I think you will agree that a before and after is more enjoyable than a before and quit-in-the-middle.  But that is the truth of furniture rehab or DIY in general.  Sometimes projects are abandoned.

Several months ago, I bought two upholstery projects.  I was on the furniture-makeover-victory high from finishing the tufted sofa, so I felt like I could tackle anything.  The “deconstructed chair” that turned out not being deconstructed was one of them…

It took me a few months, but I did finally finish that piece.

With a happy ending, I might add.


This settee was the other one…

Before I even started working on it, I received an e-mail from a regular customer asking to buy the settee once it was finished.  She loved the style and the size was perfect for her space.

Oh, a buyer already!  That will be great motivation to get this piece completed and sold.

Well, beyond all rational explanation, it sat in pieces for months…

…waiting to be upholstered in this beautiful gray linen I found at a flea market.

Kriste and I chipped away at it here and there.  I would groan and resign to Kriste that we should probably do some work on the poor, neglected settee that someone really wanted to buy.  We ended up sewing all of the cushion covers, cut out fabric pieces, made all of the piping and double welting, so I just needed to finish it.

A couple of months ago, as Lucketts prep was just starting to go into full swing, I decided it was time to stop avoiding this piece and finally get it finished.  All of the pieces were cut out and the cushion covers were even already made.  (We had been chipping away at them here and there over the months.  )

So, I had made the decision and started with great enthusiasm.  This was the day!  It was going to be finished!

I got to the end of the day and had about 80% of it done.  The picture below was the last one I took, but I got one entire side and the back finished…

…and I was done.  I just could not.

I seriously could’ve hauled it to a dumpster all by myself just so I never had to look at it ever again!  It wasn’t that it was bad, but I wasn’t 100% happy with how it was turning out.  I knew I wouldn’t be proud to sell it and I have a very hard time selling things I’m not proud of.

I sent an e-mail to the woman who was interested in purchasing it and let her know where I was.  It was mostly finished, but I was not going to finish it.  If she would like an 80% done settee and the fabric to finish it, she could have it all for free.

I know she felt awkward about it, because she kept offering to pay me at least something for it, but I kept assuring her that she was saving me a solo trip to the dumpster and was, therefore, doing me the favor.

So, if you have ever been defeated by a piece of furniture…

…you’re in good company.


  1. Brenda

    Sometimes it’s impossible to finish something when your not that thrilled with how something is turning out. I was making a very graphic, black and white quilt for a sister in law for Christmas. One of the borders gave me fits and I was far enough into the project that I HAD to finish it or rip out a nice big section out. As I sat there contemplating ( moaning about! ) my choices my husband asked me if I could live with leaving the glaring problem as it was. I couldn’t. Needless to say it was a late Christmas present. Unfortunately, I have several quilts unfinished because I am not thrilled with them. Maybe it’s time for a dumpster run!

    • Deborah

      Please do not make a dumpster run. Just send them to me. I will finish them. I am telling you the truth!

  2. Kim Price

    Iv been in this club before I’m sure it will never happen to me again. Im gonna be sure not to throw in the towel ever again, but yea, it happens to me too.

  3. Taffy White

    Thank you Marion for your honesty in this post! as a faithful MMS follower, you are always a inspiration to me to try a new project, my “if you can I can too” approach has been a source of many hours of creativity and satisfaction! I smile every time I walk past my first upholstery project chair in my dining room. I was ready and eager to throw in the towel on that chair a few times, it’s not perfect but I can live with it and learn for the next time!

  4. Carol

    Yes, I think fabric choice is the hardest part. Sometimes fabric can look boring, especially some grays. I have learned that the second I spot a problem start undoing….it’s never corrects itself. I have sent 5 or 6 pieces to the dumpster😩🤔. I’m finally learning my limits and I understand why upholstered pieces cost so much.

