Every year around this time, I make a list of 20 things I want to accomplish in course of summer, and, of course, I usually complete about 10. Yes sir, overachiever, right here!
There is one item that has been on my list since 2004 and has never reached the summit: Reupholstering.
I have two side chairs that came to me 100% free and 200% ugly. Both are arm chairs, great lines, groan-inducing comfortable. Since paying someone else to reupholster is just about as expensive as purchasing new chairs, I have waffled between the two options for years, making up the difference in decorative throw blankets. I have now concluded that this is the summer, THIS SUMMER, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I am going to reupholster them myself. If it doesn’t work out, so be it, I can say I tried and won’t feel guilty for buying a new one.
Before I embark on this epic journey with my trusty steed, Thy Staple Gun, I decided to break in my upholstery skills with some basic projects. Namely, chair covers.
I bought this corner chair at the Salvation Army for $13. It reminds me of one I saw at Monticello so I dubbed it the Jefferson chair. It looks weird but it’s insanely comfortable. It has straight lines and a small footprint like a dining chair, but the arm rests are made in a way that allows for lounging like an arm chair. Plus, this ain’t something you can buy at Home Goods, you know? Initially I thought I would refinish it but when I took it apart I could see that this was not a professional piece but someone’s garage born wood working project. Even better! It’s hella sturdy and I love it as is, wood glue warts and all. Just a light cleaning and linseed oil was all it needed. The cushion though, needed some work. I have a weird fetish for pine and polka dots (don’t ask), so this black and white thing just needed to happen. I am addicted to well-balanced yet non-symmetrical polka dots (again, don’t ask).
Weekend Project 2: Kiki’s Dining Room Chairs
|This one has been in the works for over a year. Shows you my profound talent for procrastination!|
My friend Kiki inherited the most gorgeous dining table for her Grandma Lucile (yes, the same Grandma Lucile of Beer Can Alligator fame). The table is the perfect size and shape for her dining room and comfortably seats 8 people without even adding a leaf. The wood is in near-perfect condition but the chairs, oh my, were covered in double laminated pus-colored oil cloth. The bumpy kind. Not cute. Luckily, a year ago, my friend Ann sent me a giant box of fabric, including this gorgeous floral and paisley one. Not only do the colors pick up the wood grain and look great in the room, the fabric is hefty enough to hold up to spot cleaning (if needed) and light weight enough that I could stretch it over the seats nice and tight. Also, and this is most important, Kiki’s kitty Tzeitel looks really good on them.
|“Thanks Ann!” –Tzeitel|
Problem with doing a big set of dining chairs is you get a bit sloppy half way through. By the time I got to chair #4 I miscalculated the staple position and it ricocheted off the table and into my eye. “BLACKHAWK DOWN,” I cried to no one in particular, “BLACKHAWK DOWN!”
Turns out the staple got caught on my eyelashes. My big honking, dipped-in-tar style mascara lashes saved my life. Okay, not my life, they saved my eye. But the lesson is to always wear mascara AND safety goggles. Or if you don’t have safety goggles (like, ahem, me) at least wear sunglasses. Even if it’s indoors. You will look like an asshat, but better a two eyed asshat than a one eyed idiot.
You can’t get that kind of wisdom in a book, y’all.
I’m still nervous about taking on the arms chairs, but I will suck it up and have some courage. If by chance anyone in the Chicago area has experience with an upholsterer at a good price, leave their name and # in the comments, wouldya?
And for everyone who wants to try at home, this is a nice one.
Next warm up: Lampshades. Get excited people!