The Reupholstered Sectional Sofa

08/27/2012

Jason and I reupholstered a sofa! A whole, big, 3-piece sectional sofa! It was a massive project. We worked our butts off and we learned so much. A few things:

• First of all, I have no intentions of writing a DIY tutorial on furniture upholstery. It’s hard work, requires a lot of tools and knowledge. This was definitely not a beginner project. We didn’t take a lot of pictures during the process of reupholstering the sofa, just pictures of the deconstruction for our own reference and progress shots to make ourselves feel better after some long nights of work. If you want a DIY, check out this chair reupholstery blog post that I saw on a friend’s Pinterest page. There are also lots of videos on YouTube and many more tutorials out there. We started out watching videos, getting 4 books from the library, ordering tools, and studying other pieces of furniture. For my birthday back in June, I got a staple gun from my dear husband and The Complete Guide to Upholstery from my mom, both of which have been used a lot. I also found this Great Neck tack puller to be invaluable for removing staples during the deconstruction.

• Sewing skills are crucial, especially for making cushions and doing piping. Thankfully, I have been sewing since middle school and I have my Granny’s old trusty Singer. I sewed approximately 600″ of piping!

• Reupholster with a buddy. I cannot imagine doing this solo. Working with Jason made it so much easier to move the pieces of the sectional around from room to room, inside to outside, flipped over and back up. Usually I was stretching and positioning fabric while he was stapling. Or I was sewing while he was cutting the pieces out of the upholstery. Plus, it’s nice to have someone else to problem-solve with.

• Shop online. We found all the materials we needed and the best prices online. We ordered from Amazon.com, DIYupholsterysupply.com and OnlineFabricStore.net

• Experience is the best teacher. Jason and I reupholstered four chairs before we decided to tackle this sectional. Chair 1. Chair 2. Chairs 3 & 4. Each project we’ve done has gotten progressively better. If we were to do this same sofa over again, I’m sure it would be much better the second time around.

• A few people have asked me how hard it is to upholster a sofa. Difficulty is relative. We didn’t find it difficult. In fact, my [obnoxiously optimistic] husband said on our first night of working on the sectional, as we were deconstructing each piece and figuring out how it was constructed: “Honey! This is going to be easy!” I just laughed because that could not be more opposite of what was going through my mind. But I clung to that statement, hours, days, weeks into this project. It really wasn’t hard. It was time consuming. No joke, I’m pretty sure this took between 40-50 hours of labor with two people… that’s about 90 hours of work. I’m sure we could do another sectional just like this in 60 hours next time, or maybe less. But I did try to keep track of time for our own reference. We spent an average of 4.5 hours per night working on this, and approximately 10-12 nights over 3 weeks.

• Upholstery work is painful! I have more mystery bruises on my legs than I care to count. I have a gouge in one of my legs, two scraped knuckles and tender finger tips from accidental pin stabs. Jason, my professional guitarist, über careful (I call him “Safety Dad”) husband stapled into one of his fingertips. It was bloody and gross but thankfully a picking finger and it healed pretty quickly. My back and arms got quite a workout, too. I think my arms are the strongest they’ve ever been right now. It’s good exercise. See, I can be optimistic, too!

OK, enough about disclaimers and what we learned. It was worth it! We have a brand new couch. Sort of. Actually, it’s a 1960 Harmony House for Sears, Roebuck & Co. But it’s like new with brand new foam cushions and new upholstery. I can’t wait to see this piece in our new living room.

Before:

(more before pictures in my sneak peek post a couple weeks ago.)

After:

Not many detail shots because we were in the parking lot of our storage unit trying to be quick. The light was harsh, mid-day full sun and we were trying to hurry back home before Ali woke up from her afternoon nap. That’s my excuse. It has nothing to do with the imperfections that I’m so critical of… But in just a few months it’ll be comfortable sitting in our new living room, getting well used by a family, and those minor imperfections will be even less noticeable. Says Mr. “This Will Be Easy!”


Mid-Century Modern Treasures

08/23/2012

Jason and I went to our first auction last weekend. It was so fun! We watch Storage Wars every Tuesday night and it was our chance to get in on the bidding competition. The house and contents were in our neighborhood, right down the street from our old house. We scoped out a few things we wanted. Some we were out-bid on and a couple we won!

This armchair caught our eye from the beginning. Actually this is the picture our friend texted to us and made us come down to the auction. We got it for… FREE. It was auctioned with another chair and the winner only wanted the other one. Can’t beat that! It has a few rips in the vinyl so it’ll be getting brand new upholstery in the coming weeks.

This dresser we won for a friend. It’s perfect height to use as a changing table in a nursery but sadly, it didn’t end up working in their small room. So, we’re reselling it. (Nashville folks, if you’re interested, it’s on Craigslist.)

We also won this table and chairs that we really don’t need and have no place to store. But we couldn’t resist! Bidding is just so fun! Especially when you win. So, we’re reselling it also. (Nashville folks… Craigslist.) If it doesn’t sell, we may consider reupholstering the 4 chairs. They’re super cool and it’s a bummer they’ve each got a rip in the seat.

