Monday, May 10, 2010

Refurbishing Furniture... Green or Not?

Living room

It seems like I am spending a lot of time fixing up my furniture instead of buying new furniture.  Due to problems with mold & mildew - I have to sand and fix up the back of my antique mahogany armoire.  I'm regularly re-doing the 6' high kitty condo with new hemp rope & indoor outdoor carpet.

Equanimity (HPIM6127)

Sun damage on the arm in 2005 or so - within the next year, the seat cushion between 

the black pillow and the kitty started to shred parallel to the length of the sofa.

Enter - the problem of the sofa.  I bought it in 1998 or 1999 at Z Gallerie on Union St in SF.  I loved this sofa to bits.  It started showing sun damage on the fabric around 5 years of age, and by 8 or 9, the fabric on the seat was starting to fall apart and I kept it covered with a throw for well over a year before I realized that it needed to be recovered.  

Of course I already thought of recovering it myself OR making a slipcover.  Recovering the sofa would mean taking a class - which wasn't available. Being a single arm sofa would make it easier but there are all sorts of things that I just didn't know about - like how do you get the trim that is tacked around the whole sofa?  How do you pleat the arm? What do you use to do all this? I know using my little heavy duty stapler would NOT be the answer - if it couldn't hold fabric and hemp rope onto a kitty condo for the long term, what good are 3/4" staples going to be on a sofa?

Making a slipcover - for a single arm sofa? Come on!  How ridiculous would that even look?  At a certain point - I realized that if I tried recovering it myself or making a slipcover - it would look like pure shit.  Some things are better left to the professionals.  However, I thought I would save money by looking for eco-friendly fabrics.

Bamboo is freaking expensive and is not available in upholstery weights when I looked.

After months of trying gave up on trying to find eco-friendly/sustainable/organic type of upholstery fabric, I gave up.  From what I have read online, it seems like those fabrics are not not available to consumer and what's available to trade is more than $50/yard.  At Britex, I bought a polyester ultrasuede for $19/yard to cover my sofa.  Getting someone to do the recovering seems to be ridiculously expensive - it's a one-arm chaise and I was getting prices anywhere from $500 to $800.  The damned thing cost $750 new!

I finally settled on a guy from craigslist who is charging $525 to recover my sofa - fabric cost over $100.  It would be just as "cheap" to replace. Why does it cost so much to do the right thing?  Is recovering the sofa the "right" thing?  I have had it for over 10 years, afterall.

Sofa for Sale - $400

The finished result - note how the trim at the lower right/front leg is drooping - I had to tack it up with a stapler.

As it turns out - I was right.  The Craigslist guy had tools that I didn't have or even imagine..  The stapler he used had very very long staples that were narrow and thin.  While he did the work on the chaise in my own backyard, he made all the trim in the shop.  In the end, the guy didn't do such a great job. 
Though he still did better than I, the front of the single arm on the chaise didn't look right at all and there were plenty of bumps and such. I totally fell out of love with it in its new color (went from a red brocade which fell apart from sun damage & use after 7 years and which I draped for another 3) to a light grey-green.

I ended up selling it to a friend who admired it very much and almost covered the costs of fabric and recovering it.

No comments: