Category Archives: Furniture

A Quick Guide for How to Remove Upholstery on Old Furniture

Antique Couch Upholstery

After long enough, even the most elegant, best loved upholstery can wear out. Whether years of heavy use, a change of aesthetics, or an unfortunate incident with the family pet have made removing upholstery a necessity, you’ll be glad to know the process is actually fairly simple.

First you’ll need the right tools. Ideally that’s a dedicated staple puller (tool inventors weren’t always the most creative namers). However, in a pinch, you could use really any thin metal piece, like an ice pick or flathead screwdriver.

Staple Puller

Pliers should come in handy as well – both for pulling out stubborn staples and for getting the job started. Use the pliers to rip up the trimming, and then keep going until you’ve got it all off and made a nice mess of things, possibly including your fingers.

From there, try pulling up the fabric in a continuous piece if the staples allow you to have your way with it. It’s a good idea to keep this to base new fabric on so you don’t have to make a load of measurements or over-purchase.

Reupholstered Couch

The staples are the tedious part. You might be able to alternate between ripping up the upholstery and plucking the metal out, or you may have to do one after the other. Either way, always be careful – you’re dealing with some old, sharp metal that could be rusted. Keep those eyes and hands safe!

Photo Credits (from top): RedsZone, my DIY adventures, and Ideal Upholstery

Buying Used Furniture for Restoration: Shellac vs. Stain vs. Varnish

Finished Wooden Desk

Life is full of possibilities. Buying used furniture is no exception, especially when you’re doing it as a restoration or upcycle project.

It can be hard enough finding just the right piece for a space, but factor in all the options out there for customizing it and you’ve got seemingly unlimited options. This quick guide to three of the most common wood finishes should help you get to the right look and texture for you.

Shellac

You might be surprised to know that this finish actually comes from the resin produced by an insect (think about that the next time you drop a chip on a shiny table surface).

That said, shellac can be, in a literal way, an all-natural option. This is versatile stuff, capable of being used as a primer, sealant, and finish all in one. Shellac is renowned for being durable and protective, and even comes in an array of colors that leave a high-gloss look.

Stain

Treated Wooden Table

One of the big benefits of stain is that it can be used on difficult woods like cherry that tend to resist soaking up finishes.

Stains are easy to apply and can either enhance the wood’s natural look or alter it slightly (this can also depend on the type of wood – lighter-density woods like pine will soak up and be affected much more). However, to lock the look in you’ll also need a finish.

Varnish

This can be where varnish comes in. The great thing about varnish is that it doesn’t provide much of its own look, so if you have natural wood or a stain that you love but need to keep it protected, varnish is your bet.

It also comes in a variety of gloss levels, ranging from “shiny” to “flat,” depending on what you want your wood to look like.

Wood Varnish Application

Which to Choose When Buying Used Furniture

In the end, which one(s) you need is dependent on the look and function you want and even the condition your used furniture piece is in (some may need more help than others). Stain and varnish are the most customizable, while shellac is in some ways more streamlined.

Photo Credits (from top): Pallet Furniture DIY, Daniel Borio, and DIY Network

Today’s Top Trend for Used Furniture Buyers?

Sleeper Couch

There’s an art to following furniture trends – and another one entirely to following used furniture trends. The savviest used furniture buyers know how to spot that sweet spot where gently used pieces are coming back into circulation but are still very much in style.

So, what’s one piece of furniture that makes that list right now?

Sleeper Sofa

Thanks to a recent upsurge in designer attention, sleeper couches provide a great blend of functionality, comfort, and style. Once a staple of drab, suburban living rooms, these are now more elegant than ever.

The strength of a sleeper couch is its versatility. As the name suggests, it supplies a space for sprawling out comfortably without taking up all the space of a bed or contributing the slightly less fashionable statement a futon makes.

Because these pieces are focused on surface space, they’re often more open and minimally constructed than standard couches, often using only one narrow cushion.

Today, used furniture buyers can often find a larger-than-ever array of sleeper couches featuring chic colors and construction.

