Apr 162015
 

Today I’d like to share with you how to make DIY custom shaped chair cushions, including cutting the foam, fabric and putting it together.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Late last summer, I picked up a really cute wicker settee and 2 chairs.  (I swear I took pictures of them before and during the refinish process but for the life of me,  I cannot find them!  Don’t you hate that!??)  My nieces and nephews are all young professionals, some with young families, trying to make ends meet.  So when I scored these three pieces at a bargain price, I offered them to my nephew and his wife Laura.  Laura has a great sense of style and really spruced up the curb appeal of their semi detached home located in an area of Toronto, referred to as “the Danforth”.  The Danforth is also home to Greek town, lots of great shops and restaurants and it is right on the main subway line.  All those amenities make prices high and the older homes small.  Regardless, they have a cute covered front porch and they were thrilled to have some free furniture to put out there.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Great curb appeal

She wanted a dark brown finish.  I planned on staining them as I had with my chairs here but when I set to work on them, I found the chairs were not wicker or rattan but PLASTIC!  Sure fooled me!  What a good fake!  So I ended up spray painting them with Rustoleum’s Ultra Cover in Espresso because it adheres to plastic.  The rich colour will look great on their porch.

She found cushions for the settee and I volunteered to make some cushions for the chairs since they were rounded and all she could find was square one. She picked up fabulous outdoor fabric for only $5 a meter because it was nearing the end of summer.  I LOVE this fabric!  I have been crushing on Apple Green for months!

Cutting the Foam

I had some 2″ foam from a big boo-boo I made a few months back when I ordered foam that was too small for the project but it was perfect for this.  Using newspaper, I created a pattern from the chair seat then I traced it on to the foam.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Note the cricket and hockey player photos! Hey! I live in Canada!

I had purchased this electric knife specifically for cutting foam.  It works so well. 

Note:  When cutting foam, you need to pay attention that the blade is at right angles to the face of the foam.  Otherwise you will need to trim it more to make it flat versus angled.

Once I cut the foam, I used the same newspaper pattern to cut out the fabric,
I added another 1/5 inch all the way around for the seam allowance.  Then I cut long 3″ wide strips for the sides of the cushion.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Top and bottom pieces cut 1/2″ wider on all sides for the seam allowance
  and then 3″ long strips for the sides (2″ plus seam allowance)

Pinning and sewing

So many bloggers show every minute detail  but since I have been sewing for decades, I just cut to the chase!

I found the centre back and with right sides together, I started to pin the long side piece all the way around.  Rather than sew together the two ends where they meet, I decided to overlap them.  I think this helped to keep the pieces taut. 

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

I pinned the side piece all the way around and overlapped the ends where they met.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Here is the overlapping. I did do a finished hem on the one that would end up being on the outside.

Sewing and Finishing

I machine stitched the above pieces together, trimmed the seam and zigzagged the edges because this fabric was really ravelling.

I then pinned the bottom piece on to the other edge of the side piece.  I machine stitched it and finished it in the same manner but I did not stitch it all they around.  I needed the opening to insert the foam.  I did however iron the piece where the seam should be so it would be easier to hand stitch closed.  Before I inserted the foam, I also added little ties at the back to keep it from moving off the chair.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Tab ties to hold it to the chair

After inserting the foam, I used a simple slip stitch to close it up! 

The entire process took me a few of hours and all the while I was listening to a recorded book, The Nightengale, by Kristin Hanna.  Fabulour book and a great way to pass the time while sewing, painting, cooking or commuting!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice pop of colour!

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NIce snug and smooth edges

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice rounded edges: a custom fit!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

A custom fit and a great Pop of color!

I sure wish I had the before pictures!  Basically they were that yucky yellowish rattan colour.  I think this brown is really rich and will tie into their house colour and the cushions will add that great pop of colour!

So what do you think?  Nicer Than New?

Have you have made shaped, custom cushions? 
I’d love to hear from you!  It makes my day!

 

Joan

Apr 102015
 

I recently spruced up a rustic “stand up” or “standing desk”. 

The update was pretty basic and I am now wondering:

“Should I have been a bit bolder?”

Rustic-standing-desk

I love it but did I play it all too safe?

Rustic Stand-up Desk

I scored this fabulously unique desk on MaxSold, an online auction here in Toronto.  I realized when I went to pick it up, the ad had not included the dimensions because it is BIG and TALL.  It is 47″ wide, 30″ high at the front, 35′ high at the back and 26″ deep

It was also hunter green, with black accents and a maple leaf decal on the front.  The flip top had a leather insert in great condition but a little dull. 

I apologize for the quality of the before pictures, they were from the original posting.

rustic-standing-desk

A very unique design but needing some TLC.  Got to love the maple leaf!

The first thing I did was apply some MMS Hemp Oil to the leather top to soften it and bring out a deeper more uniform black.

