By Kathy L. Collins

Kat Garrand, a resident of FishHawk Ranch, is an artist who works her magic with upholstery. “I reupholster furniture and give old pieces a new look. Many of my customers bring their grandma’s half broken chair to me and tell me a story behind the chair. The most common phrase I hear is ‘I just do not have a heart to throw it away.’”

Garrand takes grandma’s old chair and turns it into a beautiful new chair with beautiful old memories. “It is very rewarding to make people happy,” said Garrand.

In addition to fixing antiques and family heirlooms, Garrand also works with people who dream of owning expensive furniture they see in a catalog. Garrand can take a photo and replicate it. “I give them the look without the expensive price tag,” explained Garrand.

Garrand, who grew up in Soviet Russia, started sewing when she was 10 years old. “We did not have a whole lot of fashion going on at the time. I remember going through my grandma’s headscarf drawer in search of a scarf large enough to make a skirt out of it on the old hand crank sewing machine,” said Garrand. She was also a figure skater who had to make her own outfits for competitions.

Garrand wanted to make a career out of creating fashion and aspired to attend the Textile Academy in Moscow. Unfortunately, this did not happen and she attained degrees in language studies and financial management.

Garrand apprenticed with Inna Lilov of Inna’s Alterations and Repairs in Valrico. “She is an amazing person and an amazing seamstress. It was a privilege to learn from her,” said Garrand. She then went to work for a local upholstery business doing the tear down of the furniture. She would pull out the staples and watch the master upholsterers at work. She then attended two years of upholstery school.

Garrand said, “Upholstery is like fashion for the house. If you like to dress up, so does your house. It does not have to be all black and tan. You can add some color,” Garrand said. “It is not just a chair to sit on but a conversation piece as well.”

Contact Garrand at www.facebook.com/kat.garrand.