Article Line Long1
Design

My Favorite Before And After Vintage Pieces (With Some “Good To Knows” For Vintage Shoppers)

One of my post-covid fantasies, what I miss more than maybe anything, is thrifting and going to the flea market. Sure I’ve saved money this year from not being able to (there are only like 2 thrift stores up here, anyway) but when we move to Portland it will be back on my weekly schedule (oh how I’ll forever miss the Rose Bowl flea market). I found an old photo the other day of my Blimp art before I framed it and I thought it would be a fun post to show you all of my favorite vintage before and afters. Some were thrifted, some more investment pieces that are vintage. And some I ended up selling, but still miss.

THE Blimp Art

photo by tessa neustadt

Hands down my favorite piece of art ever. My realtor recently nicely asked if I wanted to sell it and I gasped. Not offended, but almost. It would be like asking if you could buy one of my dogs – like NO. In case you don’t know the story, I stalked this piece weekly at the flea market in New York when I was a young stylist, 24 years old I think. I finally got them down to a price I could afford, $200, and rode with it home on the subway. I shipped it out here when we moved to LA and years later I finally had the budget to properly frame it. The frame job was close to $900 due to its size, but it’s perfect.

GOOD TO KNOW: Modern simple frames (especially float mounted) can take vintage pieces like this and make them next level, turn them more into a contemporary piece of art, even though it was just a vintage find.

The LA Chaise Lounge 

This piece I got from Jayson Home (on their antiques section). I LOVE the shape and at the time I loved the age of the fabric and fringe. But as the velvet started ripping I realized that it wasn’t exactly fulfilling my fantasies – but in this floral, it sure would. I shopped for a long time for the right pattern – florals are HARD and it is just so unbelievably good. I am begging Brian to let me cover a sectional at the mountain house with a different House of Hackney fabric, but he’s understandably nervous. I love this piece so much that I can’t decide which room it’s going to go in next.

GOOD TO KNOW: Once again this proves my theory that you can’t change the shape or size, but you can always change the finish (fabric, paint color, etc) so choose shape over color for vintage pieces.

The Glendale Sofa

photo by tessa neustadt

This piece I got from Amsterdam Modern and was obviously drawn to it by the leather strapping in the back.

photo by tessa neustadt

I had cushions reupholstered in white Sunbrella fabric so you could see the straps so much more and LOVED it. But when we moved to our more traditional English Tudor it didn’t feel right (nor was it big enough for that room). I sold it and don’t regret the sale, but sure do still love the piece.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you are buying a vintage upholstered piece, if the cushions are removable it’s WAAY more affordable than if they have to upholster on the piece. The seat and back were just a couple hundred dollars to be made, and since we left the original leather arms we just brought the cushions to our upholsterer, rather than transporting the whole piece (therefore saving costs both ways).

The LA Dining Table

photos from: an update on my dining room

This table took me forever to find and I eventually got on Etsy, in the midwest. I loved it for the shape of the base and of course the general farm vibe. Once I got it I realized It was way too orange and shiny so we had it stripped. Everyone would recommend that you have it sealed, but I never did because I didn’t want to change the tone of the wood and you know what? It’s fine. I actually love how it patinas over time.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: styling to tell: how we staged our dining room and kitchen (with the changes i should have done years ago!)

The new buyers of the house want to buy it and I hesitate because I do love it and it’s irreplaceable. However, it’s too small for our new farm dining room (we want to seat 8) so I’m still deciding… 🙂

GOOD TO KNOW: Stripping flat surfaces is actually so easy to do on your own. Now if I had to have the legs done, that would be a different thing and would have cost more. The tabletop was the only thing that needed stripping and sanding which cost $300. If I could go back now I would for sure just do myself.

The LA Cherner Chairs

These dining chairs give me both so much love and some stress. They are so beautiful, so classic, so sculptural. I had wanted them for years and found them at the rose bowl for an incredible price. Six upholstered pretzel chairs are RIDICULOUSLY hard to find. Then I had them upholstered in beautiful Cryton caramel leather and they are simply STUNNING.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: styling to tell: how we staged our dining room and kitchen (with the changes i should have done years ago!)