And because we just can’t get enough of moving heavy furniture around, we decided to hit up a couple of thrift stores after the auction. We found this unit and decided we had to have it. It’s a bit unusual. I’m calling it a storage cabinet. After a little research, based on the stamp “DECLARATION BY DREXEL” on the back, I learned it’s part of a series called Leisure Center.

It’ll be handy for storing dishes and table linens in our dining room. Behind the three cane wicker doors there are adjustable shelves.

This is what it’s supposed to look like as two parts (source):

Can you believe that some guy came in the day before, paid for both pieces and only took the bottom credenza half of the hutch?! What a booger! Our Silver Bullet finally met it’s match with this one. We had to have our friend drive out with his flat bed trailer to pick it up for us. Time for the Silver Bullet to get a hitch, maybe?


Sectional Reupholstery Sneak Peek

08/06/2012

Remember this sectional sofa that Jason and I got back in March? (What?! You don’t remember?!) Well, it’s been living in our storage unit most of the spring and summer while we collected tools, books and researched how to reupholster furniture. We were pretty jazzed with how our pair of dining chairs—Douglas and Davy— turned out so we decided we were ready to tackle the sectional. We shopped around locally for upholstery but ultimately decided to order samples through a website and ended up getting all the fabric, foam and most supplies from online suppliers.

The past few weeks we’ve been working our butts off on this thing. Several nights a week, after we put Precious to bed at 8:00 pm, we work on the sectional until 11, or 12, or 1:30 that one time…and then next day it felt like the sectional had tackled me. (Pics below were taken for our reference right before we tore them apart.)

We found some interesting tags inside the couch and learned that it was manufactured in 1960 by Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Our hard work is paying off and we’re really happy with how it’s coming together. I’d say we’re about half way through right now. We have all three sections disassembled…dismantled? dissected? Taken apart with the old materials stripped off. One arm rest is done and the corner piece of the sectional is mostly done. It’s still waiting for buttons on the back, the back panel (not pictured) to be stapled/stitched on and the dust cover to be added underneath.

We should have the other two pieces done within the next two weeks. They should be a bit easier than the curved corner section. I can’t wait to see the finished sofa all together!


Douglas and Davy – Dining Chair Pair

07/16/2012

Douglas and Davy – that’s what I named this set of dining chairs. We found them at Goodwill a few weeks ago covered with stinky, tacky brown vinyl and bleached maple wood. In our first attempt at professional reupholstery (by “professional” I mean self-educated and with all the proper tools this time), we completely restored these chairs. Stripped off all of the old upholstery and padding, removed all the staples and tacks, refinished the wood legs with walnut stain, and reupholstered them with fresh padding and new upholstery. We’re quite pleased with how they turned out.

Before:

After:


G-ma Joan’s Lane Tables

07/09/2012

Jason and I were blessed to inherit a few pieces of furniture from his mom’s mom’s home after she passed away. These two Lane end tables were in rough shape. Both had watermarks on top and one was stained with newsprint.

Jason lovingly restored them back to their original glory with steel wool, walnut stain and a lot of elbow grease.

I can’t wait to see these tables have a second life at our new house. For now they’re resting in storage.


Heads Up

03/27/2012

Since there weren’t any good estate sales posted this weekend, Jason and I stopped by a few of our favorite vintage stores. We bought a headboard and a footboard. Sadly, no side beams so we’ll be on the look out for something that will work, or we’ll just build a frame. We’ve been searching for a queen size MCM bed frame for a while. They’re pretty hard to come by. A whole matching bedroom set? Even more rare unless you’re willing to pay a lot. And we’re not. We got this set for $45. Now we’ll be hunting for walnut nightstands to match and perhaps a chest of drawers, too. (This guy will move into one of the kid’s rooms in the new house.)

It’s definitely mid-century style and looks like walnut veneer, though there is no maker mark on it. It was a bit tricky to photograph because it was rainy on Saturday but here it is. I’ll get some better photos once we have it assembled into a bed, which honestly may not happen until we move into our yet-to-be-built house. The unmade bed and green carpet I’m attempting to blur out is our room at my parents’ house where we’re staying until then.

Also at Pre to Post Modern, where we found the bed, I spotted these roller skates and I had a moment. I used to have a pair just like this when I was little! I remember learning to skate in our unfinished basement, making laps around and around the staircase. Man, I wish these had been my size…

I took this photo for a friend who was looking for a retro yellow dining table. Turns out they already found one. If anyone in Nashville is looking for one, this was around $265 at Pre to Post Modern.


IKEA 2012

08/18/2011

Have you looked through the IKEA 2012 catalog yet? I’ve skimmed but I haven’t had a chance to give it a thorough inspection yet. (I do that when I get the paper copy.) If you have, are you excited about any of the new products? I was intrigued and challenged by the Small Spaces video series.

I noticed that our SOMNAT crib went down $20 in price.

I’d love to have this poster…

Other than that nothing jumped out at me but I really enjoy browsing through the catalog every year. In several places IKEA succeeded in making these spaces look real and lived in. I love this. It’s a nice change from staged, perfect catalog images.