I sanded the unpainted wood and applied a darker stain.  After prepping the painted areas by cleaning and lightly sanding, I basically painted it with a few coats of a soft black: SW ?????, Pro Enamel in Satin.

I love how it turned out!  I went with a basic black to match the black leather insert.  I considered distressing it but it was basically “distressed” when I got it.  I guess I really wanted to return it to its former glory!

rustic-standing-desk

Essentially a “spruced up” version of its former self

rustic-standing-desk

With the lid open, you can see how rustic it is with a planked bottom inside the cubby.
I painted over the green side walls with red and added the same colour to the sides of the drawers.         

Question:  What was the purpose of this desk?

If any of you are familiar with stlye of desk, I would love to hear from you!  I did a bit of research and it could have been used by a teacher or a clergyman.  Now, I see it being used in someone’s foyer or in a restaurant at the hostess desk!

Question:  What wood is the top made out of?

I think the top is a type of pine but I am not sure.  What I did notice is the number of rings around the knots which makes me believe the top was made from very mature wood.

Question:  Was I too timid with this re-furbish?

Ah, there are so many options when it comes to up-cycling furniture.  Should I have found some funky new insert for the top instead of leather?  Should the paint be chippy or distressed in one of those “stylish” new colours? 

I don’t know but sometimes, I think unique pieces should perhaps have another few years of their original glory.

BEFORE

rustic-standing-desk

Hunter Green and the Maple Leaf just had to go!

AFTER

rustic-standing-desk

Simple restoration: was it enough?

 

BTW: the desk is for sale if you live in the Toronto area! 

Contact me if you are interested.  Price $200

I am very much looking forward
to your comments and input.

 

Do you think it is “Nicer Than New”
or should I have been bolder?

 

 

Joan

Apr 102014
 

I have replaced damaged caning in both wicker and wood furniture and thought I would share my not so sophisticated method with you.

In all cases, the cane I replaced was a seat, surrounded by a wood frame.   Many people, seeing damaged cane like the photo below will cut a piece of wood and simple cover the seat.  I suppose if it always has a cushion hiding it, it doesn’t matter.  Personally, I love cane and  replacing it is far easier than you may think.

IMG_0408

Original Damaged Seat.

The first step is to remove the old caning.  Depending on the age of the piece, this can be easy or very difficult.  In the case of a wicker chair I refinished, it was easy.  With some coaxing (chiseling) at the spline, which holds the cane in the groove, I was able to pull out the old caning relatively easily.  In the case of the antique rocker above, the glue used in days gone by was like titanium!   I needed to resort to nail polish remover and a drill.  I even broke a couple of bits in the process!  I am sorry I have no pictures of this task.  It was a frustrating adventure where photos were not foremost on my mind 🙂 

Once you remove the old cane, be sure the channel / groove is clean so the cane and new spline can be inserted. 

I purchased both the sheet of pre-woven cane material and the spline at Lee Valley Tools, which, luckily for me is a 10 minute drive from my home.  You can also order it online here.  (Note:  I have no affiliation with Lee Valley Tools.  They are just a great store!)

Before you begin,  the caning and the spline both need to soak in water for a few hours or in my case,  if you get busy, a day or two!  Regardless, it needs to be soft and pliable.

I began by testing that the spline will easily go into the groove and cut the spline to size with an additional 1/2 inch.  In my first attempt at replacing a cane seat, I cut the spline about 1/4 inch too short and I was very annoyed to see the tiny gap.

IMG_0083

Measuring the spline. Add a bit extra and cut the excess once inserted

Once you are ready to work, cut the caned sheet roughly the size of the opening with a good 1.5 t0 2 inch border all around.

IMG_0084

Lay the caning sheet in place, centered.  Begin on the straight sections of the groove and insert the caning into the groove.

THIS IS WHERE WE CAN GET CREATIVE!   There are tools for this.  But I used what I could find at home.  For one project, I used a metal spatula to push the cane into the groove.

For this chair, I happened to have a pack of SHIMS on hand and they definitely fit the bill.  I simply cut the thin ends off to the appropriate width and tapped them in with a hammer.

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Cut the shims to an appropriate with and tapped them into the groove.

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I worked around the opening, making sure the cane was taunt

(BTW:  that hammer was my dad’s and it’s over 70 years old!)

Once you have pushed the cane material securely into the groove, you need to cut away the excess, just below the top of the groove.  This is a daunting step.  You need a VERY SHARP exacto blade or box cutter.  The caning can begin to unravel a bit so it is important to get a nice clean cut.  Try very hard to make sure the cut is just below the top.  The few stragglers still sticking up can be trimmed later.

IMG_0097

Cut the excess cane away, just below the outer lip of the groove.