They do, however, still creak a bit and Brian would rather have something more solid, less delicate. I could sell them for a lot (a set of 6 armchairs could go for $8k) but I will never be able to buy them again. I know they would be STUNNING in our new dining room and it’s not going to be where we eat every meal (we have a separate breakfast nook for family meals). We’d have to either buy two more or mix two different chairs in there. I feel like I need to try them before I sell them because these I won’t ever be able to get again.

GOOD TO KNOW: I fretted about the upholstery. The original blue was so fun actually, but I’m so glad I chose the tone of the wood, making them more seamless and showing off the shape rather than a poppy color of fabric. I feel like I made a real timeless choice.

The Mountain House Sectional

left from: all the hows, whys and how much’s of upholstering with (kid- and pet-friendly) crypton fabric | right: photo by sara ligorria-tramp, from: mountain house living room reveal

I remember when I found this sectional (vintage from the ’70s, via Chairish from a store in LA called Gallery L7) I thought it was THE PERFECT sectional for this house. It’s low and wide, loungey and modern. It didn’t make a huge statement but the curve of the corner was so pretty. It was in terrycloth which was in a way kinda awesome (but it felt gross). I reupholstered it in Crypton linen and it’s holding up fine but the fabric is more slippery so as you’ve read before, I have to put velcro tape to keep the modular pieces together. I go back and forth all the time on whether to bring up the article sectional that we have in storage and sell this one, especially since when we move to Portland we’ll be renting this house out (we think). And most guys don’t find the back supportive enough because its so low unless you are lounging in the corner you might not feel as supported. But it still looks so darn good in here and I love sitting in the corner.

GOOD TO KNOW: If I could go back in time I would have redone it in a nubbier fabric – like a mohair or boucle, something with just more texture to hopefully grip more and stay in place (and a dense mohair feels of the era in a good way).

The Mountain House Pine Nightstands

right: photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house primary bedroom reveal

I found these on Chairish and the wood finish was pretty orange but the shape, the shape is soooo good. I had them stripped and sanded and they turned out SO beautiful. They aren’t sealed so I really shouldn’t put my glasses of water on them but no major marks yet.

GOOD TO KNOW: Without a stain or seal the drawers are super hard to open and close. It needs that slickness, that shine to make them more functional but I like the finish enough that it’s ok (plus the kids can’t snoop through our nightstands :))

I’ve redone a million pieces over time and for the farm, I want to try to collect as many as possible. The only bummer is I have found that contemporary sofas are more ergonomic and you can control all the proportions so much more than vintage ones. So while I’d love a vintage sectional and sofa in our farm family rooms we are going to be pretty picky on making sure it’s one that we all really want to sit on (and not one that grandparents will avoid like the one in the mountain house). But I’m on the hunt nevertheless and on Portland’s Craigslist every weekend. Have a lovely one!

Opening Photo Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt

0 0 vote
Article Rating

WANT MORE OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM?

Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

43 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Katie
24 days ago

Osmo do a really nice “raw” finish polyx oil. Goes on like an oil but protects like a wax based finish. The “raw” comes out slightly darker than untreated wood but very close, if you wanted some protection. They also do a white tinted oil, and I find a single light coat of white underneath a few coats of raw makes lighter oaks, pines, ash, etc look untreated

Merry
24 days ago
Reply to  Katie

Love osmo finishes. Expensive, but usually worth it!

Sarah
24 days ago
Reply to  Katie

Rubio Monocoat is also a good option! We used it for our floors and LOVE the look, but I’ve seen it used for furniture as well.

Sarah
24 days ago

On my list. 1 See and hug family once we all get shots. 2 Go to flea markets and antique stores and barn sales.

Love this post!

LouAnn
24 days ago

I didn’t realize the Mountain House sofa was vintage. Huh. I love how it looks but it would drive me nuts to have parts of my sofa moving and to have to velcro them together. (my obsessive tendencies take over whether I want them to or not.)

