Thursday, February 5, 2015

How to Re-Upholster Furniture with Wood Parts

It wasn't long after I tackled re-upholstering my first sofa that I wanted to try and do some other furniture pieces.  I just wasn't entirely sure how to get around the exposed wood bits.  With some trial and error I figured it out.

Most of the steps for re-upholstering are the same as those in my tutorial on "How to Re-Upholster a Sofa"  so I won't repeat them here, just the bits that are different.

STEP 1:  Check and see if the wood sections detach.

In many cases, I have found that often the wood sections will detach from the furniture frame.  They are usually held in place with wood dowels and glue.

Check the fabric to see how it is secured around the sections of exposed wood.  If the fabric is secured around the wood with staples and piping the exposed wood is most likely permanently attached to the wood frame; however, if the fabric is secured to the frame underneath the exposed wood sections, those sections should come off.

STEP 2: Remove the wood sections or piping.

If your fabric is secured to the frame UNDERNEATH the exposed wood sections: 

Use a lever (flat-head screw driver, butter-knife, whatever!) to gently pry off the wood sections.  They will most likely be attached to the frame with wooden dowels that insert into holes drilled into the frame.  They may be glued and be somewhat stiff at first. Start small and be careful not to damage the wood (you may need to wrap your lever in a piece of scrap fabric).

Work to remove the wood section evenly a little bit at a time to avoid breakage (this is particularly important when working on a delicate antique).  Find where the dowels are and exert more pressure there.

In some cases, wood pieces may be attached to the frame with screws.  Look for any screw holes (usually on the bottom) - and remove the screws with a screw driver.

If your fabric is secured to the frame AROUND the exposed wood sections: 

Carefully remove the fabric around the exposed wood.  It is usually finished with furniture tacks or piping/double piping.  This has to come off first.  Try to keep it as intact as possible so you can use it as a pattern for your new fabric.  Note how the fabric and piping/tacks are attached - you will want to re-attach your new fabric/piping/tacks in the same way.

An example of a chair with the fabric finished around the edges of the wood with double piping.  The piping is usually attached with staples that are hidden in-between the piping.  Use a flat-head screwdriver or butter knife to gently pry it off.

An example of a chair where the edges around the wood are finished off with furniture tacks.  Use a flat-head screwdriver or butter knife to gently pry it off.

STEP 3:  Refinish wood sections (if needed)

See my post: "Re-Upholstering Furniture Part 1: Refinishing Wood" for instructions.

STEP 4: Remove and replace fabric

See my post: "How To Re-Upholster a Sofa" for instructions.

STEP 5: Re-attach wood sections/piping

If your wood pieces are removable:

A) To get the wood pieces to fit back on the frame you may need to scrape or sand off any old glue still attached to the wood pieces (particularly on the dowels).  You will also want to re-drill the holes to make sure that they are clear, cut away any fabric, and look for any staples that may get in the way of the hole.

*If the dowels were damaged when you removed the wood pieces, you may need to cut them off, drill them out and insert new dowel pieces with wood glue.*

Do a "dry-fit" first, to ensure that your wood piece will fit back on properly - if it doesn't, repeat step 5A and keep checking until the piece fits properly.

B) Apply wood glue to the inside of the dowel holes and the dowels on the wood pieces - position the pieces and press firmly into place (be careful not to drip glue on your new fabric!!!)

If your wood pieces are not removable:

Attach the fabric around the exposed wood pieces the same way the old fabric was attached.  Often this is folded under, and pulled tightly around sections like these chair legs . . .

Drape the fabric around the wood section.

Fold under and tuck in around the wood.

Fold the fabric edge under and pull tightly.

Pull the fabric tightly around to the back of  the frame.

Secure the fabric to the bottom of the frame with staples.

. . . or secured at the edge with staples and then finished (covered) with piping/double piping or furniture tacks.  When using piping be sure to hide your staples in the crease of the piping so that they are not visible (you may need a hammer and nail-punch to ensure that they are inset deep enough so as to not be visible).  When using double piping place your staples in-between the piping to hide them.  When using furniture tacks - use a hammer to gently secure the tacks in place.  Be careful not to accidentally damage the wood with your hammer.

STEP 6: Love your "new" furniture!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Friday 2014

I LOVE a great deal - so I'm super excited to be able to offer one for Black Friday this year!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How To Completely Transform a Bathroom in 21 Days

When we moved into our house 5 years ago, the main-floor bathroom was perhaps the most detestable space.  I knew it was going to need a total overhaul, so I didn't bother to touch it until I could do it all

 I lived with this bathroom for 5 YEARS, and then the time for change finally came!

DAY 1: Out With The Old!

We began by ripping everything out.  We had replaced the bathtub/shower a few years earlier due to mold and water-damage issues, and then replaced the toilet for water conservation purposes a little while later, so those things stayed - but everything else had to go, and it felt sooo good to get rid of it all!

