Tool Kit: Reupholster Flea Market Furniture

“If you’re serious about learning how to reupholster furniture,” says Jeanne Connolly of Vintage Renewal, “you need the right tools”–and some inspiration! Read on for five must-have reupholstering tools and two of Jeanne’s redesigned pieces to inspire your first adventure in upcycling a flea market find:

Flea Market Furniture

(Photo: Christine Dirkschneider Ballard)

Tools of the trade:

• Tacks and hammers: Upholsterers used tacks and hammers in the 19th century. While their method is slow and outdated, Jeanne notes that it’s a good way to learn.

• Staple gun: “It will bring a lot more joy to the project, as your work will be more efficient and clean,” Jeanne says.

• Miniature air gun: “Mine goes everywhere with me,” Jeanne laughs. “I bought it at Wal-Mart and have used it for years.”

• Staple remover: “You’ll need one to get old staples and tacks out of a chair,” Jeanne says.

• Wooden mallet: While it will work better than a rubber mallet, remember that it will also be heavier.

 

Inspiring Before & Afters

 

Before: When Jeanne bought this empire-style sofa on Craigslist, it had a broken leg, so she had to take it to a craftsman to get it repaired

Before: When Jeanne bought this empire-style sofa on Craigslist, it had a broken leg, so she had to take it to a craftsman to get it repaired. (Photo: Jeanne Connolly)

“It would be a sin to repaint a vintage piece in pristine condition,” Jeanne says, but this sofa (shown above) was far from pristine. Jeanne repainted it white to “bring it back to life.” Then, she reupholstered the sofa’s seat with a vintage floral fabric and its back with textured striped linen, creating a “faux tuft with floral buttons” on the sofa’s back and inside arms.

Empire-style sofa

After: The reupholstered Empire-style sofa makes a stunning centerpiece. When discussing how the contemporary rug impacts this room’s look, Jeanne advises, “Bring in something modern to update a vintage space.” (Photo: Jeanne Connolly)

 

When a bank was trying to get rid of its beat-up office chairs (shown below), Jeanne happened to stumble by and took the whole lot.

Office chairs

Office chairs, before (Photo: Jeanne Connolly)

Jeanne redesigned the office chairs, creating a stunning set of chairs (shown below). “I love combining their industrial feel with colorful vintage fabrics,” she says.

 

Office chair

Office chair, after (Photo: Christine Dirkschneider Ballard)

 

Office chair

Office chair, after (Photo: Christine Dirkschneider Ballard)

 

Want a step-by-step reupholstering tutorial? Check out one of Jeanne’s latest projects in our summer issue of Flea Market Decoron stands now. For more vintage and flea market design ideas from Jeanne Connolly, click here.

 

Written by Elaine K. Phillips

Photography by Jeanne Connolly and Christine Dirkschneider Ballard

Styling by Jeanne Connolly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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