  5. Christy

    And that is why I don’t take on other people’s projects. It was no longer your sofa to do with as you please once someone had claimed it. You no longer had the freedom to mess it up without worry. I have SO been there before! Kudos for sharing that, and I have to admit, I admire that you just decided you weren’t going to finish it and that was that lol. 🙂

    • Colleen

      OH I SOOOO agree with this. Once it “belongs” to someone else in your heart and head then you aren’t as carefree and inspired to do with it as you please….thus the need and want to finish it goes out the door!

    • Paula

      This! As soon as it’s dictated to me how the piece must look, my creativity flees to another country!
      And, I find that plain fabric is as uninspiring as you can get.
      Deep texture, contrast, those help a bunch.
      So I have a policy that I stick with what I know and am inspired by, and that it is preferable to come find my pieces where I set up yearly.

  6. Laura Dunkley

    Thanks for the boost-I have been languishing over a child’s wing back chair for hmm I can’t remember how long. I think secretly my grandchildren may out grow it and then I can say DONE. Now with your post I will go finish it.

    • Jenni

      A child’s wingback chair? I’m intrigued – I didn’t even know such things existed!

  7. Kate

    My mother gave me a dresser that my father had had in his bachelor days, probably 40s or 50s made. While it looked decent (nice legs and shape), it wasn’t a great piece of furniture and had seen better days ; but my mother couldn’t throw it out and wanted someone in the family to hang on to it. I gave it a coat of paint and used it for years as storage, occasionally gluing together drawers and swearing at it. When we moved, I did not want to take it with me, but it did not sell at our yard sale. I started tinkering with it to try to make it look better to sell and it just got worse. I finally gave it over to my boys to take apart (they love deconstruction) and put in the dumpster. I haven’t told my mom yet and fortunately she hasn’t asked about “Papa’s dresser.”

  8. Linda at q is for quandie

    Thanks for sharing this story Marian! It’s good to know that I am not alone. I’ve sent more than one piece of furniture to the curb with a ‘free’ sign after deciding I just could not spend even one more minute on it. And isn’t it such a huge relief to get rid of it at that point?

  9. Victoria

    A little bit the same as clearing out your wardrobe. The dress that you were absolutely going to wear and never did but can’t give it up because you spent money on it. You try it on every night out but it always ends up on the floor as not right. Passing it on gives such a release!

  10. AJ

    This may be my new favorite post of yours.

  11. Sandra

    It’s nice to know that I am not the only one who has called it “quits” on a project. Sometimes the reason is simply that I have lost interest in the project and had to honestly say to myself, “it just ain’t gonna happen”. Other times the reason has been that life has gotten in the way of the time needed to complete a project (i.e. relocation across country).

    Right now you have a lot going on. You need to pick between what needs to be done and what you would like to get to get done. As we say back home in Canada, “Keep your stick on the ice — we’re rooting for you!”

  12. MaryLisa Noyes

    It’s a win win…Sometimes our good intentions get ahead of us…

  13. Sharon

    Since we are in our middle 70’s, I have been going through stuff and getting rid of stuff. Among all this “stuff” are unfinished projects. They are going to our local thrift store so someone else can finish. But…the funny thing is in my cleaning out I found a partially made really cute green velvet coat for our daughter. Now, mind you, she is now 50 and I started the coat when she was 6. Guess I thought I would finish it. No, no granddaughters so off it went with a little sigh. We all have these “I’m going to finish” projects!!

  14. Cindy Redman

    Hahahaha! Omg I can totally relate. I have had paintings like that where “I just can’t even” They sit there taunting me and blocking me from doing other paintings. I literally have to put them out of my sight. I say good for you, for letting it go! That releases you to move on….


  15. Kathryn

    Good for you for being honest…and human! Saying no is a trait not easily learned, but so worth it.

  16. Peny

    Wow. I so appreciate your honesty and openess. And the fact that you knew you had hit your limit and we’re able to say no is really impressive. How many times do we say yes and hate every step of the way. I really commend you on this one! It’s so nice to know we all hit that point. And life goes on.

