Flea market apartment

>> Tuesday, July 10, 2007

After: the curves on the backs are my favourite detail of the dining chairs

Lately I've been doing a lot of furniture collecting and refinishing for our new house. It's funny how with each move I've felt the need to upgrade. After buying a condo suddenly my old wooden IKEA $129 couch just wasn't good enough. This time we actually have enough room to have a living/dining room and I thought it would be nice to have some dining chairs instead of the kitchen style table and chairs we have now. Also our loft bed is staying in the condo and we needed a new bed.

The first (and actually necessary) thing I found was a nice vintage wooden bed on craigslist. Most of our things are secondhand things I found there and then refurbished. I love it because it's like citywide swapping - I also sold some things we didn't want anymore. The bed was such a find because I really wanted a Victorian cottage style bed with turned posts. It just turned out that the only one I could find in that style was only $50 - such a bargain.
Before: doesn't look that great but has potential!

It's a nice solid hardwood, but was painted a heavy dark blue colour. I sanded it (just a bit - it's such a chore) and primed and painted it a creamy white. Now I love it! (You can see the finished bed in the background of the chair pictures.)

Before: I wanted to show the chairs looking terrible, so you can see how much they were transformed!

The second thing we found were some dining chairs that needed a little work - also $50. When we arrived to pick them up the woman told us she had two more that we could have for $15. She had tried to remove the arms and they were a bit of a mess. So now we have a nice matching set of four! They had a yucky pink plush on the seats, also the wood wasn't great, so I sanded, primed and painted them a very pale grey. Then I reupholstered them in a light tan linen type fabric. Now I love them.
This kind of upholstery is so easy. The seat is usually held in place with four screws at the back, after you remove the base, take off the old fabric by prying out the staples or nails (or get your husband to do it while he is watching Dr. Who - thank you Bradley!). Then add your new fabric on top and staple it in place snugly, going from side to side. The only tricky part is folding the corners so that they look neat - it's really trial and error and remember it's ok if it looks a bit messy on the back because it doesn't show once the seat is reattached.

Finally for the bedroom I've reupholstered a small piano bench my parents gave me several years ago. I don't have a "before" picture - it was a charming bamboo and monkey print but in colours that didn't match anything else.I love this new elegant fabric I found on Queen West, it's white linen with bamboo details.They didn't actually have any left, and I was so disappointed but I loved the fabric so I bought the sample pieces from them (for $1!) thinking I could make a cushion at least. It turned out the sample squares were folded so there were two rectangles, one of which was just enough - without a centimetre to spare - to cover the bench. And another piece leftover for a cushion. I used a plain cotton underneath since linen is a bit transparent. Also, it's meant for occasional use only, so the fabric didn't need to be extra sturdy.

So that's what I've been up to, and why our place is looking like a flea market. You know, the kind where you're worried you're going to knock something over. But in 3 weeks everything will be moved into our new little house!


Robin July 10, 2007  

Your "new" furniture looks really nice - I love the light shades. That bed was such a find!

Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli July 11, 2007  

I love flea market furniture. You did such a great job fixing up everything you found.

Anonymous,  July 11, 2007  

Looking good Claire - the bed is really cute - reminds me of a metal bed frame I have in storage...

Anonymous,  July 11, 2007  

my o my - what a busy little bee!! great renovations x

Heather July 12, 2007  

I think I missed the post where you mention you've bought a house!! Congratulations!!! I hope it isn't too far away - it's been too long since we've met for a coffee. Once you're settled send me an email and we'll arrange something. I moved in May and am only now starting to feel settled so no worries if it is awhile. xo Heather

HPNY KNITS July 19, 2007  

wow- I have a bench just like that that I want to reupholster! how did you do it? just used tacks?
it looks great!

Claire Louise Milne July 19, 2007  

I actually used a staple gun. It works perfectly well, and easier than tacks. You just unscrew the top, remove the old fabric and staple the new fabric in place. Start on one side, then the other and back and forth to keep it snug and even.
Good luck!

Amanda Jean August 18, 2007  

lovely before and afters! I like the refurbishing of furniture, too. I hope you are settling in nicely in your new home.

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