Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Small Tribute For A Great Client

I was saddened to hear not long ago that Dr. Traer Van Allan, my favourite client at Lefebvre's Upholstery, passed away in mid November at age 84. We've had steady business from him since I started, and I always loved working on his projects. One of the very first projects I ever saw in the shop was a blue striped chair that Pierre was working on (see blow).

He was a kind old fellow, and he loved antiques, history, and old homes. During our deliveries we briefly toured the better part of the three homes he owned in Morrisburg. The oldest, and nicest of which I talked about here: He had plans for this house to become a museum, but I have no idea if there were provisions or specific plans for this already in place.

Anyhow, since it doesn't appear that he had any children, and he is survived only by his sister and some cousins and friends, I thought it would be nice to compile a nice little list of the projects he helped save for future generations to enjoy. Some of these were a lot of work, and would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. Not all of his projects were documented. There are several dining chairs that we repaired (I couldn't find the photos), as well as a funky leopard print ottoman we did, and several other small repair jobs (painted exterior chairs, some rush seats, seat cushions, etc). There was also a large slipcover we did in white fabric for a daybed, along with about a dozen feather pillows in the red and white toile fabric.

The list of projects below show the majority of all the projects Pierre and I worked on for him between 2013 - 2015. I have no idea how many additional pieces Pierre worked on before I started working for him. All the links lead to the upholstery blog posts, and there are lots of additional photos there.

Blue Striped Victorian Chair:

White Sofa:

This was my first time taking apart such an old sofa. It still had all the original straw stuffing, and even the spring seat cushions (like a miniature mattress wrapped in cotton padding). As you will see from the other projects, Mr. Van Allan loved bright white cotton.

Coombe Wing Chair:

This is one of the nicest chair frames we've worked on. When it comes to wing chairs, most of them all look very similar, but this one had really striking triangular wings, and beautiful carved legs. Several of the chairs we redid had gotten water damaged in a basement, and all the original upholstery was ripped off and thrown away.

Victorian Side Chair:

Out of all of his chairs, I think this one is my favourite. I absolutely love the red toile on it.

Blue Striped Fan Back Chair:

Hitchcock Chair (Repair):

1962 Wing Chair:

Arm Chair / Sofa Chair:

Ribbed Back Antique Chair:

Mr. Van Allan did not originally like this chair very much (he may have even called it an "ugly duckling" at one point), and he wasn't even sure what fabric he wanted for it. He told us to do the best we could with it, and just to use more of the white. We decided to get rid of the top-mounted piping, and fix the back stuffing back to how it was before. The final touch was a few tiny white buttons. He was very happy with how the chair turned out. We didn't change very much on it, but it made a big difference. It's a very elegant chair now.

Small Antique Wing Chair:

Victorian Slipper Chair:

This one looks like very little was done to it except new fabric, but it needed LOTS of frame restorations. It was completely taken apart and redone from scratch.

Antique Sofa:

I absolutely love this old sofa! It would have looked great in my living room against my light green walls.

Eastlake Settee:

By far the most dramatic transformation was this settee. Pierre spoke to Mr. Van Allan over the phone, and explained that it would need far more work than we had originally planned. He also mentioned that it would be unrecognizable when it was returned. I wasn't there for the delivery, but he was so happy that we were able to restore it that he dug out the matching chair (below).

Eastlake Chair:

This is a beautiful carved mahogany arm chair. We didn't reupholster it. I believe he just wanted a bit more padding on the arms. This is one of those other small side projects. I took a few photos since it was such a nice chair.

Cooper Sofa Chair:

Headboard & Divider:

Vintage Sofa:

Hopefully these all find new homes, and good caretakers.

So long, Mr. Van Allan. You will be missed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry about your client and friend. You wrote a very nice tribute. That red toile chair on casters is flat out amazing. I wish you lived close enough to do upholstery work for us.