Chair-itable Donations

Luca Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 1 Comment

“I’m in the Book” by This Way Home. Photo by Elaine Frederick.  Every year, the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) hosts a charity auction featuring upcycled, creatively reimagined chairs from designers and artists around the world. The event is officially called Take A Seat, but we have affectionately dubbed it “the chair-ity.”  This year’s entries from the New England IFDA chapter benefit the Women’s Institute of Housing & Economic Development, whose mission is to “promote economic opportunity and build strong communities by developing safe, affordable, and supportive housing for individuals and families.” It’s a worthy cause and a great excuse to get creative. I found my chair while trolling craigslist (what else!). It’s actually a vintage telephone bench, also known as a gossip bench. Back in the day, you would set your rotary landline on the built-in table and sit on the bench for a leisurely phone chat. You could even store your phonebook on the table’s lower shelf. Pretty handy piece of furniture, huh?  I …

A Mini Makeover

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One of my clients needed a piece that could serve double duty as a bedside table and a vanity in her small bedroom. When I spotted this compact table at Brimfield, I knew it was the perfect shape and size for her needs. It has a drawer for storing makeup and other supplies, and there is a clear opening at the bottom so it will be a comfortable place to sit. I liked the table’s original mint-colored paint and sweet little decoupage accent, but it was in rough shape and not the right look for my client’s room. So I gave the piece a simple makeover. I sanded down the original finish, applied a coat of primer, two coats of Benjamin Moore Mayonnaise, and two coats of topcoat. If you’re using a light paint color like off-white, it’s best to use a polycrylic topcoat instead of polyurethane, which turns yellow over time. I chose a high gloss polycrylic because it’ll be easier …

Ikea Malm Before and After

Luca DIY, Furniture Before and After 3 Comments

In my last post, I showed you the results of a master bedroom makeover. My clients had an existing Ikea Malm dresser that they wanted to keep; it was great storage, but not very stylish. So I decided to give it a makeover and I wanted to take you through the steps for achieving this look. First I roughed up the dresser’s slick finish with an 80-grit sanding block, which allows the primer to adhere better. I removed all the drawers, covered the edges with painter’s tape, and gave the piece one coat of Zinsser primer. Next I added two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Glacial Till, a light putty color. I bought 3/4″ panel molding from Lowe’s, and I expected to be able to have it cut down in store. Unfortunately they were only able to do straight 90-degree cuts, and I was looking for a 45-degree miter cut. I was about to rent a (gigantic!) table saw from Home Depot, but luckily the …

The Settee Reveal

Luca Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 2 Comments

My Victorian settee is ready for its final reveal! The original piece was in a sad state, with lopsided springs and worn upholstery. I wanted to give the settee a fresh identity, so I chose an off-white fabric with embroidered black tufts. I love that this fabric is a bit irregular and freeform because it provides a nice contrast to the settee’s formal frame. Here is a close-up of the upholstery: Springs are much higher quality than foam padding, but they are also more expensive to replace. Luckily, loose and lopsided springs can often be repaired; they are simply retied in tight, orderly coils. One more reason to appreciate the excellent craftsmanship of antiques! This settee’s springs were able to be retied, and now it has an even, comfortable seat once again. The high contrast between the new off-white upholstery and the dark wood stain accentuates the frame’s intricate detail. I especially love the serpentine carving along the top edge of the frame back. I hope you all …

Updated Victorian

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Years ago, I bought an antique Victorian settee for my living room. It served me well, but after several years of heavy use, the original red velvet upholstery was faded and threadbare and the springs had become misaligned. I am never one to give up on an antique, so I decided to give this beauty a top to bottom makeover with the help of my local upholsterer. In the coming weeks, I will reveal the finished product; but for now, I’ll just say, it will be a dramatic change! Antique settees can seem dauntingly formal, but they need not look stuffy or staid. Rigid designs and heavy wood frames can be beautifully offset by modern prints, bold colors, and contemporary accents. Sources: 1) Jessica Helgerson Interior Design 2) Design Par Deux 3) The Yellow Cottage 4) Domaine Home 5) Old House Online 6) Style Me Pretty 7) Tokyo Jinja 8) reStyled by Valerie on Etsy  

