To say I’ve been obsessed with upholstery is an understatement. Its hard not to get passionate when the universe keeps providing signs that this is what you are supposed to be doing! And I will take the signs of cute, all be it sad and neglected, free pile furniture as a sign. Dan would be quick to tell you its a sign of a future episode of Hoarders. But I take it as a sign I’m supposed to give life to once grand pieces.
As every body knows I kind of have a thing for up cycling and re-purposing. I also have a thing for decorating my apartment. Recently, while changing my decorations to early spring (pinks in February and greens in March) I needed an easy to change centerpiece for my table. So I was constantly keeping my eyes out for the “perfect” item. At work I love the light fixtures known as “bare bulb” lights. They were used in the early 1900’s and these beautiful fixtures (also known as pan lights) had decoration in the sides and in the fixtures but no glass shades over the bulbs. The idea was that if you were lucky enough to have these fixtures in your house you were also lucky enough to have these fancy new things called a light bulb. And by showing off the light bulb you were showing off your luck. But what strikes me about these light fixtures if how detailed they can be and how most look like flowers.
As I was putting away a new stack of these fixtures (all badly broken, heavily painted, and less than perfect) it struck me. The single light fixtures could be used as candle holders! I grabbed three of my favorite ones and started to strip the paint. I then swapped out the fairly nice light sockets for ones that no longer worked with my lighting lady at work. Because why do I need to have working sockets hold candles on my table? Once all the paint was removed and sockets placed inside I became kind of sad, the metals of the fixtures weren’t very pretty. So i bought a very pretty purple can of spray paint (Krylon Rich Plum) and spray painted a nice solid color on the three fixtures.
They were still missing something. That’s when I took them to work and showed my coworkers. My lighting lady pointed it out almost immediately flowers aren’t one solid color, they are several colors. So with a lighter lavender and a pink we spray painted the tops at an angel as the paint just glazed the fixtures. Adding depth and color to my new flower candle holders.
Around the apartment there are items we date with the letters BD (Before Dan). I started doing this because I honestly can’t remember when I got an item/project . I can remember when I got it based on my relationship with Dan. Right around the the time I met Dan, I acquired an amazing mid century teal chair. It was perfect! This sexy little chair had its original teal vinyl upholstery, dark stained legs, and brass feet. The moment I saw it I knew I had to have it! I had no room in the apartment for it, and my Mom who was with me when I fell in love, only encouraged me in to needing it. So the chair came home with me.
As it would be pointed out by Mr. Practical Dan I was wearing rose tinted glasses (seeing a pattern with me?). The chair wasn’t perfect. The upholstery had two giant tears in it, the legs were in desperate need of refinishing and the brass fee…to the untrained eye would have thought them to be rusty steel. But it was “perfect” and found its way into my living room where a blanket would cover the tears. Fast forward 2 plus years to December of 2014 when I discovered a new passion…Reupholstering.
This is something I have wanted to do for a while but never got around to. So as a Birthday/Christmas present to myself I paid for an upholstery class. I walked into class that first Monday of December with my coffee and chair and was ready to get down to business.
We started by removing all the staples, tacks, and nails in the original upholstery. For my chair it went quickly (others were not so lucky) and within an hour I was on to the next step, buying fabric!!
I was panicked! I had no idea what fabric I wanted. I was worried the fabric would only look good on a small scale but over a whole chair, it would be tooo much. I was stressing and finally narrowed it down to two fabrics. Good old inny-minny decided the chair’s fate and I began cutting out the pieces needed to put my chair together. I left the first day of class in LOVE!! I was enjoying it soo much that I couldn’t wait for the next class.
Weeks two and three flew by in a blurr of stapling, laying out fabric, cotton stuffing, and sewing chair welting.
My chair was coming together nicely until it came time to repair the chair itself. Over the years, one of the wood joints had popped out of its socket and needed to be pushed back together. Sounds simple enough..WRONG!!! I bought a bar clamp to squeeze it together and used Dan’s muscles to tighten the clamp to apply even pressure to pop it back into place. Within moments, the bar clamp was bowing and creaking while the chair wasn’t moving at all. Then, the clamp handle snaps off because we were cranking it too hard. Quickly, we grabbed a wrench added it to what was left of the handle and tightened the clamp and chair together. Add some wood glue and let it sit for several days (neither of us wanted to pull the clamp off) and it was ready to be finished.
