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Meet the Maker:

Ramsay House Design

Upholstery and those who practice it, like so many older trades and skills, have seen a sharp decline as older generations retire and put down their tools. But who left to pick it all up? You’re browsing LV1 Gaming, Of course, it’s nerds! Kymm Clark of Lullco nominated her student Lisa Ramsay of Ramsay House Design to sit with me and interview about her journey of starting an entirely new career after finding something she could be nerdy about.

Lisa, What exactly do you do at Ramsay House Design?

We reimagine furniture, whether that is through upholstery, fabric as well as design details, or through structure and finish. Upholstery is becoming a lost trade and through the guidance of Kymm Clark at Lullco, we realized we could make a business of a craft that we truly enjoy. We aren’t limiting ourselves to just upholstery, wood refinishing and soft home goods are coming as well.

How did you get into what you’re doing?

We have several pieces that we love in our home, but they are tired and needed some love. Through the miracle of the internet, I saw an ad for Lullco Upholstery classes. I thought why not? Finished my first project, reeled my husband, Alan in on this crazy ride. Then, I mentioned I was going to class while in the lunchroom at an elementary school I was substitute teaching at. One of the teachers said, “Wait, you can do upholstery?” to which I confidently responded, YES! And our first job came to be! A set of 4 cushions for a banquette. We have been taking clients ever since. We have honestly stumbled into this business but are thoroughly happy with the decision to make the leap and enjoy where this takes us.

And now you have a business around it?

Ramsay House Design was born out of the desire to reimagine some of our own furniture. I found Lullco’s upholstery classes and decided to give it a try. First class pulling staples got me hooked (which isn’t normal). After a successful first project, full of confidence, I started tearing down a recliner, one of the pieces we wanted to change, in front of my husband, Alan, and he got pretty interested as well. It became the perfect creative outlet for the both of us to do together and with Kymm Clark’s encouragement (Lullco), we decided to start Ramsay House Upholstery and began taking clients! Over that past year, we have expanded into wood restoration and other home decor offerings, and evolved into Ramsay House Design.

What exactly is it you’re Nerdy about and what’s a common misconception about it?

 I am really nerdy about seeing how all the parts come together when you start with a run down, unusable piece of furniture, give it a whole new foundation and then dress it up in beautiful fabric and trim and create a like new piece that will last for many years to come. I’m sure friends and family aren’t as interested in jute, 8 way tying or hidden zippers in a box cushion as I am, but that’s ok. The biggest misconception that we battle is the idea that reupholstering should be cheap and easy. “Just wrap new fabric on it and staple right?” The most common thing people say when they see what goes into this craft is , “wow I didn’t realize it was that complicated.” So I wish our craft would be valued as the artistry it truly is.

Was there something that frustrated you that you didn’t see out there in the world?

I think we live in a throwaway culture, not much value is placed on longevity or quality. So when you work with someone, they are often surprised at the cost because you can buy a chair for half that at a big box store. What people don’t realize is the piece you buy at a low cost will likely fall apart in less than 5 years. So, you will be replacing it again and again. While investing at the beginning will give you a chair that should last 40-50 years. So over the lifetime of that chair, you would have bought/replaced the cheap chair at least 8 times, resulting in 4x the cost. It’s an education process.

What’s the biggest problem facing your industry at the moment?

Upholstery specifically is a dying industry, each year there are fewer upholsters. The main problem is there is no organized trade school for upholstery to train new artisans in the craft. The perfect solution would be to start either trade school or apprenticeship programs to allow the industry to train successors. Our mentor, Kymm Clark of Lullco, has been so incredible throughout this process. Through her education, student sponsorship program, and Facebook club, she offers an incredible amount of support to anyone who is interested in taking advantage of her knowledge and expertise. Secondly, all the fellow students and followers of Kymm’s program. The level of comradery and community is incredible. People encourage, help, answer questions, it is truly an amazing group and we are proud to be part (of it).

What about YOUR biggest problem at the moment?

At Ramsay House, our biggest problem is having a dedicated workspace. We don’t want or need a physical storefront, but to have a workspace carved out in our home or on our property would be ideal and help us become more efficient and allow for faster turnaround times on projects.  We try to stay on a one-in-one-out model. Two reasons, to keep from creating a backup with projects, but also since we are working out of our home, there are space considerations and that helps.

Progress shots of the Seatee Lisa is geeked to be working on, Credit to Ramsay House Design on IG
Where do you want to take your work in the Future? Who’s the dream client?

 Ideally, we want to continue to develop adding new skills, and improving our efficiency. I don’t know that we even have thought about who would be a dream client, we love them all so far. I would love to be able to do more bold designs whether that is through fabric, finishes or design. Of course, we will do a grey chair if that’s what you want, but there are so many ways to express your own style and personality, why limit yourself to something neutral?

What’s your “nerd out” topic? Something people may not expect your nerdy about?

I am a huge Detroit Lions fan, through the dark years too! I would love to get to meet the team, stand on the sidelines for a game, just experience the new culture created there. Outside of work, I love to spend time with family, cook, try new restaurants, travel and float in our pool. I am also a fan of the Red Wings and F1 Racing, so experiencing any of these teams would be so fun and exciting.

What upcoming project has you excited and where can people follow along?

I’m really excited about my current Sponsor a Student project with Lullco! It’s a settee (fancy name for a loveseat) that started out awfully yellow and plaid! The wood frame got stripped and then painted in the 3-step process. There is gold as a base, rubbed down with black paint, and then finished with black ink to complete the antique look.

On this settee, we eliminated the separate cushions creating a luxurious seat that will make someone feel royal to sit on it! We will be adding deep button tufting to the back and sides as well. From the front, everything inside the wood will be covered in high-performance green velvet. But then for some spark and drama, the outside will be wrapped in this bold chenille stripe.

We had a contest online to pick the fabric and even though my first choice didn’t win, I am coming to love the green velvet and stripes. The fun part about upholstery is we can change the look by applying different techniques from the original and completely transforming the look and vibe of the piece.

Follow the process on my social media! We are on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, just search for Ramsay House Design. And that’s Ramsay with an A! You can see all our past and future projects there! 

Closing Thoughts from the Author:


Whelp, you heard it here first folks! Want to customize that couch? Get a tool set and choose a cool fabric, and get to work! Thank you to Lisa for her amazing answers and if you’d like to take a class or make something cool, be sure to check out Makerworks and Lullco’s amazing furniture classes if you want a new career in foolin’ around with your furniture!

About the Author:
Thomas Tusano is a Michigan Based Writer/Woodworker and Game Streamer passionate about Hand Crafts, RPGs and Gaming with friends, He works out of Makerworks Ann Arbor where he can be found crafting the perfect desk or dice tray to roll clicky clacky math rocks into to make stories and memories with friends, Streaming and Gaming to support his lumber habit, or to raise money for the Jimmy Fund

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