Slow Progress

You would think that having lived in my house for several years now that I would have decorating and projects done. You would be wrong!! I’m probably one of the slowest project people that anyone has ever seen. At least The Engineer and I have taken advantage of the past few snowy weekends to get some linger projects decided on and moving on down the road to completion.

We’ve been working on getting the man loft upstairs completed for months. I do still have one cabinet to refinish, but the weather just hasn’t been cooperative for painting and staining furniture in the garage. Until the cabinet is done we can’t really put away the movies and gaming systems…or hang any of the taxidermy work on the walls, so it’s just been easy to leave the whole room a slight disaster area. We’ve made major progress this weekend though…..we’ve finally picked a paint color!

After months of collecting random paint chips and scrolling through Pinterest boards, we’ve finally nailed it down to 3 colors…..or maybe 4….it’s hard to say really.

I think we’ve decided on Olive Sprig…although all 4 are very similar..and minds could still change!

As you can tell, we pretty much have it sorted, just need to settle down on the exact shade of green we like. The Engineer would have preferred grey or blue but we had to let those colors go. None of the grey samples looked nice against the existing townhome beige. The room is so angular and open that somewhere the new wall color is going to have to butt up against the existing beige. The blues looked nice against the beige walls, but they didn’t do much to accent the dark wood, metal, and black concrete tones we have already in the room. Green is really where it’s at I think!

One loft project that we have finished up is refinishing my desk chair and mounting some floating shelves my Grandpa made. I guess at least my small corner of the loft is finished. The first step of my chair makeover was 2 coats of Annie Sloan Honfleur and some light distressing with dark wax. That was the easy part for me, just your standard rags to riches furniture rehab story! I decided to try my hand at recovering the cushion with some scrap hide, and that was really a bit of an adventure.

Happy to be reusing handmade, Peterson family heirlooms!

If your hide hasn’t been tumbled by the tannery to make it soft and pliable, you’ll have some labor to put into it. First, you’ll need to let it soak for an hour or two. I just put the hide in the bathtub with a few inches of water and let it hang out to absorb. This will make the hide seem soft, but at this point if you just let it dry it will go back to being as stiff as a board. To really help the fibers loosen up and plump, stash your wet hide in a plastic bag overnight. Get a good nights sleep, because in the morning you’ll have work to do!

Remove your hide from the bag. It will be damp, but shouldn’t be dripping. I left my bag and hide in the sink in case any water didn’t absorb and drain out….didn’t want any surprise puddles in the morning! If you need to stretch your hide to increase its size slightly, now is the time to do this. Mine was large enough already, but we did give it a bit of a stretch for good measure. Again, it was freezing in the garage and I didn’t necessarily have enough scrap wood laying around to build a large enough frame for the hide…..but I did have a rather large, and rather robust cardboard shipping box!!

Once your hide is stretched to size, you’ll need to do something to soften it. This is best done by beating or tumbling to mash and realign all the fibers. I wasn’t about the toss it into my dryer with small boulders, so I used the next best thing….a paint remover!?!? All of these tips and tricks were provided by a profession taxidermist…..so it’s gotta be the truth! I was told to just work it over the hide until it was soft. I used an African hide, and I’m here to tell you that some parts of it were so thick they never softened. We did the soak, stretch, and tenderize process twice….it’s still a very stiff hide, but it got the job done!

Beat until tender!

We decided to start the upholstry job with a slightly damp hide. The hide was never going to get evenly soft enough, especially because some portions were just so thick. This was extra unfortunate because there was no way we could align the hide on the chair cushion so that the thickest portions weren’t used. Momma Mishappenings was staying with us that night, and she has some fabric upholstery experience which was nice to have…because I had no idea what to do really!

We stapled the front side down first so that we could pull and put some tension on the hide. It quickly became clear that we needed to cut out some of the extra hide bulk in the corners so that they would lay nice. I wish I could tell you a specific shape or pattern to cut, but honestly I just sort of whacked out whatever bits and pieces we needed to make the corners lay nice as we went along. It doesn’t look overly pretty, but it fit and we did eventually get all 4 corners trimmed out and stapled down. At this point, we left the whole thing to dry out for a few days. The hide will shrink slightly as it drys, and we used that to our advantage. Some places that had seemed too big and loose tightened right up once it dried. There was one pretty bad bubble of extra hide on the front by one of the corners and I was pleasantly surprised to discovered it had totally disappeared once everything dried!

Once dried I was going to screw it back onto the chair frame, but it needed one final step. Even though we had cut the corners and tried to get them to fold nice and even, they still needed a bit of work. I used a hammer on the dry hide to beat and soften up any of the hard edges and bulk left in the corners. Anywhere the hide crossed over another piece of hide I gave it a pretty severe whacking. It really did help to form and soften up all the edges. I also added a few more staples and hammered them all in for good measure.

Carefully screw it back into the chair frame, and you’re ready to get stuff done behind your desk! You’ll have to screw up through the hide, so just proceed slowly and cross your fingers you don’t hit a staple. I didn’t, but that’s maybe just beginners luck. The hide was a bit stiff and crunchy the first couple times I used the chair, but it has broken in nicely. Also, I was worried about sitting on the hair, but it doesn’t seem to be shedding and doesn’t get misaligned if you’re moving around in the chair. Even if hair does start shedding, it should just add to the aged and distressed look!