This here is a veritable gold-mine and one of the very first finds I made for my home. Vintage sofas tend to be impractical. They’re sprung with huge copper springs and often stuffed with straw which has compacted over the years, making it quite an uncomfortable sitting experience. However with some luck and a bit of TLC, you might find yourself a sofa, armchair or chairs which will give you another fifty years of usage.
The original insides of the sofa.
What’s great about a lot of old sofas that are for sale is that they often tend to come from the owner’s ‘salott’, meaning that they were the ‘posh’ sofa and were only used for ecclesiastical rears on the annual occasion of the blessing of the home. They are often covered in plastic and tend to be in mint condition. When scouting for props for shoots and events, I’ve managed to magic vintage sofas out of thin air with just half an hour on Facebook Marketplace and a strong coffee to hand.
A sofa I sourced for an event
Sofas in the skip
When I’d started planning out which furniture I needed for my place, I’d seen this listing for an old sofa with two matching armchairs which were being given away for free. Their mid-century shape was beautiful and I rushed to Fgura to see whether they were worth saving. While they looked great, they needed a lot of work. They were sprung and stuffed as I’d mentioned earlier and the fabric was dirty and unsalvageable. So since I got them for free I decided to splash out on the fabric and get something special from Camilleri Paris Mode.
The upholstery was handled by my good friends Paul and his son Brendan from Domen Upholstery in Gudja who are excellent. They can really salvage the saddest and most beaten-up armchair and give it a new lease on life.
Do your homework
While the upholstery itself might be beyond most amateur upcyclers’ abilities, you can still do all the homework you need to make sure that you’re taking on a worthwhile project. Sofas tend to have a hidden frame which is made of wood. The wood used, being soft and untreated, is delicious to woodworm so make sure that you peel off a bit of the fabric to see whether there’s an infestation and how bad it is. Look out for little holes a millimetre or two in diameter and turn them face down and see if any fine dust falls out. That’s a surefire sign of woodworm.
Polishing the original brass legs.
All is not lost however, as you can take them to several fumigators around the island who will get rid of the infestation for you. Best to do so before you get them upholstered so that you don’t have your brand new fabric being tossed around in a fumigation garage after spending so much money on it.
Besides the prep regarding the wood frame, you can easily polish the brass legs yourself or, if they’re chrome, you can easily restore them to their former glory with a light grade of steel wool.
With chairs, if they’re the type which have an upholstered seat which pops out, you should try the upholstery yourself. It’s super easy! Just buy some foam from a home store, cut it to size and glue it lightly to the wooden base. Then cut the fabric so that it’s about 5cm wider than the edge of the base. While stretching the fabric, use a staple-gun and start stapling the fabric to the underside, keeping the fabric taut and wrinkle free. There are countless online tutorials for this.
Got any questions? Get in touch!