Lockdown projects

By September 11, 2020Knowledge & Tips

At the start of lockdown, many people set themselves home projects- the team at APM is no different. Liz shares her now-completed lockdown project- overhauling an antique telephone table.

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

Since I can remember, my nan owned a beautiful ornate telephone table; she would sit on it for hours whilst on the phone to her many friends and relatives in Holland. It was placed in her hallway and was the first thing you saw as you entered. When she moved into a care home it was once of the few pieces which went with her and was used thereafter as a seat for the numerous visitors and care staff in her room.

When she passed away, I became the new owner of this treasured piece.

I had planned to overhaul it for years, but hadn’t had the time. Lockdown provided me the time and the task provided me with something to do and a connection to family- at a time when we couldn’t be together. 

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

Deciding what to do

I’d thought in the past about painting it a bright colour, but decided it would feel too different to the piece I knew and loved. The wood was covered in a thick varnish which was impossible to sand through without completely removing the veneer. I researched, watched instructional videos on YouTube and eventually decided I would remove the varnish, lightly sand it, then apply an oil whitewash. 

Getting Started on the Main Piece

Removing the varnish and putting on the oil required good weather since I had to do it in my garden for ventilation. I also took care to cover my decking and shut my cats inside while using hazardous products. I used Osmo Polyx Oil– a great brand which we often use in our projects. The ingredients are based on natural plant oils and waxes.

DISCLAIMER- This was not easy! It will take a long time (both in labour and drying time between coats) and won’t be as perfect as a professional could do.

I opted to only very lightly whitewash the wood as I fell in love with the oak veneer details coming through. I therefore used more coats of clear semi matt oil on top to ensure the wood was protected for years to come and the grains would be further enhanced.

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

I had planned to change the ironmongery, but found it impossible to find the right size and style hinges online during lockdown. Instead I removed the varnish from the existing hinges and screws (using boiling water and an old toothbrush!), oiled and re-fitted (apart from one screw which broke…). I also intended to change the handle, but the existing is very carefully glued and nailed in. Changing it may have damaged the door, so I carefully restored the wooden handle when overhauling the main piece.

Finishing Touches

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.
Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

For the cushion I ordered a foam cushion filler with rounded edge and cut it around the corners to fit the seat exactly. I looked at various fabric suppliers and ordered a few colour samples from House of Hackney. I chose their Dinosauria fabric in Dusk as the tones matched the whitewashed wood perfectly.

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.
Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

I am fairly experienced and have a sewing machine, so decided to undertake the sewing myself. I carefully checked the amount of fabric I would need and considered the pattern repeat on the fabric when ordering. I also opted to add interfacing to the material to make it easier to sew and help prevent the fabric from stretching over time. To avoid mistakes, I made a practice cushion cover first and watched instructional videos for sewing zips online.

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.
Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

I learned lots and am really happy with the finished piece. I’m also really pleased to show how old pieces of furniture (even veneers) can be overhauled and reused- reducing waste and saving the environment. I’m already planning my next project to overhaul my boot sale bargain, antique veneer fold-out dining table! 

Liz working on her lockdown project, refurbishing a telephone table. Absolute Project Management.

Instructional videos!

Sew a cushion with piping- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TK8GXb9ihk

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