Easy Upholstery Project

Looking around our house recently, I realized that we don’t make very many “new” purchases.  The majority of our furniture and home decor is vintage, and much of it has been “renovated” in some way, either with new paint or upholstery.  Trying your hand at upholstery for the first time can be a bit daunting.  The easiest way to “get your feet wet” for the first time, is to pick up something simple, like a small stool or bench.


On our picking trip to Florida last month, we found this great little antique piano stool.  It had such an unusual design and the top swiveled!  I knew it would be perfect for a very simple upholstery project.

The original upholstery was a very old and worn, reddish colored velvet, which had definitely see better days.


The first step was to remove the old upholstery.  I know some people like to upholster right over the top of the old fabric.  However, I really prefer not to do that.  Sometimes the old upholstery can be pretty nasty and I always feel better getting rid of it.


Start by removing any trim.  My preferred tools for this are usually a flat tip screw driver and needle nose pliers.  I’m sure there are appropriate, specific tools, designed for removing staples and upholstery tacks, however I don’t have them.  Using the flat tip screwdriver, I carefully work it underneath the staples and heads of the tacks to work them loose.  I then pull them out with the needle nose pliers.


Removing the old tacks and staples can be tedious work, especially on a large piece, but it’s well worth it to take the time to remove them. 


Sometimes there are layers and layers of old fabric.  Luckily, this stool only had the one cover, before we got down to the original linen and burlap upholstery.  

Ya’ll know my love of vintage grain sacks, and this stool was perfect to use one of my remnant pieces on.  Grain sacks can be expensive so when I cut one up to use in upholstery, I save all the scraps, hoping to be able to use them for another project.  Thankfully, I had a scrap piece of grain sack that worked for this little cover and I didn’t have to cut up a new sack.

I used the old seat cover as a pattern to cut out the new cover.  I always cut the new piece a little bit larger than the pattern, and then just trim the excess once it is stapled in place.  It’s easy to cut off extra fabric, but hard to add more if it’s not there!



Once the new cover was cut, I centered the design on the stool and stapled it with a staple gun on four sides to hold it in place. And then rotating around the seat, stapled the rest of the cover down.




Taking my fabric shears, I trimmed away the excess fabric.


To cover up the raw edges of the upholstery and the staples, I used gimp trim in a complimentary color, and just glued it down with a glue gun.


I don’t always use nail head trim, but I thought it would add a nice detail to the stool, so I just hammered these tacks right over the top of the gimp.


And here is the final result.  I think she turned out beautifully.



The bottom is very heavy solid wood, that had been painted white some time ago, and had achieved a beautiful timeworn look, so we left the painted finish alone.




So if you’re thinking about trying some upholstery projects for the first time, start with something small.  Small benches and stools can usually be found at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales for not a lot of money.  They  make for an easy beginner upholstery project.


Then you can move on to larger pieces!  

Now that this small project is complete, the stool is headed into the shop!



Old Books and Opera Glasses

Now that the renovation of the den is finished, I’ve been trying to tweak the decor a little bit.  While we are renovating, we’ve left a lot of things packed in boxes until each room is completed.  It’s been fun pulling some of the pieces out that I haven’t seen in awhile.  I get to fall in love with them all over again!


One of my favorite vintage items to collect and decorate with is old books and opera glasses…..more specifically French books and opera glasses.


I usually pick them up whenever I find them at a reasonable price because they are an easy item to decorate with and they definitely bring the vintage french look to a vignette.  


Old books can be the focal point, the backdrop for something else, or used to elevate another piece to a different height.



You can stack them by a chair, fill a cloche, or pile them in an old dough bowl.


When I first starting buying old books, I didn’t look for any specific kind, just randomly picking them up if I thought they had a cool look to them.  Over time though, I’ve become more selective, only buying vintage French books in neutral shades of blues, grays, and old worn leather bindings.


 The visual impact of displaying books in one specific color is amazing.  How much fun would it be to collect books only in your favorite colors such as red or aqua, and display together for a punch of color?! 


