited versions have been published in serialized form in Old House Interiors.

I am aware of your presence, even before I’ve opened my eyes. I knew that you’d been staring at me as I slept; no matter how I turned in the bed, or drew the covers on top of me, you were there, waiting, with your insatiable desire for my attentions. Clenching my eyelids shut is of no respite; your scent is everywhere, and I can feel you on my skin and in my hair. Though the dawn is barely filtering into our room, you refuse to let me sleep a moment longer, and you nudge me awake, gently at first, and then with a growing impatience.

Of course, you shall have your way; I have yet to shower, and my hands are upon you. Soon, we shall be soaked in sweat. This will continue for hours, well past the point of exhaustion, when I will be sore and unable to continue for another moment. Then, I shall collapse; dripping, sticky and barely able to muster the strength to eat or bathe before I must sleep again.

You have drained me; before we met, my time was my own, and my days were spent in carefree wanderings. Now, you demand my every moment. I give you my all, and yet you insist upon more. Should my eyes wander, you fiercely remind me that I am yours and yours alone. I have no right to protest, for my captivity is of my own volition; I have willingly succumbed to your charms, and spend my waking hours in grateful servitude.

I submit to you without reserve, without resistance, for you reveal your beauty to me in breathtaking flashes, and each glimpse renews my passion for you. I long to see you resplendent in your entirety, but you tease and flirt, allowing me to spy only enough to keep me constantly enchanted and seeking more. Tomorrow morning, our ritual will begin anew; once again, I shall arise, wearily take hammer in hand, and continue to glorify you above all others.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yet another hat: Historic Carpet Consultation

Some of you may know that besides owning Cooper's Cottage Lace and writing countless magazine articles, for the past 20 years I've been involved with the field of historic carpets, which includes Wilton, Brussels, Axminster, Ingrain and Venetian weaves. During this time, I've traveled all over North America and worked independently, and with another firm, in assisting museums, state capitols, governor’s mansions and private residences in selecting and specifying the appropriate pattern and quality and then overseen their delivery and installation. My new site, Historic Carpet Consulting and Sourcing, has just gone live, and I'll be posting stories here of the various jobs I'm working on.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Adding to Your Italianate

As mentioned incessantly, when I'm not purveying the coolest lace curtains in the world at Cooper's Cottage Lace LLC, I write for a bunch of magazines, one of which is Period Homes. They've just published my latest piece for them, a story about some folks in Michigan who added a wing onto their 1860 Italianate by means of an architectural device known as a hyphen. The story is called "Italianate, Hyphenated" and you can see it here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Feeling the Love From Down Under

I've been selling historic lace curtains for 21 years now. I learned all of the aspects of the business; not only sales and customer service, but how to select and develop new patterns. I've observed what to do, but more importantly,what not to do. In 2007, I started Cooper's Cottage Lace and it's been going really, really well!

In those two decades, I've shipped almost all of the lace to the United States; I've sent a bit to Canada, some to eastern Europe, the United Kingdom and the Middle East, but that was it.

Until recently, when Australia came a callin'. I've never seen anything like it; we have been receiving fantastic orders from this country, and we've had multiple custom requests for extra large and extra long panels, and orders to provide lace curtains for entire houses! I don't know why it's suddenly happening, but I'm very grateful! It's interesting dealing with the 14 hour time difference (especially when I also have to work with the mill in Scotland) but we've all given up on real-time conversations between the three. It all works out, though, and everyone's been delighted. So thank you, Australia!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How It's Done

I'm sure you're all familiar with Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers; they're the leading name in Victorian and Arts & Crafts wall and ceiling papers (along with Art Deco and Modernist ones as well). They're part of Artistic License a guild of "professional artisans in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose work encompasses architectural restoration, renovation, and newly-interpreted period design."

Recently, Artist License posted a time-lapse video of an installation of an entire room's worth of ornate Bradbury papers (augmented with stenciling). It's fascinating to watch how all the borders and corners are cut and applied, and then see the stenciling performed and ceiling medallion affixed. For anyone who has ever wondered how it's done, this is a great way to observe the process.

