Rod's wife, Kim, felt that she needed a bit more side support when she was stiting at the end of the settee, near the door.
"Kim likes to snuggle up in the lounge when we have our friends in," he explains. "She really didn't like the lack of support at the end of the settee."
Rod pondered the problem and came up with the idea of a detachable armrest that would match the upholstery.
1. First, he decided on the shape and size of the armrest and then created a template in cardboard.
Rod used this to fashion two pieces of 4mm-thick plywood. He went for two pieces to create sufficient thickness (about 12mm) to match the original settee side panel, on which the armrest would sit - Rod always tries to achieve a factory-finish effect. Plus, having two panels allows for easier upholstering.
2. He then added three supports, made from aluminium strips, to slot into the existing furniture.
Rod chose aluminium for these strips because it is strong and light, and doesn't corrode. He screwed them into one of the plywood panels with very small self-tapping stainless-steel screws, with a view to creating an invisible fixing.
3. The next step was to add upholsterer's padding. This not only softens the edges and creates a comfier, padded look, it also hides the aluminium strips.
4. Kim bought a faux-suede material, which closely matched the 'van's existing upholstery, from eBay.
Rather than sandwich the aluminium strips between the two pieces of plywood, as you might think. Rod attached them to the inner edge, so that the full 12mm thickness of the armrest would sit flush over the existing settee end panel.
Rod used Gorilla Glue to fix the padding and the fabric covering. He applied it to one surface and slightly dampened the other, as the instructions recommend.
The material was pulled tight, then stapled in place. The two-part design means the staples and edges will be hidden when the sections are sandwiched. Rod bonded the two pieces of ply together, again using Gorilla Glue.
5. Bearing in mind their aim of a factory-finish effect, Kim carefully crafted some edge beading from pieces of the leftover faux-suede fabric. That included rather painstaking hand-stitching on all of the beading.
This could then be used to hide the edge where the two plywood panels were joined.
6. Next, Rod used a hot-glue gun to fix the beading to the edge, creating a perfect finish. Now, the completed panel is extremely robust, and it really does look as though it's come from the factory.
7. The armrest neatly slots into the side of the settee and is held in place with two cable clips. These are really just guides, because the panel is held firmly in place by the settee's base and back cushions.
When somebody sits close to the end of the settee, their weight will also increase the rigidity of the panel, because the cushions simply press harder against it.
8. The finished panel looks excellent and blends in beautifully with the décor.
9. As a bonus, Rod and Kim had so much material left over from the project that they asked Rod's seamstress sister-in-law to make matching bolster cushions, using inserts bought from Dunelm.
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