Monday, 26 August 2013

Refurbished Window Seat / Storage Box

Have you ever purchased something and been so glad that you did, for months and even years afterwards? That's how I feel, and I'm sure will continue to feel about this piece of furniture, 
even though I've only had it a little over a year.

It caught my eye at an auction, and it was an impulse buy. I needed somewhere to store packaging supplies for my Etsy store, and it's ability to double as a seat was an added bonus.

I don't really know what to call it, so I have sort of settled on window seat / storage box because it is both and I've yet to come up with a more creative description :)

This baby is huge! It measure 233cm x 45cm x 45cm which in Imperial measurements is
 a whopping 7.64 feet long.

Fortunately although it is big, and well made, it isn't overly heavy. Two people can carry it quite comfortably...when it's empty.

There was of course a problem once we got it home... what my 16 year old daughter succinctly named as 'its ugliness factor'. Being 16 and very sensitive to her mother's odd tastes and love of all things vintage...she was not overly impressed! Pretty much everyone else agreed that the thick dark varnish and orange toned swirly Art Deco upholstery had to go!

But these things take time and it wasn't until earlier this year that I made a start on its rescue! The following steps took place over a four month period because it was for our home and I wasn't in any hurry, but it could have easily been completed in a couple of days if you had all the materials on hand.

Removing the upholstery was fairly straightforward, if a little dusty. I have this handy tool that I purchased previously that makes removing tacks and staples a breeze. There actually wasn't all that much to the upholstery. Just the top cover and some filling, which seemed like lots of scrap material and stuffing.

I did have some maintenance to do. First I removed the lid. The base of the box had been attacked by wood borers at one stage, and although they had long since gone I felt that seeing as I was going to refinish it, I may as well replace the base as well. A lovely man at my local hardware store cut two pieces of a solid plywood sheet to my measurements so it was simply a matter of hitting out the old base and nailing in the new...simple!

Can you see the old varnish on the left, that's what I wanted to be rid of. The mouse sander came in handy and an hour or so all over did the job.

I chose to paint the panels and around the lid with Blake & Taylor's French Linen furniture paint. This paint is so easy to apply, and doesn't require a primer. Two coats did the job. I still wanted the nice pieces of wood to be exposed and so I waxed both the woodwork and the paint work with a natural beeswax and then reattached the lid.

Next came the upholstery. I had some seating foam cut to size. I used some spray adhesive between the foam and the box so that it wouldn't move around while I put everything together.  My biggest concern with this project was that the foam would look boxy, something I didn't want. So I trimmed the sharp edges from around the foam facing up with an electric knife...amazing...just forgot to take a pic. The next step was to cover the foam with some Dacron which I bought by the metre from a foam / upholstery supplier. I sprayed the underside of the Dacron to stop it moving as well. I learnt from my last upholstered chair project that the Dacron really helps to soften the foam and makes for a very comfy seat! You can see that project here. The final step is to cover it all with unbleached calico.

Covering the foam and Dacron with the calico before you put on the top coat of fabric is really important. Because you can pull the calico nice and tight around the fillings, which allows the calico to take the bulk of the strain from the tacks rather than your more expensive fabric. Lay the calico on top of your Dacron, tack in the centre of each side of the project, stretching as you go, then keep working your way around each side, I hammered a couple of tacks on each side at a time always keeping the project straight and taut. I only hammered the tacks in halfway until I was happy with the result, then when happy I drove all the tacks home. Neaten up around the calico by trimming with scissors. The project is now ready for the final fabric.

I had previously ordered some lovely swatches of hand printed linen fabric from Thea & Sami, I have been stalking her website for a couple of years now and was very keen to purchase some of her beautiful work. The decision was a hard one! Finally I settled on the one I wanted.

Bohemian Blooms, white on natural linen...perfect!

Putting on the top fabric was by following the same process as the calico, with the exception that I folded under the edges of the linen for a neat edge.

Finally I attached the trim 10 cm at a time to cover the tacks using a hot glue gun...being careful to make sure no hot glue got on the linen or me!

I'm very happy with the final result! Much easier than I had anticipated and definitely within the reach of most people, just by taking your time and thinking carefully about each step before you do it.


I think this piece of furniture is going to have a long life at our home. 
I hope you like it as much as I do. 
Lisa xx


  1. it is GORGEOUS Lisa ..well done are a it XXXX

    1. Thank you Nettie! I appreciate your enthusiasm :)

  2. Amazing. I didn't realise how long it was. Perfect for storage (and time out :)

    1. Thanks Carli! It is very long...actually very comfortable to lay on too with a good book :)

  3. Wow! An amazing job. Good for you for having the vision and talent to follow through. Of course, you have impeccable taste in fabrics too! Will share link on my blog and facebook page too. xx

    1. Thank you Thea! The fabric does make all the difference, and it was so beautiful to work with.