Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work, Interrupted

As is very obvious from the content of this blog... we are not super diyselfers... I live in awe of those who seem unafraid to try anything and have success at everything they attempt. Kind of the Midas touch of remodeling. This is not our experience. We have carved out little niches where we feel we can excel but when it comes to ripping out rooms and starting from scratch the fear factor has always just been too big. (As well as the wallet factor...somehow big mistakes mean big money!) So we have always relied on super talented friends who are willing to trade or help or whatever... and we have learned to live with things that sorely need to be changed out... but we are waiting no more! We have bit the bullet and gutted our main bathroom. When I say main, I realize how sad that sounds. Just look at it... long skinny hideous little room. The avocado paint on the wall was a desperate attempt to draw the eye away from the generations of dirt encrusted on the corners of the vanity, faucet and grout from previous owners that no amount of cleaning products, razor blades or elbow grease could fully remove. This bathroom has been the last hold-out, the Alamo, the Masada of our home improvement life. I am so excited to see it finished!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Latest Addition

A dainty little wingback in a sturdy linen sprayed with hydrangeas. My favorite flower. Such a shame that these beauties cannot be grown in our climate zone. At least they can bloom in someone's room! Finished chair for sale upon completion $425.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Very old Wingback

I did it again...Forgot to take a decent before picture that is. This lovely wingback had been upholstered more than once...and as happens occasionally while stripping layers of fabric or wallpaper, the green stripe underneath was awesome! (Of course, all too frequently each layer is more horrifying than the last, like the living room wallpaper in the house we grew up in.) This picture represents the loving labors of my 13-year old helper. I know he is underpaid- please don't report me! The cat is obviously not camera-shy, if anyone is allergic... please let me know and I will not let our cat Mouse near your project. He loves to be wherever we are working.
As for this chair- I would estimate her to be approximately 80 years old... the innards were truly amazing. I have never seen a wingback chair with outside arms reinforced with a curved piece of wood that actually lays over the fabric pieces. The wings are stuffed with horsehair and the cushion is luxurious down. We had some fun (and challenges!) with matching this pattern front/back/side to side. I think she turned out magnificently.

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Every One's Life....

A little mundane must fall. Isn't that how it goes? Seems right- this week anyway. Do you ever find yourself with dreaded projects just staring at you standing in the way of the ones you really want to do? If I wasn't 100% certain that my sweet little old customer is not a blog reader, I would hesitate to complain about the little job I am working on this week, but I am in luck. She does not even own a computer. These two little beauties are not so bad in and of themselves, and a clever little design for piano or vanity stools, swivel base, feminine little backs... however- why? oh why? must we recover them in almost exactly the same thing as they were in before? Don't fear- I will never mock your fabric choice if I have the honor of recovering a beloved piece of your furniture. It is just a real challenge to "recreate" something that could have happened just as easily with a good cleaning. Oh well... this complaining is slowing me down even further. Don't wait for a big reveal...we will all be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


These two classic chairs have so much potential. It has been so interesting, having been primarily a restorer of older antiques to work with some of the mid-century modern pieces that have such clean classic lines and blend beautifully with other furnishing genres. This raises the question- just what is an antique? I had always assumed that an item must be 100 years or older to qualify as an antique and this is so according to the U.S. customs office. However, by wikipedia definition, the word antique can have a broader meaning... "An antique (Latin: antiquus; old) is an old collectible item. It is collected or desirable because of its age (see definition), beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection, and/or other unique features. It is an object that represents a previous era or time period in human society." I particularly like the portion of the definition which describes a collectible/antique as "an object which shows some degree of craftsmanship or attention to design." These chairs fit the bill, from the wood framed front, to the miniature buttons. So many possibilities! Please contact me if you would like me to recover these for you! You supply the fabric- I do the labor. Price for the 2 fully restored/recovered: HELD FOR JORDAN

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Finished at last!

With a sigh of relief I post these pictures....the gorgeous sofa is finished! She is packaged to ship and heading to San Antonio- thank you Kristen! Once in a while you come across a piece that gets under your skin- for me this is it. My husband is upset with me- he wanted it for our living room. Oh well- it is off to a new and glamorous life- heaven knows mine is far from glamorous!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blue Zone

Did you know that demographers have named places in the world where people generally live active healthy lives past the age of 100 "blue zones?" I think my favorite place so named would have to be Sardinia...something to do with amazing food, wine and happiness! Working on this project is so enjoyable, I feel I must be living in a blue zone. This fabric is so very beautiful. I know in my pictures it looks light in color, at least it appears that way on my PC, but in real life it is a true navy. Progress report: Cushions finished. They look sharp! Tufting back of couch well under way... she is taking shape now!

If anyone is interested, the fabric being used can be found at and is the Belgium upholstery fabric. They carry several stand-out colors... in fact my loveseat below is recovered in the color "fig." You can't beat the price or quality.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sweat Shop!

