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Monday, January 27, 2014

Julie's January Cure - DIY dining chair reupholstering

I'm one of those people who wants to try her hand at almost everything. But I'm a dilettante. A dabbler. I'm a good starter, but I lack follow through.

I've learned knitting, but got bored one-third of my way through a scarf before putting it away for a few years. My mom knits and she ended up unravelling it so she could make something else.

I signed up for a sewing class with a friend years ago. The class project was to make a pair of pants. My friend and I bought a Vogue pattern to share. I missed a class and fell behind. Those pants still sit in my sideboard and are finished except for the waistband and hem.

I'm love the idea of painting, so I bought a bunch of paint and canvasses and painted a few crappy pictures and called them abstract art. I still have the paint and some blank canvases. They also take up residence in my sideboard. It's a sideboard of unfinished business.

Last May, I bought a beautiful Jonathan Adler fabric from Atmosphere Interior Design. I had fully intended on repainting two of my dining chairs and reupholstering them with the fabric that spring. Since I was going to paint them with an air sprayer, I just needed a nice sunshiny day to open the garage and take on the project. Nice sunshiny days came and went, and my fabric sat in the guest room closet.

It wasn't until this month that I finally got inspired. Apartment Therapy kicked off the New Year with their January Cure. They featured bloggers who had taken on some of those DIYs around the house that had resided on mental to-do lists throughout 2013. Envisioning the "after" was what gave me the impetus I needed.

I went to Home Depot to get some high-gloss white paint and foam brushes (I had to be honest - I'd never waste a sunshiny day painting in the garage. Much better to paint by hand, inhaling paint fumes in the basement in January, than miss a gorgeous summer day). I also went to Fabricland to get one-inch foam padding as the chairs were in need of a little cushioning.

So here are the chairs before...



They were clearly hurting for a paint job...



Popping the seats off was super easy - there were just four screws to remove.



The chairs had become a bit squeaky so we - OK, Josh - tightened up these screws. It seemed to do the trick. No more squeaking.


We then brought them down to the basement where we sanded the first one with an orbital sander. Being the photographer makes it look like Josh did all the work...I really did help and took over the sanding while Josh watched football.


After sanding the first chair, I wiped it down and started painting it. We didn't completely remove all the paint, and there was an old layer of varnish underneath the white layer. This varnish kept rising up through the white paint, leaving an orangey-pink colour. I had to paint quite a few coats to properly cover it. Because of this, we decided not to sand the second chair, I just buffed a few spots where there were dried paint drips from the previous paint job.

The next day, we did the reupholstering. I had wanted to keep the old polka-dot fabric underneath so that years from now, if someone else was reupholstering it, they'd be able to peel back all the layers and see its history. Underneath the polka dots was a small-scale leopard print (the chairs belonged to my parents). However, there were too many staples in the way, so the Amy Butler polka dots had to go.


After the foam was stapled on, we trimmed down the edges. This is something I learned by making a mistake when I upholstered the polka dots a few years ago. I trimmed down the fabric, then stapled it on, but I should have stapled, then trimmed, as that leaves you with more fabric to pull on when you're stapling - giving you a tighter finish.


Here they are in all their foamy glory...


We did it all over again with the fabric, after watching a few YouTube videos on how to do the corners. When you spend a little more on the fabric, it makes you a teeny bit more nervous about screwing it up. Josh and I did the corners together, and they turned out pretty darned well.


And here's our ziggy-zaggy after shot:


With the purchasing of materials, multiple coats of paint and upholstery, the project took up the better part of a weekend, but it was worth it in the end. I've scratched off one of my biggest to-dos, the chairs look great on the ends of the dining table, and they're much comfier now too.

Although I'd never reupholster a substantial piece of furniture by myself (such as a sofa), anyone with a staple gun and some fabric can take on a dining chair.

Paint: Behr Premium Plus, Pure White, Interior/Exterior High Gloss

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