Upholstery 101

Just like a parent accompanying their child on the first day of school (not that I know what that feels like because I don't have children. I'm simply assuming here, please just go with it). I felt a mixture of emotions before my first upholstery class started; excitement, uneasiness and a little sad. After all, I wasn't going to be taking Louie back home with me that night. He was staying there for 9 weeks. I was having a bit of separation anxiety. I searched far and wide for Louie and now that I have him, I'm a little scared to lose him. Also, Louis was the smallest one in the class. There was an array of furniture that included wing back chairs, setees, loveseats and more. What if he got lost in the shuffle, or they misplaced him?

After scanning the room, I wondered whether I should have brought a heavier piece that required more elaborate finishing but after completing week one, I'm relieved I decided to bring Louie. I will probably be busy for the full 9 weeks. My instructor Evelyn is a master upholsterer and she does not believe in shortcuts. I actually left some fabric on the chair thinking that she may tell me to upholster over top of it. Boy was I wrong. After asking her if I should remove all the fabric and staples off the back, she quickly smirked and said, "why of course. No one said this was going to be easy". Evelyn is also...let's say, on the higher end of the age scale. She's old and sassy and is amazing at what she does. I love her already.

Wow, these pictures are gross. So from the above photo you can see I've started to remove the old fabric. Not by ripping it off but by carefully extracting the staples with a tack lifter and needle nose pliers. You may notice some masking tape under the fabric. It turns out the wood is a little soft so digging out the staples is leaving Louie all scratched up. Not good. I should actually be using a thicker tape.

aaaaand here's ugly picture number 2. That foam looks disgusting. Evelyn pulled a piece off with her fingers and it crumbled like feta cheese. So that's being replaced. It turns out the foam needs to be re-done, AND the springs need to be tightened. Poor Louie needs more TLC than I thought. I honestly thought it might be one of those quick upholstery jobs you see on decor blogs. You know, upholster over top the old fabric, stain the wood and Bam! you're done (don't they make it look so easy?). I guess when you're dealing with real antiques that have been upholstered several times, in order to make it your own it really becomes a labour of love. I'm so thankful I managed to enroll in this class because now I can learn the proper techniques that will keep Louie looking great for years to come.

Above are the sewing machines available for us to use. I must say they look a little intimidating but it will be interesting to see how these old babies run!

And what's an upholstery class without a chair legend? I'm all about the history of furniture.

So as you can see, Louis is fairly small compared to others in the class. He's alot more delicate but full of character and personality. I tried to tuck him in a safe place, and even left a little note on him.

Our next class is about choosing the right fabric. I can't wait! I'll also try and sneak some photos of the other chairs being worked on. I sure hope my classmates don't mind photos because I'll be snapping tons of pics!

To read past posts about Project Louis, click here.

Stay tuned for more updates,
xoxo Amy

Furniture Friday - The Klismos Chair

Today I would like to touch on one of the most influential pieces of Greek furniture, the Klismos Chair. Created in Ancient Greece and perfected around 5th century BC, this chair has remained popular in the design world for centuries. Interestingly, there isn't one antique Klismos Chair to be found anywhere in the world today. Due to its solid wood construction, the Klismos as well as other furniture used by the Greeks disappeared due to the damp atmosphere which make it impossible for natural materials to survive. In fact, most of our information about Grecian life has been derived from vases and marbled reliefs.

Below is a photo of a tombstone recovered from Ancient Greece:

Source: Wikipedia

Some distinct characteristics of The Klismos include:

  • sweeping curved lines
  • curved front and back legs
  • open chair back
  • concave crest rail
  • solid splat

Here's a variety of Klismos inspired chairs popular today:

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Source: Restoration Hardware

Source: The Anziano Chair

Source: Coucill

Source: Era Interiors

Furniture Friday - The Tulip Table

Happy Friday to all! This week has flown by, I can't believe I'm already writing another Furniture Friday post. Today is all about the Tulip Table by Eero Saarinen, a mid-century modern piece created in 1956 and has since become ubiquitous within the design world. Rightly so, it's clean lines and classic design complement any decor. Purchase the original (but pricey) table from Knoll or get a similar style table at Ikea or CB2.

Source: www.cococozy.com

Source: Sara Tuttle Interiors

Source: www.chictip.com

Furniture Friday - Working on Louis

It's Furniture Friday!
Friends and family have been asking about my progress with the chairs so I decided to make that the topic of today's post. I started stripping my first chair this week and so far so good. Below are some pictures that document my progress. Please note, I've never done this before so I'm no expert. I did my research by speaking to veteran furniture strippers (thanks Liz!), watching youtube videos and asking the Home Depot guy alot of questions. If you have any pointers or questions about the process, feel free to leave a comment for me.