Chic Sleeper Sofa

Photo Credits (from top): CB2, CB2, and CB2

4 Tips for Buying Second Hand Furniture

Second Hand Furniture

It’s no secret that furniture can be expensive. With many options for quality chairs, tables, couches, etc. going for a minimum of 3 figures, filling your spaces with brand new furniture can really start racking up.

The best alternative? Second hand furniture comes with multiple benefits. Not only is it (obviously) generally much cheaper than new, but it can also provide you some really interesting pieces you wouldn’t find in a standard showroom. Here’s what to look out for before you hit the yard sales, though.

Tag? Label? Engraving?

Second Hand Wooden Table

You would be surprised at how often people selling used furniture don’t know what they’re marking down to $10. Look over all the undersides and backsides for original tags, brand labels, or engravings that show manufacturers and dates, and follow up with some research if you find something.

Rule of thumb: if it’s a person’s name you’ve never heard of or any combinations of two names with “&” in the middle, that’s probably a good sign.

Try Before You Buy

The old sales adage holds especially true for buying second hand furniture. Depending on your level of craftiness or budget for restoring old pieces, you could be looking at more work to fix something up than you’re willing to put in. Check for lumpy cushions, unstable weight support, and excessive shakiness or creaking.

Give It a Smell

Cat on a Couch

That’s right – never buy it before you smell it. Even if you’re planning to reupholster a piece, you could be buying cushions or even wood with deep-soaked scents, which can be extremely difficult to get out.

Keep Measurements Handy

Before you even start shopping, be sure to keep a list written down of the maximum measurements you can work with. You don’t want to be stuck with an incredible sofa that mysteriously takes up half of your living room. Everything seems to magically look smaller before you bring it home.

Photo Credits (from top): DIY Life, ONEHOWTO, and Luxury Brand Custom Wood

How to Make the Most of Your Loft: Furniture Tips

Loft Apartment Space

Quick—what essential element makes or breaks a loft?

If you answered “space,” you probably already live in a loft!

The key feature of any great loft is the openness of the place. This may seem obvious, given the structure that makes a loft a loft, but it’s important to keep this idea firmly in mind as you select the pieces that will go into one.

Large Loft Space

To help facilitate a healthy “flow” throughout your space, your loft furniture should tend toward minimal in design, allowing for the appearance of a larger room. This gives you more apparent space to work with in structuring your layout.

Second, since you’re dealing with a space where there aren’t such clearly defined “rooms” as a standard home, you’ll want to consider how that furniture encourages a feeling of separation but also cohesion. Does your kitchen table feel like it’s part of the living area? Does your office chair clash with your bedroom theme?

Modern Loft Apartment

Loft furniture in any room can generally be seen from any other part of the loft, so it’s vital to keep an aesthetic flow while allowing for an overall impression of spaciousness.

Photo Credits (from top): Hall of Homes, iDesignArch, and HappyModern

How to Make Your Couch Firmer

Sagging Couch Cushions

Lots of unsavory things come with age: color paling, frayed ends, sagging…

We’re talking about furniture, of course (even if all that sounds a little too familiar). And this is often particularly true of couches, loveseats, armchairs, and any kind of piece that gets a lot of sitting action for long periods of time – think, anything you lounge in to watch Netflix for hours.

Let’s use a sagging couch as an example. Do you have to toss it? The answer is no – sort of.

The quick way to make your couch firmer is to cut a piece of plywood to go beneath the cushion. Obviously that comes with some drawbacks, like over-firmness, chaffing to fabric, and possibly unsightly plywood visibility.

Couch Foam Fix

The less quick but better solution is to have a piece of extra-thick foam cut to fit your cushions, ideally a density above 2 pounds.

Now for the “sort of” part. This isn’t a temporary fix. If you’re dealing with springs that are shot, you’ve got a faulty foundation that will show through eventually. But for a quick-ish fix that’s inexpensive and comfortable, foam is your best bet for making your couch firmer!

Firm Couch

Photo Credits (from top): Xtraordinary by Design, LivingHomeFurniture, and Poynter.

Minimalist Office Desks: A Growing Trend in Office Furniture

Minimalist Office Desk

The times are changing, and so are our requirements for our furniture. The days of lush, heavy, sprawling spaces are going away as we continue to streamline our lives, our tech, and our spaces.

