Jan 26, 2014

Trash to Treasure

My trash-to-treasure transformation is finally complete.  I have new living room chairs!

Back in November I happened to drive by a yard sale and bought two great/ugly chairs for five bucks.  I made the purchase on a day when I thought I could do anything, so the thought of reupholstering them didn't phase me.  Plus, I have wanted chairs for the living room for ages, and this seemed like a financially realistic way to achieve that dream.  I immediately set about finding an online tutorial (here) and began stripping the old fabric from the chairs.

{Insert a sigh of realism.}

The stripping process took  Seriously.  Hour after tedious hour of prying up hundreds (not kidding) of thick staples pounded into several layers of fabric made me realize why it costs so much to have things professionally reupholstered.  Garry helped with the backs of the chairs, which were especially difficult.  We both had cramped and bruised hands after working so hard.  The whole process was quite demoralizing, and I was quite sure I'd never finish.  It took about six weeks to finish stripping both chairs, mostly because I tabled the project during the Christmas season and just let the ugly mess sit in my living room.

During this time, one of my children (I'm not certain of the culprit but suspect Kate), tore lots of the stuffing off the barest chair (on the left).  It was a lumpy wreck.  At first I just put a blanket over it and ignored it.  Eventually I used a spray adhesive to smooth out the lumps, and then covered each chair's padded spots with a layer of batting.

Buying fabric was the fun part.  I hunted around town but ended up ordering samples and ultimately buying from this store.  After a little research on fabric durability, I learned the term "double rubs" and bought a fabric with a very durable double rub count (30,000).  This stuff had better last! I certainly paid more than I would have at a 50% off sale at JoAnn's.  I also bought some tack strips and cording.  After Christmas I mustered up the gumption to cut out the pieces (patterned from what I pulled off the old chairs) and make about 10 yards of new piping.

Then I cleaned and re-stained the wood frame.  I didn't sand all the wood or repair the broken parts.  I cheated and used vinegar and canola oil to clean it, and then a stain pen to cover all of the scratches and dents.  I think it looks great...well, good enough.

A week later, in my latest Letters post, I complained about this ridiculous, never-ending, overwhelming project, and my friend Sandy came to the rescue.  She offered to lend her experience and helping hands, so I finally got started with the re-covering process, which no longer seemed impossible. Armed with an air-compressed staple gun (power tools are fun), I made a lot of progress on the first day.  I made mistakes on the first chair that I did not make on the second chair, and there are things I'd do differently altogether, but I decided to embrace the imperfection.

On Friday Sandy came and helped me iron out some details that were vexing me and taught me how to assemble the back pieces.  That night Garry and I worked to finish the first chair, and on Saturday we finished the second one.  I love working with Garry on things like this.

After the chairs were done, it took hours for me to clean up the room, which had been Project Central for weeks, but now that everything is clean and in place, I an VERY happy!

So ends the Saga of the Purple Chairs.  Once again I have learned that I should not attempt such large projects, but that finishing them is incredibly satisfying.  I am so pleased to have extra seating in the living room, so if any of you want to come chat, I have a great place for you to sit!
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