During a recent trip to a vintage store in northern Indiana, I ran across this cute little wooden chair. For some reason, I was really taken by it and so I snapped it up for $15 or so.
Then when I found out my sister was moving and that my 3-year-old nieces are now going to be sharing a room, I knew I wanted to fix the chair up for them.
They already had these pretty Daisy Garden quilts from Pottery Barn.
I wanted the chair to blend in with the bedding but I didn’t want to go crazy and try to match it.
So I went to Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts – where I spend way too much time and money – to try to find something.
Of course, I didn’t actually have any of the bedding with me. I was using the photo at right on my phone as a guide. So it wasn’t easy.
Thank goodness for the iPhone. I narrowed down my choices and texted my sister a photo of these three fabrics:
She let the girls choose and they picked the one on the right – the polka dots.
Then I went off to find trims. By the time I headed to the checkout, I had in my cart the polka dot fabric, a couple other pink fabrics, green buttons, some pretty braided cording and pom-pom trim.
The goal was to redo the chair and make a bunch of pillows – for the chair and for their beds. In the end, I would add a couple more fabrics and more trim. But most of that is for another post. Today, I’m focused on the chair.
Here’s how it looked when I got started:
It was actually in worse shape than I thought. It was more beat up and the finish more alligatored than I had noticed. Still, I thought I was tackling a fairly simple project.
Ugh. I was wrong! First, took off the old upholstery – which turned out to be an especially dirty job.
That's when I saw that the only braces for this chair were round pieces of oak (except in the back, which appeared to be an old broom handle) and one of the pieces was cracked.
He used glue to fix up the crack and then added a cross brace. It wasn’t perfect but there weren’t a ton of options.
Then I sanded. I quickly gave up trying to eliminate the problems with the finish and started just trying to smooth them some. Then I sort of gave up on that and hoped for the best.
This chair might have been easier to paint with brushes – and that certainly would’ve used less paint. But I’m a spray paint girl. I just love using spray paint. My favorite is Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x in satin. I think it covers better than anything else.
For this project, I used the color lemon grass.
Now it was time to start upholstering, which I thought would be easy. I was wrong.
As you can see, the area on which to staple everything – the webbing, burlap, Dacron and fabric – are these small round spindles that were already chewed up by previous upholstery. Plus, they turned out to be really hard oak – really hard.
First up, I had to web the chair.
I’m still an upholstery beginner and so I’m not going to try to tell you how to do these things in any detail. But generally, you staple on the web and use a stretcher to pull it appropriately tight to the other side and staple again. Then you staple a layer of burlap over the top of it.
Next up is the foam. I cut mine with our electric bread knife, which ran through it like butter. I cut my foam slightly larger than the seat because I wanted to make sure someone sitting in it wouldn’t feel the rails.
I covered the foam with Dacron.
You can’t tell from these pictures but I actually added an extra couple layers of the Dacron in front of the bottom rails so – again – someone swinging their legs won’t hit that front rail.
Then it was time for fabric. Typically, for me, this is the fun part. You see the chair really coming together.
The hardest part – other than the staples – was getting the cuts just right around the corners so that the fabric could be properly pulled down, tucked and stapled with no folds showing. I had my upholstery teacher – Shelly Leer of ModHomeEc – in my mind saying, “Don’t cut too far. Don’t be too aggressive.”
Still, I did not do the corners perfectly.
I would get the corners pulled just right and then the stapler would slip or the staples would come out or whatever and the fabric would slip.
In the end, I reminded myself that my nieces are 3 years old and they probably won’t complain much!
Despite those corners, I love the way the chair turned out!
I made a round pillow out of a pink, tiny animal print fabric with fat cording made from the polka dot fabric.
Then I added buttons to the center to mimic the polka dots. (You would have thought I’d have managed a photo that didn’t include the cording seam! Oh well.)
I love the final chair and pillow and think it will look great in the room. When that room is done, I’ll show you in the picture. In the mean time, here’s the chair…