The Victorian Beauty
You know when you see something on craigslist and your heart skips a beat and you want it so bad that you can't type fast enough because you think that everyone else in the world wants it too and someone is going to beat you to it? Well, that's how I felt when I saw this Victorian sofa! Yes, I know she's grungy looking but all I saw was potential! Those curves and the wood details had me mesmerized. It took a few days for the seller to get back to me, which was torture, but it all melted away when she finally pinged me back. Here is her mugshot from the seller....
Once I had her home, it took me a few days to gain the courage to start taking her apart. Partly because she was really stinky and dirty and I didn't know what I would find, but mostly because I knew the hard work and pain that was ahead of me. I had already purchased a French antique hemp sheet specifically for this sofa and, since she had arrived, I had no more excuses. Time to get down and dirty!
With my flat-head screwdriver and plyers in hand, I started to rip away the fabric. As I peeled away the layers of fabric, cotton batting and horse hair I was overwhelmed by plumes of dust and stink. I knew right away that everything would have to go! Astonishingly, I filled our big trash can to the top and an additional 2 huge garbage bags plum full.
It took a few days of chipping away at the body to get it completely stripped and free of tacks. I was pleasantly surprised when I found square-head nails holding the frame in place! I am guessing it to be from the 1890's. Here she is! At this stage, she is bare, cleaned and ready for paint! I love me some chippy painted goodness, so I went with my favorite go-to paint, Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. I used 1 part Linen and 1 part Ironstone.
;If you're wondering about the seat, here it is! After taking off all the fabric, stuffing and burlap; I laid her outside in the sun for a few days to air out. Storage and age had not been kind to this sweet old lady and she suffered from a bit of an old musty smell. Lucky for me, her springs were all intact and tight so I didn't have to do any repairs there.
After her paint job I replaced the back with new burlap. Then it was time to bring her inside and do the fun part, or so I thought. Putting her back together was probably the most painstaking and painful part of her makeover. Lets just say that after way too many jabs, stabs, burns (hot glue gun), a stiff back and sore knees, this gal was exhausted and in a lot of pain! I am so glad that she is finally done! But I digress! Lets get back to the process, shall we?
I bought my foam, batting and burlap from JoAnn's. They have everything you need for a project like this and always have great coupons! For the back, I used 1/2" foam which I stapled into place.
And then put batting over the top.
My French sheet had a gorgeous monogram that I wanted centered on the front back of the sofa. Because of where the monogram was located on the sheet, I didn't have enough fabric to cover the length of the back. To remedy this problem, I had to hand sew enough fabric on each side to cover the entire couch, ouch! My poor fingers were so numb afterwards! let's just say hemp sheet is some tough fabric to wrestle a needle through!
After I had the new fabric in place on the front backside, I called it a night and my pup George did the cutest pose! Don't you think he matches it perfectly?
After a good nights rest, I was eager to get back to it and get this baby done! I was planning on covering the back of the sofa as well but I didn't have enough fabric, so I left it deconstructed and I must say I'm loving it. Yay for happy accidents!
Here's the seat covered in new burlap. Most antique sofas have an edge roll. I had never done one before so I winged it and here is my first attempt. Not too pretty but it serves its purpose, I guess?
I traced out my foam and then cut it with a knife. Perfect fit!
After the foam and batting was in place, I stapled my fabric on as tight as I could get it. With all the hard work behind me just one last step, gimp!
Are you anxious to see her yet? Ok, you've waited long enough......
So, what do ya think? She is my biggest upholstery project to date and probably my favorite! I hope you enjoyed the post and that you will look twice before passing by a neglected piece of furniture!
A South African native now living in the Pacific Northwest. You'll often find her decorating, playing with flowers or tackling a house project with her husband. She has a passion for French Country style and is slowly transforming her 1920's cottage with her husband one project at a time. If she's not in the house you'll find her outside puttering around in the garden.