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Laps of luxury

From left, Dede Bruington, Amy Hurd, Kay Porczak, sisters and co-creaters of Picking Daisies in San Luis Obispo, a store that specializes in cloth napkins.
courtesy photo
design notebook 1-12-11
From left, Dede Bruington, Amy Hurd, Kay Porczak, sisters and co-creaters of Picking Daisies in San Luis Obispo, a store that specializes in cloth napkins. courtesy photo design notebook 1-12-11

If you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive way to spruce up your dining room, the answer might be sitting right in your lap.

Sisters Dede Bruington and Kay Porczak own Picking Daisies in San Luis Obispo, a store that specializes in cloth napkins. Their napkins are hand-sewn from 100 percent cotton quilting fabrics in a stunning kaleidoscope of colors and patterns. They are beautiful, for sure, but according to Porczak, they are also practical.

“People have the idea that cloth napkins are something you iron and put in a drawer for company,” she said. “We really promote them as everyday use napkins.”

The idea that lovely (and eco-friendly) cloth napkins can make even last night’s reheated lasagna a special event was first adopted by Porczak and Bruington’s sister Amy Hurd, who made them for her own family. With the encouragement of friends and family, the three sisters began selling the napkins at craft fairs and farmers markets five years ago. They opened their store in 2008. Early in 2009, Anne left the business to pursue other interests.

Most napkins are sewn right in the downtown San Luis Obispo shop, so customers can see how they come together. Bruington and Porczak select high-quality cotton, then prewash and dry the fabric before it is cut and sewn. This means that, unlike some mass-produced napkins, they come out of the wash perfectly square. Mitered corners ensure that the napkins lie flat.

“You just throw them in the washer and dryer, pull them out, give them a shake and a fold, and they’re ready to go,” explained Porczak.

Another advantage over mass-produced napkins is the sheer variety of fabrics. A peek at their website, http://www.pickingdaisiesinslo.com reveals over 75 different fabrics that range from elegant to whimsical — and new ones are always being added. There are even organic cotton napkins made from fabric produced by Paso Robles company Birch Fabrics.

In the store, the napkins are laid out on the wall like a giant quilt, arranged by color.

“We really promote mixing and matching,” said Porczak. “It makes it fun for people to find colors and patterns they like, then come in later and add to their collection.”

The selection can be overwhelming, so the sisters usually start by having the customer select a color family. It can be one that coordinates with their dining room décor or favorite dinner plates — or simply be their favorite hue. From there, they can help people select a pattern or build a set. There are fun ways to do this, such as having each family member choose their own personal napkin or set.

“They’re so beautiful all together that a lot of customers just fold them and put them out in a basket on the table, like a bowl of flowers,” said Porczak.

Picking Daisies has recently added other items to its lineup such as market bags, placemats, and aprons. But 90 percent of its business is still napkins.

“We like the simplicity of having one product and doing it really well,” said Porczak. “We live and breathe napkins and we love it.”Picking Daisies is located at 570 Higuera Street, suite 120 in The Creamery, San Luis Obispo, 783-2434.

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