Around the House: Finally Re-finished

After seeing Sherry’s post a few days ago about refinishing the rocking chair she’s had sitting around for 9 months, I felt both shame and inspiration. You see, I also have a chair I’ve been putting off finishing for well, let’s just say it’s been longer than 9 months. And it’s not even as complicated as the double-sided rocker she tackled. Just a plain old side chair that I bought at Goodwill for $8 a long time ago and got about halfway finished with before I became overwhelmed by fabric choices and banished it to the corner until further notice. It was so far from my mind that I didn’t even include it on my recent list of unfinished projects!

I wish I could show you a true ‘before’ picture, but unfortunately the only ones I have are on my old cell phone and I have yet to figure out how to get them off of there. (That is how long ago I purchased this chair.) So you’ll have to rely on my descriptive skills to get a picture in your mind.

Picture this:
Like I said, it was an $8 thrift store find and I couldn’t pass it up, as ugly as it looked back then. The chair was a light oak that was extremely scratched and scuffed up and covered in cobwebs. If I’m remembering correctly, the seat was covered in a blue (or maybe green?) crushed velvet fabric. It’s hard to say exactly, because there were so many layers of different fabrics once I started taking it apart, that they all blend together in my memory. There was even a layer of leather in there somewhere. What a life this chair must have had! What I do remember is that it was stained and showing a lot of wear.

I had been casually looking for a small chair for our master bedroom for a while, and this one seemed perfect. It wasn’t until I got it home and started pulling apart the fabric that I realized that the support board was completely rotten and some of the 12 (literally 12) layers of fabric it had been recovered with over the years, appeared to be moldy. Ew! So I threw the whole seat part away and decided I’d have to start from scratch. Which meant purchasing foam for the seat and a new support board. I also painted the chair white. I wasn’t sure what fabric I was going to use yet, but I thought that white would be crisp and clean and match the dressers in our room nicely. But that is where I stalled out. I looked online for weeks for the perfect fabric, but I couldn’t find anything I loved. I searched Hobby Lobby and Micheal’s to no avail. In my mind, I pictured a striped fabric. Maybe something with gray and plum, but I couldn’t find the perfect one anywhere! So I did what I always do when something frustrates me. I put it out of my mind.

And here’s how it’s looked for the past 9+ months (ok maybe closer to a year or so). Which is already 20x better than it looked when I bought it, FYI.

Yes that’s another unfinished project laying on top of the unfinished chair (a ceiling fan that needs to be wired). And a television wire in the background that still needs to be hidden. My unfinished projects are taking over! And ok, if I’m being completely honest, it really usually looks like this:

But after my little blogesphere kick in the shorts, I decided it was high time to pull it out and finish it up. So Friday, on my day off, I headed to JoAnn Fabrics to find the rest of the supplies I needed. I already had the support board and foam seat, so picked up some cotton batting and started hard-core fabric shopping. I was still thinking gray stripes, but couldn’t find anything close to what I needed, so when I saw a couple other options, I had to rethink my whole plan.

These were the two options I debated between for a while in the aisle at Jo Ann’s. They are both from the Dwell Studio for Robert Allen collection. I also saw a couple more fabrics in that collection that would make some gorgeous pillows if I ever get my sewing machine (birthday hint hub!).

In the end I decided on the brighter birdie fabric. I love furniture upholstered in loud patterns and our room is so white, it could use a shot of color. Plus I love the plum and yellow combo and thought it would be a nice jumping off point to add a third color into our master bedroom.

So with that decision made, I headed home to get to work. With just one more small pit stop on the way. Since selecting the fabric, it occurred to me that maybe the bright white I had already painted my chair wasn’t the best compliment to it after all. No biggie though. It was already painted, which meant no sanding necessary. So I just took another page from Sherry’s book and picked up a couple cans of Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint at Lowes.

This was a first for me, as I’ve never tried ORB before, but I gave it a whirl and let me tell you, I’m a huge fan!! After just one coat the color and coverage were amazing (I ended up doing two coats just to be sure there were no thin spots) and I’m hooked. Like, I’m already looking for other items to paint, hooked.

Anyway, back to the chair, here’s a before an after spray job with a couple close-ups to really see that baby glimmer in the sun.

Once it was painted, I had the hub trim down the support board to fit the seat, while I cut down my foam cushion. Then I covered the whole thing in cotton batting. This does a few things. First, it keeps any sharp edges from the wood from snagging or tearing the fabric. It also adds an extra layer of softness and makes the fabric seem extra thick and professional when it’s all finished off. Not to mention that it helps hold it all together nicely during the fabric wrapping stage. A few staples was all it took. Thanks to Brett scoring me this handy staple gun on his last trip to Arkansas (so much goodness in our home comes from Arkansas! Hand-me-downs are the best.), it was a quick and painless process.

Don’t mind the teething ring in the background of that photo. All Vera’s were properly supervised and kept far away from the staple gun and scissors during this process!

Then the fun part. Ok it’s all fun, but the final step is always the most fun! Because of the pattern on my fabric, I had to make sure it lined up exactly where I wanted before stapling. Then I just pulled the fabric tight (but not too tight or it will smoosh the foam and cause weird bunches) and put one staple in the middle of each side. I did try to make sure it was positioned correctly and the pattern wouldn’t get off as I worked my way around. Also to make sure it wasn’t to tight or too loose.

From there I just worked my way around the bottom with my staple gun. Luckily this is a side no one will ever see, so I didn’t worry about making it pretty, or trimming down the extra fabric. When I got to the corners, I just folded them down like I was wrapping a present. It was a little tricky with the angle of the seat, but I just made sure the folded edges faced the sides and not the front and that they were as smooth as possible. (I actually might still break out the iron to give the seams an extra crisp edge.) Then it was just a matter of screwing the new seat back onto the chair and presto!! Here’s the finished chair:

Not bad for a one day project. I don’t know why I put it off for so long!! Man, this would have really helped in the putting-shoes-on department when I was pregnant. Now that we can actually use it, maybe it won’t just be a place to store laundry. Maybe. :)

Here’s a breakdown of the sources and cost of this project (prices are rounded):

Chair- Goodwill $8
Support Board- Lowes $3
Cushion- Hobby Lobby $7 (40% off)
Batting- Jo Ann Fabrics $8
Fabric- Jo Ann Fabrics $25 (40% off)
ORB Spray Paint- Lowes $10 (two cans)
Total – $61

I probably could have done it for less if I’d purchased less expensive fabric, but call it a splurge. Plus I have some left over to make a couple of matching pillows for our bed (once I get my sewing machine.. hint hint). All in all, not bad at all. And it was a fun project!

Here’s a final comparison shot, just to save you some scrolling back to the top.

Have any cool projects you wish you’d have finished sooner? Show me, show me!


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