Process and Prolongivity: The Story of a Settee

About five years ago, I found it. I was scrolling through the antique section on Craigslist and landed on a reasonably priced settee.  Accompanied by a racing heart, I showed my husband the photo of the settee that was begging to become mine. One I could remake and restore and become a little more French-country than heavy Victorian. So my dear husband (might have rolled his eyes) hooked up the trailer and retrieved the settee for his beloved wife. I ordered the linen that I was going to recover it in. However, other projects became a distraction. The colorful 90s tapestry on the settee made an interesting statement in our family room.  All the while, my husband periodically poked and teased that I would never reupholster it.

Then I started this blog, and got busy writing and photographing and doing projects to keep the blog going. Embarking on a long-term project while full time mommy-ing little kids was daunting. I resolved that I was in over my head, took photos, and put the settee up for sale. People oodled over it. Friends couldn’t believe I was selling it. People made me low offers and trades. I reconsidered the rare (for Alaska) treasure I had, and consigned to keep it again.

Settee before

Beginning the Process

Exactly three years ago, I was pregnant with my fifth, and we were embarking on a move. I knew the settee would look stunning in our new entryway, finished with white layers of paint and oatmeal linen upholstery. The time was finally right, or so I thought. For about two weeks I worked on deconstructing the settee. The back and parts of the front were successfully removed. It was no longer a 90s eyesore, it was becoming a dissected sofa science experiment. However, the packing and the date for our move was pushed forward which halted any more progress on the settee. In our new home, the half torn-apart settee was placed in the front of my creative studio, where I would work on it, after the baby arrived.

The settee that had so much potential sat ugly and unfinished as a wall between the family room and creative studio. It spoke more to the process than beauty, to the evidence of pain rather than perfection. My husbanded remarked again that I would never finish it. So, I decided once again to sell it. It was 70% torn apart, for all the work I had put into it, I figured it was a great deal for someone who could finish the project. Apparently, no one else saw it from my point of view.

To Burn or to Dump…

I periodically talked about burning the settee. The settee I had to have, that had begged me to come home with me. The settee that was going to be covered in oatmeal linen and layers of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. What would roasted marshmallows taste like from the coals of a carved settee?

Sometime last fall, I decided the eye sore would need to be burned or finished. Either I needed to continue embarking on the vision, or abandon it to the dump or firewood. I decided the former. I pulled out staples as my family watched a movies. A boy would comment on how glad they were I was actually doing something about the eye-sore.

Then it would sit again for weeks, basking in the unrelenting story of process. I would have a burst of energy and picture the finished settee, and pull out more staples for an hour or two.

Then it would sit again. Progress, waiting, progress, prolonged waiting.

Sometime at the beginning of the 2019, all the old upholstery was finally removed and layers of milk paint transformed the dark frame.  Evidence of long, slow progress sat on the edge of my creative studio.  The oatmeal colored linen was cut out of the patterned tapestry, and over a period of a few months, was stapled on.

Prolongivity the Story of Process

With the swipe of a finger, Instagram reveals restoration in split second glory. A fast-paced world full of HGTV stories unveil renovation glory in 30 min to an hour and sometimes it’s hard to embrace the process.  In a culture of instantly, the story of process is lost.  The story of a settee whose process began three years ago (and its vision five years ago) and is still incomplete is not something to be photographed or sillier still, not to be blogged about! We tend to talk about beauty, about perfection, about before only when we have the glorious after.  This is profound truth, but you know I am also divulging the story of life.

Can we be honest?  What about the brutal in-between? The progress, and the setbacks. The prolongivity of waiting. Tiny windows of hope and progress. Then more waiting, more resting, more time, more days invaded with pure life. Then we have a glimpse of the vision it will become, what we will become, and then the grueling work of making it become. Sometimes process looks like sitting ugly, ripped apart unfinished, prominent for three years.

Three years.

It’s almost done.  I say almost, but that is relative.  The new upholstery is stapled on, waiting for double-welting to be constructed and be glued on to mat the frame of painted wood.

What if we embraced the process as a beautiful story even before knowing the end glory?  What if we had permission to be in the process of becoming?  What if the silly story of restoring a settee was really a metaphor for the process of life?

Thanks again for joining along,


So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into.  Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.  We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.  His example is this:  Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

Hebrews 12:1b-2 TPT