Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekend Project - Refurbish an Old Chair

I found this Mid-century modern chair at a thrift store and purchased it for about 7 bucks - great steal I know! Structurally it was in great shape - very sturdy, no chips in the wood, etc. Appearance wise it wasn't in such great shape. It was covered in an ugly orange (almost day-glow as I'm sure you can tell by the picture!) velour fabric with stains. Trust me, the photo makes it look waaaay better than how it actually looked in person.

The first thing I did was remove the cushions and sand the entire frame using a fine sand paper. Luckily, the previous finish was so old it flaked right off. It was the easiest thing I have EVER sanded.

Next I treated the wood with a wood conditioner to get it ready to stain. Once that set in it was time for the stain. I selected a slightly darker color than the original color. The name of the stain was "dark walnut." Using a rag I dipped a corner of it into the stain and massaged it into the wood. Staining is always done much easier with a rag than with a brush because you have more control using your hands and its less likely to create bubbles in the finish. However, when using a rag make sure you wear gloves....and thick rubber gloves work best. I wore surgical latex gloves and had to changed them several times because the chemicals ate through the latex creating holes which then stained my fingers and fingernails. Walking around with "dark walnut" cuticles for a week isn't very attractive.

I did 3 coats of the stain and then touched up some of the lighter areas in the wood to get as even of a finish as I could. Once that sat for a day I put on the top coat of a clear polyurethane. I did 2 coats of the satin polyurethane to give it a nice even sheen.

Next up is the cushions. Luckily, the cushions were in good shape. The inside cotton batting was almost perfect so I didn't have to worry about rewrapping the springs. They also didn't smell or anything like that - hey, with thrift store finds you don't know where they may have come from!

The fabric I selected is by Robert Allen and is called Ming Fret in taupe. The fabric was the most expensive part of redoing the chair since the fabric retails at $75 /yd - but you can get an awesome price on it here!

Brian's mom did all the sewing (she's awesome! :) for the cushions and added the cording (previously there was none) as well as zippers so that the covers are removable.

Glad to have this amazing chair refinished and currently sitting in my living room - it seems to travel from room to room a lot because it pretty much looks good anywhere. For a total cost of about $90 for everything, this was a great project.


  1. i LOVE this!! I have a big obsession with mid-century modern furniture. Can't get enough of it. Great job!