Oct 272014

Last week, I shared the Vintage Secretary Desk I completed for a client.  I love the way it turned out with the grey paint and the contrasting walnut stained top.  It looked so fresh.

Updated Vintage Secretary Desk

Updated Vintage Secretary Desk Before and After

This desk also came to me with a chair.  A very dark chair with gold velour upholstery.  I love the shape of it and the lovely caned back but it too needed an update.


Desk and Chair

I primed and painted the chair the same SW West Highland White I used for the cubbyholes on the desk.  Then I covered the chair is a lovely peacock fabric, picking up the grey of the desk.

reupholster desk chair

A lighter, fresher look.

Steps to reupholster a basic chair:

Re-upholstering a chair like this is relatively simple.  I considered doing a tutorial but there are a plethora of similar tutorials out in Blogland so I will just give you the key points. (NO affiliate links)

  • Unscrew the seat from the base
  • Remove the existing cover and foam by removing all the staples. 
  • Using the wood seat base as a guide, cut 3 or 4 inch foam at least one inch bigger all around.
    • This excess with ensure you cover the wood edges when you add the new fabric.
    • I have a basic electric knife I use specifically to cut foam
  • Using the wood seat base with the foam on top of it as a guide to cut the fabric.  Be sure to make it large enough to wrap both and be able to staple underneath,
  • Optional:  Add a layer of quitting batting over the foam / under the fabric.
  • Center the fabric over the seat and begin to staple.
    • I like to begin with a few staples on one side then go to the opposite side and pull tight and staple a few there. And continue until you are finished.
    • I have used a regular wood staple gun but often they are not powerful enough.  I purchased a stronger stapler requiring a compressor and it makes all the difference.  I am fortunate to have a neighbour with a compressor who lets me “store” it for him.

The upholstering part of the chair took about an hour. The basic tools I used really help, especially the pneumatic stapler.

Reupholster desk chair

Basic Upholstery Tools ~ source ~ source ~ source ~ source ~      

Here is how the desk and chair look now. 

What a transformation! 

I just love these pieces and kind of wish I could have kept them 😉


reupholster desk chair

Vintage Secretary Desk and Chair before and After

What do you think?

Have you upholstered a basic chair? 

How did it go?

I have a few bigger and more complex pieces I want to try and upholster soon.  Stay tuned.

Be sure to follow me by email or Bloglovin to keep up to date.


Jan 062014

I know.  It’s a pretty corny title but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Last year, I acquired a vintage Queen Anne style coffee table which I then converted into a tufted bench for the end of our bed.  It was my first attempt at tufting something and I was very pleased at how it turned out.  Since it was pre-blogging so I only have a few pictures. 

Before:  a basic long, narrow table

Before: a basic long, narrow table

Spray adhesive glued the 4" foam in place

Spray adhesive glued the 4″ foam in place

We love it.  So handy too.

We love it. So handy too.

 We love it!  It looks great to most people but as the DIY-er, I can spot things I should have done differently.  And I am also still considering painting the base.

For the past year, I have been helping a dear friend update and brighten her cozy downtown Toronto apartment on a budget.  (I hope to post about this in the near future.) She liked my bench so much, she asked me to make one for her narrow entrance.  With my estate sale addiction, I was able to find the perfect table through MaxSold .  Not only did I get the rectangular table, it came with TWO 2-tiered step tables for $10.00!!  Now that’s what I call a BARGAIN!


The “soon to be bench” table


Two of these cuties plus the coffee table…
all for $10!!

1.  Replace the top with Plywood

With my first bench the table top had straight sides with rounded corners so I used the original top.  However, with this table, you can see the table edges are not straight and not suitable.  No worries!  I had some left over 1/2 inch plywood in the garage which I cut to size.  NOTE:  I cut the plywood to the exact size of the base, with no overhang.


Note the plywood is cut to the size of the base with no overhang.

2.  Purchase Foam

Once I had the dimensions for the top, I purchased 4 inch thick foam that was 1 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the top.  This additional foam is important so when you are doing the final upholstering and pulling the fabric over the sides, the foam will cover the edge of the top, making it padded as well.  I have been fortunate to have found a foam wholesaler near my home who will sell to people off the street.  They cut it while you wait to the thickness and size you want.  There prices are very reasonable too.  The foam can be the most expensive part of the project.

3. Plan your tufts

You can add as many tufts as you like but remember the more tufts you have the more fabric you will need because each tuft uses a fair amount of fabric.  Like my first bench, I used 11 tufts.  Even with what I thought was good planning, I nearly did not have enough fabric!


On the foam, mark where each tuft will go.
I drew a grid and then added a mark at each half way point.

4. Make Holes in the Foam

To make room for the fabric to be pulled down to create a tuft, it is best to create a small hole in the foam.  I learned the hard way that you CANNOT USE A DRILL!!  Using a drill, twists and gouges out the foam and could ruin your project.  Looking through drawers, I found an apple corer which did the trick!  I didn’t take any pictures but basically I inserted the corer twice to make a circular hole and pulled out the cigar shaped pieces of foam.  Brilliant!

5. Creating the Tufts with a Drill and Wood Screws


The yellow fabric I used for this bench was thick so I did not add any batting on the top of the foam.  I did however for the first bench. Because of the thick fabric, I was unable to use buttons you cover with fabric as I did with my original  bench. For original bench, I made holes in the foam AND I drilled matching holes in the table top.   I used covered buttons and a long needle with a sturdy cord to pull the button down and through the top  to make the tuft.

Because I could not use covered buttons, I decided to use a tufting technique posted by Elisha from Pneumatic Addict Furniture.


Drill, washers, wood screws and a skewer to help find the holes.

Once I located the holes, I used the drill to screw wood screw with washer, through the fabric, the hole in the foam and into the wood.  The washer is necessary so the screw will not go through the fabric.  The screws in this picture were too short.  I ended up using 2 1/2 inch screws.  When I was finished and I turned the top over, I found some screws went through the wood.  So all tufts would be the same, I adjusted all the screws so they would not come through the wood.


Wood screw with a washer.


2 1/2 inch screws worked best for 4″ foam

6. Finish the upholstering and add Buttons

I don’t have any photos of this step.  I was alone so I couldn’t hold, staple and photograph all the the same time.  I use an pneumatic (air) staple gun and a small compressor.  (I borrowed the compressor from my neighbour who rarely uses it.  He told me to keep it at my house … “off site storage” LOL.) I found regular buttons that matched and used a glue gun to attach them in the tufts.

7. Paint the Base and Attach the Top

Here  is where my indecision came in…  It took me FOUR versions to get something we both really liked and was special!

Version 1:  my "go-to" ivory homemade chalk paint

Version 1: my “go-to” ivory homemade chalk paint

Version 2:  a beachy look by dry brushing blue and gold over the ivory

Version 2: a beachy look by dry brushing blue and gold over the ivory

Version 3:  A nice "Oops" grey

Version 3: A nice “Oops” grey

I liked all of the first three versions but none really “wowed” me.  After all, the reason we have been updating her apartment was to add colour and pizzazz to a the previously dark, monochromatic space. 

Finally, she asked

“Could you paint it red“?


 All I needed was a sample jar from Home Depot and 15 minutes and VOILA!

I love the red!

I love the red!


bench with shaped label

 We both love how it turned out.  Interestingly, in the post that inspired me to use wood screws, Elisha also painted her bench base red! 

I hope you find my tutorial clear and useful.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me. 

In the meantime, I would love some suggestions as to what to do with the original curvy edged table top ???


Sep 172013

 Blogging may be very new to me but being the “handy wife” is not.

Over the years, there have been so many projects I have undertaken which brought me compliments and admiration.  Sadly the process was not documented very well, if at all!    I may be late to the blog game, but I still think some projects are worth sharing.  So today I am sharing three handy dandy projects I did in the past year. I guess this could be called “PRE-blogging”.

Two of the projects I did just before Christmas. The first idea I got from
Natalie at Where North Met South.
Natalie was inspired by Sarah, the Thrifty Decor Chick.
Either link will give you full instructions on how to make a very simple faux sofa table.

