Thursday, March 15, 2012

Furniture Hoarding

One of my favorite parts about re-doing furniture is seeing the potential in old beat-up pieces. I love treasure hunting. As I mentioned last week, I've been collecting furniture to refinish/refresh for my space at the Luckett's Spring Market in May. Because I've been spending so much time thrifting/craigslisting, I haven't actually finished any projects. But, I'm proud to show you the collection I've gathered.

Here is what our dining room currently looks like. Some of this is for the market and some of it isn't. That's our dining room table, which normally has a table cloth but has magically transformed into my sewing table.

This mid-century dresser is by Stanley furniture, and I'm having a hard time figuring out when it was built. Some clues: It has a stamp on the left side of the top drawer that says "Distinctive Furniture by Stanley".  The drawer glides in the dresser itself are wood, but the glides on the bottom of the drawers are metal. Also, the top is Formica. I don't think I'm going to do much to this guy but repair the bottom drawer glide and clean it up a bit. I'm not even sure he'll make it with me to the market. 

This dresser has some veneer issues, so I will probably repair it with wood filler and paint it. I'm thinking a deep blue. When I picked it up, I knew the drawers were solid but I had never seen the kind of joints on them before. I discovered that they are pin and crescent joints, which were pretty much only used on furniture manufactured between 1871 - 1900, which is pretty awesome. 

This old art deco waterfall dresser is really hurting, but I think I can make it gorgeous again. I love the drawer pulls. My favorite part about this dresser is that it's in such bad shape that I don't feel remotely guilty putting a coat of paint on it. I like painted furniture and stained wood, and sometimes I feel really guilty painting over perfectly nice wood. But with a dresser like this, I won't be ruining anything. Pretty much anything I can do to it will be an improvement.

I picked up this little stool and end table on Craigslist. I might use a combination of painted and stained surfaces for the table. I am also thinking the top might look cool with a design in it, similar to my herringbone side table. This little stool might also look cool with a design on the seat. Haven't quite decided what to do with him yet. 

While mid-century doesn't really jive with what we've got going on in our house, I thought these looked 1) really cool and 2) relatively easy to tackle. They're actually outside in this picture because I started sanding them last weekend. Like my mid-century dresser, I am having a hard time finding something similar to these. They have a number on the bottom, but no other clues. All my googling hasn't turned up something similar, so I'm not sure what their story is. I can say that they're nice, solid tables, and I think they're going to look amazing once I'm done with them.

Of all the stuff I've collected, I definitely have the most chairs. They can just have so much character, I can't really help myself. I always wondered how my grandparents ended up with a collection of random chairs in their house, and now I know because I'm well on my way. How cool is this banker's chair? It needs to be cleaned up and possibly refinished. I think I might also reupholster in with a bright, feminine print. I love the idea of juxtaposing a masculine chair with a feminine print.

I got a pair of these needlepoint chairs from the sad guy selling all his grandparents' furniture. You can kind of see in this picture that the seats aren't completely perfect, so they will get reupholstered. Don't worry, I'm going to try to preserve the needlework pieces and make them into art.

This rocker actually folds up and would be perfect for a little nursery. The design on the top reminds me of some cane chairs that my grandpa refinished for my parents. This will be very sunny when I'm done with it. 

So there's your sneak peak. I hope to get a lot done on these projects over the next few days. And who are we kidding, I might accumulate some more projects too.

Speaking of the next few days...I turn 25 on Monday. Eek! It's kind of crazy to think about. I have some fun stuff planned for the weekend and I will try to be a good little blogger and take pictures and tell you about it next week.

For my birthday, I'm asking my parents for some money towards a DSLR camera. Do any of you lovely readers have recommendations for a good starter (and affordable) DSLR? I haven't made up my mind yet.

Linked to: Junker Newbie, Miss Mustard Seed

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Things You Should Buy on Craigslist

Well my friends, I am sad to say I will not be posting about a finished project today. I am currently in what could be described as hoarding buying mode. As in stalking craigslist for stuff I can restore/upgrade and sell at the Lucketts Spring Market. I'll post pictures of some of those acquisitions later tonight or tomorrow.

