We have this very wonderful rule in our house: Whoever reupholsters the furniture gets to call dibs on sitting in it.
Isn’t that a great rule? I wish I could remember who made it . . .
I have two boys (three if you count my husband) who will fight to the death for second pick of seating on movie night.
My youngest son Ian, who usually ends up on the floor, has for years expressed his clear intent to someday upholster a piece of furniture, for the express purpose of kicking people off of it.
One day, walking through our neighborhood, Ian and I came across a tiny Flexsteel love seat with a free sign.
Hmmmm. . . .
I try not to adopt furniture. I already have too much. So I posted it on my facebook page hoping a student might be interested . . . .
But all day, I kept thinking it sure would be great in our little living room. I mean, I’d have to rearrange and give away a few chairs, but . . . .
So I secretly hoped nobody would scoop it up first, raced home after work, and made the boys carry it home.
And you think YOUR mom is embarrassing??
Then I told Ian that this was his chance: pick out a fabric. I’ll help you reupholster it over Christmas break.
Now I must give you a little back story on Ian. This kid is . . . precocious. He has strong opinions, which he will share with you at great length. Just get him started on the theory of time travel, or insist that our sun is the best star EVER – that should get him going.
When I went home and announced that I’d quit my job to open a business, he stood up and walked out of the room. He didn’t speak to me for a couple days because he was so angry. I eventually got a lecture about my irresponsible and reckless behavior. (It’s since lead to wonderful discussions about self employment, and the pros/cons of leaving a stable job)
He also has a very clear sense of style – in preschool, he wore a shirt and tie every day for a year – we called it his, “Alex P. Keaton” phase. In 3rd grade, he wanted a gold pocket watch for his birthday. Now he’s in the market for a top hat and a giant mustache. . .
So I don’t even know what I expected him to pick out for fabric. I was just really curious when I sent him to the fabric books.
“THIS IS IT! THIS IS DEFINTELY IT!!!!” He announced after a few minutes.
Ummmmm. Ahhhhh. Really? Are you sure?
I won’t lie, I had to kind of digest this for awhile. I mean, talk about a bold selection.
I even sent him back a week later, and he easily found it a second time.
The fact is, I certainly wouldn’t have selected anything that brave. I may CALL myself The Funky Little Chair, but this was pushing it.
Still . . . .
It WOULD work with our orange sofa and green walls. It would be well scaled to the love seat. And we didn’t have any other large patterns in the room yet. I was warming up to it. . .
And actually, let’s be honest: when it comes to our home, there isn’t much of a design aesthetic to disrupt anyway.
I don’t particularly care if the furniture is . . . eclectic.
I care about doing something with my kid while I have the fleeting opportunity.
I care about giving him some tools and safety glasses, and letting him make a mess.
I care about the shared experience.
Ian was determined to do as much as possible on his own – he didn’t want anyone challenging his claim to seating rights!! I told him that, in the interest of time, he was going to have to accept some help from mom . . . but that I’d try to keep it to a minimum, and not to worry – I preferred my spot on the sofa.
So Ian tore it back, and I started cutting fabric – I wanted to do a LITTLE matching, anyway. . . and it gave me a chance to write a blog post on, “Pattern matching: the art of compromise” 🙂
Ian cut and sewed all the welt cord (good thing we put a servo motor on Louise last summer!!!) while I upholstered the inside of the frame.
Then I got him started on the outside arms.
Ian is pretty good with his hands, and he likes tools. He’s taken apart a fair number of things in our house when nobody was looking.
So we got a pretty good system going in which I’d start a step and he’d finish – cardboard tack strip, burlap, batting . . . Oh the joy of a kid with a staple gun!!!
The love seat originally had a skirt – I rallied to keep it, even though popular opinion was to dump it.
In the end, Ian won the argument:
“It will be easier to catch the guinea pigs when they run under the furniture without a skirt.”
As a fun alternative, we ordered a set of TURNED SOFA LEGS off Amazon – We’d used a set recently on a Mama Carp ottoman project. Aren’t they totally fabulous???
Swapping legs isn’t always an option, but in this case, the the love seat’s old legs were just screwed into a T-nut, so changing them out was effortless.
Then Ian got to work nail heading the arms:
Full mom disclosure, we added decorative nails for two reasons:
- We thought it would look awesome (Ian chose Nickel from Fabric Supply in Minneapolis )
- I needed a way to keep Ian busy while I sewed the cushion. Nailhead is nothing if not time consuming.
All that was left was to bring it home and get comfy . . .
This was SUCH a fun project.
Ian’s wild fabric selection got a great response on social media, and it’s now my favorite fabric in our house. It turned an unremarkable love seat into a conversation starter. And I got to teach my son some upholstery. . . . Does it get any better?
We talk a lot about reupholstery as a great option for high quality and/or older pieces . . .
The frame is no feat of great design. It’s construction is adequate at best. But it DOES now represent a shared experience, a mother/son story. . .
It was a wonderful piece for learning, it fits well in our living room, and now Ian has full rights to a comfortable spot of his own. . . . Though ever the gentleman, he’s usually gracious enough to share it.
(after pointing out that he, “has the power to banish you”, of course)
Thank you for reading! Are there upholstery, DIY or home improvement projects you’ve tackled with your kids? Or do you have memories of such projects from being a kid yourself???
If you enjoyed this particular post, you may also enjoy a related post from the summer: What makes an heirloom chair an heirloom?