Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Duncan Phyfe - AFTER







My Great Great Grandmother's Duncan Phyfe sofa was reupholstered in white organic duck cloth. Over the original horsehair and burlap, all new organic cotton batting was used throughout the sofa. The cushion is comprised of a custom-made 3-inch 100% natural latex cushion, wrapped in similar organic cotton batting.  

Here is what the sofa looked like before. 


The cosmetic changes that were made to the sofa include replacing the three thin cushions with a single long, cushy one and updating the trim styling. Overall, I think that the white fabric highlights the beautiful lines of the sofa, accentuating the contours of the camel back, the arms and the feet.

In doing away with the three separate cushions, we also made the camel back seam-free. I like the streamlined look much better. The cushion cover is removable for washing, and I also had an extra cover made with the leftover fabric. Instead of the original gimp-style trim, we did a double-piping trim that my upholsterer suggested. I think it offers an elegant simplicity. In addition to the above upholstery, the brass feet and wood trim were polished as well.

Originally, I was going to use throw pillows as accents, but ran into a similar predicament as with the upholstery fabric. I couldn't find chemical-free options (within my budget). So after having the sofa home for a week or so, I decided to do bolsters with the leftover organic duck cloth and cotton batting.

RESOURCES: 

ORGANIC FABRIC: 
I used $14.99/yd organic duck cloth from Sell Fabric. I debated between the white and the prepare-for-dye (PFD) color options. Below, you can see the difference in color.


Using my IKEA Parson slipcovers (which look very white on their own) as a backdrop, I was able to see that there are many shades of white...and not so white. After washing, the prepare-for-dye is exactly the same color as the IKEA slipcover. The manufacturer guarantees that this fabric will fade a shade after washing, so definitely pre-wash it before using if you're not going to dye it.

Undecided, I also asked my dear friend and expert on everything design for her advice. That's right, I asked Joan at for the love of a house. She recommended the warmer white (the off white). She's never wrong.

In the end, the prepare-for-dye was chosen for its white, but not too white, essence.

The decision to use the organic duck cloth came after many conversations with fabric manufacturers. I became pretty frustrated by not being able to get definitive answers regarding whether the materials were chemically treated. Many assured me that their lines were probably not treated, but most just didn't know since their fabrics are made by a third party. The duck cloth was the most affordable guaranteed chemical-free fabric, and that made me love it more and more.

ORGANIC BATTING: 

Organic Cotton Plus - 1-inch thick batting
Online Fabric Store - 2-inch thick batting

The 1-inch batting from Organic Cotton Plus was used for the sofa back and arms, while the 2-inch batting was used to wrap the latex cushion, and for the sofa bolsters. The 2-inch batting is a better deal, but its thickness and narrower width make it less useable for upholstering the whole piece.

LATEX CUSHION: 

I found the 100% natural latex cushion at Foam Source. They specialize in custom orders for projects such as this. The latex is third-party certified 100% natural latex, which is great, as finding a true natural source for the cushion was a challenge. Even soy foam is commonly treated with flame retardants apparently.

However, the most critical component to the success in reupholstering my Great Great Grandmother's sofa was finding the right upholsterer. I spoke to a total of five upholsterers before selecting one. This wasn't intentional but I suppose I was looking for someone who saw the value in using organic materials, saw the essential grace and elegance of the piece, and supported my passion for creating a beautiful but non-toxic piece of furniture for our home. Luckily, I did indeed find that upholsterer.


The coffee table is something I found when running into an antique store (while Mike and the sweet peas waited in the car) to look for a dining table. This is a common occurrence these days...me walking out of a store with something entirely different than what I walked in for. But it was $30, and I thought it would go well with the Duncan Phyfe.

70 comments :

Anonymous said...

Very pretty and elegant!SA

Perfectly At Home, New England. said...

I'm in awe. Absolutely stunning in it's simplicity. Beautiful choices.

Tim

Anonymous said...

It's gorgeous! And with the coffee table. I would not have seen what it could -- and did -- become.

Jane

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing all of this hard earned and valuable information. I have 2 chairs that need to be reupholstered and will benefit from your research. Your sofa looks amazing!!

The Glamorous Housewife said...

That is absolutely stunning! Oh how I wish I could have white furniture in my home, but with three kids running around it would be white for about 3 seconds!

Thanks doll,
The Glamorous Housewife

Fran said...

Absolutely stunning and breathtaking! Thank you for breaking down your decision making process - very helpful! Do you worry about having little ones around and spots and stains??

Catherine said...

