June 06, 2013

Vintage Tips - I Found an Old Couch.

Hey everyone, today I'm bringing you some tips on what to do if you've spotted a vintage couch and are entertaining the idea of bringing it home. And I'm also bringing you a hoard of cat pictures too, so be prepared. I warned you. My two little furry friends, Holly and Royal really like the camera. 
So as I mentioned last week, we went out last friday fully intending to buy kitchen knobs and other items we desperately needed for the house. We had an errand list and a tight time frame and we were sticking to it, but the day didn't go exactly as planned. We went to look at second hand knobs at a local store that sells used home fixtures and other items. Our kitchen, not to mention our whole home is mostly original 1950s, so wherever possible, I like to keep with the theme of the house. But here's where we strayed a bit (right in the beginning.) When we walked in the door we both noticed this fabulous old couch sitting there in all it's glory, asking us to take it home. Upon closer inspection we saw that it was in amazing condition. No holes, no tears, no worn or misshapen areas, and from what we could see, no bugs. We had a look around the whole store for what we needed and to see if there were any other interesting things we could salvage, and in the end we came back to the glorious vintage couch. 
We really lucked out with this baby. It was like it was there just for us. It had a matching chair, but it was far too gone and in need of serious repair. I'm sure someone else will give it a good home and reupholster it. We were happy just to get the couch, what with its sleek look and perfect form. The length for extra seating in our mini living room is perfect for us. 
I'm sure this whole time you've been thinking, "Oh my gosh, you brought an old, used couch into your house?!" "What if it's dirty?" Or possibly "I want to do this too. How can I make sure mine is clean and safe to put in my home?" Whatever the case may be. I'm here to tell you what we did, and warning signs we were looking for. You really just have to think smart and use common sense. And if signs say the couch can't be saved, you have to know when to leave it behind - just like all used items.
When you see a lovely used couch, you have to go into investigatory mode. Don't worry about insulting the sellers. A couch is a big (and potentially dirty) item and you need to get all your facts straight. Where did it come from? Who owned it? Has it spent any time outside? Was it well loved, or something that they didn't care much for? If these answers are unknown it can make your decision harder, but you have to work it out for yourself. 
Taking a good, hard look at it can tell you a lot. Look in all the nooks and crannies. The slits in fabric and the edges are usually were minuscule critters prefer to hang out. I know it can be gross, but you have to get right in there. Bring hand sanitizer or gloves if you need to. You're looking for tiny, little bugs or mouse droppings or anything else unpleasant. You don't want that in your house, do you? The worst thing that can happen is bringing mice or bed bugs into your home. Yuck. Check all the zippers and seams and all sides of the couch. Flip over those cushions. Basically leave no stone left unturned. You're allowed to be picky and judgemental of this couch that is foreign to you. 
If it's an old couch, you should open up the cushion zipper just a bit to take a look at their condition inside. With a lot of older couches, the cushions begin to harden and crumble slightly over time. It's not a huge deal, but if you're planning on keeping it long, long term and possible recovering it, keeping it it's original shape is important. The foam condition will be key in salvaging it's shape if you choose to reupholster. In fact, you may not be able to if the foam is too far gone. 
Once you get it home, it's decontamination time. Even if you don't see anything wrong, clean it like you've never cleaned anything in your whole life. Keep it as far away from your things as you can. Take of your cushions and lay them on a tarp if possible. Put isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray down your couch really well with the isopropyl alcohol, getting into any and all cracks and corners. Pay special attention the the seams in the couches, soaking those areas down the best. Make sure you hit every angle and area. You want to disinfect this baby until it's damp. This worked very well with the fabric of our couch. It's thick and tolerated the alcohol well, with no staining or discolouration. Make sure you check your fabric type because not all couches will respond in the same way. You may end up ruining it, so be careful! After I soaked down the couch I moved onto the cushions getting right into all the small concealed areas like the zipper. Next I vacuumed the couch and the cushions after. I vacuumed for a couple hours. I know that may seem extensive but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?
While I was cleaning, I was inspecting it too and looking at all the tags. I found a little indoor bird seed at one end of the couch and all the tags on the couch were initialled with someone's name. The company tag was also interesting. It's super retro with pink, navy blue, turquoise and of course my fave, starbursts. And what's more interesting was that it was made right here in Canada. I like that it has local country origins. Once my vacuuming ritual and inspecting was done, I got out my spray bottle again, and gave it another good soaking. Spray it enough that you can't sit on it for a few hours. I sprayed it without cushions on and then again when I put them back in their place. Now if you can give it a good steam cleaning that's good to finish off with too. You can pay someone to steam it for you or even rent a machine. Or if you own one, that's fantastic. You're awesome. 
We were really lucky with our couch, it was in an amazing condition and pretty clean. It's hard to find a vintage couch with so much life left in it. Just be smart about the cost, condition and whether or not it fits into your life. For the price (we got a really good deal), I look at it and think we did a good job in not passing up this find. It'll be in our house for many, many years. It's my dream couch and I hope you find yours too. You know, if you're into that sort of thing! 

Thanks for reading, dolls! 
If you have any more tips that I've missed that you think I should add, give me a shout! I'd love to hear from you!

Marissa xo

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