"Change in all things is sweet."
The mainstay of our work continues to be the refinishing of leather upholstery, and this cream leather suite is typical of what we see. The leather finish had deteriorated in the main traffic or wear areas, namely the headrest, inside back and armrests, and the seat cushion, and so the owners asked for these areas to be refinished. There were some issues with oil decontamination, which can present a problem if it is not extracted from the leather substrate first, so once this was done, the finish was restored and the results can be seen in the photos below.
“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” ― Seneca
One of the nicest gifts you can give is something you already own that has been restored and given a new lease on life. I often have clients ask me about restoring their valued investment, a leather furniture item that is much loved but somewhat the worse for wear. Sometimes even the most ordinary looking of armchairs can have sentimental value, or is just so comfortable that the family just don't want to part with it. This armchair fell into that category, and was restored as a gift to family members from its elderly and beneficent owner.
"If there is some art involved, I'd like it to be that it came through the cracks of daily work." — Martin Mull
Recently I was asked to inspect two armchairs from a client's German leather lounge suite with a view to repairing and refinishing. One area of concern was the level of deterioration of the leather on the armrests due to prolonged exposure to natural body oils and lack of proper maintenance. Not only had the finish broken down, but the leather substrate showed signs of damage as well. In severe cases we recommend replacement of the damaged panels. Fortunately, in this case we were able to sufficiently extract the contaminants to allow a successful repair and refinish before reinstating the mottled effect.
"Cherish all your happy moments; they make a fine cushion for old age." — Booth Tarkington
After a few years, seat cushions can feel as though they have lost their bounce. Foam, after all, doesn't hold its shape forever. Rebolstering seat cushions is a relatively inexpensive option compared to replacing your suite.
The owners of this gorgeous Scandinavian leather and oak suite had owned it for 20 years and asked us to restore its original colour and re-pad all the cushions—not just the seat cushions but the armrests and inside back cushions as well. The suite also had a matching coffee table which we had professionally refinished by a local craftsman. The owners were thrilled, saying the suite looked (and felt) as good as the day they bought it!
Give us a call or send us an email to enquire about options for rebolstering your flattened cushions.
"One who finishes, lasts." — Jeffrey Fry
The majority of leather upholstery found in homes today is what we describe as "finished" leather. While there are a range of finishes on the market, much of what we see is leather coated with a pigmented resin, followed by a clear protective coating. (In a future blog post we will describe the different types of leather finishes.) It is this combination of colour and clear sealer which acts to protect your leather, providing wear, stain, and fade resistance.
Without proper maintenance, however, the finish on your leather can deteriorate prematurely. Such deterioration is usually unnoticed to the untrained eye, and your leather may look ok even though the original finish is no longer protecting the leather.
The owner of this beautiful cream wingback armchair recognised the need to give attention to the chair's appearance after discovering that the colour was starting to break down on the armrests and seat cushion. This was because the clear sealer on the high-wear areas had worn off, exposing the colour pigment to contamination and wear. Once we had cleaned and decontaminated the heavily soiled areas such as armrests and head areas, we restored the original colour and applied a new clear coat, leaving a showroom finish.
Maintaining finished leather is simply a matter of following a basic cleaning and protecting regimen. (See our Leather Care Tips page.) If you have any concerns or questions about the condition of your leather, give us a call. We cover the entire Wairarapa region (or further if required), our advice is free and if you live in Masterton we offer a free on-site inspection service, with no-obligation quotes.
“The man with the boots does not mind where he places his foot.” — Irish proverb
Every now and again a customer comes to us with a personal item that they would rather restore than throw away. That was the case with this pair of leather boots which were very much loved by their owner. After I had refinished them, she fell in love with them all over again!
The owners of this poor old leather lounge suite were reluctant to replace it because of how comfy it is. However, the sofa was in a bad way. Not only did the leather badly need attention, but one of the seats had also collapsed. The photos show the restoration work undertaken, and for much less than the price of a new suite!
"She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere, so I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair."
Norwegian designers are world known for their experimental yet natural design in furniture. A couple of well-known examples were the brothers Adolf and Ingmar Relling. In 1966, Ingmar became famous for his chair "Siesta" made of leather and laminated beech, pictured here.
In December 2013 I was approached by a client to restore the leather cushions on two original Ingmar Relling "Siesta" chairs and matching footstool. The leather had been exposed to the sun and as a result had become faded and dry, and a couple of buttons were missing, but otherwise it was in good condition.
After we had replaced the missing buttons, it was simply a matter of restoring the colour and refinishing the leather. The cushions not only looked good, but the leather felt great once again and, best of all, our client was delighted with the finished result.
"Any colour—so long as it's black."