Reginas Studio

Another look that I’m drawn to is turning the old books backwards so that only the timeworn pages are showing.  I love the parchment color of the pages, giving texture to a display, but with neutral tones.

Many times you can pick up old books with ripped up bindings for a song.  Just remove the bindings and stack them together.  They make for a stunning display.



I started collecting French opera glasses several years ago and they are a perfect compliment to the vintage books.  The have so much character and patina to the antique brass, leather, and mother of pearl.


The first opera glasses ever mentioned were in London in the early 1700’s.  But it wasn’t until the early 1800’s that the first binocular opera glasses were invented.  Pierre Lemiere, in Paris, invented the center focus wheel, which allowed both eyes to focus together.  Opera glasses were originally used to better see the details on the stage at the opera………or perhaps to better examine some of the other patrons!

The French opera glasses will have the manufacturers name stamped around the lens pieces, and usually the word “Paris”.


They can be quite fancy with beautiful enameling, jeweled stones, and engravings.  And many times, the petite leather case is still intact.

 I’ve been lucky enough in the past to find a few with the original owner’s name or monogram inscribed on them.  These have quickly become my favorites…..I just know they would have a story to tell if only they could talk!  I sold a pair in our shop about a year ago that was engraved with the name “Grace”…..I wish I had them back!

Oh my, would you look at that dust?!?

Oh my, would you look at that dust?!?

Old books and opera glasses aren’t usually difficult to find, though some of the fancier opera glasses can command a high price.  I have picked both up at flea markets, estate sales, Ebay, Etsy, and even Goodwill.  I have collected quite a few of the opera glasses and now when I find them, they usually go into our online shop, unless they are unique from what I already have.

For now, I’m working on collecting more vintage books in the blues and grays……there seems to be a lot of bookshelves in this house to fill!


Paired together, old books and opera glasses are a perfect duo!

Sharing with:

Coastal Charm 

Share Your Style at Common Ground

 French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday!

Blessings, Cindy


An Old Angel and a Giveaway!

Living in a house that is under a total renovation is chaotic but can also have some advantages………there are so many things still tucked away in storage rooms that when I finally bring them out, I get to experience my joy at having them all over again!  Such is the case with one of my favorite finds, this old church angel.DSC_0119

She originally came out of a closed church in Chicago and since we moved into the timewarp, she’s been tucked away in a room that is piled high with furniture and other items waiting for the right place to display her.


I was digging around in this storage room the other day for something else, and she caught my eye, standing sentinel over the “piled high”, gloomy room.  And I had the sudden urge to bring her out where we can see her on a daily basis.  She’s quite heavy and large, measuring 53″ tall and made of solid plaster.   



I placed her in the foyer, at the bottom of the staircase, even though this part of the house is still not renovated, so that I could see her every time I go into my office or to the front door.  I put her crown back on her head, topped her scepter with a small gold metal crown, wrapped the antique rosary, a gift from my son, around her hand, and put the gilded metal wings on her back.


Now, she is complete and ready to watch over the rest of our home as it goes through it’s many changes!

And now for the giveaway!

We are doing a little giveaway as a thank you to our over 18,000 followers!  We are so grateful for each and every one of you and feel blessed each time the “like” button is clicked!  So………in reflection of that, we are giving away one of our custom made hymn boards!


Made of solid wood, it has an old world antique finish and features the slide in cards with song lyrics of the Doxology.  This hymn is one of my favorites that we have always sung in the Episcopal church and I know many of you are familiar with it as well.  I catch myself humming {under my breath, and not very loud because…. I can’t sing!} this song quite often, so I thought it was fitting that they be featured.

We recently started carrying these in our shop and everyone has loved them!


One lucky winner will be chosen by random.org on Dec. 19th and…….if you like, the hymn board can be customized with your choice of hymn or scripture, and church name and date.



It’s easy to enter!  Just leave a comment about how you would display it and share it, tweet it, like it, or pin it!  For a second entry, head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment there as well!

Good luck!

~Update 12/19/14~

Congratulations to our winner of the custom hymn board:

Jo Lynne Plaster Wedel

Jo Anne, please message us with your info!