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 :

  1. Very pretty and elegant!SA

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

    Tim

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

    Jane

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  4. 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!!

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  5. 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

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  6. 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??

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  7. 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

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

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  9. 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?

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  10. Deni, Yes she did. Best, Catherine

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

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  12. 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

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  13. 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

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

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  15. 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.

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  16. It turned out beautifully and I love the warmer white!

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

    Kat

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  17. 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.

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  18. 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

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  19. 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.

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

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

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  22. 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.

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  23. 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

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

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  25. Absolutely stunning! So beautiful!

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  26. 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!!

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  27. 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!

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

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  29. 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

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  30. 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.

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

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  32. 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.

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

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  34. Simply divine! NB in Ontario, Canada

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  35. 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

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  36. Just lovely! Did you refinish the wood as well?

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

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  38. please show more of the coffee table.

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

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

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

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  42. 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

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  43. 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.

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  44. 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.

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  45. Gorgeous. White and walnut. I love it.

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  46. 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

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  47. 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!

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  48. 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

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  49. 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.

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  50. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  57. It is absolutely unrecognizable! Amazing design work.

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  58. 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?

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

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  60. 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

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  61. 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

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

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

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