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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


7 thoughts on “An Adventure in Upholstery

  1. Love it – you did a great job. I too was inspired my Miss Mustard Seed and purchased a gorgeous old chair to re-do. Although I have not worked up the nerve to start yet – it is on my list! I pinned it and subscribed to you blog!

  2. Thank you Sue! I appreciate both the pin and your subscription so much. I made alot of mistakes along the way with the settee, but that’s how you learn, right? Hope you are able to start on your chair soon and that you have fun learning a new skill.

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    • Thank you Paula, and thanks for stopping by Lost & Found. The settee did sell back in the summer, to a nice young lady who purchased it for her second daughter’s French-themed nursery. She said she could see her two little girls curling up on it reading books one day. What a lovely thought and great new life for the piece!

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