Thursday, May 3, 2018

This Old Chair

An heirloom easy chair was too formal for life under this roof. I protected the fine upholstery by hot-gluing a layer of denim over the elegant wool, making sure the glue was applied along edges and seams that would not show should I want to reveal the original covering.

The arrangement has worked out well. I added ornamental patches of fez embroidery that happened to be in the collection. The arms are showing signs of wear, and I'm debating how to patch them. I can stop in at the closest thrift store and pick up a pair of jeans or I can order stick-on fabric patch from the Great Big Hiking Co-op.

Diana Phipps hacks upholstery in Affordable Splendor. After getting a breathtaking $5,000 1982 dollar estimate for recovering the chair's sofa-mate, I flipped the chair upside down, pulled off the muslin barrier to pests, and noodled around with sisal cord and elastic webbing to revive the ruptured springs. It was well worth the trouble, although it took a few hours to complete the work. The chair has held up to a busy family since around 1985.

The two pieces of furniture would be irreplaceable today. My grandmother paid half as much for them in 1926 as she did for her first house a few years earlier. In old upholstered items, look for one that's heavy for its size. That indicates a hardwood frame. There's a non-obvious benefit to vintage padding: it won't kill you if it catches fire. Set magical sliding castors under each foot to relieve strain on old glue joints. Lift a piece on the sides with arms, and always have two people do the work -30-


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