Settee update

So, I showed the picture of my settee that I picked up for $18 at auction with the thoughts of reupholstering it. Even though I said I wasn’t going to buy anymore furniture before we moved, right? Promises, promises. $18, people! How could I not get it?


I liked the shape and the wood detail and figured with a new covering and restaining the legs it would be pretty cool to put in the little room that will be off our new living room.


I was a bit concerned because this was a little more than I was thinking of doing for my first upholstery try.  Turns out I didn’t need to worry…

I used a marker and wrote a number code on all the pieces so that I could use them as a pattern for a new cover and actually remember how to put it back together.  Then I carefully pulled apart the fabric and saw another layer under it.



Okay then. More work to do!


So then I peel off that layer and I see this:


By this point I was all WTF? I also noticed when I grasped the piece that it felt like a wooden frame underneath that had a shape to it and I began to suspect that I had a totally different piece than I thought.  So no, Jeannie, it wasn’t a bag of money I found (how cool would that have been!?!?).

I pulled this corner off to see and I find this:


By this point, the dust was pretty bad from all this old fabric and I was wearing a mask. 


I think the patient will live.


By this point I was just ripping off the fabric because I knew I wasn’t going to be putting it back together the way I found it.  I got everything off except for the very original seat cover.


This was the settee’s original form and it looks very cool. I did take off the last cover with it’s padding (straw!). I saved that for a template to recover the seat. 


Please excuse the old girl – she was very dirty in this shot. I can save all the springs. They just need to be retied.  So, what I thought was going to be a big upholstery project is turning into a stripping and staining project.  I think you can see a bit in this picture all the nail and tack holes from 3 layers of fabric on this. Some of the wood around the seat that will be showing is not in good shape. I am going to try to fill the holes and stain them, but I may actually have to paint the wood because I don’t know if all the patch work will take the dark stain and look good. I have to wait and see.

I can’t believe someone didn’t like how this looked and covered it up.


So, I have spent time this week with varnish stripper and a tooth brush working to clean it up. Hopefully this weekend I will patch the wood and see if I can stain it or have to paint it.  If I do paint – it will be gloss black.

I told John I should do furniture flipping instead of house flipping 😀

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26 thoughts on “Settee update

  1. debby

    Oh wow, I never would have guessed! And how great that it is a wood re-finishing project (which you are an expert at) and not re-upholstering!

    1. Lori Post author

      I know. I would rather stain it, but honestly – some of it is going to be more woodfill than wood and I don’t know if the stain will look okay. I will just have to test it and see. You never know.

  2. Fran

    Holy, they really redid this many times. Every time you thought this was it, there was another layer 🙂

    It is a nice couch though after it’s stripped and I know you will do a great job on it. And you should consider furniture flipping, is cheaper than house flipping 🙂

  3. Ali @ Peaches and Football

    Whoa. How quickly things change once the layers are uncovered! I think you had to have ripped all those old, dusty layers out but I had no clue you knew how to re-use the springs!

    Do you think you like where this is going better than if you had just re-upholstered the original look of it?

    Excited to see the end result!

    1. Lori Post author

      I have read a few books on upholstery and as long as the springs aren’t bent, you can reuse them. They just need to be retied because the original ties are broken and the tying is what gets them to keep the shape of the seat. I love that there is more wood on this piece, but I do have to say that I wish the very back had a fabric inset for sitting comfort. I am going to have to have a couple pillows on it or John won’t sit on it LOL.

  4. Shelley B

    That is so, so cool!!! Do you follow Jen Lancaster? She’s gotten into furniture refurbishing and your project reminds me of her things – discovering the beauty and hidden treasure hiding behind what someone else had covered up.

  5. Jeannie/Qlts2Slo

    ALMOST as much fun as a bag of money. I bet the original transformer had comfort in mind, they did a pretty nice job with the disguise. Can’t wait to see your results, everything you do turns out so well.

    1. Lori Post author

      I don’t know – I think the money would have been pretty cool. Or stock certificates or something. I did find some bobby pins, though 😀

  6. L

    Oh my. You are so ambitious, Lori. I wish I had half your energy. My mom was an upholsterer for years. I can remember our living room looking like a war zone many times, and then, at the end, this new creature emerged. Mom’s gift to the world was breathing new life into old furniture. I just know this will look great when you’re done. Kudos on the find. $18-what a steal!

  7. Rain

    LOVE this! Makes me want to stop by the Goodwill on the way home and find one for myself. Thanks for the great photos!!


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