Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Recovering and Restoring Dining Room Chairs on a budget

I thought I would do a full step by step picture guide to recovering dining room chairs. It's a really cost effective way to get something which not only looks good but is comfortable too.

I warn you now though, it is very time consuming.

Here's an action shot to get started!

This is what the chairs looked like before. They cost me £16 for 6 of them from an auction. They were in pretty good condition but were really quite ugly. I liked the arch at the top because my dining room has arches in and I thought they would echo the shape and look like they belonged. They did come with a table too but as I didn't want it, I gave it away. Which is fine, but more hassle.
First of all, I removed all the seat pads, which were simply screwed in underneath. Then I sanded three of them and my husband sanded the other three. This was a great help as sanding is my least favourite job.

I used a P120 paper which is quite fine, as I really just needed a 'key' (slightly rough surface) for the paint to stick to. There weren't any lumps or bumps to smooth out.

This is a close up of how they looked after sanding.

This is my measure of time in the Stable. I have a clock but usually don't look at it as I get engrossed in what I am doing. So the sanding took one album, in this case one Ladyhawke, or about 45 minutes.

I then cleaned them with hot soapy water and began to paint. I used an angled brush as there were a lot of fiddly bits on the chairs.

I was worried I wouldn't have enough paint and then I spilt some but actually it did not take much. I find two thinner coats is the best option. The paint is Carbon Blue from Fired Earth. It smells a little strange but it's water based, low toxic and the colours are soo-beautiful. It also gives really good coverage.

After each bit has had ten minutes to dry a little, I usually go back over with the brush carefully and very gently to make sure there are no drip marks. It took me a while but I got a bit of a system in place. Paint the front, then the side, then go back over the front, then move to the back and then go back over the side and so on and so on. Few more Ladyhawkes later...
Each chair took on average 30 minutes per coat. So that's about 6 hours worth of painting in total. I did three at a time beacuse of space constraints and waited for each coat to dry overnight.
Here is the second lot. I'm starting to love them.

Then I moved on to the seats. I've done lots of painting but have maybe only recovered about 10 items in my life so this is the hard part for me. Practice makes perfect and all, but it's not something I get to practice a lot.
The seats were pretty hard, and I want comfort. So I looked into buying foam. The cheapest option seemed to be to get a single mattress memory foam topper and then cut it up myself. Total cost £23.

Hmmm, cutting it up was actually really difficult. Maybe I should have bought some cut to size! This probably took me about two hours just to cut out 6 pieces of foam.
Then it was onto the fun bit - fabric!
I didn't decide on the blue colour until I picked the fabric and I love this world map pattern. It's fairly well patterned so should hide general wear and tear, but it means that someone gets to sit on Brazil, someone on Europe, someone on Africa. How great is that?
The fabric was £12.50 a metre and I bought 2.5 metres for £31.25. This was only just enough given the pattern. I wish I'd bought three metres to have some spare but I made it, just.

I did spend a lot of time laying out the pieces, taking to heart the old adage - measure twice, cut once.

If you are about to do this kind of project youself - It looks really crumpled here but don't worry. You'll be pulling it tight in no time so no need to iron.

Here you can see the amount of extra padding the memory foam added. It's important to measure the fabric and include for this.
It also brings it home how much better they are going to look too which is a welcome boost in the middle of a I-thought-it-would-be-much-quicker-and-easier-than-this project.

It was very nice working on the fabric though and dreaming of future vists to Indonesia, India, Mexico and all the other places I really want to visit.
So, once it was all laid out it was time to get out the staple gun. Start with the middle staple of the front, then middle of the back and then the two sides. So you have four staples and they are in an approximate cross shape.

Make sure you don't cover the holes you will use to attach them back to the chairs. I have made this mistake before.

I watched some youtube tutorials (like always) and I tried to make invisible corners. I actually tried about 6 times and had to keep unpicking the corner. My fabric was in danger of becoming so frayed it would be unusable.
I have made lovely corners in the past but I've never recovered anything this thick before. In the end (about three hours later - sad-face) I gave up and went for neatly folded corners. Like you would get on a nicely-wrapped-gift, i.e. not one wrapped by yours-truly.
Wrapping presents. It's a skill I do not have. I think it's something to do with patience.

So here they are. Not as perfect as I'd like but a massive improvement and comfortable. So far everyone who has seen them has been very complimentary and no one has noticed the corners until I have pointed them out.

I must stop doing this. Note to self: Just say thanks. Don't say, but look at these corners.

I think the fabric is fairly hardwearing but not teenage-boy-hardwearing. So I bought this fabric protector which was £10. It's called PROFAB and is a "fabric and surface protector" which creates "an invisible polymer shield against oil and water based stains". I hope it works, but the fabric still feels soft so it's ok by me. I did test it on a piece of scrap fabric before using it on my newly covered chairs. I then had to wait overnight for them to dry. I used about two-thirds of it on the 6 chairs.

And here we have the finished items.
I should mention we have added felt pads to the feet so they don't scratch the painted floor. These were about £16 but I do have some leftover. I've used the self adhesive ones in the past but they just stick to all the hair and dust too and I think it looks like you have mini dead rats on the bottom of your chairs - which isn't a good look. So these are the screw in type with zero-stickiness (strangely not advertised in this way). They've only been finished for about 5 days but so far it's promising. No miniature dead rodents in sight!

Oh I do love them. I think they come in at around £16 per chair, plus labour, which would be a lot. Still the chairs I loved, ready made, were £170 each, so that's a massive saving. It's almost a mini-European-city-break-saving. Which is my cost measurement. Time = Music, Money = Holidays. I'm not the only one right?
Also, kudos - I finished a project from my list.
But, kinda added a new one. Anyone know any good ideas for random shapes of memory foam that seem a waste to throw away?