  17. SUSAN W.

    Wow, what a lucky break for her. Sometimes we just have to know when to let go and move on. 🤗

  18. Jenn Baker

    Oh goodness, I’ve totally been there! I’ve also abandoned projects because I feel completely uninspired by them. They’re usually pieces that I didn’t spent a ton of money on (thankfully) but I have definitely sold some just to make my money back and I’ve marketed them as “project pieces”. I give you a lot of credit for doing the upholstery work you do. Not sure if I could ever tackle anything “tufted”. I get shivers just thinking about it!

  19. G.R.

    Oh, my dear. I have a small armoire in my garage, unfinished, that I bought in 1974. Now, if THAT’S not scary . . .

    • Farmmom Karen

      Hahaha! Now I dont feel so bad. Sorry!! I have a “shadow” quilt that I started in 1983. Very pretty…lots of handwork! I think in my head I abondoned it years ago. Nice to know I’m not the only one who does this.

      • Farmmom Karen

        Actually it’s “trapunto” quilting it used to be called shadow quilting but that’s something different now. Sorry!

  20. Alicia from California

    It may have been your “loss”…but what a blessing for the customer!

  21. Teri Perry

    I totally understand. I’m working on a settee for a friend. This piece has invented ways to irritate me. It can’t be anymore glued and screwed than it is, and I only want to take a match to it. I’m trying to finish it quickly so she can get it out of my sight. A curb deposit would suit me!

  22. teri in England

    yep – taken quite a few projects to a charity shop this year, and felt 5 years younger when I waved them goodbye. Whatever spark of hope I had when I bought them had faded once I started to paint. Or not even started on some of them and they became a millstone. I have a feeling there are ten chairs in the attic that need rehoming … Right that’s tomorrow sorted out! So love your blog xx

  23. Mary

    I know the feeling. My daughter’s dog chewed her couch which is the chaise style. I took pity and tackled it
    .Was not happy with one cushion. Walked away and just didn’t knw what to do. I had it in the back of my
    car and when I opened the hatch it hit me what to do. Remove the zipper and sew the end shut and make
    that the fronts side. Worked perfectly. Sometimes you just have to walk away and revisit it later and sometimes
    you hit gold. I wasn’t recovering the whole couch just the tops of the cushions in a very cool retro print.

  24. Pamela

    Sometimes that just happens, and you just do what you can.

  25. Sue

    i have one in a similar shape at the foot of my bed, reupholstered, not by me, but it had the good bones, paid less than $50.00 and spent of course way more to have it reupholstered but well worth, i say when there are good bones and it speaks to you, keep it…sue

  26. Nicole

    I still have dreams about that white tufted couch!! That was pure perfection to me! <3

  27. Annie

    It’s funny how we as women don’t generally want to give up on something even if your heart is not into it. We have that ‘it’s not going to defeat me attitude’. Where generally speaking if a man was in the same situation they would just move on. We need to give ourselves permission to let go and move on 🙂 Thanks Marian

  28. Carol

    I have a room dedicated to these lost and unfinished projects. I’m still hoping to get to them one day.

  29. Julie Briones

    Thanks for the ‘encouragement’, Marian. I have a half-way-down dresser that I’m converting to a TV console. I REALLY want to use my new paint sprayer on it, but it’s just defeating for me to think about having to get it out of my upstairs “Wee Abode” and then get it back up again. Sigh. I think I may just need to do it by hand in my wee kitchen (where my bedroom dresser was done). The sprayer will have to wait for the next big project (or for the little chair I have that needs to be sprayed!)

  30. Mary

    Don’t all creative people have a closet/room of “good intentions”?!?! Non creative people just don’t get us…

  31. Doda

    It’s good to know that I am in good company. I have so many half finished upholstery jobs waiting on me. I think it’s time for a clearout !

  32. Julie

    Oh boy..I have 3 pieces in my garage that I am mentally done with! Good to know I am not alone!



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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