To Do?

Some of you might remember my, um, inheritance from my grandma. As mentioned here, a million dollars couldn’t come close to Ol’ Timey, a folder of childhood drawings and the mustard chair. When she downsized from her large, Pittsburgh home (to a cutie pie condo, no less), we were thrilled to bequeath said items, and Miss Mustard had been hanging in our office ever since.

Now that we’ve begun Operation Studio, I’d like her to continue on as an integral piece of the puzzle as we pull the room back together. But in the meantime, I’ve got some decisions to make.

The chair was a gift to my grandparents on their wedding day. Since then, she’s been reupholstered (from the original blue), but sadly, her guts have seen better days. A squeaky bottom cushion and bouncy back support had me wondering if she needed yet another upholstery job.

All signs point to yes.

But I’m ridiculously scared. My gut reaction was to tackle this job on my own. However, with a barely walkable hallway, stacks of frames piling up and plans for upper shelving in the works, I’m beginning to have second thoughts due to a full plate.

Nevermind I’m not even sure what’s going on with those springs. I’m also afraid of sewing machines, and how in the world do I apply piping?

And there are still a few major components to purchase – a rug, for example. One like this. Or this. (Very different, I know.) So regarding Miss Mustard’s new look, well, what gets my heart thumping wildly is the idea of a pretty, punchy coral. This is not to say that I’ll change my mind on a whim and go with a plush, navy velvet. Or yellow. Again.

For such a sentimental piece, should I leave this to the pros? (Oh, how my sad, DIY-loving and thrifty heart would break. But maybe I need to hear this, too.) To be honest, I’ve no problem pulling out staples, trim, and uncovering the entire frame, but goodness knows what really lies beneath. I’m incredibly conflicted. What do you think?

Has anyone else conquered an out-of-their-league upholstery job and lived to tell the tale? If so, how’d you fare?

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  • erin - January 20, 2012 - 8:19 AM

    i redid my great aunt’s loveseat and while it took forever and is nowhere near perfect, i’m happy with it. this chair seems to have clean lines that would be easy(ish) to redo but i’ve never messed with piping! my thought was, if i try it myself and it doesn’t work, *then* i can take it to a professional with no harm done, right? (famous last words!)

    but since this is a special piece there’s no shame in just leaving it to the professionals either!

    here’s the loveseat –

  • Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d - January 20, 2012 - 8:53 AM

    Based on the under side of the chair, I think I would leave it to the pros. If it were strictly for cosmetic reasons, I think you should go for it, but this looks a little questionable. And by questionable I mean I wouldn’t attempt it.

    While I love the idea of a coral chair, you had me at navy velvet. Just my two cents.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 20, 2012 - 9:05 AM

    Thank you, ladies!

    Erin, WOW! I remember seeing this over at YHL. It’s absolutely amazing!

    Amanda, now how about coral velvet? Ooh, la la.ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode - January 20, 2012 - 9:15 AM

    Hm. I think you could DIY it – it seems to me the metal springs just need to be re-attached. I’d take a ton of photos from every angle, then strip it down to see what exactly lies beneath. Then I’d probably attempt to fix the spring before sending it to the pros, but I’m stubborn like that. And penny-pinching.

    As for reupholstering it – I think you could do so without having to break out the sewing machine, unless you’re dead set on piping.

    Again . . . super stubborn, and just my opinion! If it’s in the budget to just ship it out, and you’re pretty overwhelmed already – then it makes sense to do so. :)ReplyCancel

  • rachael - January 20, 2012 - 9:55 AM

    My gut says this is a job for the pros. There’s a lot of sentimental value connected to that chair, and I think it’s worth the money to have it done by someone with the expertise. Worth at least getting a few estimates. You could ask them what needs to be fixed and assess then if it’s something you could handle on your own. Plus, since you have sway in the Chicago community, you could probably get a discount if you told them you’d be blogging about it and bringing potential new clients their way.ReplyCancel

  • Kyley at Painting Pony - January 20, 2012 - 12:00 PM

    I’m so not one to ask, because my sewing skills are HORRIBLE. Even though on occasion I do give it the old college try.
    I’d probably leave it to the pros as well. While I have never had anything reupholstered, I think if I had something worth doing it to I’d probably go to the pros. Mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing.ReplyCancel

