June 23, 2011

My New (To Me) Kitchen Chairs

I have been collecting old kitchen chairs for the last year, waiting to find just the right four for my white Tulip kitchen table. Finally, after hitting countless garage sales, rummage sales and second hand stores, I found the last chair for my collection. Now the fun can begin...

I started with four chairs that had great bones, but needed some serious TLC. I made very small repairs; like replacing a screw and adding an “L” bracket, but nothing crazy. I only select items that are structurally sound or can be made that way easily. After the repairs, I removed the seats and started sanding all of the old paint and crustiness away. It may just be in my head, but I swear I can smell the old coming off of furniture when I sand.  

After wiping the chairs down and getting all of the remnants left from the sander, I cover the whole thing in primer. Not only does primer give you a clean slate to work off of, it also helps the paint adhere and can smooth over some of the imperfections in the wood that you are guaranteed to have with a vintage or used piece of furniture. I leave the chairs alone after that until the primer is good and cooked on. Depending on the weather, it can be as quickly as a couple of hours or a whole day. It's always a gamble when using spray paint in Portland.

Next comes my least favorite part. I am a bit of a germ freak, so ripping off old fabric and seat cushions with stains and smells really grosses me out. I tend to do this part as fast as I can and not look too closely. Once all of the layers come off (which can be many sometimes), I have a nice solid wood seat to work with. I use 2” foam and cotton batting from the craft store to make nice thick and cushy seats. I throw the wood seat on top of the foam and trace the shape on to the foam with a marker. Cutting the foam is actually really easy. You just need a serrated knife and you cut it like a loaf of bread. If you don't get a super clean cut, it's not the end of the world. The batting will help cover up any small snafus you may have with the serrated knife. I use just a smidge of spray glue to attach the foam and then wrap that in the batting and staple it to the back.

Once the cushions are secure and the glue has dried, I start upholstering that bad boy. The best way to do this is to have lots of staples on hand, safety glasses and your patience in check. You want to make sure the corners are tight and the fabric is taut. It needs to have enough give to move when it's being sat on and still maintain a nice shape when not in use. A couple of things to think about when selecting your material, if you aren't familiar with upholstering, chose a fabric that is solid. Patterns have to being lined up perfectly to avoid it looking off. You also want to get a sturdy and thick fabric. Check the upholstery/home decor section of your local fabric store.

Simple, inexpensive and now I have kitchen chairs that are exactly what I want. Upcycling is what all the cool kids are doing. Get into it.


No comments: