Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Great Room Makeover: the Couch and Table

My daughter had a gigantic toybox. (Why it is that everything in her room was fit for a room twice that size, I do not know. Maybe because most rooms don't have 74" ceilings? Eh, who knows. I digress.) My husband picked it up at a yard sale years ago for I think $1, and it was worth about that much. It was made of paneling, with 1x1 pieces for support. two boards were falling off, one was gone altogether. This, for some reason, I thought would become a nice bench.

If you look in the lower left-hand corner, you can just see the corner of the toybox. The whole thing looked about that good.
The first order of business was to make the whole thing more sturdy. I wanted to have the back and sides higher than the front, so I took off the top piece on one long side and fitted it to the side with the missing panel. I added about a million more screws to make sure it wasn't all going to fall apart, then built a frame inside for the bench seat to rest on. I made the seat out of more 7/16" OSB and because I wanted the box to still be accessible as storage space, I planned to put hinges on the seat.
Epic fail.
I tried for I can't even tell you how long to make something work. I tried big hinges and small screws. I tried small hinges and big screws. I tried working with it on its side, I tried working with it upright. Nothing I tried worked. Finally, in a snit, I decided the damn thing didn't need hinges and just plopped the seat on. It seems to hold just fine, so I guess that was an okay choice.
Next, I wanted some cushioning. A bench should be plush and inviting, so I pulled out some corduroy-type velour and got to work. I made a panel the same size as the back from foam core presentation board (from the dollar store), wrapped some batting I had left over from another project around the front, wrapped the velour over that, and put the whole thing on the bench. To do that, I removed the back panel, wrapped excess material from the cushioning piece around the vertical support posts, then screwed the panel back in. This held the cushion on nicely, but there was an unsightly gap between the cushion and the panel everywhere except right where they were attached to the support. I solved this with good old-fashioned double-sided tape. I used the thick foam kind that sticks to everything. (Time will tell if that's a permanent fix, but so far so good.) I repeated that whole process for the sides, then covered the seat in several layers of batting and a layer of material. I used thumbtacks on the underside of the seat to secure the fabric. (A note here: I do not recommend this method. It seemed like a good cheap idea at the time, but next time I would definitely go to the hardware store and pay a bit extra to get the heavy-duty upholstery tacks. I went through nearly a whole 60-piece box trying to get 20-ish in without bending and breaking.) I covered a couple of cheap bed pillows in more of the velour... These were originally supposed to be for the seat, but once I got everything together, I realized it looked like a couch, so I used them as back cushions. I didn't secure them down, so they can still be moved around any way anyone chooses.
Somewhere in there, I also painted it all white, but I don't remember exactly when. I think it was after I cut the panel and shored up the supports, but before I started on the cushions. Anyway, here's the finished product:

Next to the couch, I added a side table and a lamp. I didn't make either one, but since they were projects too, into the mix they go:

The lamp was another yard sale find. It started out with a brown base and tan shade. I just painted the base with deep purple acrylic and added a light coating of purple metallic rub-on stuff after the paint dried, then painted the shade silver and drew a swirly pattern (similar to the designs on the desk and dresser) in purple Sharpie.
The table was one we've had as a clutter-catcher behind the living room couch for ages. It was standard mid-range past-its-prime-furntiture dinged brown, so I wanted to make a cool top for it. I painted a 20x20" piece of watercolor in a frog design (acrylics), then cut it into 2x2" squares to create a slight mosaic effect. I mounted the squares on black posterboard with a glue stick and set it aside. I then painted a frame of white along the edge of the table top. I laid the mosaic down once the paint was dry and covered the entire table top with clear contact paper, which I cut to fit the top. After it was stuck down, I pounded in some more of the hated thumbtacks to help keep it from peeling up over time. Et voila, pretty little table.

With a little re-thinking of the space, the corner with the lowest slope (which had formerly rendered a large section of the room useless) became a delightful little reading-and-relaxing nook. (Hmm, think I watch too much HGTV? ...Nah.)

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