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.
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.
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 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.
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.