150 year old sofa redo – tear down

So, I’m taking a break from my creative process for a bit to work on a really rewarding project. Which is still creative in a way, but far more labor intensive.

Meet my sad 150 year old sofa that I inherited for FREE from my mother-in-law. It has obviously seen better days. The upholstery has water damage (that brown line all the way around is the wood stain that ran into the upholstery fabric). It is not a big sofa—a petite little number—slightly larger than a loveseat.

My mother-in-law was in the process of moving and wanted to find new homes for things she no longer needed. Even though this sofa sat in the garage unused (note stain again) for a number of years, she was on a mission to get someone to take it and hopefully revive it because she knew it was a great piece. She bought it from a garage sale for a hefty price tag because of it’s great condition (at the time). Which is A LOT for her, since she was a pro at scoring a great deal and loved bargain-hunting and still does to this day. Her garage sale days are behind her, but I was fortunate enough to inherit most of her best finds that are wonderfully in-style NOW. After watching a home movie of my husband, I finally saw the sofa in action, serving as the comfortable seat during Christmas morning with presents all around it. Sadly, it had made up its residence in the garage shortly there after due to an encounter with the family cat. And somewhere along the way it’s back left leg came off (luckily I still have it).

When first asked if I wanted this couch, I said “No, thank you.” I just knew we didn’t have the money to redo a sofa that needed to be stripped bare and then be completely redone. This wasn’t just a re-upholstery job, and I knew it had the eight-way hand-tied springs which I could already tell were going to need to be retied due to their sagging nature under the couch. This was an undertaking. “Thanks, but no thanks,” was my reply time and again.

Until, the day I read this amazing post about a girl who redid a couch that resembled my sad little camel back sofa (currently residing in the garage at my mother-in-law’s house). And so it began. I claimed the sofa!

This became my challenge. Can I do this? What an accomplishment it would be!

I used her book resource, “Reupholstering at Home,” by Peter Nesovich,” and checked it out from the library. Score. And, I did a little research and it turns out that there is an upholstery supply company here in my city. Perfect! So, I did my research and got my shopping list and made purchases. And went to work tearing the sofa apart, step-by-step, and taking photos of each phase of the tear-down.

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I was so glad that I did this myself. I discovered a treasure! The solid wood frame was incredibly strong and well-built. It had great design, in that the back piece came off, genius! And the best part, I uncovered (almost overlooked) the key of information that would tell me just how old this piece really was. Under an arm brace was the original graphite signature of the man who made it, the date and the address and when and where it was completed. So, thank you Mr. Andrew Kay for completing this sofa on 10th July 1862, so that I could discover it last year and give it a much deserved (and needed) makeover for it’s 150th birthday (this July)!

It was very therapeutic to rip apart this sofa. I wore a mask and gloves, and used pliers. I even used my Neti Pot when I got home to prevent me from getting sick from inhaling any old dust and particles. So glad I did.

I got it all cleaned up and then my husband hauled the empty frame to our home for me to redo.

Stay tuned for the redo process & photos.