Meet Lars or how I found and refurbished an amazing mid-century modern couch
It all started on a fateful civic holiday weekend, when Value Village was open but no one really knew that. We stopped by and came across a neglected and beaten, Danish, mid-century modern, teak three-seater couch. The seat strapping was missing and the previous owners had put in pieces of plywood instead. The arm on one side was badly faded and water stained. The rest of the couch was in pretty good shape! AND… it had original cushions!
I did not take any “before” pictures of the couch, which was silly of me, but we pretty much dove into refinishing it the day after we brought it home.
By the way, when I say “we refinished” I should say “my husband mostly refinished” because he is way better at this stuff than I am, plus I am way better at entertaining the kids while he sands and oils. It works for us. But he insists I give him the credit. He deserves it.
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Anyway, if you are wondering how to refinish teak wood, it’s actually quite easy! Teak is naturally water resistant and is quite a hard wood so it is easy to sand and oil and looks glowing and magnificent in no time at all. For example, the arm that was weather beaten wound up being the nicest arm on the couch! And all Husband had to do was use a little medium and then fine sandpaper. There were a few vacuum cleaner dings underneath, so those got sanded, and really that was all that was needed. Husband gave it a quick all-over sanding with the fine paper, just to keep it all matchy matchy.
Then, he followed the directions on the can of teak oil. Basically you do a coat, wait X amount of minutes, wipe it off, then repeat. Let it stand for 24 hours. The end! Teak oil is sort of pink looking and is very red-orange when applied. It’s the colour of, well, teak! Its warm and radiant and beautiful.
The cushions on the couch were a little more involved. I washed the fabric in a cold water rinse with my baby detergent, on delicate. This was a bit nerve wracking. However, they came out nice and clean and refreshed, so I hung them on my clothesline to dry. I then took them in to Rockland Textiles here in Ottawa and they ordered me some new high density foam. Here is where I learned something. When you are doing cushions for the bottom, high density good quality foam is important. However, the back cushions should be less dense, so that your back is more comfortable. Well, this couch has high density on the bottom and the back, which really doesn’t make it look any different but it did seem a tad stiff on the back. Lesson learned!
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We also had to put strapping, or webbing, in the seats. There were slats in the frame, and these little toothy metal clips that fit in them to hold the straps. These were all purchased at Rockland Textiles as well. They do a lot of weird reupholstering I think, in any case the staff that helped me were quite knowledgeable which is nice because when you deal with vintage items it can be hard to find people who are familiar with the materials you are using. This part was also very easy to do. It was just straight across, I know some couches weave from all sides and I’m sure there are tutorials online on how to do that.
Once the couch was reoiled and restuffed we placed an ad online and passed it on to UsedEverywhere for use in their booth at Blissdom Canada in Toronto on October 20th.
I named the couch “Lars” and wrote about him in my new blog Furniture Of A Certain Disposition. And that has led me to writing here for Used, giving me an opportunity to share my (somewhat limited, but hilarious) knowledge of refinishing furniture and how to reuse pieces that might otherwise be overlooked. I’m all about reuse here at Sara’s Midcentury Modest Palace of Oddities, so look forward to new projects by yours truly!
If you’re attending Blissdom this year, please take a moment to rest your bottoms on the lovely Lars. Man, if those cushions could talk! And if you live in Ottawa keep a keen eye open for the UsedOttawa Living Room at events – Lars will likely be there, too!