Tuesday, June 23, 2015

French Chairs

Whenever I am in a different part of town, I try to hit antique or junk stores I might not otherwise get to look through.

One Saturday after a bridal shower on the other side of the river (because we Chattanoogans can refer to any place by saying which side of the Tennessee river it's on), I drove by a store I had never even heard of: Pieces

Most of the merchandise is already re-done, so it wasn't somewhere I expected to go pickin', but a petite cane-seat chair caught my eye.   I sat in it; I was surprised at how sturdy it seemed.  The owner pointed me to its twin on the other side of the store.

Wait- what? There are TWO?!? 

He also told me that these were shipped from France and were made around 1860.  I negotiated a bit (I feel like I practically stole them) and then took them home with me.

They are both in great condition.

We are using them in our kitchen as captains chairs with our 1880's table (a Craigslist find).

I love that the carving marks are visible on the the back of chairs.  Someone a very long time ago with no power tools shaped the designs by hand.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chair Recovering & Decorative Stitching How-To

Last week, Grant and I met someone from Craigslist to buy a buffet and came home with a wooden chair.  

It happens.

The chair is Depression-era and is still in good shape: it doesn't wobble or creak, and the finish is mostly intact.  

The problem? The fabric covering the seat, so I decided to recover it.

I used a canvas drop cloth that I had already bleached to soften the color and texture.  I laid the fabric out on the floor and placed the seat on it (Grant had already unscrewed it from the chair for me).

Keeping in mind that I would need about 2.5-3 inches extra on all four sides, I cut out a square piece of canvas to work with.

Once I had the square cut out,  I realized that just a plain beige seat would be pretty forgettable.  I scavenged my craft shelves and found some navy thread that I could use for some decorative stitching.  My sewing machine...

...has about 90 different types of decorative stitches, and I landed on one that resembled the cross-stitch type of design often found on grain sacks.  I wanted to do two side-by-side rows of stitches running from the back of the chair to the front.  The next problem: how do I make the rows centered and straight?  The answer: an iron.

I folded my square piece of fabric in half and ironed a strong crease to give myself a centered, straight line.

Moving over the my sewing machine, I aligned the the left side of the presser foot with the ironed-in fold...

...and ran the decorative stitch down the fabric, making sure the left side of the presser foot stayed directly next to the ironed crease.

I repeated the process by turing the fabric 180 degrees and realigning the presser foot with the fold.  This gave me a little something like this...

With the detail in place, I centered the fabric on top of the seat.

Keeping the fabric centered, I flipped the seat over to begin stapling the new cover in place.

I stapled the center of the detail first then repeated at the opposite side of the seat at the other end of the stitching (after pulling the fabric taut).

I then stapled the other two sides.  Once all the sides had one staple in the center, I placed staples every 2 inches or so around the seat (excluding the corners).

I pulled one corner of the fabric taut...

...and pulled it towards the center of the chair, making sure the folds are evenly spaced around the corner.  The picture might make more sense...

Then, I just stapled the little flap in place...

Just lather, rise, repeat on the other three corners, making sure the folds around the corners match each other as closely as possible.

Now the seat is all ready to be reunited with the chair!


And pretty easily (and affordably), the dated-looking chair has a fresh, new look.

Happy restoring!

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@crneedham and #amberbottlehouse

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Experimental Dresser

Whilst estate sale-ing one Saturday (which is a monumental act of love from Grant), we saw a dark dresser tucked away in a bathroom of the house.  I, too, wondered why there was a dresser in front of a tub in a home, but to each his own.  The condition was really pretty decent compared to what we see a lot of the time, so I figured it wasn't anything I couldn't remedy with a palm sander and Strypeeze.  

I sanded and stripped and sanded some more.  Turns out the wood is some type that is very porous and prone to lifting, so I was having trouble. I had wanted to stain the top and the drawer fronts, but with the wood grain lifting the way it was, the finish was too uneven in tone. 

Hmmm. What to do, what to do.

I had read about white wax on some blogs I follow, and I thought it might be a nice option: more opaque than stain to create a more even finish, but not as opaque as paint.  So sure, why not? 

It went on really smoothly with a wax brush in a circular, buffing type motion.  Once I had applied it to an entire surface (the entire top, an entire drawer front, etc.), I buffed it with a clean, dry cloth.  

I realize the imperfections in the wood showing through may not be to everyone's liking, but I must admit that I am a fan.  The finish is so smooth, and it has the look of a well-worn, sun-bleached French antique.

I painted the body with a rich blue, then waxed over the paint to seal it using the same process.


(please ignore the current state of our living room)

This beauty is going straight to our booth at Greenbriar Antiques, but it might rotate its way back through our house, if it doesn't sell immediately. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chapter Two

We have been taking a break... a 7-month break.  I wish we had some amazing reason why, but the fact of the matter is that I was feeling uninspired.  Everyone can relate to a case of the "blah's," right?

We have also been through some stuff.  
We went through about 7 rounds of infertility treatments.  It. Was. The. Worst. Exorbitant expenses, heart-wrenching let-downs sprinkled with just enough hope to make the next inevitable disappointment even more difficult.  We put on the brakes with conventional treatments and have tried some alternative routes (a stretch for a straight-laced, data-studying pharmacist like me).  We're simultaneously just as far from answers and moving in the right direction at the same time.  I have peace knowing that, as hard as this process has been- for me, for Grant, for our marriage- I have been refined by fire.  God reminds me daily to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and constant in prayer.  If you are going through something similar, know that I pray for our hearts constantly.  My heart aches for anyone waiting for children, whether it's through medical treatments or adoption.

Nevertheless, feeling like writing a peppy post about pretty things just did not seem possible for those long, dark months.  

Lately, though, we are seeing that restoration to our hearts can come in many ways.  

We made the decision that Grant should leave his corporate job to start working towards our dreams full-time.  He started spending all his time renovating our current house in order to get it on the market.  We are already hunting for the next ABH to flip.  (Who wants to stay in a finished house, right?)  I have picked up restoring furniture again, which is instantly gratifying for me.  

Also, we are pleased to announce that we will be opening an antique and decor booth at Greenbriar Antique Merchants on July 1, so we are in high-gear getting merchandise finished, priced, and ready to go.  In addition to our lovingly refinished furniture pieces, we will also have light fixtures (made by the talented Grant himself), small antiques, decor, screen-printed items, and more items later on.

With Grant being promoted to full-time Amber Bottle House proprietor, we are looking toward other new ventures in the future: real estate and renovation in the Chattanooga area.

This chapter- Chapter Two of Amber Bottle House- feels like such a wonderfully new beginning for us as individuals, as a couple, as creative people, and as small business owners.

We will be posting all of our adventures: ABH happenings, progress on our current house, tips and tutorials.

Much Love,
Grant & Catherine

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