DAY 2: Re-Routing The Lights

As part of my renovation plan I didn't just want to replace the old light fixture.  Instead I had an entirely different lighting plan in mind that involved a fair amount of electrical work to re-route the lights from one fixture above the mirror to 2 fixtures, one on each side of the mirror.  Drywall had to be cut open, studs had to be drilled through, the attic had to be crawled in, the breaker had to be replaced.  It was a fair amount of work - but worth it in the end!

DAY 3: Tape & Mud

Day 3 was about patching things back up after the lighting shift.  On went the tape and first coat of mud.  I have decided that mudding drywall really isn't my thing - but up to this part it's not so bad.

DAY 4: 2nd Coat Of Mud

Here's where dry-walling and I start to fall apart.  Achieving that perfect smooth look is really finicky business.  This was my 2nd stab at dry-walling, and I'm not sure that I really improved much from my first attempt. Luckily my Dad was there to help me along with his skilled hands and years of experience!

DAY 4: 3rd Coat of Mud 

Yes, we had to mud again.  By this point I was definitely ready to move on!  However, while I was waiting for all that mud to dry I got busy removing the nasty old lino.  Pulling up the lino itself wasn't so bad, but scraping the paper backing off the plywood was a bit of a tedious chore.  I found spraying the paper with water and then scraping it up with a putty-knife reasonably effective.

DAY 5: Sanding and Priming

I was so happy to get to this point, but I found sanding dry-wall to be another total pain in the butt!  What looks and feels smooth, may not actually be - and every flaw will be revealed once the paint goes up.  My Dad taught me to hold a work light level to the wall in order to reveal the flaws that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye, then sand bumps and fill holes. It worked well - but unfortunately just revealed a whole lot more work to be done - ugh!  I have learned that dry-walling is not for the faint of heart.  If you have the patience for perfection, dry-walling will be your thing - if not, you may want to consider leaving it up to the professionals!

Finally, I could move on to priming!  It was so exciting to cover up that nasty pea-soup green!

DAY 6: Paint

Due to the absence of any kind of natural light in my bathroom and it's small size, I opted for an all-white colour scheme to lighten, brighten, and enlarge the space.  This involved several coats of paint (4 in total), but each stroke took me further and further away from that dreadful green.  It was happy work!

DAY 7: More Paint

Once my walls went white I realized that I was going to have to paint the ceiling as well.  It looked so dingy next to the brilliance of my freshly painted white walls!  Painting ceilings is not my favourite activity (hard on the neck and arms), but it wasn't too bad in such a small space.

DAY 8: In With The New!
"Lillholmen" lights from Ikea 
 With the painting completed we could start installing the new fixtures!  Day 8 was about the lights (which were easy), and the bathroom fan - which was not so easy.  I thought the fan would be simple to replace, but unfortunately it had to be done from the attic - which was not so fun.

DAY 9:  Floor
See: "How To Install a Herringbone Tile Floor"
I had really fallen in love with herringbone floors and couldn't wait to try it out in my own home.  It was a long, messy day of hard work - but when it was all done, I just wanted to stare at my floor and smile.

DAY 10: More Floor

Day 10 saw my new floor grouted.  Another messy, but satisfying day!

DAY 11: Trim and Paneling

I find all-white spaces most effective when elements of texture, shape and line are added.  Without these additional elements, all white can feel too stark, plain and frankly institutional.  Paneling my walls brought all these things along with classic elegance and sophistication, and really, was quite easy to do.  Day 11 was a very exciting day!

DAY 12: Crown Moulding, and Custom Closet Door
The bathroom closet I created came with an unusually sized door opening that was going to require a custom door.  This was actually a lot more simple than I thought it was going to be.  We framed in the door jamb, took a plain piece of white shelving material, cut it to size, added trim to the face, a couple hinges to the edge and voila!  We had a new custom door, perfectly tailored to blend in with my moulding panels - LOVE!

Installing crown moulding is always a bit tricky, but it is always worth it.  I could stare at it all day.

See: "Cutting and Installing Crown Moulding"

DAY 13: New Vanity & Toilet Installed

Day 14: Marble Back-Splash
I really wanted a marble counter top for my new bathroom vanity but I just couldn't make it fit into the budget, so instead I settled for a marble mosaic back-splash:

See "DIY Mosaic Back-Splash"

DAY 15: More Trim
With the back-splash installed I could finally finish off my wall panels by trimming around the vanity.

DAY 16: Dap, Dap and More Dap

All that moulding meant a LOT of Dapping, not only for aesthetic reasons, but for practical ones too.  With the exception of the baseboards, all of the moulding I used in my bathroom was MDF.  Typically MDF doesn't do well in moist environments because it will absorb water, warp and swell.  To avoid this I had to make sure that all of my moulding was sealed very, very well.  By the end of day 13 my finger tips were raw!  

DAY 17: More Paint
With every nook and cranny filled with Dap, I could finally seal off my moulding with it's final layer of protection against moisture: 3 more coats of paint!