Where office spaces once needed lots of surface and drawer space for us to stay organized, we’re seeing them look to tighter, slimmer pieces, and minimalist office desks are becoming more and more common. We’ve got our documents digitized, our files on our computers, and all our necessities tucked into the cloud.

Minimal Office Furniture

One of the biggest benefits of minimal office furniture is a freeing of physical space: with ultra-slim legs, thin tops, and clever storage, the room itself instantly appears less crowded. It’s easy to see how this would be a big plus for anyone from Silicon Valley upstarts in tiny garages to work-from-homers operating makeshift offices in their lofts.

Still think you need more storage capabilities? Look to pieces with built-in open-air compartments, or supplement with wall shelving to make use of your vertical space. You’ll be amazed at how swapping out that giant wooden desk for a minimal piece will instantly open your workspace up!

Minimalist Office Space

Photo Credits (from top): decoist, ORANGE22/MODERN, and Modern Miami

The Most Essential Tip for Renovating Wooden Furniture

Finished Wooden Table

If you’re looking to get into furniture restoration as a hobbyist or general DIY-er, the process can probably seem intimidating if you don’t have any carpentry experience. But sometimes the quickest touch-ups can be the most useful – which is the case with this week’s #renewit tip!

Un-finishing and Refinishing Wooden Furniture

Unfinished Wooden Furniture

Oftentimes old, salvaged, or thrifted furniture can be structurally sound but just in need of some cosmetic fixes. If you’ve got some wooden furniture for renovating, a quick trip to the hardware store, a little effort, and some patience could be all it takes.

Start by taking the piece outdoors (preferably somewhere covered) and using a wood stripper (which you can find in any hardware store), being sure to wear rubber gloves and keep from inhaling any of it.

With a putty knife or similar tool (if you’ve got one around already), scratch off the old finish until you get down to the duller, porous natural wood beneath – and then wait for it to dry.

Refinish Wooden Furniture

Once it’s dry, use a fine, high-grain sandpaper to smooth it out and prepare the surface for refinishing. From there, the rest is up to you: whether you want a simple protective finish, a rich stain, shellac, or other finish, the final look is totally up to you. Just like that, you’ve mastered one of the most useful, simple skills for renovating wooden furniture!

Photo Credits (from top): Milch House, DecorAdventures, and Yellowpages

How to Remove Water Rings from Wood Tables

Water Ring Wooden Table

Welcome to #FixItFriday, our weekly series of quick tips for making basic fixes to your household furniture!

This week we’re talking about something everybody gets – those whitish circles cold drinks leave behind on polished wood tables. Don’t worry, it’s probably not permanent! Usually you can remove those water rings and restore the wood finish with just a couple things.

Denatured Alcohol for Removing Water Rings

First you’ll need denatured alcohol, which you can pick up at any hardware store or most places where you would buy household cleaners. Second, you’ll need a rag. That’s it!

Dampen the rag very, very lightly with the denatured alcohol and wipe the rings gently. It only takes a little to completely remove water rings, which, so don’t over-do it or you could damage the wood finish (restoring that is a little tougher).

That should be it – no more water rings, and the wood finish restored to its former beauty!

Finished Wooden Table

Photo Credits (from top): Good Housekeeping, Rifleshooter, and Elmwood Reclaimed Timber

The Right Way to Use a Transitional Trend in Design

While this trend is a little nebulous to pin down, there are certain parameters we’ll be looking at to isolate one specific design within it.

The definitive features here are the lines, colors, and shapes, and the framing style is a happy medium between traditional and contemporary, sporting some nice modern touches while still staying well grounded.

A transitional design should include furniture that has straight lines and simple curves; meanwhile the textures can be accented with well-chosen pillows, rugs, accent chairs, and vases. Some other possibilities are stands with draping and buttons, never forgetting wood as the central element. Remember to consider the ways different wood shades can complement or contrast the rest of a space.

This effect could also be achieved with metallic accents like chromium or nickel. This will help a viewer go from the traditional lines (classic textures) through the contemporary (wood and simple lines) before they see the modern metal and plastic finishes.

Writing Credits: Juan Martinez (Interior Designer)
Photo Credits (from top): madebymod.com, Tanner Interiors, and Gepetto