Thursday, May 17, 2012

CHAIR REHAB: Giving one old chair a new life

My husband and I have been wanting to find a really cool occasional chair for a while now.  When I saw this old chair at the flea market, I knew immediately that I had to have it.   It had great classic lines, and and the proportions were perfect.   The paint was chipped and the fabric was horrendous, but I didn't care.   I knew that I could turn it into something beautiful.  

After my friend Jackie and I were done walking around the rest of the other booths, I went back to get the chair.  I was able to get a good price on it-- only $50.  And Jackie is such a great friend that she actually carried the chair back to the car for me..... on top of her head, and when it was starting to rain! lol

Here's how I gave it a makeover:

1: First, I used a Phillip's head to unscrew the seat cushion from the support brackets under the chair.  Most chair cushions are secured the same way.  Look for an opening in the upholstery lining underneath; screws go through the actual seat cushion and secure into the corner frames of the chair.  Simply unscrew the seat cushion, and set the screws aside. 

2. I measured out the fabric that I picked to recover the cushion, cutting 3-4 inches wider than the actual size of the cushion.  I laid the fabric out face down on a flat surface, and placed the cushion in the center of the fabric also facing down.  It's basically like wrapping a present.  Pull fabric taut and fold over, and using a staple gun, secure around the circumference of the seat.

3. To prep for painting, I cleaned the chair thoroughly using soap and water, and then I let it dry.  Depending on the existing finish on the chair, you might need to use a fine-grade sand paper to rough up the surface before painting. 

4. I wanted the finish of the chair to be neutral, so I opted for a paint mixture of ivory, vanilla, and white as my base coat.  I decided to use a basic acrylic paint, and then seal it with a gloss protectant.  Using a 1.5 inch brush, I applied a thick base coat using wide heavy strokes.  I let the first coat dry, then repeated the same process.  Make sure you cover every area of the surface-- including small nooks and crannies.

5. I wanted an antique-weathered finish on my chair, and that required a few extra steps.  I picked dark brown and medium brown acrylic paints to assist in acheiving my antique finish.  First, I mixed equal parts of each of the paints together, then I added 1/2 of the total liquid amount in water to create a sepia tinted opaque stain.

6.  I used a natural hair brush to liberally apply the paint to the recessed and details areas of the chair.  Then, before the paint has an opportunity to dry (acrylic dries quickly!), I wiped off the excess paint using a damp paper towel or cloth.  There isn't an exact formula for this technique..... you just have to adjust as you paint to get the color/tint or look that you are going for.  When I was antiquing the chair, I found that sometimes it helped to dip a wet paper towel into the paint and apply by hand onto the areas that I had missed.  Doing this actually helped add depth and texture that I couldn't have gotten any other way, so it ended up being a good thing.

7. Once you get the look that you want and the paint has completely dried, you must seal the paint to protect the finish!!  I like using this:

I know, I's in a spray can.  But I love using it because it basically works on just about anything.  As long as you can apply in long, even strokes, it gives your projects a nice subtle gloss protective finish.  I've used it on everything from wood, to fabric, to plastic, and paint and I've yet to have any issues.  It's the easiest, in my opinion.

8. Time to put the seat of the chair back on!  All I did was place the re-upholstered cushion back on to the frame, and using the screws I set aside before, screwed them back onto the chair frame through the holes in the bottom of the seat.

Voila!!  I'm pretty pleased with the end result.  If you have any pictures of chair rehab projects that you've done, please share!

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