Dear Fran and Glam Housewife,
We've lived with white slipcovers for the last three years and have found that most comes out in the wash. We eat snacks and meals at the table so that probably helps keep things pretty stain-free as well. The ability to wash the slipcovered cushion (as well as having a backup) makes it nice too.
Best, Catherine

Lynne said...

Absolutely stunning . . . Just perfect, I'm in love!

Living Life in the Lowcountry said...

Gorgeous!

Deni said...

Such a beautiful transformation. Your Great Great Grandmother would love it, as it now reflects your style. Did the upholsterer make the bolsters as well?

Catherine said...

Deni, Yes she did. Best, Catherine

MaryBeth said...

That is really beautiful. You did a great job. Enjoy.

Fiona said...

Just perfect. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I have decided not to ever sweat over any details again. I am going to let you take care of them all for me. Thanks so much for your time!
Vanessa

Lee said...

Hi Catherine,
Once again you have out done yourself. You have such an eye for detail. Your couch is stunning. Now I think we all want a Duncan Phyfe sofa/couch (I don't knkow which one I'm supposed to say now after you received that comment awhile ago). I absolutely love your taste and can only imagine how beautiful it must make your living room. Wonderful work dear!
xoxo
lisa
Leeshideaway.blogspot.com

the gardener's cottage said...

trina this is so elegant, simple and just perfect. x

Katherine said...

Be still my heart. Oh, I so love the style of the Duncan Phyfe. It is even more charming with the wood left dark and the fabric fresh, soft and white.

Grandma would be proud.

Low Tide High Style said...

It turned out beautifully and I love the warmer white!

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Kat

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

It looks beautiful....should have known Joan was in on it! Now...do you not worry about sticky raspberry jam/sweet pea hands?? Brave woman, you.

Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

It's beautiful.
The white is a bit scary for me...but it looks great in your home. :)
I would have loved to have an upholsterer do my couch professionally--but I so enjoyed doing it ourselves. Plus, no pressure... it has started to look a little 'worn in' now, if you know what I mean.
~Pat

La Vie Quotidienne said...

absolutely exquisite.

The Stover Homestead said...

I am a firm believer in having things exactly as you want them, and not settling for "almost". I know that you made some compromises, but the sofa is stunning. In our old home, I must have met with 3 electricians for a simple job of moving outlets! Keep looking until you find the "one", I say.

Studio Cottage said...

You musr be "over the moon" to own this stunning and dear to your heart piece of furniture.

Lady Courtney said...

It is gorgeous! And I love the coffee table, what a find!!!! Merry Christmas!!! donna :)

Gårdsjenta said...

so beautiful!

Mary said...

Wow - that is gorgeous! And white! That is a bold choice. It makes me nervous just looking at it, but it is elegant and stunning. And you're right - the coffee table goes with it perfectly.

Ann from On Sutton Place said...

This is the perfect example of taking a treasured family heirloom and repurposing it for living in today's world. Stunning indeed. Thank you for sharing your sources as well. Lovely post. ~Ann

Andrea said...

Very pretty!!! I'm sure your Grandmother would be thrilled that you are using her old sofa.

marlene said...

Absolutely stunning! So beautiful!

designchic said...

It looks gorgeous and love the organic duck fabric color. Aren't you glad you were looking for that dining table - the coffee table is perfect!!

Catherine said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Such simplicity and elegance! I wish there was such hope for a Victorian sofa of my husband's great grandmother, but it has such ornate woodwork and fussy lines. I just have to convince my mother-in-law it needs to go!

I love that you had Joan as your advisor! We should all be so lucky!

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness - that is gorgeous!! well done! Linda R (Phila burbs)

for the love of a house said...

The sofa is "stunning" Catherine! Love how the white shows off the beautiful lines. (You're waaay too kind... if only that never wrong part were true;);) Isn't it shocking how many suppliers know nothing of their products? Asking simple questions totally throws them. I especially love that you kept the horsehair- so luxurious and natural! Finding an upholsterer who "gets it" is so important- you were smart to keep looking til you found the one; they did a beautiful job! xxojoan

kathy said...

Beautiful! You must be so very pleased. I believe it is even better than before! We have a sofa that we recovered a few years ago, and we will again when the current covering becomes too worn. It is wonderful to have a quality piece of furniture that can stand the test of time. Your attention to detail is incredible and always to good.

Chrissy...The Apothecary Shop said...

What can I say but WOW!! It looks so lovely and the table is perfect with it...enjoy!!!

Terri said...

Wow! Who knew grandmother's old Duncan Phyfe could look so fabulous. Makes me sorry about all the ones I've passed on at thrift stores & yard sales. Thanks for sharing all the details.

Henhurst Interiors said...