This is my final post for 2013, and while it is substantially about a couple of refinishing jobs which were combined because of their both being black, this second year in business has been bright. I have grown from a business perspective as well as gaining further experience in product knowledge and techniques, the fruits of which I will continue to pass on to my valued clients. A highlight for the year was being awarded Multiple Finalist status once again for the David Awards: Heroes in Small Business. Most of all, however, I am grateful to everyone who has supported Leatherwise throughout 2013, and I look forward optimistically to 2014.
In the final week prior to our closing for the year, I recoloured the worn armrest of the end of a black La-Z-boy recliner, then applied a new finish to a small black chair with a mottled appearance which would not improve with cleaning, even though the surface was a synthetic material (i.e. not leather). Both jobs were fairly straightforward, but my clients were especially pleased that I was able to fit them in before year's end.
"To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings."
Recently I received a call from the owner of a local second-hand store asking me to come and inspect a leather wingback chair and its matching footstool no longer wanted due to their condition. When I arrived in the store and saw the chair, I could see why. Apart from its unattractive mustard orange colour, the chair had suffered severe damage through deterioration in areas typically most neglected: the headrest and hand areas of the armrests. Sadly, this problem can generally be avoided simply by regular care and maintenance. By the time it gets to this stage, however, it requires professional attention.
After a brief appraisal I gave the store owner an indication of what it might cost to restore the chair. A few days later, I had another call: a prospective buyer was interested in the chair and would I undertake its restoration? No problem. I contacted the buyer to discuss options, provided a quote, and got the go-ahead.
By all appearances, the ends of the armrests on this leather chair were in the worst state and initially looked beyond hope. They had clearly been subject to years of hand oil and soiling, causing the finish to break down and the leather to develop surface cracking. A close examination, however, revealed the potential for restoration. I had to remove the surface contamination, prepare and fill the cracks, then allow it to cure. The following photos show the dramatic transformation before and after the repair work when the base colour is applied, but before the final antiquing process with the darker top coat blend and clear finish.
The remaining photos show the very pleasing contrast between the original condition and finished result, and we received a wonderful testimonial from the happy owner.
The following advertorial appeared in the December 3, 2013, issue of the Wairarapa Midweek, and it seems to have struck a chord with its readers. Since its publication we've had a number of calls from people with leather furnishings in need of love and attention!
"Fashions fade, style is eternal." — Yves Saint-Laurent
This beautiful Victorian leather armchair and its matching footstool were once a deep, luxurious green. I know that because the original colour still sits underneath the folds and other areas which had never been exposed to the light.
However, due to years of exposure to damaging UV rays, the pigments had severely faded, leaving an irregular mixture of mottled green and teal. However, that is the only thing that detracts from this beautiful piece of furniture, and the owner was very keen to have the colour restored.
This chair attracted a lot of attention due to it being featured as a "work in progress" exhibit (with the owner's permission) during the recent Made in Wairarapa Expo. Many visitors to the Expo wanted to see the finished product, and so I am pleased to be able to finally post the results below.
It has been said that humans love dogs but eat cows. It seems that one of our client's dogs wanted to find out why recently and so it took a big chunk out of its master's leather sofa. The owner said to me, "We feed the dog well, so I don't know why it did this!" Who knows what is behind canine reasoning? All I know is that after the crime has been committed, the dog is generally smart enough to know it is in trouble and will endeavour to find a place to "hide." (Sorry, I just couldn't resist slipping a pun in there.)
Needless to say, our client contacted their insurance company, who instructed us to carry out the repair work. The client also approved additional remedial work as the adjacent seat cushions were very worn and needed replacing. The final result is illustrated below. The seat panels are new leather recoloured to match the original chocolate brown, and all adjacent wear areas including armrests and inside seat backs were refinished to ensure a consistent look. The result is a revitalised showroom finish with years of life adding to its value. The owner was absolutely thrilled with my work and very pleased to have the sofa back in time to watch the All Blacks vs South Africa rugby match on the weekend!
The owner of this old leather pouf was thinking about discarding it when she saw our advertisement and asked me if it was possible to recolour it, suggesting black sides and a tan top and base. I initially applied a solid colour as requested but it drew attention to the flaws in the leather, and thereafter applied an antique, slightly distressed look. The results were very satisfying and are shown below.
"In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the leather care industry, the term "hand" is used to describe the softness and feel of the leather surface. Some of the softest and most luxurious leathers, however, are also the most prone to soiling and stains can be very difficult or even impossible to remove.
This was the case with a very expensive semi-aniline handbag presented to me for cleaning recently. The leather was heavily soiled by natural body oils from regular handling, and it also had a number of watermarks. Some of the stains were permanent, i.e. unable to be removed by cleaning.
The bag not only represented a significant investment but was also very much loved by its owner, who wanted to know if I could not only remove the stains but also add a protective finish. I explained that this was possible but that the protective finish might not have quite the same soft feel, or hand.
The photos below show the results from recolouring and applying a protective finish to the bag, but best of all—and to my client's great delight—the leather felt as soft and as luxurious as before!