Now it is time to insert the spline.  Use a wood or all purpose glue, one that dries clear and run a generous bead inside the groove, on top of the cane.

Then begin to insert the spline.  Start at the centre of the back and work your way around.

IMG_0098

Insert the spline, starting at the centre of the back of the opening.

I wrapped a rag around the hammer so I would not damage the wood when I tapped in the spline.

Once you reach the beginning, cut the spline to the correct size.   Be sure to tap all around to ensure the spline is well inserted and then let the glue dry!

That’s it!

IMG_0102

Not counting the terrible time I had removing the old cane seat, I think this job took me just over an hour to complete!

From what I have read, cane is meant be left natural and colour with age.  However, it can be stained but only on the top.  It needs to breathe.  I am thinking of staining this seat since the chair is so dark. 

What do you think:  stain or leave au natural?

Have you ever replaced a cane seat?

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you. 

Why cover the damaged seat with wood when replacing the caning is so easy!

I think this chair is definitely Nicer Than New!

Joan

 

Apr 062014
 

Some pieces are just not meant to be painted.  Or are they?  There are occasions when I  paint a piece of furniture and post it on this blog and someone will comment that I “ruined” the piece.   I too am guilty of this thought.  Just recently, I saw a very unique mid century console on Craigslist where the shop had “ruined” the piece with an ugly shade of brown paint and was still asking an very high, typical MCM price.  Regardless, HEY! it’s furniture and the owner can do as they please.  Life’s too short to worry about someone else’s furniture.

Back in October, before winter hit us hard, I shared with you a lovely rocking chair I had acquired.  It came to me with a damaged cane seat but everything else was in amazing original condition.  There was evidence of a repair on one leg and it was obviously old but very well made and still VERY sturdy.  Not a wobble to be found.  Upon examination, I found a very faded label indicating the chair was manufactured by Heywood Brothers, a prestigious, prominent furniture manufacturer in the US.  A bit of internet research indicated the Baltimore plant operated  from 1897 to 1921 so I believe this chair is a true 100 year old “antique”.

However, it was really dark and dated.  I really like to paint things to bring them to life.  I started out really wanting to paint it but I just could not.  Somehow, it seemed like an easy way out! 

I posted a blog post asking  readers what to do and it was pretty unanimous that I should leave it in original state and get an estimate.  So I did.  The assessment said, if I kept it in an original condition, with a new cane seat, it should sell for $200 to $400 in a good market!  WOW!

I have replaced  cane seats before so that did not faze me.  I began removing the old cane and it was not easy!  I had to resort to nail polish remover to break up the glue which sadly disfigured the wood around the opening. 

Last week, I FINALLY got around to finishing it up.  Before tackling the cane seat, I did some light sanding and stained areas that were worn and needed to be stained.  Then coated the piece with varathane.  In the end, the transformation was way easier than I anticipated and the result is beautiful…

BEFORE
Heywood03

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

Heywood06

AFTER

IMG_0104

I love the richness of the wood finish.

IMG_0103

The pressback design is gorgeous!

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New cane seat

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I feel as if this is how it looked 100 years ago!

I would like to stain the caning but most articles suggest leaving it natural. 
I will let the new owner decide… IF I sell it LOL!

Do you love it! 

What was I thinking when I wanted to paint it!??! 

Yes it may not be to many people’s taste but there is beauty in keeping it original!

 

I still love to paint furniture giving it NEW LIFE  but perhaps sometimes we should consider giving it its OLD LIFE back again!

 

Have you ever changed your mind after being determined to paint something?
Or have you regretted painting something and wished you have restored it instead? 
I’d love to hear from you!

 

This piece gives me goosebumps, as if I “SAVED” it somehow
so it can continue to live a long life! 

 

Is this piece NICER THAN NEW? 
DEFINITELY!

 

Joan

Mar 242014
 

Okay.  I love this table.  It is in my living room. I have had it listed FOREVER! on Furnishly, Kijiji and Craigslist.  But no takers!  It is listed for $65 .  It is the most solidest table ever.  Did I say I love it?  BUT it has NOT SOLD!!! 

Paris step table

Paris step table

Tres Belle table!

Tres Belle table!

Paris step table

Distressing on top shelf

STEP TABLE

So I ask myself:

  1. Is Toronto not interested in “Shabby Chic”  ” Midcentury” or what???
  2. Is the price not good?  PPPPLLLLEEEEEASE!  No Chinese made table even comes close to this baby!
  3. Is it my workmanship???  I truly hope not!
  4. Is it just meant to stay with me!  Adorn my living room with it’s loveliness and it’s tribute to my love of Paris?
  5. Ohhhhh… Maybe Toronto buyers HATE Paris?  It could be!  We often have an issue with anything French! LOL

Talk to me!  I need to know.  Was my refinish choice POOR?  No feelings will be hurt. 

