28 October 2013

I got 4 brand new chairs...well...I made them brand new!

I never had an unfurnished place prior to my current flat. It is exciting to move into an empty place, there is so much room for creativity.

However the price tag of some “creativity” can be daunting.
I have wonderful friends and many helped me in many ways. Today I’ll describe mostly the story of these 4 dining chairs.

The chairs were bought at a charity sale in Nettlebed. Nettlebed is on the way to Reading in the UK and is a lovely place tucked away in the Berkshire forest. This charity sale if for the profit of the Sue Ryder hospice and actually happens on the hospice grounds. It buzzes with volunteers and shoppers. You’ll need to pay a very small fee of 50p to get to the ground, then the sky’s the limit. There is everything. I am not kidding, from tools to clothes to crockery to books to furniture… And so many opportunities to use objects differently that what they were initially intended for (honestly sometimes it is not always clear what was the initial use, yeah to creativity).

The intention for this visit was to buy chairs, 4 wooden dining chairs. I was lucky enough to be with a cabinet maker friend of mine to help me making sure I was purchasing sturdy chairs.

I fell in love with the one I bought for the wrong reasons: I really like the upholstery fabric.
It is the wrong reason since I know that fabric was likely to be close to its past date and fabric can be easily purchased at a low price, compared to the chairs. These also have a panel of marquetry.
A few repairs were needed which my friend Chris completed. Do have a look at his blog, he does wonderful things with wood.

The idea behind buying these sturdy chairs was to paint them a cream colour. I have to admit I was keen on a non-distressed shabby chic look.

These chairs have a removable sitting cushion. This meant sanding and reupholstering could happen the other way round. That was important since I didn't fancy sanding outside in the cold winter. Instead I could have fun with the electric staple gun, nice and warm.

Choose a good film, get the right pliers and take all those pesky staples out! Each chair had about 150. I thought I could do the same job with 50 only.
Once the fabric was removed, I washed it twice to remove all the stains. 
This is how it looks once the fabric is removed. I bought some wadding-like foam and re-padded some of the chairs.

Aligning the fabric and the padding to create that extra layer.

Ta daaaaaaaam. 4 chairs cleaned and reupholstered. 

Now that the summer had arrived, the sanding can commence. 
I first started by hand. Why bother? The varnish was so thick it bloated the paper within 3 strokes. I took the rotary sander out and borrowed a garden. 
I always wear a mask and clothes that I can trash for jobs like that. As much as possible with long sleeves and long legs. Next time I'll wear protective goggles too and I'm tempted to get a proper face mask. That fine sanded powder goes absolutely everywhere, I guess it goes also in my lungs.

One only really needs to create a rough surface to get the primer to stick. So no need to be perfect, my paint would cover it all after.

Now the priming can commence. I always winge before and during priming, however it is worth the time and effort. The final coats will go on so much better and cover up the whole object instead of darker patches showing through. This time I nailed in a long nail under each leg to prime also the feet.

Back to the borrowed garden a few weeks later for the painting.
Choosing the right paint was not easy. I wanted gloss and knew for a fact that applying gloss with a brush without creating streaks is extremely difficult. A chair is made of a lot of panels of woods and managing the corners of each of these panels would be hit and miss.
I went for spray paint in the end. Less choice but sooooooooo much easier to apply. I had a lot of fun.

Smack bang in the middle, to avoid spraying random stuff.
So much fun!
 The chairs needed a good 3 days to air after this. Unfortunately I had to move them back to mine and the drive with the chairs (18 hours after painting) was not great.  The fumes are really tenacious as my headache for the next two days.
Really, do let them breathe.

The gloss spray paint was more expensive however really worth it in the end. The result is really good. It took about 1.5 cans to achieve this. It took me less than 2 hours to paint well 4 chairs with gloss. Unbeatable.
Chairs having a bit of a natter after their makeover
 This is the final result. I kept the marquetry strip unpainted and the stripy seat still go well. I'm a happy bunny.

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