Monday, December 30, 2013

In Search of Shagreen

top to bottom: SKATEMODERNE's Grace Desk, 2 Door Cabinet and 2 Door Bar Cabinet

I'll admit it: I throw myself into projects with a vigor that can only be attributed to the insane. Planning a trip to the Caribbean? You better believe I've looked at every hotel on the damn island and have compared prices, reviews and even restaurant menus. In need of a new pair of boots? I've bookmarked dozens. Planning my October wedding was no different, and now that that exercise in obsessive-compulsive behavior is behind me, I've found something else to occupy my overactive mind — redecorating.

The first step was replacing our ugly TV stand (the husband's last vestige of bachelorhood) with a buffet that had been behind the sofa, which left us with an empty space in need of a pair of console tables. So off I went on an Internet furniture search, and you know what I discovered? Decently made, stylish furniture is expensive. Like really, really expensive. I suppose the fact that I've fallen hard for faux shagreen doesn't help.

Used widely by European furniture designers during the Art Deco period, Shagreen is the skin of sharks and stingrays. It has once again become popular in home furnishings, though many designers have turned to faux shagreen to avoid prohibitive costs and pesky ethical dilemmas. Faux or not, though, the stunning designs above by SKATEMODERNE run upwards of $9,500.

Relatively more reasonable are the below Avalon Shagreen Desk ($1,948) and DwellStudio Claude Sideboard ($3,150), but I'm trying to do this project on the cheap, and these certainly don't fit the bill.

top to bottom: Avalon Shagreen Desk and DwellStudio Claude Sideboard

So, what to do? Well, this decidedly un-crafty girl has settled on the DIY route. God help us!

I'll be covering two pieces of furniture with faux shagreen vinyl fabric in a light gray or taupe color. I'm still waiting to receive fabric samples, but after an exhaustive search that involved both online fabric stores and wholesale distributors, Nassimi's Stingray Faux Leather Vinyl and Koroseal's Tiburon Shagreen are both in the running.

faux shagreen fabric by Nassimi (left) and Koroseal

In the meantime, though, I've found the furniture that I'll be using. Since I was looking for coordinating consoles with storage, it was impossible to find what I wanted on Ebay or Craig's List. I did, however, find some bargains at my local West Elm. A marked-up Parsons Low Bookshelf floor model was a steal at $90, and I spent a bit more to buy the matching Parsons Console table on sale.

Parsons Console and Parsons Low Bookshelf by West Elm

Assuming I don't completely fail at this project or glue my fingers together in the process, I'll be sure to share the before and after photos with you, as well as the full DIY. Wish me luck, because I'll need it!


  1. Such gorgeous picks! I love all those desks.

  2. I love the West Elm Parsons sets. I have the lacquer desk and its just the best thing in my apartment. It's definitely an awesome steal to get the bookshelf at such a markdown!


  3. Great you've gone the faux route and saved a shark or 2! Though I'm pretty sure that stingray skin is fire proof! I remember reading it on the Oliver Sweeney brochure.

  4. Fire proof? Crazy. The faux version is much more widely available and a lot cheaper, so if I can save a stingray in the process, all the better!

  5. oooh, fab idea. I am craft-impaired, so I will have to wait for your full debrief so I can live vicariously :-)

  6. My search for faux shagreen led me here b/c I am doing the exact same project. Trying to cover a coffee table. I've been looking at koroseal as well. I"ll check out the nassimi too now. Curious your plan for attaching it to your pieces? Wallpaper paste still? Good luck!