OR was the timing wrong or my design sense out to lunch??

I really thought it was

Nicer Than New

HELP ME!

Mar 042014
 

A few weeks ago, I posted “Do YOU Have a Designer’s Eye?” describing how my interior designer niece spotted a special little table,  in a dark photo of a bunch of tables, in a garage.  She was very excited when I told her I had indeed acquired said cute table and would be happy to give it to her.

sheilagh_06

Auction purchase

From the moment I picked up this table,
all I could think of were the house
the Jetson’s lived in. LOL

jetsons-googie

The Jetson’s

Sheilagh, my niece, loves Mid Century Modern for it’s clean lines and simplicity and also because many MCM pieces were well constructed from real wood.  This table is no exception. 

Sheilagh and her husband have only been married a couple of years and they also purchased a lovely but small home.  In other words,  they do not have room for big pieces of furniture AND they are on a tight budget.  The latter must be extra difficult when you are a designer with designer tastes!

I took a peak at her Pinterest “Living Room” board and quickly realized why she spotted the table.  Here are a few of the tables she had pinned as her “perfect” coffee table.

pin5

Image from Yahoo … no Price

I became perfectly clear, why she spotted this little table in the dark photo!  But unlike the tables above, our little table is ORIGINAL, Canadian made by a highly regarded manufacturer and it is much much CHEAPER! 

Given her decor and her plans for a new sectional sofa, she knew EXACTLY how she wanted the table finished.

IMG_1558

Walnut stain and cloud white supports and legs.

What do you think?  Personally, I LOVE IT! 

She and I both have a love for walnut finish so there was no argument there.  It could have been all walnut but the white really modernizes and brightens the look.

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I love the contrast

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The white brightens the look!

IMG_1558

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Here is the top when I purchased it…

sheilagh_02
And here is the top now!

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The top and shelf are just gorgeous!

I am so happy to help someone so artistic… it’s quite flattering!  The best compliment came from her husband.  Sheilagh showed him an “after” picture and he thought it was another of her designer table “pins”!

This table is truly Nicer Than New!

Joan

 

 

Mar 012014
 

Last week, I shared my latest estate sale purchase of 8 side tables.    Once I got them home, I was able to have a good look at them.  Every piece was in relatively good shape.  The previous owners  obviously liked mahogany and the classic look similar to furniture from Bombay Company.  Some pieces were in fact from Bombay Company but others were of indeterminable sources.  Below is the photo of one of the lots I picked up.

set of 3

Three Tables:  Marble topped pedestal,
tiny with a tray pull out
and a vintage open shelf with drawer.

The marble topped table has some faint stains and I am currently trying some techniques to remove them.  I will post my success or failure at a later date.  It is a very sturdy table and I think cleaning up the marble and painting the base will make it very special. 

The square table is teeny tiny!  It is very Bombay Company-ish.  It has a little tray that pulls our for drinks or these days, a smartphone LOL. 

The side table is quite interesting with the open part at the top and the drawer at the bottom.

Now, the last table, the one with the open shelf and the drawer is the HIDDEN GEM!  The burnt-in label inside the drawer said KINDEL, Grand Rapids.  From previous research, I became aware Grand Rapids Michigan, at one time in history, was the furniture capital of the US and was nicknamed “Furniture City”.  Of course I checked out e-Bay to see what Kindel pieces were out there and I found numerous larger pieces all commanding some major dollars!  But none like my little piece.

table open drawer

Kindel Furniture Company Side Table

table drawer

Dovetail joints on the drawers

table accent

Pretty Fret work on the top

table back

Lovely detail on the top.

Excuse the dust… those photos were taken at the auction site.  My house is a bit cleaner 😉

The Kindel Furniture website allows you to send in the pattern number found on the back of chests or dressers along with a photo.   I did this last week and a few days later, I received this reply:

Here is what research could find. Some of our older records are incomplete.  We used to file everything by hand and then we had the fire and lost some. We are working to archive all info that we have and put it on discs but we are not complete yet.  This item is from The Colchester line which was produced from 1936 to 1949. The only cost we found was for $20.50. I do not know if this was net or retail.

Bessie M. Christian, Relationship Manager

Isn’t that interesting and fun!  So basically this piece is 70 years old, give or take a few years.  I don’t think I will paint this one!  It is in amazing condition for 70 years! 

I love researching mid-century pieces.  So many of these great furniture manufacturers have closed shop both in the US and Canada.  I suppose rising wages and foreign competition took it’s toll.  Sad really but still very interesting to look back and see what they were making at their peak!

My problem is:  What is it worth? 
I fear it will not be too much but most definitely more than the $20 I paid for it! 

What do you think I should ask? 

Sadly, I don’t have a spot for it in my home….

By leaving this piece as it is, I think it will still be

Nicer Than New!

Joan

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