  • Marriah - January 20, 2012 - 12:22 PM

    I’ve got two chairs, one completely down to the frame, that I’m going to try to redo myself. However, neither of them are sentimental – the wingback I even got on craigslist for 5 bucks! I have found this website with tons of detailed videos from a professional upholsterer (or whatever the technical name would be :) ) and there’s tons of detail for a visual learner like myself. He seems really knowledgeable. Here’s the link:

    Good luck with whatever your choice may be!ReplyCancel

  • Sam @ Leave the Nest Up to Me - January 20, 2012 - 1:16 PM

    I definitely took on an overwhelming reupholstery project (2 craigslist chairs) and lived to tell about it, but I also got to a point where I threw it together just to get it done. And I had the cushions (and piping) done by a pro.

    Yours is a simple enough shape that I think you could do it on your own, but then the sentimental value + repairs makes me want to call a professional.

    And I strongly encourage a coral fabric. Or navy.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 20, 2012 - 1:24 PM

      Thank you, everyone! There are lots of things to consider – you’re all very right about that.

      Marriah, thank you for the link!

      Sam, you made me chuckle.ReplyCancel

  • Tonya - January 20, 2012 - 1:48 PM

    Definitely leave it to the pros, but be very specific with what you want and how you want it. Take them all the before pics you showed us. I vote for any color of velvet:)ReplyCancel

  • Jen - January 20, 2012 - 4:35 PM

    My vote is outsource. You don’t have to DIY everything babe. Maybe the upholsterer will let you watch and you can tackle the next piece of furniture after the free lesson?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 20, 2012 - 5:05 PM

      You guys are so right about the pros. I think I needed a crew to tell me so, since I didn’t hear Scott the first time!

      Time to pinch pennies. But we know it’ll be worth it.

      Thank you, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Monika - January 20, 2012 - 5:15 PM

    I had a similar dilemma not too long ago on a couple Louis chairs that had seen better days and even started out doing the project myself after finding the most gorgeous fabric then realizing I was in WAY over my head. De-stapled and removed all the old fabric, painted the frame glossy black and took it to an upholsterer who not only finished them off so beautifully I’m almost afraid to sit on them but who was fairly reasonably priced. And he did the most incredible job on the piping and replaced all the springs and padding. I could have used the money elsewhere for sure, but would do it again the same way in a heartbeat. Especially on such a sentimental piece, you don’t want to cheap-out. Good luck. P.S. LOVE the second rug option(the yellow one–it’s gorgeous!)ReplyCancel

  • CourtneyOutLoud - January 21, 2012 - 10:16 AM

    Having redone a chair myself, leave it to the pros. Retightening the springs is a tricky process that if done incorrectly will warp the frame which at that point the chair becomes trash. Second, if you are not good at sewing or have a machine that can get through upholstry grade material, again it becomes way more of a nightmare. Last, if you don’t have the space, this is not a 1-2 day event… takes a while and commitment to do it properly. In all, leave it to the pros – you will love the chair better in the end.

    I actually found a guy via CraigsList (that sounds wrong). I put an ad up and quoted a price on the job and folks replied. It was a great way to find local workmen/work rooms who do good work.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 21, 2012 - 10:19 AM

    Monika and Courtney – THANK YOU! I needed to hear this. And Courtney, good call on having the space to do certain projects… I think sometimes it’s easy to forget the added challenge of DIY in a very small home.ReplyCancel

  • Emma - January 23, 2012 - 10:55 AM

    Decisions decisions. I had two club chairs reupholstered and the work alone cost $400 per chair. I knew that I couldn’t tackle that job myself but I’m going to use to and try on an easier chair (just a back and seat). Your chair looks as though it may be a bit tough as a second reupholstery job. I supplied my upholstery guy with fabric I got at which saved me some coin (coupon!). Good luck either way!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui - January 24, 2012 - 6:46 PM

    Here’s a link to a complicated DIY upholstery job from Centsational Girl: – maybe a compromise between getting the pros to fix the springs etc and then tackle the actual upholstery yourself? Cost may be the deciding factor!ReplyCancel

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