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Vintage Ottoman Restoration

During our recent Friendapalooza (otherwise known as a glorious 4 day staycation!), you might have noticed that we dropped by the Randolph Street Market. (This was sandwiched between Do-Rite Donuts and a yummy lunch at Handlebar; yes, we absolutely indulged that day.) Our goal was to only browse and get those happy endorphins jumping, as they so naturally do during flea outings (I mean, right?) – but, damn! – Scott spotted an adorable, vintage Mid Century ottoman.

We’ve been promising ourselves to keep new things out of this home for now, but between this and our Baba Souk pillow, well, we haven’t been doing too good. We’re weak. We feed off each other and these homey-extras, and well, it’s a lose-lose if we’re spending a morning at the flea market. (But really, we’re both secretly thinking it’s a win-win.)

Scott negotiated the price tag down to thirty dollars, we happily brought it home, and while it looks nice from afar, it’s a different story up close. Luckily, there are no rips or tears in the naugahyde (we think it’s a pleather material, but we’re not 100% on this), but it was dirty. Filthy. The sewn seams were yellowed, the grain held years of grime, and the legs were dry and scratched.

Despite its surface condition, it really was in overall great shape – but it needed a good clean-up job. Not wanting to dive right into anything overly toxic, I started with a damp Magic Eraser – and, holy shmoly.

Scott followed that up with Simple Green (much nicer on the nose than, say, Purple Power!), brushing it into the creases, wiping it all up with warm water, and finally, buffing it with a soft cloth.

I took the legs, washed off any dirt with water, then soaked them with Feed-N-Wax – the same product we used on our velvety chair. We also took off the metal tips (they just popped right off), and Scott ran those through his usual Eagle One routine.

The original rubber tips on the legs had begun to rot (one of them had cracked off completely), so we picked up these nail-on glides from Home Depot as a replacement. After replacing the metal foot covers, we tapped them in (which is also what holds the metal in place), running into only one problem…

… One of the legs had a too-large opening, not allowing the glide to fit snug. As in, the hole was far too big for the tiny nail hole we needed. So, Scott remedied this by filling the hole with a barbecue skewer, although toothpicks could work, too. He just broke it off to the right length, tapped it in and “filled” the hole, allowing the glide to have something to grip onto.

And it worked! Also, you’ll see that all the rust was freed from the foot covers – but sadly, the Eagle One took away the faux-gold finish as well. We could always spray them gold down the road, but honestly, we we were just as fine with the clean, cool metal.

All said and done, we took less than 30 minutes restoring the ottoman back to health, with the majority of the time being spent waiting on the Feed-N-Wax to penetrate (the bottle instructions call for a 20 minute soak). Now, it’s white! The sewn seams are white! The legs are polished, nourished and (mostly) scratch-free!

You all know how small our living room is, so while we don’t have the extra space needed now, we’re confident we’ll have the space in the (hopefully near!) future. Regardless of the lacking space, I’m still scootching it up to the edge of the sofa and resting on it. Sometimes it’ll move to the empty wall space between our living room and kitchen (the former home of the painting table), but mostly it sort of just… floats. And that’s okay.

Is anyone else restoring vintage finds – especially as we head full force into flea and yard sale season (three cheers for that!)? Can we see?

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  • Loren5.9.13 - 8:38 AM

    Great job! I have a very similar foot stool I grabbed out of my neighbor’s trash a couple months ago. (It has several little tears in the fabric though).
    I keep meaning to give it a thorough cleaning but haven’t quite known where to start. I’ll definitely be coming back to this post!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda5.9.13 - 8:42 AM

    Great job on the clean up … it looks brand spankin’ new!ReplyCancel

  • You guys find the cutest stuff! It makes me want to drag Aaron to Chicago for some flea marketing-ing.

    We scored an awesome industrial, wheeled cart last time we visited KC. We’re not sure what it was used for, but it’s perfect in the fire house kitchen, which is seriously lacking counter space. It hangs out against the wall when I’m not using it.ReplyCancel

  • Kim5.9.13 - 9:26 AM

    Loren, there are ways to patch the tears in the fabric – is it pleather/leather? Auto shops will usually have little kits to fix things like that – good luck!

    Heather, that sounds awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Awesome find! Love the simple fixes to spruce it up, too. Gotta love a quick but dramatic change.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica5.9.13 - 9:45 AM

    I’m so jealous of your find! You did an amazing job fixing it up, and it looks great with the yellow chair! You’ve inspired me to try my hand at restoring old furniture.ReplyCancel

  • Kim5.9.13 - 10:02 AM

    Amanda – amen!

    Jessica, you can do it!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis5.9.13 - 10:35 AM

    That looks gorgeous! I would never think to use a magic eraser on the leather, wow!!!
    I just restored a Lane side table for my friend, it was a curbside find and terribly damaged. Sanding, oiling, and waxing revived it and it turned out amazing. I took pics but have yet to update my blog with them.
    As always, inspired by your projects :)

  • Emma5.9.13 - 10:34 PM

    Lovely! I’ve got a green one that I plan on reupholstering. (I’ve had it for …ehem 8 months). Great job!ReplyCancel

  • Helen5.11.13 - 12:47 AM

    Wow! Just wow!ReplyCancel

  • Sadie5.16.13 - 1:53 PM

    My grandma had an ottoman like that, only it was blue. Now I’m wondering whatever happened to it. Thanks for sparking a memory. Clearwater ArchitectReplyCancel

  • Brian5.16.13 - 7:38 PM

    Wow, it looks wonderful all refreshed!

    Hey, good idea on the bbq skewer/toothpick… ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Jill5.20.13 - 3:04 PM

    LOVE IT!ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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