It looks absolutely beautiful and very modern in the white. Would you share the name of your upholsterer?
All best,
Phyllis

Anonymous said...

Simply divine! NB in Ontario, Canada

Anonymous said...

Catherine,
Your choice of white really did enhance the beautiful lines of the sofa. I love how fresh and crisp it looks today. Thanks for sharing the details.

Joanna

Joan said...

Just lovely! Did you refinish the wood as well?

Catherine said...

Dear Joan, No, just polished it. Best, Catherine

dogwalker said...

please show more of the coffee table.

Emilie's daughter said...

Very elegant! Christa

WhiteWhispers2u said...

Wow what a difference! This is stunning now and is so your style.Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays :)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!
just love how it came out and the
so perfect in your new home!!!
Corinne

Sylvie said...

Wow. It is absolutely stunning. I don't know if i would dare sit on it for fear of leaving a mark! :)

My Little Bungalow said...

So pretty! I agree with Joan on the slightly off-white fabric (she IS a great resource!). I admire your attention to detail and wanting everything to be organic and healthy. I really like the bolsters, too. They add a bit of a modern touch.
Claudia

VillaVaahtokarkki said...

Absolutely gorgeous, well done!

kathy said...

I wanted to come back and add something from personal experience. While arm covers might not be aesthetically pleasing, they sure do help keep the upholstered fabric clean. At first I did not want to use ours. However, once I saw how easy they were to launder and they did help keep the sofa arms clean, they stayed. Just a thought. Your sofa is gorgeous.

Dream Mom said...

Gorgeous! Your instincts are always spot on. Love the coffee table too. And the chemical free just puts the whole process over the edge. Love it.

Dawn Crowley said...

Gorgeous. White and walnut. I love it.

Catherine said...

Hi Kathy, I do have arm covers for the sofa. Perhaps when the sofa is in a heavily used room, I'll throw them on. At this house, the sofa is not close to the most active rooms...playroom, kitchen, etc. Best, Catherine

Sarah said...

I LOVE the style of the sofa and this is a truly gorgeous transformation - the white duck is a great choice and I LOVE that table for that great price. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

So beautiful! It is indeed so graceful. How wonderful to preserve a family antique. You are brave though! I have a white slipcovered sectional, and after just a week with two young grandchildren with us on vacation, it took some abuse! As careful as their mom and I were, we had a few face plants that left chocolate and other goodies. And I just hated to be the slipcover police!

Isabella

the growers daughter said...

How beautiful! It's amazing how much more simple and clean and modern it looks, but it still has such a beautiful classic feel to it. I also love the bolsters. She did a fantastic job.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the party, but WOW. This is divine. Look at the elegance of the proportions, too. It's like it's made to go under the window. Love the history of the piece, the search for "the" white. Beautiful!

Take good care, Em

marcia said...

Absolutely gorgeous! What a great eye you have to see what your sofa could become. I admire your talent, very nice job!

Rambling-rosez said...

Such simplicity and elegancy in shades of white. A much improved sofa now.

http://rambling-rosez.blogspot.co.uk/

K.C. FITZ-MAURICE said...

HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS SOFA LOOKS, CATHERINE! HOPE THAT YOU ARE ENJOYING YOUR NEW HOME, LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING MORE...
K.C.

cindy hattersley design said...

Gorgeous!It looks so fresh in white and the bench cushion! You can never go wrong with white!

Nancy {at} powellbrower at home said...

Absolutely stunning. So happy to find you and look following you more in the New Year! Best wishes to you.
xo Nancy

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours!

Fletcher @ High Cotton Style said...

What a great transformation!

Sidonie FeltBallRug said...

It is absolutely unrecognizable! Amazing design work.

ili lyn gordon said...

What a lovely transformative restoration piece!!
We have an old Duncan Pyhfe that needs to be re-upholstered as well. How many yards of fabric did you purchase?

Catherine said...

I think it was about eight yards! But not positive - just going by memory.

Sarah Bales said...

This sofa looks beautiful. I am about to have a near-identical sofa reupholstered in a wide stripe fabric and think the one cushion/no back seam style will look much sharper and it will be easier to line up the stripes.

Would you mind telling me how thick is the cushion you chose?

Sarah

Catherine said...

Dear Sarah, I cannot remember but I want to say three inch. It was too thin so I had the upholsterer wrap it heavily with the organic batting. I like the round plump look that it offers.
Best, Catherine

Anonymous said...

Would you mind sharing the product you used to polish the wood? It came out beautifully! Thank you!

Catherine said...

I don't know actually. The upholsterer did that for me. Best, Catherine

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