A Novice’s Musings on Upholstery – or how an old plush bench got me in a grump.

10 Feb

I own this article of furniture:



It appeals to me enough that I can’t bear to part with it; it’s also ugly enough that I am inclined to throw a blanket over it when I’ve got visitors. In short, it’s seen better days. I’ve always harboured an notion to reupholster it. I’ve done a small amount of upholstery before (here ) but really that was removing all of the old fabric and then making a new slipcover. I knew this would be a whole different barrel of peanuts.

Hopefully, this will one day be bedroom update #4 (after 1, 2 and 3).

I’m obviously no expert when it comes to this sort of thing, but I thought to myself, “how hard can it be?”. One of my good friends had tackled a project to reupholster two dining chairs and said it was a bit of a nightmare, but I thought maybe she was just unlucky. I read a few tutorials on the internet and gamely attacked the project, armed with a screwdriver, pliers, a large mug of tea and a positive attitude.

  • After removing my first 5 tacks: “Wow, this is easier than expected”



  • After removing the next 20 tacks, some of which snapped as they were removed: “Well, this is a bit tricky, but will all be worth it”



  • After removing the first 100 tacks, which were holding in the fabric patch on just one arm: “….I think it might be time for a little break”.

It is at this point that I realised that beneath the tacks was a matted mess of staples. Again, I bravely went to battle against the pesky little things with my screwdriver, cursing the conscientious worksmanship of whoever crafted this item in the first place, and questioning whether this many staples was perhaps a little excessive? The world’s natural resources are being depleted and some bright spark thought that this 12″x9″ scrap of velvet required this many staples?!

I found myself fantasising about revenge – when I get to the point when I can actually put new fabric on to reupholster this, I’m going to use so many staples that the fabric will never come off. Twenty years from now, when my as yet unborn (as yet unconceived) daughter, son, niece, nephew or godchild decides to update this chair after it’s been handed down to them, they are going to curse me for my gratuitous stapling, which, in turn, will spur them on to excessively staple too. This could run on for generations.

It also was somewhere around this point when I kicked half a cup of cold tea across my cream carpet, after stumbling whilst yanking out a particularly stubborn staple. And it was a few moments after that (an interval of running frantically to and from the kitchen with teatowels etc) that I called it a day on the whole reupholstery thing. If it wasn’t for the soothing sounds of this album, the whole thing would have been wedged into the back of my car and driven off to the tip.

The offending article has now been relegated to the back of the craft room, where it can think about what it’s done, until which time as I pluck up enough courage to have another stab at it.



I’m about 150 tacks down. Just approximately 500 more to go, before the real work begins!


5 Responses to “A Novice’s Musings on Upholstery – or how an old plush bench got me in a grump.”

  1. homecreationseveryday 02/10/2013 at 18:09 #

    That is a beautiful piece of furniture! Love it! Can’t wait to see the makeover :)


  2. ukcitycrafter 02/16/2013 at 14:13 #

    Good luck with your upholstery project, I’m full of admiration that you are tackling it on your own – I’m only doing my project because I have someone showing me how to do each step.


    • carlymau 02/16/2013 at 21:44 #

      Thanks for the encouragement! I may well regret tackling this on my own, but I’m optimistic!



  1. A Novice’s Musings on Upholstery, Part 2 | Welcome to my blog - 02/28/2013

    […] I plucked up enough courage to have another bash at removing all the tacks and staples from a dated, plush bench, which I have had a love/hate relationship with for some time, and which I am attempting to […]


  2. Upholstery Complete! | Welcome to my blog - 09/05/2013

    […] in some ways it seems fitting that I chose these materials. As I mentioned right at the start of this project, the bench was handed down to me by my Grandparents, who also happened to source me a fabulous […]


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