Monday, April 20, 2009

Does Anybody Else Miss The Furniture Guys?

Back in the nineties, it seems like eons ago, the little bride and I would watch a home improvement show called Furniture To Go with a couple of wacky but likable guys who would show you how to repair, refinish, reupholster and refurbish furniture. Even years later we'll still exclaim to each other, though admittedly in private, "Horse Hair!" Or, "spit coat!" And it amazes me how much of an effect the guys had on us without us realizing it.

When we replaced all the doors in our house a couple of years ago, I used shellac to finish them. Had my only TV influence in life been Norm, we'd of likely gone with some stupid spar varnish or other plastic finish. But the warm, natural hand rubbed and waxed finish on our doors just keeps getting better every day. And I probably wouldn't have even noticed this influence if it hadn't been for our latest project.

Somewhere in the era we were watching the Furniture Guys on TV we found an empire style sofa covered in the most awful 1970's da-glo stripey fabric. Someone really loved that sofa in between hits from the hookah. But the price was right and we always said that we could re-cover it and make it look nice. We watched all the Furniture Guys shows and knew all about horse hair and muslin and dust covers. They showed us how easy it is to tack the material down in the center, stretch it across to the other side and tack it down and then work your way around the piece. Voila! Brand new upholstery for the cost of materials. We always wanted to try it on that couch.

We carried the sofa around with us from house to house when we moved. Last I saw it, it was piled up with stuff in a corner out of the way. Then, last weekend the little bride proclaimed that now is the time. She bought black fabric similar to what may have been on it originally and we carried the sofa out to the garage and set it up on a table and proceeded to rip off all the old stripey fabric.

(remember, clicky the picky to make them bigger...)

Luckily everything came apart in a fairly straightforward way with no major surprises.

There was a wee bit of repair work that had to be done, thank goodness the Furniture Guys showed us how to do that!

And we started putting the new cotton batting and fabric on...

When we removed the old fabric from the back, we found a series of holes spaced suspiciously in a pattern. Looks like the original had button tufting! So we bought buttons and covered them with matching fabric (thanks again Furniture Guys) and started applying them to the back. Since the original actually had hay and real horse hair for stuffing, we tossed that and replaced it with a piece of foam (which we cut with our electric turkey carving knife) cotton batting and covering.

Replacing the pieces, one by one, we found an inscription inside one of the arms that was most likely the original maker. I couldn't make out the last name, but it was Fred something, Columbus Ohio, May 26, 1860. We tossed in our own little note and a swatch of the awful fabric we had removed and closed it back up.

The bride couldn't wait to install the piece in the living room. I think we're both pretty happy with the way it turned out. And to think, we learned everything we know about upholstery on television a decade ago. Thanks Furniture Guys!