Memoires of a Chaise

The Salvage Sisters are delighted to introduce the first in our series of guest bloggers. This one comes from our talented and fabulous cousin Brona – salvager, scientist and musician extraordinaire. Check out her website here. And more photos, here.

When I was five I wanted to be an actress. That’s me posing on the red
velvet chaise longue, draped in mum’s fox furs.

Brona on Chaise, Forestbrook

Now, 30 years on I’ve not quite realised the ambition, but I am the proud
owner of a Victorian chaise longue and I’m considerably better practised
in the art of posing.

Brona on Chaise 2

My desire to purchase my own chaise must have sprung from this childhood
memory. So I’m rather tickled to consider that my recliner, at some point
in its history, sat patiently in wait for a corseted Victorian lady lest
she faint from shortness of breath when ascending the stairs. Customarily
fainting couches were installed at the top of every flight in suitably
well-appointed houses.

Salvaging an antique is not only a chance to delve into the history of
furniture, but a way of recycling and preserving. This is my debut.
Inspired by that childhood moment, I scoured ebay for viable options. I
was poised to purchase a repro for about £200, when my dear friend and
advisor, Flo Keef (antique furniture restoration expert) remarked “Oh, you
don’t want to buy one of those!”

Without further ado I heeded her advice and purchased an old Victorian
chaise for £70. ‘Needs some repair work’ said the posting. This was some
understatement as I was to discover on pick-up. The entire
three-dimensional structure of the seat had collapsed. And with it my
immediate chances of comfortably draping myself across it.

I resolved to go through with the purchase and pursue reupholstery
options.  A colleague of Flo’s offered to help out for a very reasonable
price. To reconstruct the seat and recover, she charged £300. I paid £60
to have the woodwork (American maple) stripped and waxed; £50 for the
fabric (from Fabric’s Galore) and £20 for a matching braid (from VV
Rouleux).

Here are some in progress perspectives:
Chaise underneath
Chaise in progress

Although I ended up paying a little bit more than I’d initially bargained
on, I’m utterly thrilled with my new chaise and will treasure it for many
years to come.

Brona on Chaise 3

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Memoires of a Chaise

  1. Beauuuut Brona.. Very inspired to learn the art of re-upholstering.. did you pick up any tips on this in the process??

    • Thanks Gemstar, well to be honest, I learned what upholstery was! I must admit, I had naively assumed it was a simple recover thing, but it’s an architectural job; the springs had completely fallen out of place so a layer had to be put in between the springs & the stuffing (which also had to be replaced) to sew the springs onto, and the webbing (on the underside of the seat) had to be completely redone…before it was ready to recover. When buying off ebay you don’t get the chance to really check out the state of an antique until you see it/sit on it…by which time you’ve committed to buy. Still, no regrets here anyhow. =+)

  2. Hi Brona
    Love the Chaise and the fact that there’s a story buried under the beautiful new fabric. Health to enjoy! jenny and I will mention your handiwork on our next show.
    Aly

    The Saturday Morning Show on Feile 103.2fm

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