Before and After: Danish Modern Living Room Set

These days I have many “big project” pieces lingering about my storage areas and some of them have been lingering for years. It’s not that they’re undoable, it’s just that the scope of the work that needs to be done is often intimidating to the point I put it off—forever. Despite this epic procrastination, occasionally some projects do get done and I’m very happy with my most recent one. A little over a year ago I found a Danish loose cushion sofa with two chairs. The only problem was that it looked like this:


And this…


And this…photo-3Apparently when the 80s hit, they hit this living room group pretty hard. It’s mind-boggling to imagine someone going to all the effort to make all new cushions and then choosing to make them out of the most ghastly polyolefin tapestry ever loomed. As hideous as it was, I could look past the fabric to see the worn but lovely wooden frames. I had a hunch that a little refinishing and a lot of upholstery would make this set look amazing. When I got a call from the upholsterer to say the cushions were done—that hunch was confirmed.



So. Much. Better. It’s truly amazing what a change of fabric can do.


Fortunately I had an immense yardage of this beautiful gray and green tweed fabric on hand after discovering a bolt of it in the clearance bin at a fabric store—and then consequently visiting every other location in the state to buy them out as well. I immediately knew the color would look great with that wood.


Although I kept the shape of the cushions the same as those the pieces had come with, I did decide to add the button detail to the back cushions. I went back and forth on that decision before pulling the trigger, but I’m glad I did. It helps break up the large expanse of fabric and really adds some nice detail without going overboard.


The restoration of the frames added a lot to these pieces as well. The wood was worn and dry and needed some attention. After sanding and oiling it, the rich color of the wood really came to life. The other task with the frames was correcting the poorly done seat strapping. The original owner had replaced the original rubber strapping with jute webbing. Since it has no elasticity, the jute provides a much stiffer support than originally intended and is also prone to sagging over time.


It took over two hours just to pull what must have surely been thousands of half-inch pneumatic staples out of the frame to reveal the original slots for the webbing clips. It took much less time to make new elastic straps and pop them into the factory slots. The new strapping not only looks cleaner, but also provides more comfortable support.


This project felt so intimidating initially because I had no experience with having furniture upholstered. Though it was fairly expensive, it was a fun and easy process and I’d like to do it again. I’ve been putting off having some furniture recovered for my living room and this experience just makes me want to go get to it asap. Of course for me asap may mean 12 months from now, but I guess compared to some of the projects that I’ve had sitting around for the better part of a decade, 12 months isn’t so bad.

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One Comment

  1. Kristen Mathews
    Posted December 2, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I love how you see the potential in things, rather than what’s in front of you! That’s how I try to look at pieces when I’m able to find them too! People today are often too quick and think it’s “junk”, but with a little elbow grease, the beauty is really there! And I think, a bit more appreciated when you are the one to put the effort into restoration or breathing new life into it. Well done!

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