the “grass sofa” – before & after

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, upholstery makeovers72 Comments

Remember this?  This is one of those pieces that people like me have nightmares about.  The dresser that is so saturated with smoke that it needs a bath in bleach.  The upholstered chair that was used as a dog bed…and then a cozy nest for a mouse.  Or the sofa that was stuffed with dried grass.  When I opened this one up, I know I was in way over my head and needed to call in reinforcements.  “Ummm…Ruthie…I need help.  Quickly.”


Ruthie swooped in and saved me (and this settee.)  Before she came to pick it up, I stripped the fabric away from the frame and painted it in ASCP Louis Blue with Old White and gold leaf detail.  I then distressed and waxed it. Ruthie took it from there.  She removed all of the contents of the settee, including pounds of dried grass, a plastic feed sack, cardboard box pieces and an Egyptian coin.  (We think this piece was upholstered overseas.)  She then totally rebuilt this settee by reinforcing the frame, putting 27 hand tied springs in the seat, stuffed it with quality cotton batting and horse hair…


…and then went the extra mile and added a foam cushion surrounded by a down cover.  The entire settee was then upholstered with a hemp canvas that I found online and finished with a beautiful double welting.


…and here she is.  (Sorry I don’t have a better picture, but I snapped this one quickly at the begining of the open house, but I’ll try to get some better pictures on Thursday.  I know the fabric looks pink, but it’s not.  It’s a nice cream color.)


The settee has come quite a long way, don’t you think?  I’m so glad I handed it over to someone who really knew what she was doing.  Now I can sell it knowing it’s super high quality and professionally done.  Have I mentioned how much I love Ruthie.  Well, I do.

If you want to follow the full adventure Ruthie went through with this piece, you can read her post about it.  It’s pretty interesting!

Another blog update, before I go.  The “blog series” buttons on my side bar are working now and I’ve added a categories search box on the lower right split side bar.  This will make it a little easier to browse through posts.


the “grass sofa” – before & after

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72 Comments on “the “grass sofa” – before & after”

  1. You have no idea how much I needed to see this post. I have an antique sofa sitting in my driveway that my husband thinks is beyond any help. It is definitely not going to the dumpster after seeing this, thank you so much for inspiring me as you always do.

    Lucky 7 Design

  2. That is gorgeous! I don’t know how you part with all that good stuff. I’m sure I would end up on Hoarders! ;o)

  3. …..I pressed post comment before I was done. I’m curious about the price because it’s fascinating to see a piece like that and hear it’s story from beginning to end.

  4. Wow, that is a rags to riches story. Looks fab. Btw, your tutorials have been a life saver. I’ve picked up little tips and tricks from your upholstery series. I am in the midst of rehabbing a rattan set with fun fabric and really just needed some basic instruction. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.

  5. You two did an amazing job. The paint job is gorgeous and the upholstery is beyond belief. I cant imagine having the patience and skill the two of you have.

  6. Wow. Did you sell that for like a million dollars because you should have! That sounds like so much work and she really went the extra mile making that an amazing piece! And of course you did a great job with all your work. This piece blew me away in the original post about it..I was so creeped out by the grass and everything. Great work as usual!

  7. Hi Marian, what a team you and Ruthie are. It’s lovely. but financially was it worth it? would love to know a cost breakdown. I have had a few pieces that end up being a bigger overhaul than I thought and then you end up making barely any money on. Hope that isnt the case for you.
    Also good on you for stepping back from your workload with the bigger Luckett’s space. It’s a hard juggle especially when you are repainting/restoring most pieces. so time consuming isnt it. but rewarding.
    all the best
    cheers Fiona

  8. She did a fabulous job reupholstering this settee!! And the finish is fabulous!! Love it and I would love Ruthie too!!

  9. I love the paint color combo & Miss Ruthie, boy did she do a fabulous job! Oh, I see your sewing section right next to this comment box….I’m going to check those out! I am going to try & make a slipcover! Your site has everything!!! I love it 🙂

  10. Wow, what an amazing transformation! Ruthie is so talented, and one would never know that this beautiful sofa was once filled with grass.

  11. I love your couch. I wish we had that in our living room when I was young. I was raised in a home with French Provincial furniture and it was always so slippery and ultra firm. We spent a great deal of time on the rug and not the furniture. Thanks again. Your ideas and talent inspire me.

  12. A true before and after piece. What an awesome makeover! I wished I live closer because I would go buy it. For sure.

  13. That is perhaps my ALL-Time favorite piece you’ve done!!! I just plain old LOVE tan! Tan and white, actually 🙂 This is a perfect looking couch, to me! WELL DONE!

