This was my first makeover of a thrift store chair, I am copying this almost word for word from my blog that I just started as I'm not sure you're allowed to post links to blogs here. It's very picture heavy (can you tell I was excited?) so apologies in advance. Hope you like it
December's big project: Chair makeover
OK I won't lie: everything I do, creatively speaking, is usually inspired by, or a direct rip off of, something I read on the internets. But that's OK, I accept that whilst I'm learning its OK to imitate and be inspired by others, as long as you don't pass it off as your own idea, right? Right?
With that in mind I was reading RSS feeds one day and I saw this post http://lifeofaustinhousewife.blogspot.com/2010/11/as-good-as-new.html
by Life of an Austin Housewife blogger B Walker and I swear, hairs went up on the back of my neck. I had a similar set of chairs I had purchased impulsively (is there any other kind?) on eBay and had yet to do something with them. She had redone these chairs beautifully, and I was dying to steal her style.
Here's the 'before' shot of one of the chairs, I had two of these. Ugly, huh? :
Ugly button removal (they were sewed to buttons in front as well???):
So off I went to look for the perfect fabric to recover the chairs. I spent a few weeks casually browsing the likes of Spotlight and Lincraft before finally settling on this gorgeous fabric from Spotlight. It helped that the it was on sale, too! I wanted a modern, minimalist fabric to compliment the gorgeous curvy lines on the chair.
First job was stripping the chair, and like Mrs Walker I had about a gajillion staples to remove. For this part I used what I had: a pair of pliers, a pair of cutters and the incredibly useful but primitive workshop tool: a butter knife.
And here's what I had to remove:
Now I should say that 10 minutes after taking the picture above I cut myself with the butter knife several skin layers deep trying to prise out the staples. The moral of the story is, use proper protection and use the proper tools. Don't go to A&E with a butter knife wound, it's humiliating. I stemmed the blood and got back to work, lesson learnt.
After removing all the fabric, I was able to strip the chair back to the frame. Next up I needed to sand off the nasty varnish that was there before: this baby was getting a slick new coat of black gloss paint. To do this I enlisted the help of my random orbital sander, and for the tight spaces: my trusty Dremel. Both of these tools are a must for any toolbox as they get the job done so much easier!
If you're doing this yourself, a word of warning: use protection! You have no idea what nasty chemicals were used to treat the wood you're sanding and you certainly don't want to breathe that stuff in so use a dust mask. Better still, use a respirator... mine was somewhere between the two. Although a sander seems like a safe piece of equipment, wear safety glasses even if you're sanding a flat patch... who knows what could ping off the wood and fly into your face.
OK lecture over. Time to sand!
After what seemed like forever, sanding was done. I didn't do a heaps thorough job as I was going to repaint with gloss black which is a darker colour than the old varnish, depending on what colour is being repainted you may need to pay closer attention to this.
Now onto the fun stuff: respray!! I wanted to mask off some parts of the chair to avoid the spray, so I used some newspaper for this. I sprayed these with some undercoat (needn't have bothered!) and a couple of coats of gloss black Fiddly Bits spray paint from Bunnings. A few hours in the hot Australian sun and I was done!
Whilst all that was drying, it was time to devise a sewing pattern for the upholstery. Let me tell you right now: this part was tough. It took me 2 days to sand and respray the chair frames, it took me 3 extra days (rushing all the while) to do the upholstery. If you are doing or thinking of doing a similar project, and have naff all experience doing any kind of sewing, avoid the following: zippers, any kind of pattern matching, and above all: piping. I now detest piping with every fibre of my being, and being upholstery it was hard to get away from it. Hell on earth was the best way to describe it.
But I am getting ahead of myself here. Here's what the backs of my chairs looked like (after the staples were taken out):
I needed to remember this in order to put the chair back together again. I grabbed my camera, took some shots (highly recommend doing this: saves grief later!) and also my quick unpick, sometimes called a stitch ripper. I took apart each seam of the upholstery, numbering it and transposing the piece onto my new fabric and cutting out its replacement.
I decided that I wanted to recycle the seat foam as this was in pretty good shape. I went to Spotlight to try and buy replacement piping cord, the 15 year old behind the counter did not seem to know what on earth I was on about. Why they let people who don't know a thing about sewing or indeed upholstery work in the furnishings department I'll never know, but there you go. Anyway having no luck there I decided to recycle the piping cord from the old design as well.
Meanwhile, Sammy was taking the role of Quality Control in determining comfort level....
So I followed the patterns on the original fabric pieces and continued to sew what I thought was the right way, eventually I would sort out the hateful piping too...
Until finally I was done and could put it all together....
You may not be able to tell but the fabric is white with red flowers on it. The red is this beautiful tactile velvet that should stay clean for about 10 minutes in my house... so I made these suckers removable! *curses that the covers have zips*
Shown with some christmas pillows I quickly whipped up.... a week's work and now I can move that ugly sofa from my living room and replace with these two beauties!
Thanks to the http://lifeofaustinhousewife.blogspot.com/
for the inspiration!