The room was designed by my friend and colleague Paul Duchscherer; the noted interior designer and author, you've undoubtedly seen his bungalow books on many a shelf.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Gotta Move...

Some may recognize the title of this post as the name of a song on the 1971 Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers; while not my favorite track, it has some sentimental value, for I learned to play bottleneck slide guitar to it.

But I digress...

Last weekend, we moved all of Cottage Lace's inventory to a new warehouse; we'd grown so much since 2007 that there just wasn't room to organize everything! The new place is much larger and climate controlled, and since we'll be adding some amazing new patterns over the course of 2011, we'll have room for those as well.

As each lace curtain was boxed, labeled and loaded, it made me appreciate how fortunate I've been. We started with six products, and now we have twenty three, with more appearing shortly. The praise and support I've received from all of you has been fantastic, and I'm constantly amazed how you've helped us become the leader in historically-inspired Scottish cotton lace panels, valances and tablecloths.

Oh yes; the other Stones song I learned to play slide to is No Expectations; but I didn't want to use that as the title of my blog, for all of you have helped me far exceed of all of mine.

Thank you!

Dan Cooper, President,
Cooper's Cottage Lace, LLC

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Another one of my past pieces for Old House Interiors...

I had been staring at the squiggle for a good half-hour, trying to figure out just What On Earth it represented. The abstract, jigsaw-puzzle shape the size of an outstretched hand had been cut from curly maple and then inlaid into the center of a mahogany banquet table. The piece had belonged to a famous southern senator who had served in the latter part of the 19th century, and was now prominently displayed in his homestead,

I was in central Georgia on a historic carpet consultation, as I help provide Wilton, Brussels and Axminster carpets to house museums and state capitols. Over the years, my job has taken me across the country many times, and I gleefully carom between Very Important Houses and remote hamlets that barely merited a dot on the map. On today’s journey, the irony of the fact that I was a New Englander bearing Civil War-era carpets whilst traveling from Atlanta to Savannah was not lost on anyone in the room.

Obviously, these folks thought that this was a mighty important squiggle, as it was the focal point of a massive piece of furniture. Was it…a shark? The upper part looked like a dorsal fin, but then, it also had a front leg…

This was hardly my first journey to the South, but typically, I was in cities that while they proudly proclaimed their Southern heritage, didn’t seem all that different from their cousins north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Yes, the populace’s various accents were distinctive, with some more lilting than others, and a few of the restaurant chains were new to me, but the most noticeable customs I encountered were that “tea” was served cold unless otherwise specified, and that it was easy to get a restaurant table on a Wednesday evening, as most everyone else was in church.

Nodding and smiling at my host, I continued to study the squiggle out of the corner of my eye. Maybe it was upside down…was it a Scottie? Why a Scottie? Were they the state dog of Georgia? And it looked like it was vaulting over an invisible fence for some reason…

On a previous call, 75 miles west of here, a client and her contractor were discussing an itinerant tradesman’s work and had referred to him as a “Yankee”; suddenly realizing that I would be included in this geographic Venn diagram, she looked at me and said apologetically, “no offense meant…”

I had replied, “None taken; my grandparents all fled Eastern Europe around 1900; none of us were here in 1861, so it wasn’t our war.”

Even as a native Bostonian, I’ve never considered myself a Yankee; that was someone whose family had lived there for at least 300 years and could speak without moving their jaw. The only other kind of Yankee was that infamous baseball team from New York, and no sane person would ever confuse Us with Them.

What WAS this thing? Had someone immortalized a Rohrshach test? Was Rohrshach from Georgia? There was something vaguely familiar about the shape, or at least sections of it, but I just wasn’t getting it…

We finished our discussion about reproducing the carpet for the room; it had been a pleasant call, as they usually were. I’m a preservationist at heart, and the chance to visit another old building was always exciting. I was often distracted by the stained glass, fancy mantels and furnishings that were unique to my prospective client’s building and carpet sales became secondary.

I stood to leave, and gathering my samples, clasped my host’s hand. As I stepped from the room, I turned, and as innocently as possible chirped “Oh, by the way, I couldn’t help noticing the unique inlay in your table-top, but for the life of me, I just can’t figure out what it is.”

