It’s day 3 of my series 31 Days of Following a Hunch, and I want to update you on a project that I followed a hunch to pursue. It’s the chair I’ve been working on reupholstering.
I’ve also realized that a lot of my hunches are about me allowing myself to pursue design. I’ve spent a long time devaluing aesthetics and trying to ignore the pull I feel toward wanting to explore beauty, and especially to (gasp!) spend time and money on something as frivolous as bringing beauty to something that’s just for us. That’s a preview of tomorrow’s post, but, today, back to the chair.
In a previous post, I blogged about finishing the chair with liming wax. If you haven’t read that one, check it out. I loved working with it, though I can’t wait to try it on oak or another type of wood. I like it on the chair, but I suspect I’d like it even more if I’d sanded the chair more before I applied the wax.
Here’s a picture of the chair before I started.
The first thing I did was pull off the welting. It was just glued on, but there was a ton of glue. Once I pulled it off, I was able to see the size of the staples I’d be removing. I used a staple remover I purchased at Jo-Ann’s, a pretty basic staple gun, scissors, and pliers for the stubborn staples. Plus, I had to wear sunglasses because I couldn’t find my safety goggles. I’m glad I was able to work on this one outside.
In the picture below, you can see that I really scratched up the frame of the chair removing the staples. I don’t know if that’s because of the tool I was using—I’ll get to that—or because of the old, dried-out stain on the chair. I’m guessing it’s a little of both. Once I saw how scratched up I left the chair, I was thankful I’d already decided to apply wax to the frame.
Once I removed, all the staples, I laid out all of the fabric to get a sense of how much I’d need to recover the chair. I could tell I’d easily be able to refinish it with just one yard.
I was also surprised at just how old the chair seemed to be once I removed the layers of padding.
That’s burlap and straw you’re seeing. I could also tell, from the other staple marks on the frame, that this wasn’t the original fabric I was removing.
I said in my earlier post that I really wanted to use a paint drop-cloth to reupholster the chair. I started to go that route, as you can see in the picture above. But I could tell that the fabric didn’t have a tight enough weave to last. I knew that it wouldn’t take much wear for the fabric to pull away from the staples, and, out of respect for the age of the chair and all the other staple holes I was seeing, I decided to go with some upholstery-grade fabric.
This was actually hunch #2 with this chair. I decided to pony up the money for the more expensive fabric, even though this was my first attempt at this kind of project. I settled on a gray herringbone pattern that was on sale at Joann’s for about $20 a yard. It’s a fabric that will look great in my bedroom, which is where this chair is destined to be.
Once I selected the fabric, I cut out pieces to match the ones I’d removed. Then I began to staple it directly to the frame.
If you do a similar project, cut more fabric than you think you need. I underestimated how much the fabric I was using had stretched from years of sitting. Even though I added about an inch or so all around, it was almost to small to cover the padding.
So this is where the chair is now—finished except for the welting. I am hoping to find cording I can glue on without sewing the double welting that I removed from the chair. I love the idea of a no-sew reupholstery project. But it would definitely look better to sew the welting out of the herringbone fabric.
Now that I’ve attempted reupholstery once, I am ready to invest in better tools. I think that to make the chair look better, I’d need a pneumatic staple gun, one that has a more narrow tip to get the staples into the hard-to-reach places. Do you see how the staples are in vertically in the picture below? That’s some amateur stuff right there, but there was no way to throw the staples in horizontally with the staple gun I had.
I loved working on this project. I have a weakness for fabrics—my biggest design splurge is always throw pillows. I love using fabric to bring color and pattern to a room. This is a fun way to work with fabrics, even a neutral one, and make your mark on a piece of furniture.
I think I’d give myself a solid B for this one. Not bad for a first attempt. Maybe I’ll be able to improve it with the welting and bring my self-assessment up to an A. Either way, it’s going to be a welcomed addition to our room. And as the Nester says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” Nothing else in my home is, so it’s going to fit in just fine.