There are no other words for it. These dog days of summer have left me melting in my garage/shop...but there is work to be done so no excuses! This couch does not appear to be improving rapidly but lets face it... just like the benefits of regular workouts and facials, all of the finished product relies heavily on the work behind the scenes. The end result will depend mightily on the care given to the underpinnings. So- this week. All fabric pieces have been cut (that takes a day fyi!) and cushions are being assembled. More tomorrow!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Lovely Bones

Good bone structure will always stand the test of time. Take Helen Mirren for example. While she no doubt would prefer not to be called vintage mid-century she would probably approve of modern.
The bones on this couch are as sturdy and beautiful as they come. Taking the original staples out was quite a chore...notice the solid hardwood construction. Springs in excellent condition- all she needs is a dusting off and away we go with the smashing blue tweed!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mid-Century Tufted Couch

This beautiful girl is next up for a makover. She is shedding the green damask in favor of a rich timeless ink blue. The fabric was chosen by an Etsy customer and is perfectly suited for this project. It has a subtle herringbone tweed as well as a marvelous drape and feel. Tomorrow we begin the buttons! For now... some before and undressing pictures....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where has summer gone?

Well it has been weeks since I have been able to sit down for more than 10 minutes to post to the blog... where has the time gone? All I know is the summer was far too short! Our last hurrah was a long weekend in San Diego with some very good friends, which turned out to be a real blessing for the future of thingswithsprings! The good friend we visited happens to be a whiz at all things bought, sold and processed. While visiting we had occasion to check out a very temptingly priced JUKI machine, which has been on my long wish list. Taze not only knew what to look for in general as to the inner mechanisms of the machine, but also happens to have an aunt who teaches sewing classes and travels nationally to do so who was able to answer many questions, such as how to determine if a used machine was cared for properly/has super high mileage etc. In short, he saved me a lot of heartache. This machine had some tell-tale signs of having been abused that I might have overlooked. These machines appear indestructible...but like anything else, can be run into the ground.
On our way home, I checked out another JUKI in Phoenix, one who had been well cared for by a very professional motorcycle mechanic. All told, I was able to purchase, for well below the stated price, the sewing machine, a new button-maker complete with a large selection of die sizes and buttons, extra staples, and spools of thread. Score! Truly a steal. Took the machine to Raichert's in Phoenix for a lookover and was told the machine would have cost me almost twice as much had I bought it from them and that it is in splendid condition! So thingswithsprings is in the swing!

Been working on a couple of things- not totally slacking! Have two chairs going at present... one of my own, which will be going on the back burner, and one in a gorgeous zebra print for a customer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Chair from the Graveyard

This chair has been seen in my dreams... I have been dying to restore it and waiting for a lull in the schedule to get to it. 90 degrees outside...bright blue skies...light breeze...perfect weather to finish stripping and putting the paint on this one.
She has a sketchy history... found her way into my garage by way of my friend Cassie, who had at one time access to a treasure trove of old furniture she referred to as "the graveyard." One look at this chair and I was smitten. She is getting the turquoise velvet...once I finish distressing her exposed wood.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back In Town

Wow- what a whirlwind! Our great American road trip has sadly reached its end... and I am looking at my workshop and thinking- what next? A few additions to my fabric collection were purchased on this trip and are impatiently awaiting their transformation, including this luscious turqouise velvet.

There were many highlights to this trip...among them a lengthy visit with a third-generation upholsterer whose shop is located on the fabulous Union Street in San Francisco. Fascinating gentleman with lots of little tricks up his sleeve. Come to find out, we have worked with the same sewing machine for many years- the stalwart Singer 16-188. He recently replaced his with a newer model and was lamenting the fact that he had far fewer issues with the older one... this was good for me to hear! Although- thanks to the IRS I have a new sewing machine in my very near future!!!

Sometimes I find looking back to be highly motivating... here are a few pictures of previous jobs done.

These photos are pieces I did for a gorgeous little bed and breakfast here in Sedona- El Portal. They have a beautiful property and you can view their website at All told, I upholstered several chairs, made many pillows and the suede drapes in the third photo for the owners. One unique challenge (for which I lack a good photo, but can be seen peeking behind the bed in the third photo) was a Juniper chair for which we fashioned a seat and pillow back.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Before photos of the sofa. Yes- I realize I really need to focus on photo quality.

Whew! One more for the books- the purple sofa is finished! And not a moment too soon- as my daughter and I are leaving on our great road trip adventure to San Francisco and then up to Oregon to meet up with the rest of the family.

We delivered the sofa last night and in my client's house she is a beauty! As mentioned previously the sofa is a sleeper- something new for me to work with. Definitely a piece worth redoing. The owner has had this piece for many years and it is a solid little thing. I have always loved the contours of the camelback sofas and the channel tufting sort of ups the ante. Particularly in such a deep bold color- who knew purple was a classic- right up there with navy? The rich purple is just gorgeous and alongside that fantastic chair it is a winning combination. I had no idea just how lovely a rich purple can be... particularly paired with an orange/terracotta. She intends to paint the wall behind the sofa a lighter shade of terracotta. Can't wait to see that finished and show you pictures!