She grinned and said “Since you’re from up North, I wouldn’t expect you to; it’s a map of the Confederacy.” Walking over to the table, she began to trace it with a perfectly manicured fingertip “See, here’s Texas, and over there is Florida…”

I smiled sheepishly, thanked her, and continued on to Savannah.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mea Culpa

As many of you know, I write for a slew of magazines, as Dan Cooper and under a half dozen pen names. My area of expertise is old houses, antiques and architecture, along with historic interiors and floorcoverings. I was just reminded of this piece that was published in Old House Interiors a while back. An architecture firm in Colorado liked it so much, they used it as their annual Holiday Card.

Hard Lessons Learned.

They say that doctors bury their mistakes, while we in the old house field just paint them over. After countless restorations, I have learned the following truths the hard way. Please, do as I say, and not as I have done…

  1. Never wallpaper with someone whom you share a bed. It will bring out the aspects of both of your personalities that the other finds most loathsome. And if you must undertake this task together, agree beforehand that one of you will shut the hell up the entire time. I once sold wallpaper to a married couple who were both police officers and who intended to hang it together; I refused to ship the order until they promised that they would lock all of their firearms, unloaded, in a car trunk.
  1. Assume nothing: That 1870s gas nipple protruding from the ceiling medallion is probably no longer pressurized, but if you’re on top of an 8 foot ladder with a pipe wrench on a Sunday afternoon, you can be damned sure it’s live. And the nearest tube of pipe dope is a good 15 minutes away, if the hardware store hasn’t closed.
  1. Never buy cheap paint, or you will be repeating this to yourself as you apply the fourth coat of white that still isn’t quite covering the old white. Never trust a paint chip; they magically transform into the wrong color while you’re at the paint store. Spend the $10, buy a quart, and apply liberally. You can always box the remainder into a gallon to ensure that you don’t run out.
  1. Beware the wheels of the Shop-Vac, especially at the head of a flight of stairs. I was sucking up joint compound dust from a bedroom that I had just taped and sanded, tugged on the hose, and the entire appliance just rolled on down, popping open at the seventh riser. The ensuing cloud of dust rapidly blanketed the entire first floor as if volcanic activity had occurred in the parlor. Even the once-black cat looked like a powdered-sugar doughnut.
  1. A four-foot level offers a quartet of potentially different interpretations of plumb; and just like a Middle School choir, they’re all a little bit off. Split the difference between the readings, and then average that with how it appears to your naked eye. If it still looks weird, have a beer and try again. Repeat as necessary.
  1. You can’t transport Sheetrock on top of a Jetta. The flapping starts around 10 miles per hour, no matter how many bungee cords you’ve used. It’s also very embarrassing having to retrace your route on foot to pick up all of the snapped-off corners.
  1. Avoid power tools after 9pm. Every horror story starts with “It was late, and I was trying to finish a job…” As of this writing, I still have all ten digits, although I did have an 1880s corner block snag in a table saw, kick back, and slam me square in the sternum…the lights went out for a bit, and I was forced to wear the Scarlet Badge of Shame for weeks. Its impact was so forceful that others could actually discern the molding profile on my skin.
  1. Auction previews are there for a reason. Suddenly noticing that wonderful Aesthetic Movement footstool as you return from the snack bar and thrusting your paddle into the air will win you what looked to be an amazing steal. Too bad you didn’t notice that it was actually the top section of a fern stand onto which someone had stapled a little pillow.
  1. Never leave a hammer or tape measure on top of a step-ladder that is taller than you, i.e. out of sight. Not only will you forget its presence, you will then move the ladder, and said object will immediately plummet, at full velocity, towards something fragile like a set of stacked glass cabinet doors or a stroller-bound infant.
  1. Nailguns are not toys. This advice pertains exclusively to men; human females typically possess the common sense that prevents them from, say, overriding the safety mechanism with a screwdriver and pointing the tool horizontally at the neighbor’s birdfeeder. Not that I would ever do this. Someone must have hit it with a baseball.

Copyright 2011 Dan Cooper