Friday, May 6, 2011

diy: reupholstered dining chairs

There is something really fulfilling and comforting about having old furniture around. Take our 'new' dining chairs, which my family used for years before my parents upgraded their dining set and relegated these to the basement. They were the first dining chairs that my parents bought together in this country. Over 40 years later, Husband and I needed a proper set of chairs for our newly refinished street table, and we happily snagged these just before my parents were going to toss them.

Now, wicker/rattan isn't necessarily my favorite material, but it does add an interesting detail to the chair (and I feel like it's making a comeback...I've been seeing wicker furniture pop up in places like Restoration Hardware and ABC Home). Yes the vinyl (vinyl!!!) was all tore up. Yes the foam was nasty and flattened. But a dark espresso paint job, fresh foam and batting for the seats, and a modern, graphic fabric brought them out of the 70s and gave them new life! This project was a comedy of errors, but actually pretty simple if you learn from my mistakes.

* Spray primer (I used a brown primer from Rustoleum)
* Spray paint (Rustoleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover in Satin Espresso)
* Minwax wipe-on poly in Semi-Gloss
* Comfort spray grip for paint cans (an absolute $7 spent)
* 2'' foam for seats
* Dacron batting for seats
* Fabric (both fabrics were ordered from Etsy)
* Staple gun & lots of staples
* Spray adhesive

The painting itself was really simple. The coverage was superb...I did get a few drips here and there from spraying too much paint in one area, but it's hardly noticeable because of the dark paint color. I primed each chair with 1 coat of a brown primer. Next, I did 3-4 thin coats of paint on each chair (I flipped the chairs upside-down at first, and then sprayed the rest standing up). The trick is to start spraying just outside of the piece, use long even strokes, and hold the can about 6'' away. Several thin coats are better then less thick coats.

Blunder #1 - We were on a bit of a time crunch with these because my in-laws were visiting and we had a limited number on non-rainy, non-windy days. We attempted to do one of the chairs indoors. BIG mistake. Do. Not. Attempt. Despite covering as much as possible with dropcloths, the paint just traveled and settled everywhere. The apartment smelled like paint for days and days...even after airing things out with the windows open. Lesson learned, do this outdoors. Best type of day is between 60-70 degrees, sunny, and with little wind. Cover your workspace with a dropcloth and cardboard (because the area just underneath the chair will get coated in paint).

Blunder #2 - I bought several cans of Rustoleum clear coat, to use as a top coat on the chairs. I did 3 thin coats on top of the paint. Not more then a week later, and the paint was chipping off! It could be because I only did one coat of primer (the original chair had some sort of light finish). I went back and touched up the chips, then did 3 medium coats of my trusty Minwax Wipe-On Poly (previously discussed here). So far, so good, and the semi-gloss finish looks much better then the original Matte Clear coat.

The previous foam was glued onto the wood slip seat, so we first had to pry it off. I ordered new custom-cut foam from DIY Upholstery (great customer service and they have a bunch of really helpful videos on youtube). I used spray adhesive to glue the foam to the wood, then covered each seat with dacron (see this video for a helpful demonstration), leaving the dacron unstapled about 2'' from each corner. Next, I stapled the fabric to each seat. You'll see with the first fabric, I chose to center part of the design down each seat, so I had to do a little measuring. With the second fabric, I just had to make sure it was somewhat straight before stapling. The corners were super tricky for me (see this video for helpful tips, and also a separate post on the issue). Finally, we screwed each newly upholstered seat back onto the chair.

Blunder #3 - I searched high and low for a fabric that I liked. I had originally ordered fabric from West Elm, but they have a 3-4 week ship time after you order (no clue why...they don't tell you that on the order page). I also came to my senses and decided that $30 per yard for fabric was a wee bit high. So I cancelled that order and found the second fabric (Valori Wells Del Hi Tapestry fabric in Earth) on Etsy, liking the graphic floral print and muted colors. On my chairs, however, it just looked drab and kind of old-fashioned. Oops! I then found a simple gray lattice print (Premier Prints Gotcha fabric in Storm), for a fresh goes-with-everything modern look. It was also thicker then The Valori Wells (which is really more of a lightweight, crafting fabric, imo). Yes, I am an idiot for not just choosing it in the first place, and spending almost $20/yd in total. Live and learn, my friends.

Final #1

Final #2

COST BREAKDOWN (including mistakes):
* Chairs = Free!
* Primer = $3.97 (2 cans) = $7.94
* Spray paint = $3.97 (4 cans) = $15.88
* Clear coat (x cans) = $3.97 (3 cans) = $11.91
* Minwax clear poly = $7
* Comfort spray grip = $6.77
* Custom-cut 2'' foam (2.4 super density foam) = $23.00
* Dacron = $2.75/yd (4 yards) = $11.00
* Spray adhesive = Free (leftover from past projects)
* Fabric #1 = $8.00/yd (4 yards) = $32.00
* Fabric #2 = ($10.99/yd) (4 yards plus shipping) = $47.00

Total cost (with mistakes) = $162.50, Cost per chair = $40.63
Total cost (assuming no mistakes) = $118.59, Cost per chair = $29.65

I'm sure I could have done this all cheaper...used coupons for the spray paint, ordered the right fabric from the beginning, only purchased the wipe-on poly...but the cost/chair is still very very reasonable! And I think the final (final #2) results are fab!

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