Monday, June 1, 2009

From Miami Vice to Pottery Barn Nice

This is a note sent to Advanced Leather Solutions from a client who changed the color of her leather furniture with our leather restoration system.

Great Job!

From Miami Vice to Pottery Barn Nice

How I Saved My Sofas

by Diane Lynch

This story began back in 1986, when I bought these two pinky-beige Italian leather sofas. An unfortunate decision, bordering on tragic. Well, it was 1986. Enough said.

Now fast-forward to the winter of 2007. I’d been on a fix-up-the-house binge for a while, but I’d avoided even looking at the living room. That room needed redecorating. Badly. But how could I work my magic when the centers of attention were these two hulking, dated, pink whales of couches? Our living room was haunted by the ghost of Don Johnson. It was very depressing.
Finally, over Thanksgiving break, my son Ben and I made up our minds. We would be victims of candy-colored leather no more. We hopped online, googled madly, and managed to track down a company in California that looked promising: Advanced Leather Solutions. Yes!
After much e-mailing back and forth with Kevin, the owner of the company, we were good to go. Kevin sent us samples of various shades of espresso brown dye; we chose one, e-mailed him the good news, and he mixed us up a batch. I got the whole kit via UPS. Easy!

Over Christmas break, when Ben was home from college, the adventure began. We watched the DVD that was included in the kit, familiarized ourselves with every step and every product, snapped on our latex gloves, and went to work, happily humming “We Are the Champions.”
The first coat looked absolutely horrid (Kevin had warned me it would). The pink showed smearily through the brown dye, and it was all blotchy and diseased-looking. Not to be deterred, we pressed on, wielding our hair dryers and fans with authority.
The second coat was a slight improvement, but the finish was still far from perfect. Because our couches don’t have removable cushions or backs, there were lots of crevices, nooks, crannies, seams, puckers, and gathers. These proved to be quite a problem, so for the time being, we decided to skip them and work on the easy, wide-open areas.
For the third coat, we decided to step it up and, rather than rubbing on the dye, we patted. Pat, pat, pat. This was an excellent decision. Pat, pat, pat. There was much less smearing, and as the dye dried, it was a lot more opaque than the other coats. Pat, pat, pat. I recommend the pat-pat-pat method highly. We were making progress!
The next day, we finished the fourth coat. What a transformation! The couches looked great—except for all those crevices, seams, etc. We decided to let everything cure until the following weekend. Ben, unfortunately, had to return to college that week, so, assuring me he would be thinking of me every minute, off he sped to resume the irresponsible, leather dye-free life of an undergraduate.
I spent the next five or six weekends working endlessly on those nooks and crannies, spreading them open with spacers, dabbing away, drying them, and letting them cure for three days at a time, separated with toilet paper rolls, plastic clothespins, and waxed paper. A quick phone call to Maria at Advanced Leather Solutions confirmed the wisdom of this patient approach. While closely resembling the movement of a glacier vis-à-vis speed, the technique actually was very effective in the long run. Persistence paid off!

And here are the photos to prove it. I tell every single person I meet about how I dyed my sofas (no, I really do), and the response is inevitably the same: “I didn’t know you could dye leather!” But you can, and it’s great, and I’m here to tell you I’d do it again. In fact, I’m scouting around for a fugly-colored, used Eames-type chair on craigslist (no nooks, no crannies, people!) and planning to spring for a little more leather dye to transform that, too. Thanks, Advanced Leather Solutions. I’m a believer! To learn more visit

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