An Adventure in Upholstery

About a month ago I was hurting for something to do on a Friday afternoon, so I decided to throw all 3 boys in the car and head out to this country estate sale in Pilot Point, Texas, about an hour from my house.  By the time I got there most of the best stuff was gone, but I did stumble upon two of these treasures


You may be saying to yourself, “Treasure? That thing is hideous!” Well, when I saw it I had the benefit of knowing what it could  be.  I am an avid follower of blogger Marian Parsons and her blog, Miss Mustard Seed.  About 2 months ago she refinished and reupholstered this exact same  french settee.  You can read all about it here.  I loved the piece she did and thought that if I followed her instructions on the blog I would be ok.  Plus, I had driven an hour to get to the sale so I had to bring home something!

I debated about grabbing both of them, but my child-filled minivan and better sense helped me decide on just one.

With Marian’s blog as my guide, I started ripping this old girl apart.


It was a painstaking process, lots of little upholstery tacks to pull out.  Once I got it stripped down to the frame and backing, here’s what it looked like.


Just like the settee on Miss Mustard Seed, this one was originally intended to be three separate panels. At some point someone upholstered the front and back in one big piece and added the tufting.  Since the wood is it’s best feature, I decided to re-expose the frame where it has been covered and re-do it in three panels again.

Another small issue . . . I don’t sew.  I don’t own a machine, and if I did, would have no idea how to run one.  I have tried before, and it’s just not in my skill set. So I had to come up with a plan for what to do with the seat cushion.  I thought about hiring out someone to sew a cover for it, but then decided on upholstering it as an attached cushion.  In theory, it would work!

I first painted the frame, in a custom mix of Annie Sloan Duck Egg and French Linen.  After a rough coat of that dried, I added on some Old White using a dry brush technique, which creates a faint, uneven layering effect.


I hit the high points all over with some medium grit sand paper, and then set off to work on the unknown part of this project . . . the upholstery.

I chose a neutral canvas duck cloth because I thought it would be simple enough to appeal to any buyer, and also cost effective.  My plan was to reuse the stuffing, layer new batting over each section to smooth it out, and then go to town with the staple gun.  Seemed easy enough.


And of course it was not as easy as I thought it would be! After about two hours on night one, with my husband’s help I had managed to finish one front panel.  Only 5 more and a seat cushion to go!


It sat that way for several days . . . but I finally worked up the courage to work at it some more on my own.  I figured out that the seat cushion should actually be the first piece done, then the front 3 panels, then finally the back three.  Once I finished the seat cushion, I had a much better idea what I was doing and things moved along much more quickly. By the time I got to the back, I felt like a pro!

After trimming off the excess fabric and then covering the staples with decorative trim, here is the finished product:


Much improved!  I was very happy with how the natural canvas fabric worked with the distressed paint.  It’s not perfect, but I’m  very proud of it.  If a professional were to ever take it apart and reupholster it again, they would probably question my methods in some places! But, the fabric if sturdy and well secured, and I believe it will be a very nice piece for whoever takes it home.




It went up to my shop yesterday.  I was able to find a french cane sitting chair to go with it, and I’m hoping to have that finished in a day or two.

Thanks again to Miss Mustard Seed for blazing the trail and giving me a roadmap to follow on this piece.

Linking up to Furniture Feature Friday


Glitter Glue and Paint

Empire Buffet Reveal

It’s finally finished! I’ve been working on this wonderful empire buffet for about two months now, and today it is finally done.  I’ve teased alot on this piece, so I’ll just jump right into the pictures.

Remember, this is what it looked like when I found it buried in a garage at an estate sale


And here it is after stripping 4 coats of paint off the top and back piece and updating the  base color


Don’t you love it?  The deep blue base color gave it so much more sophistication.  Now it looks all grown up and ready to be a buffet again, instead of like a work bench in a preschool classroom.


