Friday, March 4, 2011

Dining Room Phase 3

Okay, so the previous post was actually written by Tim, not by me (despite the tag as my name). The floor was HIS baby. This next project was my pet project.

I really wanted a bench for our dining room. I was hoping for something 3 feet wide and something that would allow the vent to still function below the bench. This meant it would need to have legs rather than storage. I would prefer something with storage, but our central air has a floor vent right in front of the window, so not catching the house on fire is a bigger priority. Plus, that room tends to be cold or hot depending on the season (because the sun beats into the big window and the front door is kind of drafty- both problems we're trying to alleviate with our white sheer curtains and by insulating our front door when we get warmer weather), so we need to keep that vent functioning because there are only two in the room. Okay, enough for the rationale regarding my choice of bench. There are more important things to discuss here.

I saw this green french bench on Craigslist. It wasn't ideal because I thought reupholstering those arms would be tough. But, the price was right ($40), it was a good size, and it was sturdy. This was my first Craigslist adventure-- and an adventure it was...

The seller originally wanted $60, but I convinced him to take $40 for it. We drove to Liberty Twp to pick up the bench. For those less familiar, Liberty Twp is probably the nicest suburb of Cincinnati. We drove into this housing development and all of the houses were in the $300,000 -400,000 range. Of course, I had Tim go with me so I wasn't alone. We walk up to a house and a man is there with his daughter. Well surely if he plans to murder us, he wouldn't have his offspring with him.

First thing I notice is the car. This man is driving a small POS car. Do you really live in a $400,000 home and drive a $500 car? We head into the house and immediately notice that it's empty. Completely empty, except this bench. The man says he just got back from San Diego on a flight. He and his family moved to Indiana. This story gets weirder by the minute. Wait a second- did you really drive back to Ohio from Indiana or fly to Ohio from San Diego to sell me a $40 bench?

It gets better... or worse? We go into the foyer by the front door to check out the bench. There's a massive blood splatter on the wall opposite the bench. Yeah, you heard me. It looks like someone was standing near the bench and had their carotid artery slashed open. We whip out the $40 and try to get the heck out of there. Thanks for the bench! See ya later murderer!

The good news is the bench is the perfect size, height, and is in excellent condition (free of blood). Check. Thank you very much Craigslist and your creepy sellers.

First I spray painted the legs black. Sorry there are no action shots of that, but there's some paint on our garage floor to prove it. Whoops. Tim installed felt pads to make the bench move easily without scratching our new floor!

Here are some action shots of Tim and I reupholstering. Because the underlying green fabric was so dark, I used two layers of fabric for reupholstering. One layer was plain, white and the other is the pattern that you see. I ironed both layers flat together and stapled them both on at the same time. I thought this method would reduce the number of staples.

We secured the fabric in 3 different sections- one for each arm, then the base. I am not going to lie, the first arm was extremely challenging. It took us 2 hours to figure out how to make the folds around the curved arms. I knew there would be pleats, but I wanted them to be flat, crisp, and tight.

After two hours of madness and lots of screaming (mostly by me) about this stupid bench idea, we got the first arm secured. Once we had a method to our madness, the other three sides of the arms flew by. We finished the rest of the arms and base in about an hour. We did have to run to Joann to pick up another yard of fabric in the middle though, so the whole project took about 3.5 hours plus paint dry time.

But look at it! I couldn't be happier with the result. It's a nice punch of pattern in our dining room and the perfect perch spot for the dogs. It ties the white curtains and black table together. Plus, this pattern and black/white color scheme doesn't show too much dog hair.

Here are some shots of Monkey and Sullivan getting good use out of their perch spot. Monkey loves looking out the front window fulfilling her duties as neighborhood watch. Sullivan has taken to the bench during dinner time for a comfy resting spot. We also sit on it to put on shoes, talk on the phone, etc.

Why did we go through all of this effort for our dogs? There is a functional purpose here. When we first moved in, Monkey used to get on the table all of the time trying to look out the window. Bad dog I know. This is the only window in the house that's really within her reach. She can also barely see out our bedroom window when she stands up on the bed. Tim put a chair in front of the dining room window when he installed the curtains. This immediately solved our getting on the table issue. Monkey had a new accidental perch spot, the chair, instead of our table. We haven't had a problem with her getting on the table since (well, unless she smells a tasty piece of meat that she wants to snack on). She is a Nosy Nancy and loves to look out the window.

Here are my tips for reupholstery:

1) Get an electric/battery staple gun. Ours is a Ryobi stable gun/brad nailer combo. It works great. I can't imagine doing this project with a manual staple gun.
2) Use the right size staples. If they keep coming out, try a longer or shorter length.
3) Do your best to make your folds flat and tight. It might require several staples, but use other pieces of fabric to hide it. Or, buy a flat bench instead which is super easy to reupholster.
4) Make sure your pattern is going a consistent direction. You don't want a wacky looking bench with stripes horizontally and vertically.
5) Measure twice, cut once. The golden rule of DIY.

Hope you enjoyed our upholstery project! Up next: Trim!