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Vintage Vulture // My New Old Sofa + DIY Reupholstery Or Leather Restoration

01.14.15
The Design Confidential Vintage Vulture // My New Old Sofa + DIY Reupholstery Or Leather Restoration

That new year nesting fever has kicked into high gear around here and I am project crazy at the moment. But I would be nothing without a hot mess of vintage goodness to work over at any given time. When it comes to vintage, there are a few things I am constantly on the hunt for… Seating, Tables, Good Lighting and Art. Naturally, after years on end of this quest for the perfect vintage gems, my collection of chairs is a tad out of hand and at the moment I seem to be swimming in sofas. Don’t even get me started on vintage art – for a gal who hates clutter and chaos, I sure know how to create it with the blink of an eye and 10 minutes at a thrift store, antique fair or craigslist. Eek

But, like all good things, with time and patience and some hand cramping from excessive craigslist trolling, you will of course find some winners in your price range (mine equals dirt cheap). When the Bird (Penn) decided to flex his creative muscles on my sofa (not once but twice with permanent marker and ink) I decided it was time to switch gears from my ongoing hunt for dining room tables and chairs (a story for another day) to sofas and loveseats. And then I did. I stumbled head first upon a fairly deceptive ad on craigslist (and by deceptive I mean – not easy to see it’s gorgeous potential and very likely to scroll right past it) and with a few back and forth emails with the fabulous gal who had this listing, I knew it was going to be mine… oh and it came with a matching Loveseat. I mean… can we say meant to be? The price was perfect for me and she was selling both pieces for $175. The fabric was in good condition with no rips or tears and while the color was not ideal, I knew I wanted to reupholster them in leather (or faux leather which is basically vinyl – cuz I have 2 boys and I’m cheap like that).

Anthropologie Sofa Inspiration for The Design Confidential Vintage Vulture // My New Old Sofa + DIY Reupholstery Or Leather Restoration

This beauty looked just enough like my favorite sofa of yore – that no longer exists and was never actually affordable anyhow – to make me think this caramel slash lager colored leather (vinyl) would be perfect.

Can’t you see it now. So dreamy. I immediately called several upholsterers in town and then promptly sat in the corner to cry once they all told me that even with supplying my own material (which of course they don’t recommend, duh), the labor alone would be several thousand dollars. How could this be? Did I just happen to call the most expensive upholstery peeps in the biz? It’s possible, but not that likely. Which means it is simply not affordable for the average person. So close yet so far away.

Thus began my new quest for a way to make this baby into my dream sofa. Now, I am pretty confident when it comes to my DIY abilities, I mean this is after all a DIY blog and I have after all been known to rock out a DIY project or two here and there… but you guys, I’m not precisely an ace on the sewing machine and leather (vinyl)? Seems so easy to screw up. With the exposed frame and a mix of sectioned and loose cushions – well reupholstering this guy wouldn’t exactly be as simple as a staple gun and some tufting – not that, that is simple anyhow.

Arm Detail for The Design Confidential Vintage Vulture // My New Old Sofa + DIY Reupholstery Or Leather Restoration

So I decided to really get up close and personal with this guy. If you take a good look at the arm in the image up above, perhaps you will see what I saw. It looks like this baby might well have been a leather (vinyl) beauty in a past life. Which of course got me thinking. It certainly needs a good cleaning, and I can see areas where there is still leather showing, and wouldn’t you believe it is the most gorgeous color of caramel lager that I ever did see. But alas there are areas where the leather (vinyl) has worn clean down to the fabric and so much so that it did indeed originally seem as though it was fabric. But there is a moderate amount that isn’t half bad which led me down the rabbit hole of leather restoration and what that entails.

There are a million and one videos on upholstery, so if I stripped the existing upholstery off and used it for a pattern, I might get relatively close in my finished version. But those seams, eek. I have never sewn anything other than curtains successfully and I don’t see leather (vinyl) as being very forgiving. Once a hole has been made, it isn’t as though you can back out of it and not have it show. Eek. Now I do think I have a decent amount of confidence in my ability to paint, and feather, and work a surface until it is somewhat perfect, and this is what restoration seems to involve. But how will it look? Will you know it has been restored since I am nothing close to a professional at leather and vinyl work. Will it look like a weird shiny surface?

Oh what is a girl to do. This is causing me heart palpitations and I’m entirely unsure where to go from here. I might purchase a restoration kit and test it out to see what exactly it entails and how it looks. No harm no foul if it goes awry and I have to go back to my original thought of reupholstery.

Do any of you have experience with leather restoration or upholstery? I’m dying for some advice and input here…. I’m scaaaaarrrrreeeeed, but dying to get this baby up to snuff.

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