I very lightly distressed the blue, which allowed some of that green to show through and a few spots of natural wood.  I did sand this piece some before I painted, which I almost never do, but I was hoping to roughen up the finish some because that green was pretty slick. The hints of green now are fresh and whimsical, instead of over the top.


As I was sanding it down, there was a brief moment when I thought about throwing on a coat of wax and leaving it as is.  It seemed a shame to waste all that paint depth that was coming through, but the green was just still too strong.


The top and back piece stained beautifully, even though they had some staining, which I wrote about here.   The stains are still slightly visible, but I’m ok with that because I think they add character and history.  The stain color, Minwax Classic American, is a perfect compliment to the blue.


This was an exciting project, a chance to try out a new skill–paint stripping! Even though it sat like this for awhile . . .


I’m really glad I persevered and brought it back to its “more” original state.  I liked where I staged it for the photos so much that I thought hard about keeping it . . . but that’s not the way this business works.  I have to let go the beauties that I find, plus in our stage of life right now a formal dining room isn’t happening!

I’ll leave you with one more full shot.  Happy weekend everyone!


Sharing at Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Feature Friday

Vacation, Housework, & Aubusson Blue

Summertime means traveling season, and we have been in and out since the beginning of July.  I love to travel, but it’s always a lot of work getting back into the swing of things when you get home.  Last week my husband and I had the chance to escape kid free to San Diego, and it was wonderful.  My in-laws have made a habit of taking my boys for a week every summer, and this is the first year they were able to take all 3.  So, we found a place to go for a few days where we could escape the 100 degree Texas heat.  



Even though we didn’t have our kids, we still went to the Zoo! It was incredible, and our whole trip was quite refreshing.  The weather was perfect and we ate lots of seafood.  

But alas, we had to come home . . . we had one and a half days after we got back from CA before our kids came home, so we enjoyed doing nothing! We had cereal for dinner, let dishes pile up in the sink, slept in late, and watched the news instead of Power Rangers.  Once my kids got back, it was time for housework.  It’s amazing how much dirt and disruption three small people can generate, especially my 15 month old! His favorite pastime is carrying small objects around the house and dropping them in random places.  It’s like he leaves a trail of wherever he wanders . . . So instead of working on my furniture projects I spent the bulk of this week cleaning up and getting used to home life again.

But TODAY I decided that I had cleaned enough and it was time to put some energy into my out-of-the-house work.  It’s reached super-hot time in Texas, so I have to pick my work days carefully.  I grab 30 minutes to an hour here and there throughout the day out in the garage, so unless I want to take 5 showers a day, I try to work on my projects on the days where we don’t have to go anywhere.  Today was a schedule-free day (correction, I did run to Wal-Mart and picked up the boys from VBS, but those really don’t count), so I was able to stay sweaty and covered in dust from this morning until about 30 minutes ago.

I decided to try and tackle the Empire Buffet I’ve been working on.



It was a steal at an estate sale 3 months ago, and I have been stuck at this point for about the last 3 weeks.



I decided to strip the top and the stripper and I (paint stripper, that is) weren’t getting along.  I had to put it away for awhile out of frustration.  One night though my husband took his belt sander to it and got most of the way through the THREE coats of paint, so all that was left was the primer.  I thought I would try working on it some more today.  

After an hour or so of work, success! A paint free top.



Sadly, the wood seemed to have some stains on it, but I think they will turn out ok once it’s re-stained.  

Once I finished sanding down the top, I was excited to try out the new color I picked for the base–Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue.  It’s a bold color, but really a beautifully toned blue and great for accent pieces of furniture, like buffets.



After my kids went to bed I was able to stain the top and get the first coat of paint on the base, and it looks amazing! Just like I was envisioning it. Wanna see pictures?  Well …. you’ll have to wait.  I still have to strip and re-stain the back piece and paint a second coat on the base.  My goal is to finish it this weekend, so check back soon for the full reveal.

Have a wonderful weekend!