Wednesday, December 7, 2011



Jonathan here. Hope everyone is having a good week and the start of your Holiday Season has been great! We have been busy getting frame orders finished and shipped out- still many to get done... but we're getting there!

I wanted to introduce my sister, Bekah! She, like us, loves to look for deals at thrift stores and resale shops! She moved to Los Angeles last spring and she has been busy getting things for her apartment! She's sharing a post today about a recent thrift store purchase. So, I'll let her take it away...

Hey everyone-
Bekah here. As Jonathan mentioned, I moved to Los Angeles from New York City a few months ago. After staying with my boyfriend's parents for a while, we are finally in an apartment. I'm really excited to finally be in our own space and can't wait to do it up to suit our style. I'm also thrilled to be able to share some of that here on the J & A Designs blog— I know Jonathan and Anna love DIY and decorating as much as I do and I'll be bringing the experience of decorating as a renter to the table.

My first challenge—and this is one for owners and renters—was a thrift store couch. I saw this couch and thought it was adorable- a fun but not too feminine print, simple lines, comfortable but not too overstuffed, not gigantic and only $75. It was a little musty—I figured it had been in someone's basement—but I felt confident that I could work some magic on it. Worst case scenario, I was out 75 bucks. Seemed like a worthy risk considering a new couch would've been a few hundred dollars (at least). So…I went for it.

I had some ideas for getting the musty smell out and I did a little bit of googling to get some more hints. This post on Living With Lindsay was helpful and I found a complete guide to cleaning thrift store finds here. Once I got the couch to the apartment, I took off all the cushions and sprayed the entire thing down with vinegar. White vinegar is great for getting out smells- yes, it smells like vinegar but once it dries, there's no vinegar smell left behind. I usually do half water/ half vinegar mix but actually did straight up vinegar for this. I've never known it to damage fabrics, but certainly if you're concerned about that, you should test it in an inconspicuous spot. After the vinegar (I didn't wait for it to dry), I covered the whole thing with baking soda. I let it sit for about a week. I've heard (and read) that letting s piece of furniture sit in the sun helps with smells as well—I tried to situate the couch and cushions in front of windows for a little bit of sun, but I'm not sure it was enough to help. If the weather's nice and you can drag your piece out into the air and sunshine, by all means, do so.

When a week was up, I vacuumed the baking soda off of the couch and the cushions. It takes a while, but it's actually really gratifying to see the white stuff get all sucked up! This vinegar/baking soda thing worked beautifully—musty smell completely gone… except for the 3 cushions that make up the seat part of the couch. It became clear to me at this point that perhaps the couch's previous owner had… cats. Or something. The cushion covers had zippers so I decided to dig a little deeper and take the covers off. That's when I found the stains—on both sides of the foam cushions—and a stronger smell. I promptly decided to throw out the cushions and buy new foam. I was impatient and instead of going to a foam store, just went to Jo-Ann Fabrics. They had 5 inch foam so I got that, as well as some batting to wrap around the foam—this was how the original cushions were put together. I laundered the covers and did some more googling to see if there was something magical that would obliterate the smell of cat pee (sorry!). There were a few different suggestions, but the one thing that kept popping up was a product called Nature's Miracle . I trotted on done to PetCo and picked up a bottle. The application process is similar to Febreze—spray it all over the offensive area, let it dry—and it has enzymes in it that break down biological stains. It took a couple of applications (ok—four) but it worked! As with the vinegar, if you have any concerns about how it will effect the fabric, test in an inconspicuous location.

To be clear, I DO NOT recommend buying anything that smells like cat pee, but if you happen to find yourself in the same situation, this method just might work for you too. Check out the pics of my vinegar and baking soda- covered couch! Yeah, when I said covered, I meant covered :) 

Anybody have any other tips to add??