My Mother-in-law loves to spend afternoons at auctions. It’s a great place to chat with acquaintances and maybe pick up some super good deals, and sometimes some weird junk. She picked up this lovely chair for me at one such auction. It was a whopping $5. Now I was quite underwhelmed, to say the least, when she sent me the picture of her purchase. “Could you reupholster this and use it in the house?” Well, I could try I guess.
This was my first all-over chair job. Marcus and I recovered our dining room chairs a few months ago and that was a real treat. Trying to do an entire chair proved to be much more laborious. For starters we had to remove decades-old staples…hundreds of them. Then we had to remove decades old teeny tiny nails…hundreds of them. That wouldn’t have been so bad if the inside of the chair wasn’t full of dust and compressed foam, fiber and burlap. Then there was the vial of perfume I found hidden amongst the fill. I had been wondering why the smell was so awful. This chair originally had a spring seat but after finally getting that exposed we decided not to try and fix that part and created a flat seat instead.
Once I had the chair down to the bones, Ken took over. Luckily the frame was solid hardwood and although it was littered with nail holes it was still in decent shape. He removed all the screws on pounded the frame apart. Re-gluing the chair was necessary if it was going to be kept as it was very shifty and squeaky in the original condition. He works miracles! Now the chair is stable and doesn’t make a peep. With any piece of furniture, stability should be a concern as you really don’t want to spend time and money re-purposing or fixing something cosmetically only to have it fall apart on you in a year or two. We have another chair in the library that no one sits in for fear of breaking it. I’m not a fan of chairs I can’t sit in.
After securing the structure and determining that it was worth continuing, I had to find some upholstery fabric and new cushioning. A trip to Joann Fabrics solved that quick enough. I settled with a teal chenille that would compliment the colors in our guest bedroom. We also picked up a 2.5″ high density foam pad for the seat and some thick batting to cover the whole chair.
Here’s where the fun part actually started. Besides not knowing the best way to cover the chair it was a game of “does this look Ok?” Thankfully Ken has a fully outfitted wood shop with every tool you could imagine. An air nailer and and air compressor save so much time on a project like this. We started with the seat and then did the front of the back, finishing with the back of the back. The original fabric had been sewn onto the back, but we stapled folded fabric and then covered the staples with decorative nails.
Overall, I’m happy with my first attempt. There are some pretty serious issues that I’m sure would warrant a snear from a professional but I’m alright with that. I’m just hoping the next auction find doesn’t require so much profanity and is maybe a little easier to figure out! Altogether This chair cost me $5 at the auction and $55 in fabric and padding. You can’t buy a cheaply made chair from a big box store for less than $100, maybe not even $200. Sometimes it’s worth picking up that piece of junk that no one else wants and creating something special and unique for yourself.
Have you ever brought new life to an old piece of furniture? I’d love to hear about it!