Before & After: Heirloom Bench

Before & After: Heirloom Bench


Every piece of furniture has a story and a meaning for its owner. You can’t live with something for so long, and not build memories around it. But, now
and again, we’re privileged to work with items that have been so long a part of a family, they’re almost a relative. This lounge is one of those.

Recently, a client had us restore and upholster a suite of two chairs and a two-seater lounge. The suite, which has seated and served the clients’
family for almost a century, was a much-loved but long neglected restoration project. 

The story

The suite was purchased in the late 1920s. The upholstery was originally a blue and gold striped velvet. But, sometime in the 30s, the suite was upgraded
with a (far more fashionable) brown and orange floral fabric. It remained until the suites’ most recent refurbishment (see above).

The suite passed to the clients’ great-grandfather in 1958. He had a temper, and would often pick up and throw the two-seater in fits of rage. (Furniture
was made to last in those days). Remarkably the suite was able to survive, and passed to the clients’ grandfather in the mid-90s. Soon the two-seater
fell into disuse, and was inevitably hidden in the back shed. Then one day, tired of stepping around it, the grandfather had a brainwave. He laid
a sturdy timber board across the arms and converted it into a workbench. Genius!

The client saved the suite from the rubbish heap in 2001. The two-seater furnished a local church hall, with the proviso of immenent refurbishment.
After a decade of seating newlyweds and spoiling under a leak in the vestry roof, it could be put off no longer. And we were only too glad to help.

The process

The old upholstery was stripped off, the joints cleaned and carefully re-glued. The springing and padding were replaced (see below). After 50 years,
it was comfortable again!

The timber was polished in a walnut colour and edged with strips of decorative nails. For upholstery, the client chose a shimmering gold jacquard:
a contemporary floral design from Linwood.

In addition, we handmade a slender footstool and assorted cushions to compliment the suite. The footstool was made to double as a coffee table – allowing
the client to de-clutter the room. 

The stool was upholstered in a felted wool (see below) featuring a pattern woven through with the text of a handwritten letter. This not only added
an aesthetic interest but gave a quite nod to the heritage of the furniture. The accent cushions were upholstered in  daring coordinate patterns
– to add splashes of personality. (Look carefully and you’ll see one fabric has duck feathers physically quilted into the design).

Today the timber lounge suite is enjoyed in a parent’s retreat. The suite is beautiful, comfortable and personal. The suite is once again part of the
family – and the client loves it. Best of all, the restoration means that it should be around for the clients’ great-great grandchildren too.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!