DIY Re-upholstering a Sofa part III… Taking it Apart and Replacing Foam

Hi!  I know that I haven’t been posting enough, but that is changing.  The freelance thing that made life entirely insane for three months has come to an end (just in time for me to enjoy some of the summer and take a vacation to my husband’s birth-country to meet his father for the first time.  W00t!)  I have a lot of projects in the works, and today have finally been able to transfer thousands of photos onto the computer from my phone.  (For several weeks this was not working, and it was the reason I never ended up being able to post when I had found time.  Very frustrating!)  Today I want to accomplish as much as I can, but there a some topics you can look forward to: a lot more garden and flower photos, installing a functional clothesline, completion of the sewing/work room, refinishing chairs, fancy accent pillow tutorials, basement/garage moisture remediation and waterproofing, more improvements to the master and main baths, and re-upholstering several items.

For example, yesterday I jumped into the very messy and very involved project of reupholstering the vintage sofa which I wrote about this spring.  As of this morning it has been torn apart, and I have all the materials required to make it a sofa again, but I’ll admit that it is a daunting task given how it looks.  This morning: foamless

I had to tear out the the seat deck padding and foam, which I hadn’t done last time, because of a pet problem.  This meant an unexpected trip to Joann’s in the afternoon to purchase some 1″ foam.  Luckily it happened to be 40% off!  (Upholstery foam is rather expensive.  Not much about upholstering in cheap, to be fair, but DIY is still far less than sending it to a professional.)  Now with the new seat deck foam in place, and the new cushion temporarily there too:

this morning new seat deck foam

Still quite the mess, but sweeping the hundreds of sharp staples and dust out of the way made for a less tiring view.  Today I’ll sew in a muslin seat deck and upholster a base over padding with muslin before cutting the real fabric.  I’m using a heavy linen, but I suspect that a muslin base will be wise.  It will also let me decide if I actually like the look of certain changes I am making, like using a one-piece inner arm instead of a corded and more tailored two piece style.

Yesterday I wrapped the new seat cushion foam in batting.  It isn’t too much of a pain.  Just lay the foam on the batting and spray both with upholstery adhesive before smoothing them together.  Trim the edges.  You only want the batting to cover the top, underside, and front edge of the cushion.

wrap the seat foam wrapping the foam

I took this as a before photo.  Sorry it is not much.

end before

Then I started by taking off the cambric underneath:

beginning to take apart, yikes

Next I tore off the welting, unstapled the back, outer sides, inner sides, and finally the seat deck.  I cut and left the front portion from some previous upholstering to make life easier, and I left my and other previous upholsterer’s work on the arms too.  Don’t mess with anything that is doing just fine.  😉

Then I sanded the frame some.  I have to continue that now.  Afterwards I’ll use wood glue to strengthen any wobbly joints.  I want to stain and wax it to match the coffee and dining table.  I still need to hand sew the cushion cover closed.  Then I can do the muslin base and eventually cut the linen.  When I bought the linen I allowed for a couple of extra yards over my calculations, but the yardage is very little according to charts.  I figured it carefully, but I only bought 13yds, as I recall.  This sofa is 8′ or 9′ long and all charts advise somewhere around 20yds for a large sofa.  Luckily this one is short, sparing in use of fabric, and I have the experience of already doing it once before… with a velvet of all things!  I eeked it by with 12yds of velvet, so I am confident with the easier to place linen, but I still must be cautious in cutting without any silly mistake and must have a plan for the layout.  The linen was super inexpensive as far as upholstery fabrics go, but no one wants to waste, eh?

Next time I’ll show how to construct and stitch down the seat deck.  While I am here writing let me share photos of some pretty fabrics I saw at Mood.  I used a similar velvet ikat styled fabric in greys for our kitchen chairs a couple of years ago.  The damask style teal velvet is one I used on a settee going on ten years ago and my desk chair.  I really love it an how well it holds up to use and cat fur.

IMG_8770 IMG_8771 IMG_8772 IMG_8774 IMG_8777 IMG_8779 IMG_8781 IMG_8783

Here are swatches of some that I have been dreaming of for future projects.  Too bad they are far to costly for me have used for the sofa!  I’m tempted to yet again re-do the big circular chair (that I already upholstered twice in a few years) with one of the really fancy fabrics.  Actually, I have to re-do a recliner too, but I must keep in mind the sofa it will be near (for a while,) annoyingly.  It is so hard to choose!

ikat velvets desk chair teal and awesome black pretty, pretty

The velvet ikats are fun, but I already know I will not use them.  What is super difficult to decide on are the others.  I always intended to use the damask teal, but now I am unsure.  I adore the black and grey one pictured with it.  That is more forgiving in colour too.  I really like the purples in the other velvets, but those are not good choices for the round chair.  Maybe the darkest one with the large design, and the light grey one?  I suppose I’ll decide after the sofa is complete.  As for the recliner, it will be in the basement with the rust colour-way sofa.  Purple and teals aren’t compatible with it at all,sadly, and even the neutral colour ways aren’t compatible in style.  😦  That sofa is slated to be replaced some day, according to the husband, but it may be years.  I’ll have to keep thinking, because I’d love to use the lighter purple!  They are all so pretty.