One of the hardest parts of buying sofas and chairs is finding one that will seat different sized people comfortably. We need a how-to on THAT.

My husband hated both our sofa and our side chair because they were too deep and too low. I loved them!

LouAnn
24 days ago
Reply to  LouAnn

P.S. By all means KEEP those dining chairs!!!

Amy
24 days ago

Fun look at your finds. You are brave to do so much upholstery! It is a really expensive prospect up here in Northern California.

Just an FYI – you can grease those drawers. In removing the finish so completely, they just removed the drawer lube. You can use paraffin or candle wax or even a bar of soap. You do not need to live with sticky drawers. This is solvable. I like Renaissance wax for a matte finished overall on a raw wood piece. But there are other matte sealers

Suzanne
24 days ago
Reply to  Amy

I’m surprised by the upholstery, too. I’m also in Northern California, and I’m surprised by how much more things cost than in Southern California. I thought LA would be similar to SF Bay Area.

Tracy
24 days ago

I always loved that MCM credenza you had in the Glendale house. It had prominent flat brass pulls and a black legs with brass caps. I happily have a E Gomme sideboard from the Tola range with black lacquer legs and brass pulls, but your sideboard was a real eye catcher.

Rusty
24 days ago

The Blimp is one of my all-time fav. art works, ever. I just love it!
I wondered if you’d mention the floral cushion you made coz it’s in the pic too.
Or your raw edge coffee table, another fav.
I like of of the things, ‘cept the sectional at the mountain house. Just not my thing.
Vintage adds that something special that nothing new can … unless it’s hugely expensive, one-off design/bespoke.

Laura
24 days ago

I vote to keep those obscenely amazing Cherner chairs for your “formal” dining room. Like you said, they won’t be getting daily use, and if your family is anything like mine, those chairs will only be seeing you around the holidays and maybe other big family gatherings and that’s it (but you’ll get to enjoy seeing THEM every day, and that’s priceless). They’re a true solid investment and I always like having the peace of mind that if the sh*t hits the fan one day and I have to sell them, they’ll have my back 😉

Sarah
24 days ago
Reply to  Laura

Also since you will need two more chairs you can go comfy when choosing and please everyone.

Teri
24 days ago
Reply to  Laura

I agree, keep them and get comfy “host and hostess chairs”.

Jessie
24 days ago

Please never sell the chairs!! I’ve used and loved General Finishes Flat Out Flat topcoat for a protected raw wood look. Fun post!

Elaine
24 days ago

Early 30’s me was massively taken by your Kontiki chairs (and your navy sofa but we won’t go there) so when I found a pair of 1960’s rosewood lounge chairs for €100 I knew I had to snap them up. Ok, they were pretty manky fabric-wise and needed reupholstering but they also had really good bones and because I read EHD I knew that mattered most. Early 30’s me upholstered them in teal blue velvet whereas early 40’s me leans a much quieter textured grey wool…but the shape, the shape is still sooo good. So for me this post strongly reaffirms one of the core learnings I’ve taken from your blog – consider the shape of things!

P.S. Do not sell those Cherner’s!!!

Kristy Hicks
24 days ago

Lovely post! I so appreciate your love of the funky character-rich classics!! Keep the table! You can use it outside on a covered porch, if you don’t use it in your home. And most def, keep the Cherners!

Suzanne
24 days ago

Such a great trip down vintage memory lane! You need to keep that dining table! Maybe it can be a desk or a game table somewhere else in the farmhouse? The look is perfect. The chaise in the floral is so good. I love that transformation. The Cherner chairs with the matching caramel leather are also perfect. I agree you must try them in the farmhouse first.

I’d love a post that follows this one about when to try to find vintage and when to invest in new heirloom pieces. I’m debating between finding some vintage chairs and buying Thos. Moser chairs, which are a guaranteed live for me (I gave a few other pieces). I love vintage, because it feels grounding and adds soul to design, plus it is such a sustainable way to shop. But I also love high quality pieces I know I’ll love for a lifetime.

love all the vintage pieces of yours from over the year. they make all your spaces so unique and interesting. buy vintage, save the planet! : )

anon
24 days ago

How does reupholstering work? Do they toss the cushion/filling and restuff the fabric and encase it all in new fabric? Or does it depend on the piece?

