Tuesday, August 23, 2011

chair makeover

When we moved into our house, it became quickly apparent that we did not have nearly enough furniture to fill the space. This was especially true in the living. The living room is a 15'x21' rectangle, give or take. We love the size but unfortunately, it has been a challenge for furniture placement owing to the location of the cable outlet and the fireplace on one end. Anyway, while we're still thinking about those things, we decided to start adding more furniture.

We were lucky enough to be given 2 cane-backed chairs by my stepgrandma. She no longer needed them and they were in good condition so we snapped them up. I love their curved arms. What I did not love was the color and finish of the wood and the upholstery on the seat. I was not deterred. Instead, I said to John, "We can fix these."

I knew I wanted to paint the wood so I set off taking them apart as I thought this would be easier for painting. Wrong. The chairs were very well put together (who knew?) so after I unscrewed all the screws, I realized everything was also nailed in many places. Oops. Back in with the screws and instead I just covered the cushion and went to town.

I selected a satin finish chocolate brown spray paint by Rustoleum. I roughed up the wood a bit with some sandpaper and started spraying. I did not prime. I probably should have but luckily, one can provided just enough paint for two coats. That offered enough coverage for my liking.

After the first coat, all taped up

I purchased 2 yards of 1/2" foam from Joann's to help add a little more cushion to the chairs. I might have preferred 1" but it was more expensive and actually, in hindsight, a full inch of extra cushion might have been too much added height.

The main accent color in the living room is blue. Originally, I purchased this upholstery fabric from Joann's to make a roman shade for the kitchen. After holding it up against the window I decided I didn't love it there and put it away. When the time came to start working on these chairs, I draped the fabric over one of them and decided I loved it for the chairs instead. Score! Off to purchase another yard and get started on my project. Well, after also purchasing a staple gun and staples too. Home improvements are pricey.

I do not think I could have done the upholstering portion alone. Luckily, John was around to lend an extra pair of hands, and offer ideas of just how to tackle the curved back of the seat and tricky parts around the legs. I really wanted to try to do this with one piece of fabric. We not so quickly realized that was a fool's dream. Seriously, we probably looked at it and laid fabric on it for a good hour.

Instead, I measured and cut strips of fabric for the front sides and back of the base of the chair and a separate piece for the top of the cushion. It probably took us 2 hours to figure all of that out and get the first chair done. On the first chair, we did the strips first and then covered the cushion.

This was dumb. It didn't let us hide the staples like we really wanted to and so on the second chair, we did the opposite. Much better, cleaner and quicker. Luckily, they looked pretty much identical anyway. Once I abandoned the single piece of fabric theory, and succumbed to the idea that I would definitely need to add trim to hide the staples, it was smooth sailing.

Look at this beauty!

Because we had lots of staples that needed to be hidden, I embarked on a trim hunt. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to use since I hadn't anticipated this step. When I settled on nailhead trim, I didn't realize what kind of mission this would involve. You can do nailhead trim the hard way, banging in each single nail, one.by.one. Or you can take the quick and easy way, buy nailhead trim by the strip! It's not sold everywhere and it was more expensive than I expected, though not bank breaking. I bought my pewter strip here, 10 yards for $20. Not terrible but the shipping was $8.00 I think Joann's sells this, also for $20, but my store was all out. Too bad, with a coupon it would have been less than half of what I paid from Beacon. The cool thing about this trim is that there is a whole every fifth nail, so you are only hammering in every fifth one even though it looks like you did them all separately.

See that one nail sticking out?

Tool time!

The not so cool thing about this trim is that it is SHARP when you have to cut the strip to fit between the legs. I was able to use my kitchen shears (probably not the best) because my regular scissors wouldn't work. I snagged my finger on one of the pokey ends. It was a gusher! Still hurts a bit today while I'm typing this.

Wounded in Upholstery Action

(ignore my hair, my finger has a bandaid on it but it's flesh-toned)

But check it out! Nailhead trim that looks expensive when it wasn't. And was really simple to attach, just watch those edges.

See, see see?

And here is the completed project! Unfortunately, the trim doesn't show up as well when photographed from further away. I assure you from my view on the loveseat across the room, these chairs are stunners! If I do say so myself.

Here it is with a throw pillow I made awhile back for added comfort. The blue in the pillow picks up one of the dots perfectly. For now, my two lovelies are side by side but I'm on the hunt for a small accent table for them to flank. I think it will make the space look more intentional, rather than just two armchairs next to each other.

So, let's break it down.......

Chairs: Free

Foam Cushion: $10

Fabric: $15

Nailhead Trim: $28

Paint: $4

Nailgun/Staples: Not including since I'll have this forever now

Total: $67 for two chairs

Pretty amazing, right? I'm really pleased with the outcome. I even have some foam, fabric, and trim leftover for future projects. This nailhead trim is my new fave. I think it would look great around a memo board or, well anywhere really! For my first upholstery project, I definitely had a slower learning curve. Now that I've done one, I'm confident I could tackle another with a bit more confidence this time. I would say the skill level on this was medium so it was a bit more advanced than I probably should have attempted for my first project. If I had been able to take the chair apart like I wanted to in the first place, it would have been way easier. But, you never know until you try, right? Come on over and see the chairs for yourself in person! The pictures on my iphone and crappy camera really don't do them justice.

Don't be afraid to reupholster something of your own.

You can do it!

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