How to restore an Old Chair | Redo It Yourself Inspirations : How to restore an Old Chair

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to restore an Old Chair

I'm not sure of the age of this chair, but by the appearance of the three layers of finishes and seat covers, it must be early 1900's.  Maybe you can help me date it through the process posted. 

I was asked to do this chair to revive the wood and if I had to paint it fine, but a "have at it" was offered to me.  I did refinish the wood and added a bit of color while giving it an aged look. My focal point was the back rest, it was originally made to be the main attraction. So it became mine. 

Before and during details. 

More before photos

The arms also needed some attention.

The seat had three coverings. This Bicentennial fabric topped it, being a very Colonial 70's theme. 

Can you say "Bless you"?  This process bothered my allergies. 

This is the second covering. Embroidered fabric, and kind of Pennsylvania Dutch. Under this was cotton batting.
Ah-choo, ach-choo... 

And here is the original leather seat cover.  Hardly salvageable.

Getting down to the bare bones. 

The last layer of fabric was attached with large staples. Second with small nails. 

The original nails and they were teeeeny tiny! 

About 100 nails gone. Finally. 

This leftover beadboard makes a great seat support.

Perfect. Now back to the chair. 

First round of sanding. The finish won. I had to start stripping. The original finish was coated with a thin brown paint and over that was a lumpy bumpy clear coat. 

First stripper scraping off. 

Second, and still not budging enough.

Three stripping attempts and finally workable.

Sand and sand and sand and on and on. 

I cut into the inside of the arms to curve them out a bit and sanded to round off. The same with the front of the armrest.

Sanded clean and ready to stain. 

Staining and painting a few features.

Painted the decorative accents turquoise with a chalk paint.

Now a coat of lacquer. 

Black paint here and there to age the chair.  Brush on, wipe off.

Now for the seat finish up.

Half inch foam cut to size to fill the seat frame.

A second layer to completely fill it up and provide more padding.

Cut off a piece from a memory foam mattress pad. 

This is when you have all tools at arms reach. Getting up off this set up makes you lose your place.  This is me kneeling on the fabric, 3" memory foam and the seat frame all at once and lined up to put it all together.
I squished the foam to about 3/4" to staple the fabric to the frame. 

Mission accomplished. 

By golly, it looks just as I imagined! 

Now it's off to the owner.

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  1. Hi Julie! Thank you! Have a great weekend ~

  2. Outstanding job. I wish you well on getting others to entrust their old relics to you. I'm so glad that Jerri sent me this link.

  3. Thank you so much, Nancy! Jerri likes the chair so much, she is having me do a footstool to match. She also has another vintage chair. I'm really excited to do them. Just to satisfy an owner is quite rewarding for me as well. I'm so glad you visited here and hope you'll continue to stop by.

  4. Angela @ Life in VelvetMarch 4, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    WOW! What a stunning transformation. It's absolutely a piece of art now :) Thanks so much for linking up at Thursday STYLE!

  5. Thanks so much, Angela! I love Thursday STYLE and all of the great posts.

  6. Brittnei WashingtonMarch 5, 2014 at 2:30 AM

    I can't believe what some TLC did to this chair. It looks like a chair you would buy in a store! I love it. Thanks for sharing this project with us at Countdown in Style! Don't forget to stop by Friday to see if you are featured :)

  7. Thank you, Brittnei! It can certainly be a surprise what lurks under old paint and layers. I was glad this chair came back to life.

    Thank you for stopping by. I love the new Countdown in Style logo and look forward to seeing the new shared posts. Have a great day! oxo

  8. Wow, now the chair looks like a jewel the way you decorated it and found the perfect material as if it was made this way originally. So inspiring to see. I like how you rounded the arms too, plus the color choices.

  9. It came alive.
    I'm going to do a foot stool and another chair to match up to this one by the owner's request. I'll add them here as they are finished. Thanks again for stopping, Sue. I always enjoy your company :)

  10. I wish I could find some old chairs to redo. These look great!
    I have pinned. I am following you on social media. Dropping by from the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party.

  11. Hi Tamara! I hope you can find some, maybe at yard sales, Craigslist, newspaper ads? Thank you for linking up with me. Have a great weekend~

  12. April @ 100lbcountdownMarch 7, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    This is so great. You did a good job. Once I get settled, I would love to be able to repurpose and redo a lot of furniture. Or maybe I'll just send it straight to you to do? LOL! Thanks for linking up with Countdown in Style.

  13. I hope you do! You will find it very rewarding to work like this. Don't pass up curb alerts either. Warning, this redoing can make you addicted. :)

  14. Nice makeover! I like the fabric you used for the seat and the turquoise accents you painted onto the chair. Great work!