Homemade Chalk Paint: ugly thrift store armoire becomes shabby chic coat closet

Today I have another old project to write about, because I’ve been slacking on new things.  Therefore I might not have ideal photos, but I wanted to share about some of these past projects anyway.  Let me start with before and after shots side by side:

armoire before armoire done

When I moved into my husband’s flat I wasn’t too happy about the place.  Although it had some charming features there were quite a few drawbacks in its layout and location, and I did my best to improve what I could.  For example, I’d grown used to a conveniently placed coat closet in my old place, and not having one anywhere near the door in his our home was frustrating.  If you have read earlier posts you may have noticed that I like need things to be “away” and tidy.

Clutter makes me anxious and distracts me, and having coats, shoes, umbrellas and the like on a coat rack or arrayed at the door appear as clutter to my mind.  I wanted doors and drawers!  So, I began considering armoire options at Ikea although I don’t particularly like the style or quality of Ikea furniture.  Then I stopped by one of my favourite thrift stores, Unique, and spotted a great solution.  The armoire may have been extremely ugly, but it was solid pine, had a useful arrangement with drawers, and it was cheap.  (I believe it was 30$?)  Immediately I texted a photo to my husband for approval and assured him that I’d paint it.  He despises green, but he trusted me and said to go ahead and buy it if I really wanted to.

armoire at thrift store

The next problem was that I’d driven a sedan to the place, and DH’s car was even smaller and a two-door.  No worries…  I paid, took my trusty screwdriver out of my purse, and disassembled the thing before packing it into my car.  I’d checked out the construction beforehand and saw that it was possible.  😉

At home I put it back together and painted right away before anyone could freak out much about the lovely, almost fluorescent, semi-transparent green stain.  I had paint leftover from my flat in a greenish grey which I could use.  It had too much of a green cast for my husband to let me use it on the walls, but I figured he could deal with it on the armoire.  It was called “silver tinsel” and is a perfect colour for pretty much anything in my estimation.  Since there were some flaws and damage to the wood I decided to embrace the imperfections.  I’d been wanting to try chalk paint, and this seemed like a good time to.

Reading online gave me a “recipe” of paint, water, and plaster of paris.  There are other formulas too, but I wasn’t sure about using things like grout.  Plaster seemed brilliant, and I mixed up a batch then brushed on a base coat.  Next I mixed a batch that included a bit of white too, and I used it to sort of dry-brush over corners and panels in as artful a way as I could manage.  Meanwhile I added a little more white into the mix as I went, because I wanted to have a lot of depth and variation in the colour.

armoire brushing on the paint armoire brushing lighter mix of paint armoire while painting

When I was done painting, and it was dry, I sanded certain areas lightly with a fine sandpaper.  On the panels and corners I didn’t sand much; just enough to smooth things and show inner layers of the paint.  Only the handles were sanded enough to see bare wood, because DH warned me that he thinks distressed finishes are weird and uh… he doesn’t like it.  So, I just did a tiny bit to push the boundary slightly.  😀  (It has worked somewhat, and he now approves of certain imperfect looks if not when it comes to painted items.)

Here it is again, done, and some closeups:

armoire with coats armoire done

armoire done detail 2 armoire done detail

I seriously enjoyed painting with the DIY chalk paint and in this style.  Very fun.  Chalk paint won me over, and after this I used it quite a few times… whenever I had the chance.  So far I haven’t shelled out for Annie Sloan or even the types now available in craft and hardware stores.  I am curious to try some of the real stuff, but I have nothing to use it on right now.

I did not use wax afterwards, and I haven’t on any of the pieces that I painted with chalk paint.  I was really afraid to apply wax and worried it would change the colour.  In any case the coat closet looks just fine even after some three years of constant use, but I probably will do a few test pieces with wax eventually.  Everyone else out there waxes, and there must be a good reason for it, I’m sure.

Refinishing: a Rustic Farmhouse/Tavern Trestle Table

Yesterday I completed another project: refinishing an old dining table.  It took two full days, but now it is in place to keep guests from knocking their heads on the light fixture that was otherwise randomly dangling in the middle of the room.  The chairs to match are not on my list until I can work on them outside.  I’m afraid they’ll be slow due to having more nooks and crannies to deal with.  Anyway, the set is supposed to match the Restoration Hardware style coffee table that I wrote about not too long ago, and I used the same method of waxing and staining.  So far so good, because they do match well enough to my eye.  I’m so pleased with the table that I can’t help but admire the grain and imperfections while running my hand along it every time a walk by.  😀  It turned out much nicer than the coffee table.

