Okay now it’s confession time. This post has been looooooong overdue. We’re talking over a year in the making, but last week we actually bit the bullet and painted my poor, neglected Hepplewhite chair from yesteryear.
Now let’s get serious here, this is the post when we first mentioned scoring this little beauty in Canton last year. What was the date? That’s right. May 4, 2010. Then there was this post about choosing a paint color, this post about hunting for fabric, this post about finding the “perfect” fabric from the fabulous Crystal-Fresh, all of which show how indecisive I am when it comes to my own projects. I used none of those fabrics, I didn’t paint it teal, and it only took me a year. Craziness.
It also didn’t help that this diamond in the rough needed some work. By the way this chair was $14, so let’s go ahead and take a minute to ooh and ahh over that one. After countless hours of sanding in the middle of the summer, being chased by wasps, she started to shape up a bit.
Safety first people, when sanding an old chair [or anything really] you have no idea what you’re breathing. We used a couple different grits of sand paper 80 for the tough stuff, and 120 to help smooth everything out.
As you can see, the chair was in sad shape. If you look carefully inside those crevices on the back of the chair the detailing looks like rounded lines. WRONG. After destroying Derek’s Dremmel tool and getting to the actual meat of the chair, those curves turned out to be small trifoils as you can see better later in this post. Once we got a lot of the flakey shellac off of the frame, it was starting to look more like this:
Revealing that the chair was actually a cherry wood. But because of the condition of the chair, and the fact that the proior owner destroyed it’s finish with a goopy shellac-y mess, stainging was not an option. Instead, it must be painted! Which is honestly what I had planned on doing all along. So as months went on [as you can see the photos were taken in my old apartment] I decided on a high gloss lacquer white paint for the chair’s frame. Since by this time, Derek now lived in a house with a yard I finally had a place to spray paint! We primed the frame first with Valspar Premium Primer in white and let it dry for an hour. Then we added a coat of Valspar Lacquer High-Gloss in white. After letting it dry overnight we noticed that the finish was still a little rough around the edges.
To clean everything up and make it look super smooth and lacquery, I rubbed the chair down with ultra-fine steel wool. Be sure to wear gloves while you use steel wool [especially if you're allergic to metal like me!] Since it’s ultra-fine, you won’t damage the paint, you’ll just be evening it out. It’s a lot less messy than sanding, so I didn’t even use a mask or anything. Such a rebel.
After I finished rubbing the chair with steel wool and wiped the frame down, it was time for one last coat of paint.
I let it dry overnight again, just to be safe. And the next day it looked super glossy and smooth just as I had hoped! Then it was time for the fun part: re- upholstering! Another issue we came across was the condition of the original seat.
The wood was completely rotten and starting to bow. It was definitely in no condition to actually be sat on, so Derek offered to rebuild it for me.
Much better right? Once the seat was reconsturcted I was itching to pick the fabric. So after countless posts asking for you guys’ opinions and rummaging through fabric stores [both in real life and online], I found the perfect one!
I wish I could capture the texture of this fabric. The background is a white linen and the cobalt blue trellis pattern is actually tufted giving the fabric a nice texture and sheen. Here’s my best attempt at showing the texture:
So now that the fabric was ready to go, it was time to reupholster the seat! I wanted to give the set a lot more cushion and fluff than the original seat had. So I used some leftover foam from a previous project, wrapped it in batting, and stapled it to the underside of the seat. Next I laid the fabric face down on the floor, placed the seat batting side down toward the corner of the fabric [to not waste any]and lined the trellis pattern up just like I wanted it. Then I wrapped the fabric over to the underside of the seat and stapled it in place.
Once all of the sides were secure, I cut off the excess fabric [which I plan to use on a couple other projects], and flipped over the seat to marvel at it’s awesomeness.
After the seat cushion was complete we secured it to the chair using the hardware from the original seat. And voila! A whole new chair!
Now let’s ooh and ahh at some of it’s charming details..
Isn’t it amazing what a fresh coat of paint can due for a neglected old piece of furniture? It really does breathe new life into it! Here’s a breakdown of the costs of this
year-long little project:
Hepplewhite Chair – $14
Sandpaper – $6
2 cans of Primer spray paint – $6
2 cans of Lacquer spray paint – $8
Steel Wool – $3
1/2 yard of fabric – $17
Total cost: $51
BUT, I still have leftover primer, paint, sandpaper, and steel wool so having those on stock will help out when starting my next project. And speaking of, it’s time to tackle my dining chairs, and hopefully it won’t take another year now that I already have the fabric and paint color picked out ;)
PS: I’ve recently swapped out the upholstery, the original just wasn’t doing it for me so I opted for a reverse color palette. Read more about it here.