Also, how do you find a good reupholsterer? and what counts as reasonable? or to the folks in N. CA expensive?

I’ve always avoided buying used upholstered things. I’m worried about what kind of critters (or their eggs) and/or previous spills (including bodily ones) may have soaked into the cushions. The only thing that would worry me more would be buying a used mattress.

I do have a sleeper loveseat that I would love to change out the fabric on. It’s the most boring beige and has a highly textured fabric. How would I even start thinking about changing it?

Amy
23 days ago
Reply to  anon

When you get a piece reupholstered, the will often replace cushion fill — depending on the existing quality of the fill / age of the piece. In terms of the prices when getting pieces reupholstered: I had a decent sized sofa reupholstered when I lived in Brooklyn. I found someone way out in Queens to do it for $900 – which I thought was a fair price. Here, in Northern California, I tried to get someone to do a pair of club chairs with lots of wood (ie not entirely upholstered and they wanted $800/chair — I sold the chairs. 🙂 ) I remember Emily writing (at some point in the past) that she had a very good upholsterer in Southern California who gave her price breaks because she did so much work with him. You can always get quotes from upholsterers by emailing photos — they’ll give you a quick quote — but unless your sleeper sofa is of amazing quality, it’s likely cheaper to buy new (sadly). Or look for a vintage piece that you love the existing upholstery. I rarely by upholstered items. It’s just not worth the hassle to me. But I love wood pieces —… Read more »

Rusty
23 days ago
Reply to  Amy

That’s great advice!
Reupholstering is daunting when you haven’t done it before.
I’d also ask to see beforeand after pics of their work and if it’s a small business, references.

anon
23 days ago
Reply to  Amy

Thanks! That’s very helpful.

The loveseat is not special except for how comfortable it is. And it’s size is just right. I have a slightly too small blue slipcover on it. The effect of getting rid of the beige was incredible.

Maybe I could get a better slipcover. The problem is most are in boring neutrals and getting one for this overstuffed loveseat. 🙂

kk
23 days ago
Reply to  anon

If you’re worried about creepy crawlies and germs in upholstered items, buy a steamer and steam clean all crevices/ surfaces before use. Steam kills ALL germs and bugs and leaves all items smelling SO CLEAN. The Vapomore Primo 100 ( check Craigslist) is the best , itmcleans so many home surfaces, including carpets etc. There is no steam like steam clean, it is really next level and having lived through bedbugs, I will never be without it.

anon
23 days ago
Reply to  kk

Thanks for the advice.

Caity
22 days ago
Reply to  kk

Ugh I too have lived through bedbugs. I wish I knew about steam cleaning then! What a true nightmare. It’s the reason I have a metal bed leftover from my time spent living in NYC.

Morgan
24 days ago

When you say “had them stripped and sanded” – what sort of professional do you go to for that?

Amy
23 days ago
Reply to  Morgan

A furniture refinisher does that kind of work. You can google “Furniture Refinishing” and your town for local options. A professional refinisher will usually dip the pieces in a vat to strip them completely (which is why Emily lost the lub on the drawers) as opposed to when you do it at home, you have to paint the stuff on and then scrape it off.

CC
24 days ago

Please don’t sell those amazing chairs! Unless, obviously, it’s to me.

Addie
24 days ago

I always enjoy seeing your vintage transformations. The Glendale sofa, the dining chairs and table, the chaise lounge, and the blimp seem like signature EH-style. Someone else mentioned turning the dining table into a desk and that made me think of how great it’d be in your new studio as a work table. You can spread out all your materials and references books/photos when making mood boards It’d also be an ideal surface for flay lays. I’m looking forward to seeing the new vintage finds, both as-found and re-dos, you incorporate into the farmhouse.

Paula Carr
24 days ago

I’ve lusted after those Cherner chairs for decades. Literally. Don’t sell them. You will regret it.