DAY 18: Mirror & Towel Hooks

DAY 19: Call The Plumber!
We got the faucet started, but couldn't get it finished.  A plumber was called and had everything working properly in less than an hour.

Faucet from

DAY 20: Final Touches
I decided to dress up my vanity by replacing the brass knobs with glass crystal.  Normally, these are fairly expensive, but I found them for super cheap on

DAY 21:  New Bathroom Bliss
I just wanted to stand and stare at my beautiful new bathroom!  Looking at the "before" photos it's hard to believe it is the same space!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DIY Mosaic Back-Splash


- Enough tile mosaic for the area you are hoping to cover (I used 2 ft of white marble mosiac)
- Thin set mortar (I used white) 
- Square notched mortar trowel
- Putty knife
- Un-sanded grout (I used white)
- Grout float (or rubber spatula in my case)
- Measuring tape and pencil
- Straight edge / level
- Drill with mixing attachment
- Carpenter's square
- Wet tile-saw
- Utility knife


STEP 1: Measure & Mark the Area You Want to Cover

Start by measuring the length and height of the area you want to cover with your mosaic (in my case it was a small strip at the back of my bathroom vanity):

I used a square to draw a line on the wall marking the desired height of my mosaic on either side of my bathroom vanity, and then used a long straight-edge to draw a line connecting the two lines:

STEP 2: Mark & Cut Mosaic

Most mosiac material will come looking something like this (a bunch of small pieces of tile attached at the back by a webbing):

Typically they are patterned and designed to fit together, so you need to take them out of the package and fit them together like a puzzle:

Flip the mosaic over web-side up, and use a utility knife to cut out a strip of your desired width:

Flip your mosaic back over right-side up and find where the end of your strip fits along the edge of your excess piece:

Flip the mosiac over web-side up and cut along the line where your strip fits:

Trim off excess:

Flip the mosiac right-side up and measure to see if you have enough to fit your space (measure from farthest inset piece to nearest inset piece).  If you have enough, proceed to the next step - if you don't have enough, repeat the previous step until you do have enough.

Starting at the furthest inset piece, use a square to mark the finished edge of your mosiac:

Use a wet tile saw to cut the mosaic along your line:

Repeat on the other end.

Piece your cut mosiac together along the area you are hoping to cover to ensure that it is the right size (make any necessary adjustments if it is not):

STEP 3: Prepare Mortar

Using a bucket, drill and mixing attachment, mix thinset mortar according to product instructions:

Use a putty knife to evenly spread mortar on the area you want to cover with mosaic.  You don't want to get the mortar too thick or it will squish out between the cracks of your mosaic and get really messy, but you don't want to get it too thin either, or your mosaic won't adhere sufficiently.  I found about 1/8" - 3/16" good.

Drag a square-notched trowel across your mortared area, creating grooves in the mortar:

STEP 4: Install Mosaic

Starting at your marked edge with your first piece, place the mosaic against the mortar on the wall right-side out and press firmly in place. Check to make sure it is straight and even:

Once the first piece is secured, proceed with the 2nd piece and so on until you have reached your end mark:

I chose to cap off my mosaic with some marble edging, so once my mosiac was installed I proceeded to install the marble edging on top of my mosiac:

 Run a putty knife along the edges of your mosaic to remove any excess mortar from the wall and surrounding area:

Use a damp rag to clean off any mortar on the surface of your mosaic, wall, and surrounding area (remember that any mortar left will turn to cement when dry and become extremely difficult to remove, so make sure you don't have any mortar left in places where you don't want it).

Make any final, fine-tuned adjustments that may be necessary and leave to set according to product instructions (usually 24 hours).

STEP 5: Grout

Mix grout according to product instructions (typically you will mix it, let it rest for a couple minutes and then mix it again before you use it).

I like to mask off the rough ends of my mosaic with painter's tape to help me get a clean, straight line along the edge:

Apply grout to the surface of your mosaic, filling in all of the cracks.  Typically you would do this with a grout float, but because I choose a mosaic that included rough, uneven, tumbled marble pieces my surface was not entirely flat which made a typical grout float pretty useless.  Instead I found an old rubber spatula to spread the grout and it worked great!

 Scrape off as much excess grout as you can from off the surface of the mosaic and leave it to rest according to product instructions:

When the grout is set just enough (not too hard, but just soft enough that you can still wipe it off with a little effort without pulling it out of the cracks), wipe the surface of the mosaic clean.  If you have a smooth surfaced mosaic use a flat, small-pored sponge and a bucket of clean water for each wipe (usually 3 wipe-downs is enough).  In my case because of the rough, tumbled marble pieces a rag was better - however, I had to be very careful because the rag was notorious for pulling grout out of the cracks.  After my first wipe-down, I let it rest a little longer and then gently went over each of the tumbled marble pieces with a tooth-brush to clean the grout off, and then one last final wipe.

When you are satisfied that the grout has been sufficiently cleaned off of the mosaic leave it to set according to product instructions. 7-10 days after the grout has set, go back and seal it with grout sealer.

Enjoy your new back-splash!