Cosmos Club: back in time
Reprinted with permission of
Washington Business JournalCraftsmanship Awards Supplement
venerable Cosmos Club, overlooking Massachusetts
Avenue from its prominent corner of real estate, is known for its elegant
period decor and design. So when the owners decided to convert the
old carriage house into an opulent meeting and entertainment space, they
wanted an elaborate look that would match the rest of the mansion.
For the building's Powell Room, some of this effect was achieved using upholstered
walls. But the owners eschewed the modern method that involved
plastic frames and cloth sections: They wanted the authentic style
of installation that very few craftsmen practice anymore.
Fortunately, Al Soussan, owner of Custom Furniture & Wall Upholstery,
This method of applying fabric to walls is reminiscent of late 1800s and
early 1900s' design and demands exacting standards. Executive vice
president Jeff Martello of Kfoury Construction Company says that the
installation demonstrated incredible coordination - everything had to be
stretched and installed just right.
create a frame on which to hang the fabric, they installed a strip of laun
material around the room." Martello explains. Laun is a
thin, flexible wood, which can be easily bent around archways and curves
in the space. "Working around the large bronze wall sconces,
archways, and inset wall niches made the job especially
To create a pillowing effect, a batten of fiber-0filled foam was fastened
over the wall surfaces. Then a linen liner was stretched over that
to "smooth" the foam. Finally , the fabric was stretched
over the liner and secured with special gritted-teeth staples.
Exposed staples were hidden with braid glued to the fabric.
fabric is a deep gold silk pattern with decorative accents featuring a
variety of images, form flowers to crowns to cups, all in an 18th century
style. Because the fabric comes in 54 inch widths, walls had to be
measured and the silk positioned carefully in advance, so craftsmen would
know how to sew it together so the pattern would stay consistent around
3explains, "The pattern was repeated with precision and matched the
pattern at all the other points in the room.
example, each sconce 'touches' the cup design in the fabric in exactly the
From an outbuilding to house carriages and horses to a study in grandeur. These
upholstered wall complete the room's dramatic transformation.