Funky little chair makeover and a few upholstery tips....

Another auction buy that languished in the garage for months until I pulled it out and thought..."Hum, I kinda think that is cool!"

It may not LOOK cool, but it is a funky little chair...and I like "different." Not really my style (Hollywood Regency maybe?) but since my style is "eclectic," I can find a place for it! 

I'm not sure exactly what wood it is...my guess is walnut. But the finish was the typical dark stain with black flecks I see on a lot on furniture from the 70's...not really attractive...

 

After I stripped all the old fabric, I used my 1/2 and 1/2 mixture and stripping process to strip the old finish and stain...then I applied 4 coats of tung oil finish (no stain)! I like the warmth of natural wood.

As always, if one comes in, one must go out. So this little chair in my office was moved upstairs into the guest room until I have room in my space at 410 Vintage! I bought it 25 years ago at an estate auction and it was my first real reupholstery project.

Fabric is always a tough one for me...maybe because I know how hard it is to reupholster a piece and I don't want to do something I will tire of and have to redo. I found several fabrics I thought I might like, brought samples home and did what I always do...stare at it for a few days. In the end I went with this fun but somewhat conservative "geo" pattern...I like that it is relatively neutral and could be spiced up with a pillow or throw...

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And spice it I did. When I was looking at fabrics I found an awesome pink velvet. I was briefly tempted to cover the chair in the fabric but I knew it would be a "fad color" I would later regret. But I couldn't stop obsessing over the pink so I decided to find a pink accent pillow.

Naturally, I couldn't find a pillow I like so I ended up buying a little bit of the pink velvet and made a little pillow. Instead of cording, I decided to go with tassels on the corners but couldn't find any I liked...so I made little "tufts" out of feather cording...just too stinking cute!

A simple but fun little detail that brings in the pink I was drooling over without the huge commitment of covering an entire chair in it! I would advise taking this approach on all "big ticket items." Couches, chairs, bedding...keep them neutral and add the "fad" details and colors with pillows, throws, curtains and rugs...accents that are relatively inexpensive to change out when the color falls out of favor in a few short years!

By the way, you may have noticed I changed the curtain...I went with white just to lighten the corner a bit!

I could never post a good tutorial on how to upholstery YOUR piece of furniture...there are so many great video tutorials online for just about any style of chair/couch/ottoman/etc and I strongly suggest you do a lot of research before you start your project. Find a tutorial that best suits YOUR needs.

I will share a few tips that will make your job a tad easier. It doesn't matter if you are recovering a chair or couch or ottoman...these rules apply!

First, learn to sew. Every DIYer should know how to use a sewing machine if for no other reason than to sew pillows or curtains or do basic upholstery or even hem a pair of pants. If you don't know how to sew a straight stitch, learn! I was fortunate that my mother made me take sewing lessons when I was young but I know a lot of local county extensions and hobby stores offer cheap (if not FREE) lessons! Take them...learn! And don't think you need an expensive sewing machine...I have a basic cheap machine that is at least 30 years old! 

Start simple. Before you tackle an heirloom wingback chair with expensive fabric, try something simple like this ottoman....

The drop cloth material I used was relatively inexpensive and super easy to sew. And I used a premade bias tape for the cording.

Take your time! I always think a project will take a lot less time than it actually does...so know that reupholstering anything isn't a "rainy day project!" Maybe a rainy WEEK...but deconstructing alone will take time and a lot of patience and you want to do it right!

Take LOTS of pictures while you deconstruct! Just snap random pictures as you strip the piece. If you are like me you THINK you will remember, but you won't...and you will find yourself sitting there wishing you knew how in the world it was originally put together. So take pictures!

It is always good to have a visual reference!

TRY to keep the pieces of the old upholstery intact so you can use them as a pattern for the new. If the old is really stinky and ewwwy, make a "pattern" with them out of butcher block paper or old newspaper. Make sure you label each pattern piece or old fabric so you know where it goes! And keep in mind that the fabric you remove has been trimmed...so add a few inches on each side of the piece...you can always trim after it is attached!

If you are going to strip and stain or paint, do it after you strip the old upholstery but before the new! 

Take time to make repairs! Make any repairs that need to be made BEFORE you start painting/stripping/staining and reupholstering! Do not spend the time and money reupholstering a chair if it wobbles or needs new strapping. If you don't know how to repair something property, Google it! Or email me! And remember, glue and clamps are your friend...not silicone, not sheetrock screws, not nails. Do it right or you are wasting your time!!!

Remove ALL the old upholstery nails and staples...all of them. And honestly, I have bought every tool on the market to make the job easier and I always revert back to a plain ole' flat screw driver, a hammer and a pair of good needle nose pliers!

Which reminds me...wear shoes! I don't care how careful you are, those nails and staples fly all over the place and you WILL find them with your bare feet!

Speaking of tools, I think I have tried every electric and manual stapler on the market. I have found that MOST will not set a staple flush or securely. So now I use a pneumatic stapler, similar to this one.  Best. Stapler. Ever!!!!  But word of warning...don't make a mistake and don't plan on recovering the piece any time soon because those staples aren't coming out!

Alway cover old batting with new. Even if the old batting seems to be in good condition, cover it with new batting. Always! If it has old horse hair stuffing replace it...if it has old "strapping," now is the time to replace it!!! On a few chairs, I have actually stripped everything down to the bare wooden bones and added new everything. Trust me, that is better than getting it all back together and discovering that the seat still sags or is lumpy and it smells!

Buy enough material! When you buy material make sure you account for any piping (welt cording) you might have to make. You can buy premade cording, but if you are going to make it out of the upholstery fabric it MUST be cut on the bias...in other words, diagonal across the fabric. To give you an example, on this little chair, I needed less than two yards for the seat and back, but I needed another yard just so I would have enough to make the welting. Again, google welt cording/piping and you will find great tutorials that will show you exactly how to make it. 

Make sure you have enough fabric to complete the project before you start. Lay ALL your "pattern pieces" out on the fabric and account for the welting before you start cutting. Nothing is worse than getting half way through the project only to discover you don't have enough fabric...and you bought the last bit of it! If all else fails you can always use two different fabrics on the project like I did on these little tuffets...but PLAN for it!

 

Google, google, google. I learned a lot at the elbow of my dad but today we have the world at our finger tips and you can find a good tutorial for just about any project...even upholstering furniture! I always advise watching as many tutorials as you can find and use the one that makes the most sense to you and your project! Watching DIY tutorials is also a great way to decide if you even want to tackle the project...advisable before you buy a wingback chair at a garage sale for $20 with the intent of "learning to upholstery!" 

Until next week when I hope to share Matt's entry makeover...