This table is very heavy and is made of some sort of dense pine which I can still smell any time that I’ve sanded it.  It is not the first time that I refinished it, just like the the coffee table, but it too was stored for several years on a porch.  (My dad’s.)  Last time I simply sanded them down, stained everything uniformly dark with ebony, and polycrylic coated it all.  Obviously my taste has shifted a bit since then.  The table is embossed underneath with “Hecho en Mexico” along with a mark that I want to look up.  Some years ago it was given to me by the super of the building that I lived in, because he said I’d appreciate it after seeing the coffee table.  He told me that some tenants had abandoned it when they moved away and that they had brought it with them from Russia.  Who knows what the story of the table really is, but I’ve had it ever since.  My husband has always been particularly fond of the table, but we didn’t have a place for it.  Now that we have a dining area it was time to bring it from my father’s porch and get to work.

Before sanding:

rustic table before top before

After sanding and beginning to wax:  (I still think that a little more sanding and then only clear wax would have been gorgeous if our floors were dark!)

all sanded sanded basebeginning the waxing

The process was the same as with the coffee table.  After sanding and going over it with a brass brush, I began with liming wax and clear wax, then stained with ebony, waxed again a few times, left it overnight, sanded a little, and then waxed for what seemed like forever finishing with the clear.  It turned out slightly different than the “antique coffee” look of the coffee table, because I ran out of the clear wax that I’d been using and bought some that was different.  I cannot find that one to link to, but it was very soft, melted rapidly, and it did not give a hard finish.  Perhaps that is the cause of water ring trouble too, and overall I recommend the Minwax now that I’ve tried it.  It hardens and works so much better.  It is a really lovely result with an amazing depth to the grain, but I haven’t tested it for water rings yet.  As for the coffee table I ignored the label and Home Depot employee’s advice by applying rub-on polycrylic in spite of the wax.  (I cannot find that on Amazon or Home Depot either, sorry.)  I tested it on the edge, and since it didn’t appear to be a problem applied a couple of coats to the top too.  I sure hope it solves the water rings!  Last time the brush-on variety worked perfectly, so fingers crossed.  I did this before discovering how gorgeous the Minwax paste made the dining table, so it was too late to apply.

Here is the result of all the hard work:

rustic table done base detail

finish 4finish 2finish 3finish 1

rustic table

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!

Refinishing a coffee table: Restoration Hardware wannabe

I love a lot of things at Restoration Hardware and dream of having such furniture, but it sure isn’t budget friendly even at the outlet.  (I used to live in walking distance of one which was really great!)  Since I enjoy refinishing, and buying or finding treasures to transform, I’ve tried my hand at Restoration Hardware style finishes a few times already.  One day I’ll post about the bed that I did a few years ago, which was the first such project, that was done with a very different technique.  Today I sanded down an old coffee table to use again after it was stored on my mother’s porch for several years, and the goal was to have people think it might be from Restoration Hardware.  I think I achieved my goal, but tell me what you think.

Before:

Before after years of exposer to elements

So, RH has a few round tables that have a similar build to my old coffee table, which I found about a decade ago at the Salvation Army on the upper west side in Manhattan.  I think it was around 40$?  In general I adore the “antiqued coffee” and “antiqued natural” finishes at RH, but the greyed woods and smoked oaks are lovely too.  I have a couple of dining chairs from the outlet in smoked oak and scored an amazing “Empire” armoire a year or two ago in “antiqued natural” for about a quarter of the retail price.  (It was damaged, but I could fix it.)  My idea had been to keep it a greyed and weathered look, because it was already sort of there, but it needs to tie in with other items in the living-dining room.  Thus I settled on a darker look sort of like “antiqued coffee,” but perhaps a bit more grey, because I love greys.  😉  Later I’ll be refinishing a dining set to match, and when I finally reupholster the sofa its woodwork will get the same treatment.

Sanding took a long time.  After sanding I vacuumed it, used a brass wire brush to open the grain, vacuumed again, and dusted with a tack cloth.  Here it is prepared, with sliders attached, all ready to stain:

all sanded

It looks pretty nice just like that, doesn’t it?  RH has many things finished like this, but my husband really prefers dark wood, and I didn’t think the light, unfinished style melds well with the flooring and other furniture.  😦

I’ve used other methods and finishing materials in the past, but this time the steps were as follows:

Wax with Briwax liming wax.

step one- wax 1 with liming

Step two- sand just a little, going with the grain of course.

step two- sand

Stain with ebony.

step three a-stain ebony step three b-stain ebony

Steps four, five, and six- keep waxing with the liming wax.

step four, five, and six- wax with liming

Buff and wax, buff and wax… Eventually it’ll look good enough to quit.  Here it is all finished:

done

detail finish 4

It wasn’t easy to photograph the finish, but I think it came out looking very Restoration Hardware.  🙂

finish 1 finish 3 finish 2

It’ll be “fun” sanding down the the dining set and matching this!  Maybe instead they’ll work with the light, unfinished style after all.  😉