Lucite Chair Before & After

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Those of you who follow my instagram or twitter may remember a vintage lucite swivel chair I posted a few weeks back. I found the chair on craigslist in a little town just north of New York City. The red vinyl was all torn up, and the lucite body was covered with scratches; but I loved the fundamental design of the piece and decided it was worth restoring. Here is the before and after: I decided to reupholster the chair in white fabric. The original mod red vinyl was certainly a cool look, but I wanted to give this chair a real transformation. I found a creamy Italian suede for an excellent price at the fabric store. I love the little perforations that reveal a silver backing. The fabric looks simple from afar, but has a bit of personality up close. The silver backing also coordinates with the chair’s hardware. I took the chair and my new fabric to my favorite local …

Refinishing a Mid-Century Side Table

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I found a vintage mid-century side table on Craigslist a few months ago.  It had great bones and a lovely wood grain, but unfortunately the tabletop was worn and deeply scratched. Since the rest of the piece was in good condition, I decided to buy the table and refinish the top. I will take you through the process, which can be applied to any simple refinishing project. Here are some close-ups of the original damage. That middle scratch was about 6 inches long and a few millimeters deep. The top was also several shades lighter than the rest of the table from years of use and wear. The Process The first step is to remove the original finish and sand down any visible scratches. I used an orbital sander to expedite the process, but you can certainly do this by hand. This table has a wood veneer, a thin decorative layer of higher quality wood that surrounds the central structure, …

Ebonized Cerused Oak Before & After

Luca DIY, Furniture Before and After 3 Comments

I have always loved the look of ebonized cerused, or limed, oak.  The overall finish is a deep black, while the wood grain is filled with white pigment.  The sharp contrast accentuates oak’s beautiful grain patterns and creates a high-end, glamorous look.  This finish can be achieved in any color combination, but the classic black and white is my personal favorite. This technique was originally developed in the 16th century as a way to protect wood from insects.  Its popularity has ebbed and flowed over time, peaking in art deco and midcentury interiors. I followed Lynne Rutter’s wonderful tutorial over at The Ornamentalist.  My table had a cerused finish originally, so I had to take a few extra steps to prep the surface. Two pieces of advice on this technique: Firstly, it is essential to create an absolutely clean surface to work with because aniline dye will not absorb through old varnish or residue.  Starting with an unfinished piece would …

Weekend Project: Mid-Century Sunroom

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My sister, Elizabeth, asked for a little help tackling the last undecorated room in her home: a 4’ x 6’ sunroom.  Elizabeth, an actress and screenwriter, wanted a comfortable place to read scripts and memorize lines.  She requested a mid-century modern style that would complement her adjacent office.  The room is not weatherproof, so we chose items that would not be ruined by sun damage or dust.  Our maximum budget was $600. We found the armchair and ottoman on craigslist for $100.  The chair is a mid-century reproduction from Urban Outfitters, so we aren’t worried about abandoning a valuable vintage piece to the elements. We purchased a 3’ x 5’ grey and white chevron rug for $80 from Potted, a fabulous garden store in Los Feliz.  Our big budget splurge was a Modernica Case Study ceramic pot and Brazilian walnut stand, which we found on sale for $120.  The Case Study planter is manufactured locally in Los Angeles. Our next …

Campaign Dresser Makeover

Luca DIY, Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 1 Comment

I had been on the lookout for a campaign dresser for several months when I spotted the perfect piece on craigslist.  It had sturdy dovetail construction and solid brass hardware.  I was not a big fan of the original wood tone, so I decided to give the dresser a classic kelly green makeover!  Here is an overview of the process. First I removed the hardware and gave the whole piece a good sanding.  I used ScotchBlue painter’s tape to keep all my edges clean and then painted one coat of Zinsser primer.  Primer will prolong the life of the finish. I decided to use Benjamin Moore Advance high gloss paint in jade green.  It has a built-in self-leveling property, which helps hide brush strokes and provide a smooth finish.  I ended up doing three (long and painful!) coats to get complete coverage.  Fortunately this paint does not require a top coat. I also polished the hardware.  You can use a …