Craigslist Chair Makeover

Now that D1 has moved out of the house, the rest of the kiddos have decided to play musical  bedrooms, so some bedroom makeovers are in order.  One of the things my 12 year old daughter (D3) wanted in her new bedroom was a chair in the corner.  Enter this chair I found on Craigslist:

I was worried she would think it looked like an “old lady” chair, but to my surprise, she was 100% on board.  Also, at $85, it was a little more than I wanted to spend for a Craigslist buy, but it was solid, well made, and in great shape, so I made an exception. Details include double welting, piping, tufted cushions and caning. All features I wanted to preserve.

Here were my inspiration photos:

source                                                      source

The first is a chair from Miss Mustard Seed that I’ve had pinned forever. I love the treatment she used to transform a pair of French arm chairs using latex paint and glaze.  The second I spotted at Me and Jilly.  You, too can own this lovely Louis XV Straight Cane Back Chair from Laurel Crown for just $440!

Following Miss Mustard Seed’s tutorial (linked above on the source), I painted the wood with a layer of latex paint. Color used is Santorini Blue by Benjamin Moore. It’s one of the colors we’re using as an accent in D3’s bedroom. Like Marian in her tutorial, I didn’t bother sanding the wood first. Just gave it a good once over with a damp rag.

I had done some research on painting upholstery here (after reading this post), and thought that would be the way to go on this piece, since I had never done any upholstery before. I mixed a textile medium with Martha Stewart craft paint in Wet Cement and started brushing it on.








Are you looking at the first picture again and thinking “That doesn’t even look painted!”  Well, after four coats of paint, I could still see the orange peeking through.  My daughter sat down in it and said it felt like plastic.  I tried sanding it with my orbital sander, which made the surface softer, but it was still more stiff than either of us wanted.  Also, once the paint dried, the metal underneath the covered buttons reacted with the moisture in the paint/textile medium and they were starting to rust.  Yikes!  It was time to reassess.

So I decided to give reupholstering a try, even though I had never attempted to do any upholstering before.  I’ve been sewing since I was in elementary school, so I knew I could handing the sewing part.  Once I had made that decision, picking the fabric was easy.  I decided to use canvas drop cloths, which was the look I was going for anyway when I decided to paint the upholstery.  I followed this post by Miss Mustard seed to bleach and wash them.  In the mean time, I knew I would need to finish the wood before I could put the new fabric on, so I removed the cushions and picked up a can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White.  I tried to just hit the high points of the frame, keeping the brush dry, as described in the MMS tutorial mentioned above.  This is the one step I wouldn’t mind doing over again.  I didn’t really get the hang of it until I was almost done.

Next, I used 80 grit sandpaper to add some distressing around the edges. I tried to do as MMS suggested and use long strokes with the grain of the wood, instead of going back and forth.

The next step was to apply a glaze.  This was something else I had never done, and I was really unsure of how to use it.  I bought a bottle of Martha Stewart tintable glaze, and mixed it with some Martha Stewart acrylic craft paint in Arrowhead, which turned out to be too gray, so I added a little color from a bottle of brown I had in my stash.  I had no idea how much glaze to use in proportion to the paint, so I did a lot of mixing on this step.  I started out applying it to the chair one little section at a time, and then wiping it off with a wet paper towel, expecting to see some left, but there was nothing!  Yup, no evidence left AT ALL that I had applied the glaze in the first place.  Huh?  I did it a few more times, still with no results whatsoever, so I finally decided to leave it on for a while.  The picture on the right shows the glazing on the chair after waiting a while (around 45 minutes) and then wiping it off.  You can see how it stayed in the crevices, just like it was supposed to.  I guess time is the key factor here, and I am not a patient person!

The next step was to paint the caning. Oh. My. Goodness. Biggest headache ever. As you can see from the closeup below, more than one coat was needed, and it took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to get in between all those little nooks and crannies. Not to mention that with caning, you have to paint both sides! This was definitely my LEAST favorite part of the whole project. Paint used was ASCP Pure White again.

After disassembling the cushions, I ironed them flat and traced around them to make my new pieces.

Fast forward.  (Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the upholstery construction!) I sewed some double welt cord (following Centsational Girl’s instructions), piping, covered the cushions, covered some 3/4″ buttons, and then put it all back together again.  My two least favorite parts about the upholstering were 1) my staple gun – looking closely at the photo below, you can see that the staples more or less just got smashed onto the wood.  I’m not sure how well they’ll hold.  They were probably the wrong kind for this project.  If I do any more upholstering, I may take Marion’s advice and get a pneumatic staple gun since we already have a compressor.  And 2) working with the drop cloths – they are nice and soft after bleaching and washing, but holy cow I was not expecting them to UNRAVEL so easily!  I was constantly pulling on threads to get them out of my way.  Very annoying!

And here’s the finished product:

And a before and after shot, because who doesn’t love a good before and after?

I love the way the tufting turned out. And the piping on the cushions.  And the double welting. And the treatment on the wood. And the nice white caning.

I just love it all. It turned out much better than I thought it would, and I have to say I’m thrilled with my first attempt at reupholstering a piece of furniture.

Incidentally, I made the cover for the pillow too, using the same canvas drop cloth.  I constructed it with piping and an envelope closure on the back, and painted the front to match the colors in D3’s new room.

So what about you?  Have you tried painting any upholstery lately?  Changed your mind and reupholstered instead?

Thanks for reading!

Click here to see where this project was featured.

Linking up to:

Furniture Feature Fridays  The Shabby Nest Simply Designing

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