About the Project:
This tutorial is a great way to add some pizzazz to your home without spending a lot of time or money. Pretty risk free. I you have never painted sanded or upholstered, YOU GOT THIS!
Level of difficulty: 2/5
Time: This is a weekend project.
This one of my top five favorite projects!
How did I come across this chairs? I work in the restaurant and hospitality industry. These chairs, along with many others were samples to show clients. They were all different, some had arms, others had backrests, all kinds of fabrics and faux finishes. Contemporary, Rustic, Victorian, you name the style we had it. You try to show as much variety as you can.
My chairs did not look the same, at all. They were twin sisters but they had different “haircuts”. They had different color, fabric and textures. One of them, had a cushioned back and you could see fabric trough the round opening at the back. Cool concept. I wanted them, so bad. For about a year the chairs sat in the showroom and I fantasized about what I could with them.
One happy day, the company’s owner decided to get rid of all the chairs since we needed to make room for other samples. Hooray! I am closer to getting them I thought!
He asked his daughters and wife to go to the showroom and see if they wanted to take any of the chairs home (for the bedrooms, office, vanities, etc.). Now, remember these were all samples, so every chair looks different, including my “twin” chairs. So, as the ladies were perusing in the showroom I am nervously peeking through a glass window to see what their reactions are. What are they going to pick! Remember, all the chairs are samples, so they are all very different. At the end, they did not pick my chairs!
He asked if I wanted some since I was newly wed and had an unfurnished apartment. I took three chairs, the “twins”, and a third one that is awaiting its makeover.
Anyway, so I took the very heavy chairs home (made for restaurants so they are made to take a beating). And there they sat for about four years…looking sad and very different. One was contemporary and the other one was ….well, very gold faux something. Anytime I had people over I would “apologize” for the chairs that did not match my pop decor and explained how I had a vision. “One day, when I have” a garage and a sander…”
The concept. The body of the chair is going to be gold, violet and blue. The colors are not going to be clearly defined in sections like blocks but rather like the colors are blending up, like brush strokes. Blue at the bottom then violet and gold. And sexy, luxurious, violet velvet fabric.
And on one happy April day, my dream of having a garage and owning a sander became true! Yippy, now I can fix my chairs!
Here is the process.
What you need:
- A sander
- Sand paper for the sander and for hand touch ups
- A mask!
- Eye protection
- Wood filler
- A vacuum to remove dust, if you can
- A rag to wipe any remaining dust
- Mineral spirits to clean any gunk or dust
- Paint and brush
- Top coat and an appropriate brush
- Cardboard to run color combinations and practice your technique. Also, to protect the floor
- Upholstery stapler and staples.
- Practice fabric
- Thin pins to hold the fabric in place
- Sharp Scissors
- Chair padding if yours is in bad condition
- Tape measure
I think we got it!
Ok, so don’t laugh at my tablet / finger sketch. This is very personal stuff (he he). Although I can clearly see ideas in my head, I always like to sketch them to play around with color combinations. And believe me, sometimes what looks incredible in your head sucks on paper. But the good thing about paint and fabric is that you can always change it.
Lets get to work!
1. Inspect the chair. See how the cushion is attached. Take a picture. Look for scratches or dings that will need to be filled.
2. Unscrew the chair or carefully remove any nails. Put them aside in a safe place where Oliver cannot reach them.
3. Inspect how the fabric is attached to the cushion. Again, pictures. Trust me, many times I am positive that I will remember how to put something back together. Most of the time I do not. I cannot emphasize this enough.
If the fabric is attached with staples, you can use a flat nose screwdriver to remove them. Toss them right away, especially if you have pets or small children.
Keep the darn fabric! You will need it as a template. No clue about which type of fabric you need? Ok, go here:
4. Wipe the chair. Why? Because you do not want to spoil a nice piece of sand paper with any gunk. Actually, I would clean it thoroughly with mineral spirits if the material allows (always test it in a hidden section). Make sure the chair is dry before you sand. I have used a little water and very mild soap solution in the past. But i have been advised by experts not do so because even if the wood is dried, some water particles may pop up after and mess up your paint. So , mineral spirits it is!
You are ready to sand my friend. But wait, if you have never, ever used a sander before, watch this guy!
5. What are you waiting for, start sanding!
6. If you are happy with your sanding. Now it’s the time to fill in the cracks. I used “Elmer’s Wood Filler”.
- Sand away the filler. Inspect your chair. Be very critical, not of yourself, but of the surface. Remember, anything you can still see, will only be amplified by paint.
- Clean your chair. Make sure there is no dust or hair.
- If you have not done so yet, find a place to paint.
7. Now, my chair had a “special” effect I wanted to create. I practiced the brush strokes until I achieved my desired end result. I had also pre-marked where each color would meet with a light pencil.
I spray painted the gold section first. Then I painted the bottom part blue and waited till it was dry to paint the violet middle section.
Once the violet section was dry. I went back with a dry brush and only dipped the tip of the bristles and used upward brush strokes.
8. Protect your work after your are done painting! I waited around 24 hours before I applied the clear coat. I wanted them to be super shinny, so I used “Varathane Gloss”.
I applied three coats and waited an hour in between. Make sure you have plenty of time to finish all required coats. Otherwise, you have to wait 24 hours or more to apply additional coats.
9. Upholstery baby! This type of upholstery is the most simple. If this is your first time, I suggest you buy some inexpensive fabric (on clearance) to practice before you cut the good stuff. Even better, try to find a fabric with similar thickness. Why? So that you can practice the folds that will go underneath and get an idea of how much the fabric will “give” (stretch).
No idea how to buy upholstery fabric? I gotcha! (how to here)
You can start with your practice fabric. Remember how I told you to save the old fabric? I hope you did, because this is your template. Ok, so you threw it way because it was way too nasty, no worries. Just place cushion on top of the fabric and measure it, plus the side thickness. I am also going to ask you to cut an extra. For every side add at least three additional inches from the point where the original was stapled. It is excessive, but you are learning and if you cut it wrong, then you have to buy more fabric.
10. Marc the fabric on the inside. NO MARKERS! Use a pencil, a fabric pencil or chalk. Measure again, yes again. Wrap and pin the fabric before you cut it. Turn it around, see if you like how it looks. If you are happy with it. It is time to cut.
11. Did you cut it? I am so proud. Now, it is time to wrap the cushion. Pin the fabric where you want it. Turn the cushion and stretch it. This has a learning curve. If you stretch it too little, eventually the fabric will sag. If you stretch it too much, it will look like this:
12. The folds. They are easy, but you need to practice and you have options. It would be kind of hard to explain these so please watch this guy over here.
Now that you watched an expert. It is your turn. Grab your stapler and start on one side. I started on the front. Then work your way around to the back. Do not cut any fabric until you are done. If you finish and you notice it is too loose, take your flat nose screwdriver and pull the staples out.
Also, you do not want to staple the fabric too close to the edge but you do not have to staple it to the center either. Remember, you need enough distance so that the fabric can have a good grab, as people will be moving their weight around in the chair.
You will probably have to cut fabric in order to do the corner folds. Make sure all the corners look the same. It is really easy to do different folds if you are not paying attention. If you are happy with the finished cushion…
13. Attach your newly upholstered sit to your chair!
Voila! I told you! You could do this! Now sit with a cup of green tea and admire your work. After you are done with that, share a pic with us!
I hope this tutorial inspires you to work on some statement pieces for your home. I had a blast working on these and I hope you do too!