Yes, inanimate objects need love too. Especially when it's a pretty chair like this one. Now for some essentials. These are the tools I used:

  • a copper brush (to get into those tiny crevices)
  • 3M stripping pads
  • a paintbrush
  • a scraper (metal/wood)
  • Heirloom Varnish Remover
  • good rubber gloves (don't cheap out here. No dishwashing gloves, get the ones at Home Depot. Your skin will thank you after. That stuff burns!)
  • a tarp or old blankets to lay on the floor
  • a container/bowl to mix the Heirloom gel

Notice the red fabric? That was underneath the checkered one. So to strip the paint off, brush on the gel very thick, leave it on for about 10 minutes and you'll start to notice the paint bubbling or peeling off. Because this chair has so much detail, it took a bit longer to strip than a flat surface. Just take your time and don't rush; play some music and relax! Also, I'm going for an off-white distressed look so it doesn't need to be perfect.

Next I'll need to sand off some areas, re-stain and find the perfect upholstery. Wish me luck!

Furniture Friday - My Dining Bench

For this Furniture Friday, I've decided to highlight one of my favourite Kijiji finds, my rustic dining bench! I wanted to add some warmth to my dining area because it felt really cold with the glass top and black and white chairs. I really had my heart set on this West Elm bench:

But of course the price was way over my budget...$500! Convinced I would find something online or at a thrift store, I scoured Craigslist and Kijiji daily, and continued to search during my weekly vintage escapades. And then one day I stumbled upon this beauty. This nice lady was selling it on Kijiji for $59! What an amazing deal. Not only is the quality of the wood amazing (reclaimed African wood), but it also ended up being a similar wood tone as my floors. I think the wood really warms the space up. I also plan on getting one of those small sheepskin rugs from Ikea which can be used for some additional tushy cushion if needed, and will also bring in some added texture. I wish I could show you my entire dining area but we had some laundry hanging so not a good look. Once I get my Louis chairs completed, I will definitely post an updated pic. Have a great weekend everyone!

Furniture Friday...On Sunday :-s

The last couple of days have been a little crazy so my Friday post is a little late. However, I'm definitely glad I waited because I'm so excited to share my amazing weekend find!

On Saturday we ventured up north to check out a consignment store called Chic-a-boom. First off, I have to thank my boss for telling me about this place. She's aware of my love for the Louis chair, and had seen a set during her last visit.

The store is located in Caledon, about a 45-minute drive from central Mississauga. There's not much to see on the way up, but the drive was pretty relaxing and mainly consisted of sky, hills and barns.

When we got inside, there it was in all it's glory...8 Louis XVI chairs! Looking past the terrible wood finish and hideous upholstery, I knew the chair had great bones and just needed some refinishing. I'm planning on stripping the varnish and painting the chairs white with a distressed look. Similar to the Restoration Hardware version. The upholstery will also be replaced but that won't be too difficult (I hope). If you notice the price of this chair at Restoration Hardware, it's over $200 for 1 chair. I paid $200 for 4 chairs! So I saved about $600, and just need to put in a little elbow grease and make it my own. So there it is, my search for the Louis chair is complete. I can't wait to start this fun project and I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Oh, and before I forget. I saw THE cutest dog at the store. I'm not really a dog person but this little guy stole my heart (see pics below).

Furniture Friday: Louis XVI Chair

Photo credit: Restoration Hardware

I have nothin' but love for the Louis. It's such a beautiful chair, I'm drawn to the fluted legs and oval back; such a classic look. I really do appreciate all kinds of furniture; french, scandinavian or country. So I thought, why not write a regular post about it and learn some new things along the way? So, (drum roll please)...I present to you Furniture Friday!

Today's Furniture Friday is about the Louis XVI Chair. It's a classic piece and something I've been eyeing for quite some time. I am in the midst of redesigning my dining area and being a lover of French Eclectic, I naturally gravitated towards this Louis chair. Looking to add some warmth and old world charm to my streamlined glass dining table, I thought this chair would warm it up and add some personality to the space. Also, I love the versatility of this chair- it goes with any decor style: modern, rustic, country or eclectic. You can't go wrong with a Louis!

So I was thinking, Louis XVI must have been some badass king to have this beaut of a chair named after him. Boy, was I wrong. Apparently, it took him 7 years to consummate his marriage with his queen Marie Antoinette. He didn't know how it 'worked'. He had to have a talk about the birds and bees with his bro first. Poor, poor Marie.

Ok, back to the chair. During King Louis' reign, archaeologists were working to uncover ancient roman towns that were buried by the Mt. Vesuvius eruption. Surprisingly, pieces of furniture were found and this started a craze all over Europe. A more rustic look was favoured among the elite and with the interest in Greece and Rome and a new philosophical emphasis on simplicity - Neoclassicism was born. A contrast from the ornate and excessive style of the previous Rococo era, this style is known for it's elegant straight lines, fluted legs and more emphasis on visible wood.

Soooo, why haven't I bought this chair you ask? 2 reasons:

  1. I can't bring myself to spend over $200 on a chair (when I need 3!)
  2. I haven't decided if I want to change my dining table

Decisions, decisions. I'm hoping to stumble upon 3 of these beauties at a garage sale one morning. Wishful thinking? A girl can dream.

Sources: Apartment Therapy | Wikipedia