Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Chairs That Almost Weren't (How to Upholster Broken Caning)

So...hello again everyone! Still here. Although I'm not sure if my other half is coming back, one of my New Years Resolutions is to try and blog more. My goal is once a week so we will see!

This wonderful story you're about to hear took place back in about July. Abigail and I were driving home from a bridal shower and we decided to stop at a yard sale. They were wrapping it up and had 4 SUPER crappy looking chairs for sale for $10. For me, the worse something looks, the better the challenge is so I was all in! (In reality, I was only mentally invested because Abigail was the one who put up the capital since I had forgotten my money :) ) 

Anyway…when we got home, the situation at our house was something like this: Abigail's stuff was EVERYWHERE. She had shower presents that filled the finished part of the basement and all her furniture was in the unfinished part of the basement, slowly encroaching on my Dad's work space. So clearly, tensions were running high and the obvious first item to go would be Katie's junky chairs.

I don't actually think my mom would have thrown the chairs out without my consent but she threatened to for a few weeks until one night at dinner I finally said fine! throw them out.

As fate would have it, Tori, one of Abigail's bridesmaids, was over that night to help with programs. She saw the chairs and said she would buy them if I refinished them. So the chairs were saved from a sad dumpster fate. 

To start out, almost all the caning on the backs were broken and one of the seats had been broken through as well. 

I knew the caning would have to go but luckily my grandma had a friend who graciously cut me a new seat!

I started by making my own black chalk paint (you can find the recipe here!). I very lightly sanded the parts of the chair that were super beaten up but generally left most of the dings. I painted the chairs (it only took 2 coats of black), lightly distressed them with fine grit sand paper, and waxed them (I used Annie Sloan wax for these but you can use this wax as well!). When I distressed the chairs, I tried to distress them where the dings were so they would look older!

After that, I addressed the caning. It could not be salvaged so my options were either recaning them or upholstering them. I chose the latter. I started out by fitting a piece of foam core in the back behind the caning. It fit pretty snugly but I used E6000 glue (LOVE this stuff) to glue some of the broken parts to the foam core.

Next, I cut my foam to fit the front and the back (I believe it was 3/4" foam for the back and 1/4" for the front - both from Jo Ann's). I used spray adhesive on the foam then stuck it where I wanted it (make sure to only use spray adhesive outside!). The spray adhesive held the foam in place so I could upholster over it. 

I cut the fabric (which was a bleached drop cloth - you can find a tutorial on how to do it here) generally the right size and stapled it into place, starting top middle then bottom middle, then left, then right so it was all taut then worked to the edges. (Sidenote: please enjoy the conversation that ensued as I'm a terrible speller and blanked on how to spell "taut"  meaning "pulled tightly")

And back to the I tried to keep the staples in a straight line because then I covered them with trim when I finished. The trim was just from Hobby Lobby and when I trimmed back the fabric I first tried to use small scissors but that was really tedious so I found that carefully using my rotary blade next to the staples worked best. 

I also forgot to mention my favorite part - the backs of the chairs. Luckily Tori was super game to my ideas and let me use an old coffee sack as an accent. Heine Brothers occasionally sells their coffee sacks and the money goes to a women's shelter. The last one they had has hot pink writing and it was PERFECT for this project. I just washed it in the washing machine and let it lay flat to dry and it was good to go.

So there you have it. The extremely long (sorry!) epic saga of my rescue of some yard sale chairs. I've mentioned it before, but every time it feels like I'm rescuing and rehabilitating a puppy and I love sending it off to a good home :)

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