That blimp is SO great. I can understand your never wanting to sell it. That would be me, too.

Dena
24 days ago

I pretty much love all EH vintage finds and love all the posts about them!! Whenever me and a good girlfriend of mine score big (or little) we text with pictures to each other right away so we can both be giddy especially if we got a tremendous deal!!

Annie
23 days ago

Team Brian on those chairs. They are beautiful, and one in a corner would be something to admire (I know you can’t sell 5 and not 6), but I don’t think I’d ever really feel comfortable sitting in something with such dainty looking legs, and I’m a fairly petite woman.

Our kitchen table chairs are 1960s schoolhouse chairs (they’re adult-sized); they’re heavy and sturdy, and I know they can take all the wiggling and giggling that comes with family dinners. And I think they’re beautiful, too.

hilleary
23 days ago

Love these stories. I have been collecting my whole adult life – NYC & SF abd pretty much everywhere I go on vacation. I can’t skip an estate sale, good thrift or antique store 🤩👍. It the choosing and the realistic vision you have to hone. Thanks for your honest insights! Also, you could put a small piece of glass on each wooden nightstand. I did on my vintage rattan ones…helps preserve them and easy to clean, esp if you are renting it out.

Anna
23 days ago

I restored and reupholstered a set of 6 vintage teak Bruksbo chairs on my own last summer and I was amazed by 1. how easy it is to restore teak (literally just a bottle of teak oil, some superfine steelwool, and a bunch of rags- scrub, wipe, scrub wipe) and 2. how much HARD WORK reupholstery is!! The job was simple (just the chair seats) but there was literally sweat pooling at my ankles by the time I finished the first one. Really makes you appreciate why reupholstery jobs cost so much. It gave me so much pleasure to bring the pieces back to their former glory, though.

Patti
23 days ago

I agree with having a sofa/sectional post! I paid a lot of $ for mine and no one wants to sit on it. It looks pretty but not deep enough for napping. Back not high enough to rest your head. No one likes the Crypton fabric. Sit on it once and it sinks so badly I have to turn the cushion over. I just want something that looks good, holds its shape but is cozy enough for movie night cuddling! And I’m too old for the Crate & Barrel Lounge sofa that I literally have to crawl out of. I’m also in Canada so not every option is available to me. Oh yes, first hugging and kissing family and then vintage shopping!! And please don’t sell your chairs!

Michelle
22 days ago
Reply to  Patti

Had to chuckle when you say you have to crawl out of your lounge sofa. Reminded me of an episode of Grace and Frankie (Netflix) where Jane Fonda’s younger boyfriend has modern decor and she can’t get off his couch or his low hung toilet!

Sara
21 days ago
Reply to  Michelle

Those parts are soooo funny!

Caity
22 days ago

I will forever be in love with that blimp art. It is truly one of a kind. Please don’t sell the Cherners. With how much they are worth now, they will be worth 3 times as much by the time your children are inheriting them. They will be so grateful to you I promise!! Even if you have to put them in storage or whatever…just keep them!!

CJ
22 days ago

I’m new to vintage & have made what are apparently some real rookie mistakes. So a questions–when you reupholster vintage, say a couch, do you replace the cushions as well? I would think so, but just for age & hygiene purposes, but I haven’t really seen much of that. If anyone has any guidance, or can steer me to a “beginner vintage for dummies” resource I’d appreciate it!

Ginger
22 days ago

For the Mountain House nightstand drawers, you can rub a bar of beeswax or a nice waxy unscented soap (olive oil soap works well!) along the edges of the drawers to help lubricate them and make them easier to to open and close. I refurbish antique furniture all the time, and this works well without changing the finish at all.

Julie
22 days ago

Emily, DO NOT SELL THOSE CHAIRS!!!!!!!
Xoxo

Katie
22 days ago

Love this post! It helps to know what’s possible and to see how impressive the After can be.

Shelli
22 days ago

Woca (Danish) and Rubio (Belgian) make nice dry, matte oils for sealing furniture, floors, and exterior woods. You can do clear coats or mix custom finishes. Very easy to apply, too.

Go To Top