Controversial Post

I have debated whether or not I should post what I’m about to post . . .

As with most things in life, upholstery is comprised of the good, the bad and the ugly. A long-forgotten chair may have Good bones. Its current state may look pretty Bad and certainly you come across a whole gamut of Ugly. But what you may not be aware of is the disgusting. In fact, if you knew the history of certain pieces of furniture, you squeamish types may find yourselves standing up an awful lot.

Some friends of ours had given us this chair several years ago. Its frame is so sweet and I could envision the final outcome as being just darling. But the fabric was already torn and the horsehair stuffing oozing out. So I dragged my feet tackling it because I knew it would be a full-on reconstruction. Here it is looking sad and crying out for help:

Now, here’s where it becomes controversial. This just might be TMI for some of you. I knew that between being stored in a barn at my friend’s place and in my garage loft for years with the horsehair stuffing exposed, that the chances of there being evidence of mice was pretty high. I inherited a PHOBIA of rodents from my mother that should prevent me from even being in this business. But the thrill and satisfaction of a complete furniture transformation overrides that, I guess. I had no idea how much evidence I would find.

Just what I expected . . . chewed-through burlap and tell-tale droppings.
I wasn’t expecting the sheer volume of  filth and excrement. I almost jumped ship at this point.

Here’s me with an expression that reads — “Really?”

Let me just say that I’ve never stripped and cleaned a frame so well. Every bit of stuffing was tossed, the frame vacuumed and I started from scratch. I share this to illustrate just how committed and dedicated this new generation of upholsterers is to keeping this craft alive. It’s not glamorous, it’s not fun all the time and it definitely borders on the need for a HazMat suit at times. But it is fulfilling — on many levels. You can’t argue with a finished product like this:

So the next time you look at the price tag of a one-of-a-kind piece of reupholstered furniture, just remember there’s more to its history than meets the eye. Before the clean, specially selected fabric went on, the bulk of the craftsman’s work had been done. And if all you see is a fresh, balanced, solid piece — then the craftsman’s work has been done well.


11 thoughts on “Controversial Post

  1. Bonnie Moors says:

    Nia – Love the double welt. You described about half of the work I did during my 30 years of doing just what you do. Could not pass up a classic piece of filthy whatever. I made many silk purses out of pig's ears in my time. Had to scrub the springs and frame once with bleach to kill whatever invisible stuff remained. I could show you some photo's just as bad as yours. One thing, is I probably should have worn a mask more often, but as a farm girl I had already inhaled everything toxic. Keep up the good work girl. Bonnie

  2. judi says:

    wow…and to think that i have a smaller rounder version of your chair with horsehair exposure makes me cringe! but i thank you for the info as ignorance isn't always so blissful. it could be unhealthy!love the stripe fabric and that double welting…yummy.judi 😉

  3. Summerland Style says:

    Thanks everyone. This is the complimenting chair to the one I did for a client last week. I think it turned out great. If it were mine, I would've opted for a bit more of a feminine print. The size of the chair is PERFECT for a 5' girl ; ) So comfy.Judi, you should seriously consider having yours redone (and then send me pics!)

  4. AuroraSuzette says:

    I remember seeing a gorgeous french settee, very covered in pigeon droppings. I saw it later, cleaned, reupholstered, and was a little sad I didn't jump (ok, not literally) on it at the original bargain price!

  5. Glenda says:

    I loved the way it turned out. Not TMI for me. My dear dad was a reupholster for many years, this was a picture that I remember seeing quite often. lol. I will visit again, just came over from Design Sherpa. So glad to have found you.~G~

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