Sunday, May 13, 2012

Upholstering a chair: part 1

This post, and subsequent parts, tells the story of my numerous attempts at upholstering an old chair.

I will start by stating that a much better and more detailed step-by-step was hosted by Little Green Notebook in NYC. So read that too!

I found this chair dumped on the curb in our street:

As you may or may not know, I am a big of old things and old furniture. And an even bigger fan of free things! So I took it upon my self to give this bad boy a brand new look.

The first step was to unscrew the seat, and remove the 2,677,831 staples that were holding the vinyl to the wood (of both the seat and the back).

Friends allow me to warn you: this is BACK BREAKING work. Yes, you will endure a lot of back pain, and your knuckles and arms will be sore, and you'll step on staples and scream sometimes. Professionals have a garage or studio where they can work with the chair at chest height, which I suppose would be nice... but at home we just worked on the floor.

By we, I mean my mom and I. She was visiting at the time and helped me enormously, in fact I dare say she removed 80% of those annoying little staples all by herself. Bless her little hands.

Next! I had to sand down the current finish on the chair, by hand. M helped with this as well, and this time we worked outside.

I don't know what kind of lacquer exactly was applied on the chair, but as it turned out it was a really thick layer of it.

This took many hours of brute work which could have been saved had I had a power sander...

Wipe with a wet cloth and time to apply the new stain!

In this picture I was working at my neighbor Lisa's backyard, because she was also sanding and staining her old chairs at the time (one of hers is on the left).

Here comes the fun part!

Or so I thought.... turns out the old varnish was still on the chair! It was just deeply, deeply engrained in the wood. So the chair did not take well to the new stain, at all. I tried all different spots of the chair, I tried different brushes and sponges and different stains. I tried 3 coats to see if it would even out eventually, or end up with some weird cool look. But no,  nothing worked and it looked like crap.

So back to the drawing board.

Coming up on part 2: spray paint! :-)