For our living room, this little “table”  has made a big impact.  Not only does it move the sofa away from the wall making a more cozy seating arrangement, it also provides a shelf for books, candles, lamps or whatever.  I used pine shelving cut to the correct height and length at Home Depot, L-brackets and a few coats of MinWax PolyShades in Bombay Mahogany.  (NOTE: Originally it wobbled so I added some scrap wood as braces between the legs.   Also, my husband cut a notch at the bottom of each “leg” to accommodate the molding and allow the table to be flush with the wall.)

I just love it and it was so quick to put together!

Sofa Table
Board, L-brackets and stain
Sofa Table2
Faux sofa table and my little green bird
Sofa Table1

Faux Sofa Table

 For the next project, I needed my lovely husband to help.  Or maybe I was just lazy lonely.  Being an avid photographer and proud parent, I like to display pictures of family and vacations.  We are very fortunate to have the perfect long hallway on which to display them.  But honestly, I hate all the holes and lining them up, etc.  So when I saw a DIY Photo Gallery Wall on Tidbits From the Tremayes I was very eager to try it out.  Sadly I don’t have a before picture but essentially it was a bare wall.

Now, when I walk past the gallery, I often think about streamlining the look with matching frames and mattes and or subject matter.  However, we’re an eclectic sort of family and I love to look at the variety of photos and art as each piece is special in some way.

picture ledges1 picture ledges3 copy

This last project was completed the day my neighbour brought over his compressor for me to “borrow”.  (Actually, he calls it “off site storage” 😉 )

I had two old folding chairs with rips on the seat and frames the colour of a cardboard box.  Blah!  After removing the seat and the back, I removed the ripped vinyl and replaced it using my super duper compressor charged staple gun and some lovely turquoise fabric I had already.   I spray painted the chair frames in white, re-attached the top and back and VOILA!

Now, these cute little chairs are much nicer than new!

Ripped and dull to C-U-T-E!

Ripped and dull to C-U-T-E!

Ties into my rug!

Colour ties into my rug!

Now, when we need a extra chair in the dining or living room, like at Book Club, I can bring out cute chairs that tie into my rooms.

I hope you enjoyed these simple projects that provided so much punch!

I am curious? Can you guess my favourite go-to colour is these days??


This week’s Linky Parties

A Bowl Full of Lemons
Inspire Me Tuesday @
A Stroll Thru Life
TDC Before and After

Aug 302013

First off, starting a blog just before going on vacation for nearly a month probably wasn’t the best plan. However, on the up-side I actually DID start a blog; something I had been procrastinating over for about a year. So far, I have set up this site and I know how to add posts like this one but I know there are so, so many more things I need to learn. When I get a chance, I have been watching Lynda.com training videos but I am still at the beginning. When I was teaching at the college, I did teach very basic webdesign and I have created websites but a blog is quite different and it would be nice if I could earn a bit of $$$ on the side. It will just take time and patience.

So back to the toys… I actually have two new toys. One is mine and one belongs to my handy dandy neighbour. In the past few months, I have dabbled a bit with upholstering. Simple items like chair seats and backs. To accomplish the projects below:

DSCN1450 P.'s Dining Chair

Not ideal tools I used the tools on the left which worked but were not fun! (BTW, the tools are resting on my next victim aka the “duct tape chair”) Screw drivers are not good staple removers and when the wood frame was hard, I had to tap in some staples with the hammer. DSCN1532

But now that my garage if filling up with upholstery projects, I knew I needed to invest in some new “toys”.

I am now the proud owner of a power stapler, a staple remover and some needles for tufting! The darling little potbelly compressor is compliments of my neighbour. All shown on the right. You gotta love handy (generous) neighbours!

Needless to say, I am pumped because I can see some progress coming my way! Especially those “Hmm-I-should-cover-those”-type projects which include my office chair, some folding chairs and then the growing inventory in my garage.

I’m giddy! Need I say more?

Do new power tools make you giddy? Or am I just a weird, handy-wife?

Enjoy the last weekend of summer!

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com