Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY: Vintage Cane Back Barrel Chair Makeover


I completed this project several months ago after going on the hunt for a chair to add to my master bedroom. I never came across a chair that fit our color scheme, so I decided to find my own re-upholstery project on Craigslist.


This chair fit the bill, and for $30, was quite the steal. Naming this project "Super Ugly Chair" seemed entirely fitting at the time, complete with its bright 70's orange velour fabric. The owner also had dogs, golden retrievers to be exact, and I could tell from the smell that they must have loved sleeping on it. None of that mattered, of course, because this chair was about to receive a total makeover.

There are two parts to a project like this. The first is rather simple and involves priming and painting the wood and cane portion of the chair. The second involves new upholstery fabric and attaching it to the chair.

The first step in re-upholstering a chair of this type is dismantling it. The seat bottom had to come off first and that was achieved by flipping it over and removing the square head screws that had become firmly lodged into the wood over time. With a bit of muscle power I finally had the seat bottom off and could begin the task of removing the old, worn out upholstery.

Lots of staple removal followed in order to remove the upholstery fabric from the wood base. For this particular chair, there were several layers between the spring base that you see and the fabric. Because I was planning to make an entirely new cover, I carefully removed all of the old fabric, foam, and batting and saved it as a template for my new materials. This chair also had piping so I saved that as well.

Once the seat bottom was removed and dismantled, I went to work removing the seat back. The seat back had a groove for the piping to be stapled into, so I carefully removed it with needle nose pliers (a necessity for the 100's of staples I removed) and pulled the upholstery fabric away. Underneath was a layer of foam, a piece of firm cardboard, batting, and another layer of fabric. I saved everything for template making later on.

Once all of the upholstery was removed, I gave the chair a very thorough cleaning. It had A LOT of furniture polish buildup that needed to be removed before sanding. This is one of those times where you want to go to your local chain home improvement store and buy the industrial strength goo and grime remover, otherwise it can clog up your sander and make refinishing the wood a real pain.

I followed my typical routine of sanding with 80 grit sandpaper on my palm sander to remove the old finish and followed up with 180 grit to smooth down the wood in preparation for priming. Don't forget the face mask, several decade's worth of who knows what is being turned into microscopic particles.

I decided to use spray paint for this project and went with Rust-Oleum white primer. If you go with a spray paint and haven't applied it to furniture before, shake the can really well and opt for warmer temperatures in a well ventilated area because it will spray on easier. Wear gloves and a mask and take your time applying a thin coat in a steady, sweeping motion back and forth across the piece at the recommended distance on the can. I applied one coat and sanded lightly before applying two coats of Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch in Heirloom White. I opted for the satin finish and really fell in love with this color because it's so versatile for just about any interior style. Use an angled sanding block in between coats of paint to remove any drips or imperfections. I used a finishing coat of Minwax Polycrylic in satin finish. I use this sealant most often because it's low odor, dries quickly, and won't yellow on lighter colored paint. 

Can you believe how different it looked already? It's amazing what a new coat of paint can do for a piece of furniture, isn't it?

Now that the wood portion of the chair was finished, it was time to tackle the upholstery. I planned to replace all of the old foam and batting in the seat cushions, so I headed to Joann and picked up two 22x22x2 inch packages of Nufoam for the seat bottom and one package of the 22x22x2 for the seat back, a roll of 100% polyester batting, spray adhesive for making the bottom cushion, cotton piping, a zipper for the bottom cushion, and about 6 yards of heavier weight upholstery fabric (three kid proof). I also used a heavy duty staple gun and glue gun for re-attaching the upholstery.

For the seat bottom, I used a seam ripper to disassemble the seat cushion and used the old pieces as a tracing template on the new fabric. I recommend taking pictures of the process and marking your pieces so you can reference it during reassembly. Also make a note of your seam allowance and make any adjustments if necessary. I use a rotary cutter for quicker cutting of my fabric pieces. I didn't have a pattern for this but assembly for the bottom cushion cover is pretty self-explanatory. You can use a straight stitch in conjunction with a zig-zag stitch for stronger seams or use a serger.

For piping, I measured the length of the old piping and cut a long, rectangular piece of fabric to match. I laid the piping in the middle of the wrong side of the fabric and folded the fabric in half. I did a straight stitch down the long, open side as close to the piping as possible by moving the needle to the farthest outer position. You can straight stitch back and forth over both ends to secure it. I glued the two pieces of 22x22x2 Nufoam together with spray adhesive and used a bread knife to cut it into the same shape as the old cushion.



I followed the same method for the seat back and traced the old upholstery pieces onto my new fabric. Because the chair has an open back, the back fabric needed to be stapled on first. I stapled into the original groove in the chair that I had previously removed staples from and started from the middle and worked my way out, stretching the fabric as I went. Next came a piece of batting, a piece of firm cardboard cut to fit the dimensions of the back, and the remaining piece of  22x22x2 inch Nufoam cut to size. I needed an extra set of hands for stapling the final piece of fabric down and pulling it tight enough, and followed the same process of working from the middle to the outer corners. The seat bottom had its fabric re-attached in a similar fashion.




The seat back piping helps cover up the staples and raw edge of the fabric. I applied hot glue into the groove in the seat back and pressed the raw fabric edge of the piping into it. The ends of the piping would be stapled underneath the seat bottom once it was re-attached with new screws.










And there you have it! A $30 Craigslist find turned into a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture!



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17 comments:

  1. What an amazing transformation! I'm really loving yellow/grey/black combos right now. So pretty and you did such a great job!

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    1. Isn't it a great color combo? Thanks so much!

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  2. Wow! Fantastic job, Katie. You make me want to find a chair like that. It's amazing what paint and a cute fabric can do. Thanks for visiting me and commenting at OneCreativeMommy.com. I'd love it if you shared this at my next linky party (opens Thursday night).

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    1. You're very welcome and thank you! I'll head over tonight :-)

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  3. Great transformation! Newest follower... would love for you to follow back @ toddlindsey.com

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  4. Wow! is all I can say! I love that fabric and it makes me want to see your bedroom too. I will never look at an old ugly chair the same again. Bookmarking for when I find my own old chair...better yet, I will Pin it. Here from Handy Man Crafty Woman. Following too :)

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    1. Definitely one of my favorite pieces of furniture, one of these days I'll have to do a bedroom tour. Thanks so much, Connie!

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  5. Beautiful makeover on your chair! Your fabric is so fun and pretty, too. What a great piece to add to a room!

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  6. Wow! It is gorgeous! Love the fabric selection! I have a chair very similar to this that is in desperate need of a makeover! Totally pinning this to guide me through! Thanks for all the great info!

    Jenna @ http://rainonatinroof.com

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    1. Thanks, Jenna! I hope you'll share pictures of your chair makeover once it's complete! Going to follow you, as well!

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  7. Oh my goodness, that looks fantastic!! It turned out so well! I haven't had the nerve to try reupholstering anything yet. Someday!

    ~Angela~

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    1. Thank you, Angela! You should definitely give it a shot!

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  8. You did an amazing job!! I think it looks great! I am a new follower from Tatertots and Jello! I hope you have a great week!
    Michelle
    www.delicateconstruction.com

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! I'll be following you back. Have a wonderful week!

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  9. Wow, Katie!! What a difference, this looks amazing! Love the fabric you chose and the white! Would love for you to share at the party tonight! xo bridgett

    http://www.osiemoats.com/2012/07/thursday-linky-party-1.html

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