Because I've filled our dining room with antiques and currently have a dresser in the back of Fiona, I am trying to pull myself away from buying right now so that I can, you know, actually repair/refinish/paint/upholster all the projects I've already acquired. But I am still seeing amazing deals on craigslist, and someone needs to know about them. Because Apartment Therapy's craigslist roundup is not cuttin' it these days. So here are some listings I want to hit up but can't right now on account of my self-imposed buying stop:

Retro Metal Lawn Chairs - 4 - $25 (Arlington). They need work but seriously, $25 for all 4 of them??? Amazing deal.

Antique Cane Bottom Dining Chairs - $50 (Shirlington). These have been up since 9 am this morning so they might be gone. But again, you could pick up just one of these for $60 in an antique store, so $50 for 6 of them is a really great deal. These are the kinds of chairs my grandpa would refinish. They are classic and great craftsmanship.

Antique Children's Desk - $40 (Gainesville). This is a bit of a hike for me, but kid furniture is so cute. I wish I could snatch this up. I try to "respect the wood" as the boy would say, but this could look soooooo cute if you stenciled the desktop a la my desk, or if you used chalk board paint on the desk top so a kid could literally write on the desk top. Seriously though, am I the only one who is smitten with kid furniture? Yay for selling at a market and getting the excuse to buy stuff like this while I'm (thankfully) sans children.

6 Drawer Dresser - $25 (Hyattsville).  I don't know that it's really my style or I would have it in my house, but I can definitely ride the wave and appreciate this retro-mod Madmen dresser. You could definitely do something cool to it. Just google "mid-century dresser redo" and check out the beautiful image results that come up. Or you could restore it to its former glory. And it doesn't have to stay in the bedroom. This could be used as a buffet or TV stand.

1 dresser 6 drawer - $30 (Camp Springs). Me-oh-my, it appears that people are just giving away mid-century dressers today. Here's another one. $30? That's less than I spend on most of my shirts that would go in this dresser.

Antique Wood Dresser - $75 (Arlington/Clarendon). This is a gorgeous dresser and you probably wouldn't have to do anything to it. In fact, please, please don't do anything to it. This poor soul appears to have a heartless girlfriend who is making him sell all his family heirlooms now that they are living together. Silly woman, do you not realize how lucky you are to have a bf whose grandparents let him inherit such beautiful things? I am kidding. A little. Perhaps she had a good reason and grandparents who give her prettier antiques. Did I mention that I'm pretty sure this would sell for close to $300 in an antique store?

Round, Solid Wood Table - $35 (Arlington/Clarendon). But seriously, does this guy not sound go sad? There is just no room for his dad's favorite table. Also, is he in his 30s or 40s? Because no boy I know would manage to own stuff so nice and not ruin it playing beer pong or something. Or I guess in this case quarters would be a more reasonable assumption.

So, none of these things may be available anymore. In fact, I just caved and emailed the guy about the table. Although now that I think about it, I don't think that table will fit in my car. But you get my point. You don't have to spend $200 on an antique dresser when people sell them for $75 on craigslist. You just have to shop often, email quickly, and be able to pick up that day or the day after. And you will snag a dining room worth of deals.

OK, time to head off to date night!

Update: Omgosh! I emailed the sad man about the table and dresser and got an email back from the gf. And it turns out, I ALREADY BOUGHT STUFF from the happy couple. Yes, I bought two chairs from them last week! I wish that I had known 1) about these other beautiful things that were available when I bought the chairs and 2) the sad conditions upon which I acquired the chairs! I wonder if they recognized my email address. 

Update on the Update: The person who was going to buy the dresser from them was a no-show. That means this dresser is allllllllll mine. And sorry friends, I think this piece might be a permanent fixture in my house instead of an addition to my collection of market furniture. I just don't know that I can part with it. Oh, and I did reveal myself as a previous purchaser. It just seemed like disclosure of that fact ahead of time would be less awkward. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Un-Caned Chair

A while back I acquired this chair at a thrift store. I liked the lines of it and knew it could look really cool with new upholstery, so I took it home and let it sit in my dining room all winter. At this point, that shouldn’t be a surprise to you.