As I walked into class for week four I was both sad and excited. I didn’t want my class to end, yet I couldn’t wait to see my chair finished. Within 3 hours it was complete! It even has a dust cover on the bottom! You know the piece isn’t from Ikea when you have a dust cover! I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself and my chair! And I can’t wait for spring when I can take another upholstery class!!
When refinishing my chair, I not only had to pad and reupholster it but I had to do something with the wood itself. The chair and wood weren’t too terrible just really worn and dull. Which, if I was a 70 year old chair I would probably be dull too. Since I had everything off the chair and it was just a wood base/legs I figured now would be the time to do something about it. So I spent two nights hand sanding the frame down to the bare wood. It is important to note, IF one is staining wood a darker color than what it currently is, it does NOT need to be sanded perfectly down to the wood; just the top coat needs to be sanded off. Since I was unsure of the end wood color, I did a complete sand.
Once it was sanded, I stopped by Home Depot to pick out a stain. Since it is a mid century chair, and mid century is known for dark, rich woods (especially mahogany) I decided to go with Varathane “Red Mahogany” stain. I got home and was all ready to stain.
Do I stain my chair with a brush or with a rag? You ask anybody who has worked with stain and they will both tell you it depends on your comfort and the size of the project. I did my research and found that since my chair was round and had smaller work areas, I went with a rag. I dipped my rag in the stain and started slowly working in a downward motion (so I would always been wiping up drips and the drips wouldn’t ruin my work). I did the first coat alone.
Dan was worried that the color in the jar was too dark but after the first coat, he was shocked and impressed. I ended with three coats of stain, to make it look like mahogany. I then added a clear coat for protection and to give it that nice finished look.
I then added the clean brass feet, and took it to class to finish the upholstery. Everybody kept oooohing and ahhing over it. Now Dan wants to refinish all the wood in the house mahogany……
When I was a little girl I loved to help set up my family’s nativity scene. The Nativity Scene was a gift from my Dad to my Mom and every year he would give her a new piece to add to the scene, which in turn gave me another piece to play with…I mean set up. I was so into “setting up the Nativity scene”that it changed daily and mom had to rubber band baby Jesus into the manger so he wouldn’t get lost….
Fast forward a few years its safe to say I still love the nativity scene and I still secretly love playing with it. I now have several, a hand made one from Mexico, a recycled paper one from Africa, and one that every year my Grandparents add to.
Each year I get just as excited as I did when I was a little girl about setting up my Nativity Scenes. I arrange them all several times until they are perfect! And every time I see a cool set in a store, magazine, or at somebody’s house I have to stop and admire the beauty (and secretly wish I had a spot for another set).
The other night while I was laying in bed cruising Pintrest I came across a board with tons of pins for nativity scenes. I instantly became wide awake as I drooled over each and every one plotting my next move! And then I found it, the cutest handmade, wood nativity people ever! So what did I do? I went to work the next day dug through the lumber rack, found me some materials and made me one (and a barn because I can’t have baby Jesus getting wet and sick).
“The Coffin” is a 1930’s art deco, wood locker that was heavily painted a DARK DARK DARK brownish purple black color. It has the beautiful straight lines of a vintage locker and really funky deco hardware. This amazing piece of furniture was brought into my bedroom where there was NO room and smashed against the wall. That one piece took an open feeling room and made it wall to wall furniture. I was not happy.
I took the door off to make it visually lighter. Then I rearranged the bedroom so the “coffin” would fit better. I used bleach to wash the inside because it had a wonderful smell of rotting flesh….I mean mildew…in it. Once it was clean (ish) Dan put his clothes in it and that was that.
Did you know a goldfish will grow to be the size of their bowl? The bigger the bowl, the larger they get. I am a bad goldfish! Over the course of 5 years, I have grown to fit my space. When I first moved, my place was empty and huge as it should be coming from a 400sq ft place and moving into 875sq ft. I had to pare down when Dan moved in last year but I only did what needed to be done for him to move in. Like most people I don’t like getting rid of MY stuff and I especially don’t like others (like Dan) helping me go through my stuff! It’s MY craft area, MY fabric, MY shoes; YOU stay out!
