Thursday, October 24, 2013

Painted Upholstered French Twin Bed

I found an incredible Louis XV twin bed at an estate sale for a price that I could live with and in a style I couldn't resist.

I have no "before" pictures and only a few "progress" photos I took on a whim.  Hopefully, a word description will suffice.

This is a walnut Louis XV style bed c. 1900, with double-sided upholstered headboard,
footboard and scalloped side rails. 

Removing the fabric, I found cotton batten and muslin over horsehair.  I'm not exaggerating when I say there were two rows of upholstery tacks (three rows in some places), one obviously older than the other, covering every inch of the tack rail.  There were several hundred tacks, maybe even a thousand, holding in place the webbing, horsehair, batten, muslin, upholstery and trim.

I spent months, working on and off, removing all the tacks.  The rail was so perforated I filled some of the holes with glue to have a secure place for the new tacks.

Tack hammers (2), needle-nosed pliers, staple removers (2) and a device to magnetize metal tools

Upholstery needles, craft needles, steel tacks and upholstery pins

I painted the bed with Primer Stain Blocker I've talked about before HERE and HERE.  I used one coat of Primer and the second coat was Benjamin Moore Dove White (Semi-Gloss) that I had on hand.  After lightly distressing the wood I applied Light Briwax, wiping off the excess as I went.  When dry, I buffed to impart a light sheen.

I kept the horsehair, covered it with new muslin, added both cotton batten and then "fill" that you can see below.

A tack strip was used on the straight bottoms.  Material was folded over the strip and tacked into place beginning in the middle and then uniformly spacing additional tacks around the frame to hold the material securely.

People who do upholstery for a living earn every penny of what they charge.  Because I was intent on "restoring" the bed I used tacks, not staples.  That required holding a tack in place with needle-nosed pliers, lightly "tacking" it down with the hammer, and when satisfied with the placement, hammering them fully into place.

I fell in love with this fabric.  Seriously... In... Love...  So much so that I later rendered the "pattern" on hand painted nightstands that needed a little something extra to finish them off.

I couldn't find the right width trim so I hand stitched two strands together, fitting the "S" curves against each other to double the width before gluing in place.

I re-tacked a couple of areas because the fabric stretched while I fiddled with tacks and pliers.
This first side was definitely a lesson learned by trial and error.  The rest of it went much better...

especially since I took it to an upholsterer... ;-)

In case you haven't figured it out, I don't have a fancy DSLR camera with special lenses.  These pictures were taken with essentially a "point and shoot" that may be fine for capturing those random moments with family and friends but falls woefully short for blog material.  

I debated for what seemed forever before finally deciding to part with the bed.  It was hard for me to leave it in a friend's booth at Kudzu.

This is the best picture I have of the "rails" even though you can only see a small portion

I'm hoping she'll find a good home... with someone who'll love her as much as I do... and soon... else I'm afraid I'll lose the stranglehold on my resolve and bring her back to live with me.  :-)

I so appreciate you allowing me to share a little about me and the things I love... my successes and my "what was I thinking" moments... 

I hope you'll visit again soon.

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by...


  1. The fabric is fabulous! Great article. I know it's hard to give up things you've worked on, but someone will love having it in their home. I know I would if I had a place for it. Thanks for making us, your readers, a part of your life with your wonderful stories. I so enjoy vicariously experiencing all the interesting, challenging and fun things you do!

    1. Thank you, Anne, for your encouragement and generosity of spirit. It's I who thank you for being a treasured reader. Truly.

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