The Vintage Sofa At the start of a new season, the mantra is “out with the old....in with the new.” But when it comes to furniture,how about “Out with the old... in with the new-old? That is what I was thinking with this vintage sofa, which is a century old.
When working on a design project, I always like to use existing furniture. However, I need to consider four key elements in determining whether to keep and refurnish or just purchase new. Here are a few tips to consider:
The sofa is an antique French provincial piece, used by its original owner at his farmland in the suburbs of Chicago in the early 1900’s. After the property was sold, the sofa then made its way to a vintage boutique shop in Los Angeles. When I saw this piece, I immediately fell in love with it and saw its potential for a second wind.
1. Is this piece a family heirloom? 2. Does the piece have sentimental value? 3. Was this piece built 30 or more years ago? (If so, it's most likely a higher quality frame and worth investing and refurbishing) 4. Can the piece be retrofitted to meet the new design concept?
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History & Background
As a furniture designer and manufacturer, I know antique furniture was made with great bones and structure, unlike furniture nowadays, unless itâ€™s custom made. So this classic piece, characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal, won my heart immediately. The couch was in great condition for its vintage age with its original brocade-like fabric. The hand carved wood frame was unlike anything seen in todayâ€™s market, and it had never been refurbished or painted over.
cabriole leg brocade fabric nail head
What a great piece, charming personality, gorgeous stature,a bit worn out but with a little TLC from The PHDesign team it will again look glorious like it did a few decades ago.
scalloped carvings nr 01 / 2014
Conceptualizing & Materials Concept board, sketch & materials
After much research and sourcing the right materials and patterns to marry this vintage piece, I decided to use â€œfashion forwardâ€? as my concept & form of inspiration. In order to revive it as a masterpiece, I approached it with a contemporary twist through flora and fauna motifs in daring colors. By creating a mood board of fabric options & finishes it allowed me to visualize the possibilities. In addition I created a color rendering which allowed me to see the upshot & effect before finalizing my choices in the materials,finish & accessories.
Mood Board nr 01 / 2014
The Re-Finishing Process Strip the wood & sand
The original exposed wood frame was a light walnut stain, which in my opinion, did not showcase and enhance the beautiful carved details. So in order to enrich the hand carved wood frame elements, I decided to re-finish in a black antique stain with a hand brushed silver leafing appliqueâ€™ at the carvings, allowing to create depth and contrast.
Silver Leaf nr 01 / 2014
Frame Preparation Frame and its’ bones
Antique furniture has great bones, which in the furniture-making we call it “The frame”. The frame of this piece is in great condition. However, a bit weak but nothing a few nuts, bolts and re-enforcing can’t handle. Also another element used in antique furniture was “Horse Hair” as a stuffing component. Interestingly enough although rare it is still used in some luxurious upholstery, partly because its springiness and durability are second to none. A seat stuffed with horse hair can last for centuries and when it is time for a facelift (re-furbish) you can usually clean it and re-use. Modern replacements for furniture making include: coconut fiber and vegetable fiber, but tend to be less durable.
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Its a laborious construction methodusing a series of coils each tied individually from side to side, front to back and diagonally eight times. The system creates an even comfort and prevents â€œgiveâ€? in the structure. This traditional method offers superior comfort & longevity.
Eight Way Hand Tied System
Quality nr 01 / 2014
Upholstery & Sewing
As part of my â€œfashion forwardâ€? concept, I chose to use an Inspired Etro Print in 100% pure silk fabric made from Italy. In order to use this luxurious and delicate material in an upholstery application, we had to re-enforce the fabric by backing the silk with a Knit Backing material. This backing is used in both upholstery and drapery applications. It gives a fabric more dimensional stability while retaining original look and handling. Knit backing also enhances fabric tear strength, which transforms a thinner fabric into a material appropriate for upholstery use.
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The Re-Furbishing Process The Re-Upholstery & Trim Application
A good re-upholster can give furniture new form,take out dated details and give you back a piece of furniture thatâ€™s restored, transformed and better than new. When re-upholstering an existing piece of furniture: Springs and or coils are retied and replaced. Fillings are renewed and the structure is retrofitted,reapaired and reinforced. Thatâ€™s why the cost of re-upholstery is often close to or even greater than the cost of new furniture.
Applying The Trim nr 01 / 2014
The Creative Genius The Designer
As a child, Ana Maria would spend quality time with her Father by helping out in his furniture manufacturing company. She was delighted to be taken along on project installations to exciting places like the Bellagio and other high-end hotels. What began as a fun after-school activity evolved into a passion for furniture, interior design and quality materials. By the age of 19, Ana Maria was ready to join her father as co-owner in what is now Pacific Hospitality Design. Today, the L.A. based company designs and manufactures furniture for the hospitality industry as well as private label lines and high end residential interiors. . Ana Maria knows exactly when and how to push the envelope. Her style is luxurious but she loves to play with color, pattern and unique shapes to create spaces that feel vibrant and modern. Her knowledge of manufacturing and the resources to build almost anything make her approach to design fun and exciting. Get resources, inspiration and follow along with current projects by subscribing to nr 01 / 2014
Ana Maria Design Journal.
The Final Showcase The sofa looks brand new, right? AND it still has it’s original vintage look. It’s truly a case of “High End Fashion Meets Vintage Furniture.” Just like in fashion, accessories play the final touch in an outfit; I accessorized by using metallic braid trim and added some bling with polished chrome nail head at the perimeter. The final punch was provided by making a pair of decorative pillows in a contrasting but yet complimentary orange fabric with a pleated-ruffle technique, again bringing “fashion elements into furniture”. The only question remains, who gets to sit on it first? nr 01 / 2014
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