Saturday, September 03, 2016

Latest Adventures Into Vintage Reupholstering

A few months ago I wrote about the Great-Grandmother Rocking Chair that was in deplorable condition and the amazing work our local Design Craft company did that transformed it into an amazing and authentic piece of furniture.  At the same time that we had been debating whether or not to take THAT rocker to the dump or to get it repaired and reupholstered, we also had another Grandmother Rocking Chair as well as an overstuffed chair and daveno (sofa) that my parents had bought at Christmas time in 1947.  That furniture was always a part of my childhood no matter where we moved (being Air Force gypsies). We wanted to keep the sofa and the chair as we closed out the parents estate, but really didn't have room for them.  We finally donated the sofa to Goodwill or some other charity, but kept the chair.  The "daveno" was a style of sofa that had a blanket storage compartment under the seat.  We would lift up the seat part and raise it up until it "clicked."  At that point the seat and the back of the sofa would both lie down flat and provide a bed  for sleeping.  I don't remember the fabric on the chair ever being anything but brown but I knew that at some point my folks had had it reupholstered from whatever the original color had been. 
My baby brother sitting in the overstuffed chair  when we lived in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1966. 
Is that kid cute or what!!
I came across one of my mother's letters to her mother-in-law Susan and her brother and sister in law, Carl and Mary both of whom lived at home as they were not yet married.  Mary would be married to LeRoy in six months and Carl would marry Shirley a year after that.. 
 Box 724
Troutdale, Oregon
2 Jan 1948
Dearest Mother, Dad, Carl & Mary,
First of all, we wish to thank you all for the lovely Christmas present. We haven’t decided what to get for it.  We got a lovely Free-Westinghouse Sewing machine just a few days before Christmas. It was from the Wedding present Money you were so wonderful to give us.  It sure is a lovely sewing machine. .  .  .  . 
.   .   .   .   . Then for Christmas we got each other a daveno and chair.  I gave Bob the chair and he gave me the daveno.  It sure makes the living room look nice.  It is a dark wine and is awfully pretty
We received some lovely gifts for Christmas.  Mother and Dad gave us a nice toaster.  Bruce gave us a punch bowl and cups. It is beautiful. Marolyn and LaVonne gave us a plastic tablecloth and it is so pretty – peach and white.  Aunt Atha and Uncle George sent us a lovely luncheon cloth and napkins.  Letha and Ralph sent us a picture of Little Rickey. He certainly is a darling.
Was the Christmas season well and prosperous to you folks?  I do hope you received many lovely gifts.  We are waiting to hear from you. Do wish we could see you.  We have enough room. Must sign off. God Bless and Keep You.
                                            Bob and Bernadine

At the time I read this letter -- after we had already chosen the new fabric -- I had not known that the original color  had been a "dark wine color."  We had taken a photo of the fabric sample we had chosen.  Coincidence or a little prodding from my late mother?
You can't get much more "dark wine color" than Burgundy!

After we got this chair reupholstered we REALLY wished that we had also kept the daveno, but "no use crying over spilled milk" as they say.  At the time we had the chair reupholstered we asked the owners of Design Craft about having an ottoman added to the project. The custom designed ottoman was a bit pricy but we could not be happier with the outcome! 
 The total finished project
 Refinished woodwork above and below

 Detail on the ottoman above and below.
Matches beautifully!
Our last project (OK, aside from recovering the dining room chairs) was redoing my maternal grandmother's rocking chair. The rocking chair was broken somewhere in the frame and anyone who sat in it found themselves listing to port.  The white or cream upholstery had faded and grimed over the years.  But it had sentimental value.  We are such suckers for sentiment! 
 Here is Grandma's rocking chair sitting in front of the Design Craft shop entrance.

 Close up of wood arms.
 This time we chose a fanciful fabric that we fell in love with and hoped would work well.  It is actually rather hard to get the fabric to reveal the true blue tones because for some reason the fabric in the photos usually appear grayed and somewhat washed out.  There are gray tones in the fabric but to the natural eye the blue is dominant.  To the camera eye, the grays are apparently more pronounced. 
 This is probably the truest color.
 While this photo is somewhat grayed, it shows the subtle whimsical animals scattered throughout the fabric .  Not  noticeable on a quick perusal, they "magically" appear.
The chair still had the tag attached.  It was either manufactured in 1915 or 1925. Hard to read. Apparently in its day the FS Harmmon Mfg in Tacoma, Washington did a great deal of furniture business. 
In either possible date, my grandmother was only15 or 25 years old when the rocker was produced and if it could talk could likely give descriptions of several homes.  Grandma, Grandpa and five of their six children moved to Oregon in about 1943 or 44.  Mom traveled with them shortly before her marriage to Dad in Louisiana in summer of 1944.   Her youngest sister was then still just a "twinkle in Grandpa's eyes" while they were traveling across country, but by the time of Mom's wedding my aunt was a regular little "bun in the oven."  Mom was 22 years older than her baby sister. 
We are happy to be done with reupholstering furniture but know that each of these should last the rest of our lifetimes at least. It is nice to rock in the arms of a chair that has rocked many children and grandchildren over the years.  And it is also very comforting to still have the chair of my childhood, almost restored to its newness on Christmas 1947.