Due to not paring down enough, both of us acquiring more stuff in the past year, and wedding gifts, I lost a corner of my apartment. I could not handle it any more! So, WE sat down and discussed our options. We came up with two very viable ideas 1) we could move to a bigger space or 2) WE, as a team, could cut down on what we had. While the first option was a fun idea, it wasn’t practical. So the team started to clean.
I was amazed at how easy it was as we finished the bedroom and hall closet in a day, the bathroom in an hour (we do not need to buy shampoo for a year), the kitchen in a day (the reward was getting to use new wedding gift pots and pans) and our storage locker in just 30 minutes. Not only was it easy, I felt satisfied to take the stuff to the GoodWill and know that it would be used and not collect dust in my closet.
All of that was easy! And with each area cleaned, the dreaded stacks became smaller and smaller until I could once again get into my craft/project area. That’s where I wanted to stop! But the TEAM (ie Dan) said if we were in cleaning mode we needed to finish and clean that area too. So he picked up a bottle or two of wine and we started.
It’s not finished, I would say the space is 85% complete. But what makes me happy about this whole process is that a year ago HE had to clean out HIS stuff to move into MY place. I had to clean out MY stuff in MY space for HIM. Now we are cleaning out OUR stuff in OUR space. It’s team work and everything is better as a team….OUR team!
As a Seattle-ite I have learned the true meaning of beautiful summer days. It is rainy, gloomy, over cast for what feels like forever and a day (more like 3 to 4 months but who’s counting) but with that first day of sunny 70 degree weather my life (and all of Seattle’s) is instantly better. We LIVE for these wonderful sunny days and when it hits every patio seating area, garden store, and park in Seattle is full of sunny, happy, smiling faces. It’s pure heaven!
Several months ago was the first 70 degree day of the year and my heart (and head) has been racing since! It’s time for outdoor projects!! I started my outdoor life with my plants and garden but had been on the hunt for the perfect outdoor table. I decided I would make one! I have to say I always sound so optimistic! *in upbeat voice* why buy a table when I can spend MONTHS making one?!
As soon as I put it out to the universe that I needed a funky bistro sized table, the universe responded with a SWEET decorative wrought iron bistro table base at my work. I quickly learned that a base would be the easy part of the challenge.
Now I needed a top. Traditionally it would have had a round marble top. But lets face it, I am a lot of things, but marble is not “Me” (plus I cant afford it). So my coworker and I started thinking out side of the box and tried many different wood/Formica/glass/even windows on the base. We found the correct square size but the materials were still off. I left work defeated BUT had a base and a jumping off point.
As I drove home it hit me! A past coworker made tables and frames out of lath. My work happened to have a bunch of cool, weathered lath! Lath is a thin narrow strip of wood (normally fur) nailed to rafters or studding in an old house as a groundwork for plaster. We don’t get lath in very often; it is very labor intensive to pull because the plaster must be pulled off first. But because I’m lucky, we have a garbage can FULL of it.
So with the help of wood glue, set nails, the work Chop-Saw, and help we built the FIRST table top. Note to self do NOT use brand new 2x4s for a frame. Not more than a month in the hot sun and my table framed warped REALLY badly. So back to work I went with a “ruined” table that sat in the office for a month until my coworker and I used the premium lumber (old growth, resawn fir) and built my lath a new frame. FINALLY a table top that wont warp. I sent a few nights pouring resin into the top. Attached the heavy heavy top to the base. And now I can truly enjoy my porch which is good because it has been HOT in Seattle.
Check out my oversize stair spindle candle holders!!
It started as 3 angled stair spindles (forgot to take a picture of them at this point). I then used the chop saw to even the tops and cut the spindles into different lengths. I cut square bases from them to sit on (mostly to help balance them).
I sanded the spindles to get a smooth, paintable surface. Then I spray painted!! have to tell everybody, I SUCK at spray painting so I bribed a coworker to do it for me!
Once everything was dry (2 spray cans and a clear gloss coat later) I nailed the bases on, used 2 part epoxy to glue the glass candle trays onto the tops and TADA!
Then I played with different candle rings. They don’t have a permanent home YET; a girl needs to have her options 😉