I have to admit that I twinge a bit when I watch people remove cane from furniture and replace it with upholstery. It seems like they do it with such enthusiasm, like cane is this terrible trend in furniture that we need to remove from antiques across the country. I think part of the reason for the slow extinction of cane furniture is that, at least most of the time, the cane is damaged, and few people know how to replace it. I realize that this is kind of an unreasonable rant about cane furniture, but humor me for a minute. My grandpa knew how to weave cane furniture and often repaired chairs for friends. My grandparents’ house was full of cane chairs, and I associate that craft strongly with my interest in refinishing furniture. So to remove cane from a piece almost seems sacrilegious to me.

But, I am a heathen and so I replaced the cane on this point chair with upholstery. *GASP*. I know, I feel guilty, but hear me out. There are two ways to apply cane to furniture. One is by weaving the cane yourself through holes in the seat, and the other is by using pre-woven cane that you shove into a crevice. Based on the technique used on the chair, the replacement technique will be different. Well, my grandpa was really good at the actual cane weaving, but I don’t remember seeing a ton of furniture in their house that used the newer technique, so I didn’t feel as bad replacing the cane with upholstery. Plus, getting the cane out of the crevice was going to take forever, this chair didn’t seem worth the effort.

To makeover this chair, I first removed the seat by unscrewing it from underneath the chair. Then I removed the cane by running my flathead screwdriver through the holes and ripping the cane close to the frame. Once I had removed the cane piece, I took pliers and removed as much of the cane left over as I could. I knew it didn’t have to be perfect because fabric wouald be over it.

 I decided to paint this chair because the shiny look of the finish made it look a little too 80s for my taste, and I didn't have the patience to refinish it after my last chair refinishing endeavor. So I took my chair down to the basement where I sanded it with 80 grit sandpaper, getting it nice and scuffed up. I decided to spray it with a light coat of primer outside because I planned to paint the chair white and didn’t want the wood to bleed through. I also wanted to make sure that the paint bonded to the still a little bit shiny frame. I guess I forgot to take a picture of this step in my haste.

Once the primer was dry, I brushed on two coats of Glidden flat paint in Picket by Martha Stewart. While the paint was drying, I took apart the old seat cushion and found a gross piece of foam completely falling apart. Yuck. I also found a ton of staples in the wood seat, which I used my screwdriver and pliers to remove. Luckily the Christmas Attic uses lots of staples to hang things in their store, so I had plenty of experience removing staples. It took quite a bit of work to get the wood seat clean, but I got it done.

At this point it was late on Sunday night, so I let the paint dry overnight and hung out with the boy for a while.

The next morning I used some 80 grit sandpaper to distress the edges of the chair. I used a cloth to dust off the chair and then brushed a coat of Minwax Polycrylic over the entire chair. I let the chair dry while I was at work and got back to it when I came home in the evening.

Then came the upholstery. This was my first try at upholstering something with a picture back, so it took longer than I had hoped, but that always seems to be the case when I’m learning a new technique. Again, I used instructions I found on Design*Sponge to upholster the back, except I only used layers of Dacron instead of foam because the foam was just too poufy for this chair. I used my parents’ electric stapler to attach all the layers. It sucked. No matter how hard I tried to keep the staple gun straight, the staple went in sideways. I finished off half a box of staples and had to go to the store to get more. And after I thought I was finished, I realized that somehow the pattern wasn’t quite straight, so I had to fix it a little the next day. So a recommendation for you: If this if your first try, I recommend using a floral or something more abstract that is forgiving in terms of pattern placement.

Upholstering the seat was much easier. Notice that this seat has a hole in the base. I didn’t really want to cut a new piece of wood, so I used another set of instructions I found on Design Sponge to attach some new furniture webbing to the wood base. Then I added a thick piece of foam and then covered the foam and seat in Dacron, stapling on the underside of the seat. I made sure not to obscure any of the holes for the screws to attach the seat back to the frame.

Next I cut a piece of fabric for the seat, made sure I lined it up centered, and stapled it in place. I improvised a bit with the back, which had room cut out for the back of the chair.

Finally it was time to sew my cording. I used this tutorial from Centsational Girl to make my double welt cord for the back of the chair. Double welt cord is great because it hides all the imperfections of the staples. Sewing the cord was easy, but a bit time consuming. I also didn’t have a zipper foot, so the cord is a little wider than normal. That was fine by me. Once I had finished the double welt cord, I attached it to the chair with a hot glue gun. Then I sewed a single welt cord and attached it to the bottom of the chair with a glue gun. I screwed the seat back onto the frame, and my masterpiece was done.
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