Chair makeover

Shortly before we moved, I scored these chairs on Craigslist. Since it's close to two months (already!) ago, I can't remember exactly, but I think I paid $110 or $120 for them.

They look pretty clean in this picture but they were in bad shape. The fabric (quilted butter yellow) had large noticeable staining everywhere and had faded unevenly. The faux bamboo frame was painted a creamy yellow with gold flecks (meant to simulate bamboo? It wasn't working).  They both smelled musty. And this was the charming sight underneath the seats:

The elastic supports were so dry and brittle that only one remained on each chair. The foam was slightly damaged from that, but not totally ruined.

So of course, I snapped them up and stuffed them in my car!

First up was stripping the chairs of all fabric (retaining the fabric so I could use it as a template for cutting out new fabric) and painting them. The stripping went something like this (I took a million iPhone photos so I could refer to them when I was putting it back together):

Then I primed and painted them both using spray paint (and my little nozzle gun to keep my pointer finger from cramping and hating me). I was literally adding a last coat of paint in the backyard while we were moving out of the house (these chairs, without cushions, were one of the last trips to the new place). For the life of me I can't find my painting pictures so just picture me spray painting. It took at least two primer coats and 4-6 white paint coats plus a coat of spray sealant (which I wouldn't use again, I'd use wipe-on poly next time).

After we moved the chair project sat a long time while Ryan got more and more annoyed by having two "chairs" that took up space but no one could sit in. Anyone else's man get all huffy like that? Haha. (He was very patient. Love you, sweetie!)

I was hung up on fabric. I wanted to use this upholstery weight, gorgeous blue velvet I showed you in this picture (the solid navy). But at $35 a yard, not REALLY knowing what I was doing, and piping to sew from a diagonal cut... my yardage estimates were over $100 pretty fast (I was planning four yards but I like to buy an extra yard just-in-case unless I know for certain I'm not going to need it). So instead, we picked up a pair of cotton velvet navy curtains from Ikea for my yardage. This is not something I'd recommend to a client, probably. Upholstery weight fabric is heavier (and more expensive) because it's thicker and more durable (the texture of the curtains was noticeably less plush to the touch). But I figure with the rate I change my mind about a design, by the time the chairs are worn out, I'll be ready to reupholster them in something totally new anyway. And the curtains were $70. Win win.

First I had to rebuild the seat, with a few yards of burlap strap and my staple gun.

Then I tackled the actual upholstery. For how I built the back of the chair (which has fabric visible from front and back), I followed Jenny's tutorials (I'm not going to rewrite the tutorial because she took great photos and explains it really really well). It was more physically demanding than I thought, but easier in concept than I expected.

When it came to covering the seat, I first cut out my fabric using the old yellow pieces as a guide, then stitched them together. I'm still a fairly novice sewer, so this ended up being an epic disaster. Here is my "finished" cushion that I realized immediately I'd have to re-do (there went $35 worth of fabric had I been using the pricier stuff). Something about corners threw me, and then I had all this extra fabric in the back that started puckering... no good.

Cue horns: Waaa Waaaa....

So then I tossed that out and laid my cushion top-down on the back of my fabric, trimmed around it, and then wrapped it up and stapled in place, being sure to pull tight and watching for any errant wrinkles that might be visible at the top of the cushion.

The back is secured from the front of the chair, made up of a layer of fabric that faces backward (stapled in place), a layer of thin foam (I used spray adhesive here), a layer of fabric that faces forward (stapled in place), and a trim glued in place to hide the staples (you can kind of see how it all comes together in my "dismantling"photo earlier). I sewed my own trim, a double-welt cord, but it only looks right on one of the chairs. I think I'll used purchased trim (gimp) for the other chair - the trim is wonky, and I got glue on the front fabric, so that needs replacing).

Didn't stop me from taking "after" pictures though!

Close-up of the welting that actually looks ok...

We love them, Thisbe LOVES them (it's the only place she's slept all week, practically), and I hope you like them! And since the chairs will be slightly mis-matched, and the fact that I hadn't taken measurements of the room when I first bought them means we don't have space for both... I'll be selling one of the chairs. So if you're in the Seattle area and are interested, let me know (if you hate the reupholstery and want to do it yourself, you'd save me the step of redoing the trim on the chair, so get in touch!).

So that was me tackling upholstery for the first time and being crappy about taking in-progress pictures whenever I was at the frustrating parts. Sorry about that. Hope you're inspired to take on your own project. For only about $80 more than I paid for the chairs (and some blood, sweat and tears, quite literally), we have two beautiful chairs and kept something out of the landfill.