Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Home is Where the Settee Is

We have a piece of furniture that doesn't fit our house.  It's too big, too formal and nobody ever uses it.  But it's never leaving.

When Steve and I lived in New York City, we walked past this every day on our way to and from work.


After months of seeing this settee morning and night in the front window of a neighborhood antiques store, Steve said, "I think we should buy it."  Nothing more random had ever left his mouth.  The next day it was ours. 

But it was in bad shape.

And after three moves with us, it got worse.

The worst you can see here.  The bum leg was now completely sheared off the frame, hanging on by a fabric staple.  Yes, that is a garden planter supporting the weight of the settee. 

The cracks in the arms and back frame were getting bigger. 

And there were knicks and scuffs everywhere.  A bit of character, but verging on in-really-poor-shape. 

Even though these pictures show the worst, it was still a beautiful piece.

Still in Love

So we decided to have it fixed.  After searching high and low for the right place, we took it to Carrocel Restorations just North of the city, in Markham, ON. 

If I had any hesitation about the care they might take with a piece of furniture I adored, it was gone the instant I visited their showroom & workspace.  John, the office manager, was amazing - and the pictures he sent me as they worked were icing on the settee cake. 

Actually, they were magic. 

Removing the Fabric and Staples

I was amazed at the level and amount of work that had to be done.  Hundreds and hundreds of staples removed by hand.

 Painstakingly taken apart to repair and rebuild.

I was floored by the detail.  And the number of staple holes.

Then came the finish.  I chose to stay with the deep, dark, rich wood color. 

Multiple layers of sanding between multiple layers of finishing.

My intent was to fix the settee but not change anything about it.  At all.  Thus my choice in wood color.  But the fabric was another story. 

The settee is stunning because of its fabric.  The stripes.  The sheen.  The deep red against the crisp (but yellowing) white.  It stops you in your tracks.  But I couldn't fix the settee without sacrificing the fabric. 

Surely I could find more of it somewhere.  Anywhere.  Carrocel's fabric books.  The overflowing fabric stores on Queen.  The internet.  Nothing.

Soon I found myself completely out of place at Designer's Walk showing the manager of every high end fabric store an iphone picture of my beloved settee, willing them to match it.  At any cost.  Nothing.  No Regency Stripes anywhere. 

I wanted to cry.

I ran out of time.  John needed the fabric.  So I settled for this.

I was warned that trying to match the fabric wasn't the way to go.  I should choose something else all together.  But my heart wasn't in it.  So I went with my gut.

Carrocel ordered the fabric, upholstered it and delivered the settee to my door.  We put it outside the Master bedroom last fall, and there it stayed. 

Every time I looked at it, I still loved it.  But it wasn't the same.  I missed the crispness of the white.  The gold felt too muted.  In the pit of my stomach, I wished I had picked a different fabric. 

Until last weekend's project.

BEFORE (Settee was on left in front of window)
I didn't need to change the fabric.  I needed to change the background. 

The deepness of the red and richness of the gold look amazing with the exposed brick.  And the dark wood separates the background from the settee perfectly.

I see this every morning and every night.  Just like I did in New York City. 

And I'm still in love.

*Thank you Carrocel!*


  1. the settee looks at home against the brick wall Meg.  very well thought out.  thank you for the mention in your blog, it was a great restoration project to do and an absolute pleasure working with you!  

    great blog too! 

  2. The settee works perfectly against that brick wall now.  I'm glad it all worked out. :)