Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DIY- give an old chair new life!



Before...
 I have been itching to re-do a chair for a really long time now. A really long time. It's ridiculous to think of how many flea markets, thrift sales and garage sales we've scoured looking for the right piece. Right is code for "cheap", by the way.
Finally, we found this chair while searching for fabric at a thrift store. You always find what you're seeking when you stop looking for it, truly.
 I bought it and walked out of that store a very, very happy girl. John walked out a very, very *confused* man. But he is no longer confused! I'm happy to say that the once dusty, dirty, scratched up and vinyl covered chair is now very cute! You can't tell from the before picture, but the seat is a cream vinyl that was covered in marker. It was really in bad shape. It turned out well though, and John is going to go back to see if they still have the other chair there like this one. If so, I'm going to turn that one into a fully upholstered chair and do an upholstery tutorial. This is more of a makeover than that... but the next one will be really great!
For this project, you'll need a chair, some paint/primer, a screw driver, a staple gun with plenty of staples, scissors and some new fabric.

finished sanding
So, to start, we unscrewed the seat from the chair and then sanded down the finish. I still can't tell if it was laminate or wood, we're inclined to say wood. It was really old! We used a 150 grit sandpaper to sand it down. Remember to sand in a ventilated area as a lot of old paint has lead in it and you don't want to breathe those bits in. We didn't sand it down too much, just enough that the wood showed through and the finish was ready for paint/primer. We didn't intend to prime the chair necessarily, but the "cream" paint we used ended up drying reallllyyy white. So. Try, try again!

Primed and painted

We, *ahem*, primed the chair and then allowed it to dry for a full day before painting it a nice shade of ivory. We only needed one coat of paint since it was already primed, but you'll need more than that if you haven't primed your piece. You can hand paint, stain or even spray paint your chair, whatever you want! If your chair has laminate on it, you'll want to sand and use a paint that's made for hard-to-paint surfaces just in case. There are lots of spray paint options, but they can be really drippy, so just be ready and don't use too much :)

Lay the seat upside down on fabric

Upholstering the seat was so insanely easy. We cut a square piece of fabric to a good size, giving a few extra inches on each side. We put the seat upside down on the WRONG side of the fabric- you want the the pretty side on the ground and the ugly side sitting against the seat. Then we wrapped it around the seat and stapled it to the seat with a staple gun- easy! Take care to avoid the drill holes so that you can screw your chair back in with ease. You can leave it unfinished on the underside or you can add another piece of fabric to cover everything up for a very luxe look. We didn't do that with this chair, but we will for the next one.
Staple the fabric to the seat
You'll want to make sure the fabric is nice and tight. We started at the bottom and stapled it across and then did the opposite side, pulling tightly before stapling. Then we did the sides. Take care at the corners to fold them in so that you get a nice, uniform look. It may look a bit messy on the underside, but you can either leave it be (who is looking?) or you can cover it up with another piece of fabric (as we will in our next project). Again- keep those holes visible so that you can easily screw the seat back on.
Cream/brown zebra striped seat


If you're wondering about where to buy fabric, there are several options. We got this pattern at Jo-Ann Fabric. It was $40/yard but thankfully it was on sale. We bought 1/2 yard and then used the excess (there was TONS!) to make a pillow, which I'm working on now. Next time, the extra will be used to bring the upholstery up the back of the chair for a very comfy seat. Hobby Lobby had some really fun fabric, too. They don't have nearly as many options as Jo-Anns, but I liked what they DID have better, and it was much more affordable. You can always get fabric online, too, but that can be risky. Remember to use coupons! You can always get a 40% off coupon for either of those stores and it is good for one cut of fabric. 

Beginning to embellish


the finished front

We chose to embellish the chair, so we purchased some "decorative" tacks from Hobby Lobby for  $1.99 to add along the front/sides of the chair. We found the easiest way to do this was to use a TINNYYYY drill bit to make a hole first and then add the tack and if necessary hammer it totally in. Before you start, you should mark out where they go. You can see in my picture that we had a row of black dots telling us where to drill. We took a ruler out and put a dot every 1/2 inch to get that spacing.

all done! (for today... ;) )


We are almost done! We screwed the seat back in (I'll spare you the pictures, it was slightly awkward) and then added a bow at the top. I played around with the bow for a while in different places, but ended up settling on that location for now. It would have been fun to make a pattern out of the ribbon on the back of the chair using those spindles. I should mention that the bow will end up being brown or grey in the end, we're waiting to decide until my chaise arrives (coming next week!!!), but I wanted to give you an idea of what the finished project would look like. Also, I'm going to use a Sharpie paint pen to write along the front panel of the chair, but I didn't have it yet... so it isn't done yet. I'll update the photos next week. Hopefully it looks lovely, but if it doesn't I'll just paint over it again!
bow detailing
I hope you're inspired to re-do a chair of your own! It's so much more affordable than purchasing something, plus you have the opportunity to make it fit your personality AND your home perfectly! It's really rewarding. I can't WAIT to do the next one, I have it all mapped out. It will be so great to turn a very simple chair into something entirely upholstered, plus I've been bugging John about a little chair for our bedroom for ages now. Originally, I was going to add more padding to this chair, but I decided to save it for the next chair to make the two more distinct.
As always, I hope your day is a breath of fresh air. I have a good feeling about today... it's nice and gloomy outside, and I love the rain! I have so many projects going on at our house right now that I can't wait to share with you. I have a really fun scarf project, but I don't want to depress all of the summer lovers out there just yet.
Be inspired and enjoy your day!


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