  14. once again, your magic wand has been waved. the settee is just beautiful. really, it is. and i think that is due to your x-ray vision. you see a crummy thing near death on the side of the universe and poof, with your special vision, you make it come back to life. thank you.

  15. Isn’t it always just a kick in the pants when you know there is so much potential in something, but then you tear into it and are like YIKES…. what did I get myself into????? Well, this was WELL worth the effort of not giving up. It’s absolutely amazing!

  16. I saw this “in person” on Saturday. It is beautiful! It’s romantically elegant, but casual at the same time! Sounds like a new style REC! Just curious, did it sell? There was a lady and her mom measuring and remeasuring it when I was there! They seemed VERY interested!

  17. Beautiful! I have an old Duncan Phyfe couch that was my Grandma Amelia’s. I never thought about lightening up the wood frame. It has Horse Hair as its stuffing. I might just do what you did — finish the frame myself and send it away to be upholstered.

    BTW, if it was pink, I’d like it 🙂 Alas, I live with a boy and he doesn’t like to live with pink.


  18. I too occasionally get in over my head. I would also be very interested in how much you spent, and what you would price this for in your booth. That’s a lot of work!

  19. Pretty! It looks so comfy too.
    I just laugh that it was actually filled with grass. I guess you do what you gotta do.
    Ruthie did a fantastic job!!

  20. The result is lovely!

    Am I the only one… who sees the background of your blog that says “Domain not registered”? It’s got multiple images of frogs frozen in icecubes, too. Just thought you might like to know that.

    I ALWAYS enjoy your blog!

  21. I am speechless…Ruthie is absolutely the best…..and you for knowing what you had……it won’t last long I’m sure!

  22. This settee is amazing. So beautiful. I’m sure it’s already sold and if not, someone is going to snap it up in a heartbeat. MM & Miss Ruthie hit this on out of the park! Congratulations.

  23. Hermoso sillón! El año pasado encontré uno igual en la calle y lo levanté…había sido cama de perros,así que lo desarmé integro(4 bolsas gigantes de residuos) y lo patiné en blanco desgastado,pensando en tapizarlo y traerlo a mi casa…pero era muy grande para mi departamento y el tapizado nuevo me costaba una pequeña fortuna…así que lo vendí por internet!!!Pero sigo añorando tener uno así en mi casa!!!
    Felicitaciones a Ruthie por su gran trabajo! y que lindo encontrar dentro una moneda egipcia!

  24. Hi this is so beautiful…I lust after this.
    I can confirm that the coins found inside are from Egypt my husband is Egyptian and I would love to know how this furniture ended up in the USA….as the contents of the stuffing including the close ups of magazine or newspapers are all in arabic….fascinating!!!!

    1. I know! We’ve wondered that as well! Ruthie and I are pretending it belonged to an important diplomat. 🙂

  25. Oh Wow! I kneel at your feet (and Ruthie’s). You are both an inspiration .

    I’ve just acquired a similar sofa for $1,. Yes $1 New Zealand! I sang all the way home with it on the trailer “I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is what I need”. My sofa is covered in dog hair (eeeewww!) has some cane missing and needs CPR and then TLC. I’m imagining it re-upholstered in Linen or hessian and the cane replaced, with the woodwork in antique white or lime wax.

    Your blog and others have inspired me to take a risk and go after the piece with the bad photo, or poor description. I figured the worst that could happen is that I would end up with $1 of firewood and someone else’s dog hair.

  26. This might sound a little strange but I think I just “met” this very sofa this week! I was doing some shopping downtown and walked into a lovely store called the Lady Jane where this beatiful sofa fills the front display window right now. The owner mentioned it was from a designer (with a blog) and as we chatted I had to ask if it was Miss Mustard Seed, which it was! It was wonderful to meet someone who enjoys the blog like I do, and to see your work (and Ruthie’s) in person, it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!

  27. Thanks so much for your blog and webpage….I look forward to having you in my livingroom for a visit everyday! You are truly an inspiration…I love on Vancouver Island, Canada and only wish I was closer to all the markets and sales on the east coast….but I am in the process of placing my first Miss Mustard Seed milkpaint and have just received your beautiful book….thanks again for making it all look possible!

  28. use to have a re -upholstery business ,but ,like to tell you aout my try in south America ,my Mother got a pair of capitonet chairs one was bad shape so ,start to strep them you wont believe the stuff I found inside ,which include cigarette package ,and butts, and all can of left over fabrics scraps ,look like somebody swap the floor and used for staffing ,was re-upholster by a very cheep person ,the rest were pieces of foam glue together ,and probably charge like it put all new materials

  29. I couldn’t get on the Leesa site as I kept getting a warning message. I’m so bummed 🙁

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