Remember my great-grandmothers formerly orange torn, ripped and cracked faux leather chairs? Well I finally got on that and finished up the last little odds and ends that were hanging out so that we could officially check these guys off the old to-do list.
I’ve been planning this update for years and quietly hoarding these chairs away in the attic until I got crazy brave enough to try this project out on my own. I could never bear to part with them, over the years they hopped from attic to attic as we moved waiting for the right time and place for an update.
They looked OK from far away and I even grew somewhat fond of the bright orange color. Upon closer inspection they were a bit of a mess, covered in old Naugahyde that had cracked and become sticky to the touch over the years. They smelled musty and dusty and had a weird crinkle to the seat when you sat due to the original horsehair stuffing. After years of waiting it was finally time to get on it and fix up these diamonds in the rough.
I debated a few different options including re-covering them in soft buttery leather or black velvet. In the end I found some great neutral upholstery fabric on the cheap from eBay, clicked bid and the decision was made to keep the chairs neutral. I think it was a good choice since our bedroom already has a ton of color thanks to the curtains and pillows I made.
First I removed all of the fabric from the chair down to the bare frame. The only thing that was left in-tact were the springs, held together by the hand tied twine. This was the messiest part of the job. I had been hoping to leave some of the original insides in tact but once the fabric was pulled away it became clear that everything needed to be replaced. There were 5 bags of garbage from these two small chairs!
We took the chairs out side and did some repair work to the legs. They had become wobbly in spots and needed to be sanded and stained. Bryan used his Kreg jig to drill a few pocket holes and slid a few screws into place to hold the front legs secure to the frame.
The jute webbing that holds the entire seat together had disintegrated in places and had a very musty smell that was only going to be fixed by replacing it. I redid the entire seat by stapling it to the bottom and weaving the jute strips for form a tight base for the springs.
After watching a few videos on YouTube I began retying the springs in spots to make sure they were nice and secure. Added new foam to the seats to replace the old dusty horsehair (it seriously smelled awful) and covered it in some batting and an under layer of fabric in the same manner as I removed it. Just in reverse this time.
They sat like this for some time while I gathered the rest of my supplies and thought about how to tackle the rest of the project. I felt a little paralyzed for a while, knowing there was still a lot of work to be done. Eventually I just decided to dive right in and finish them up. After a few days and some late nights of cutting, sewing, stapling fabric and hammering nails I had two fantastic vintage chairs that we are loving.
To add subtle contrast and highlight the lines of the chair I sewed piping in white denim and added old-fashioned nail head trim to the chairs I think it shows it off just enough to be elegant and refined.
In person the neutral fabric has a subtle hint of green in certain lights. It’s a heavy weight brushed upholstery grade fabric that is soft to the touch but should hold up to years of use.
So the verdict? Even though I had grown fond of the old bold color, I’m really happy I decided on a neutral fabric. They’re classic, fresh and they blend seamlessly into the room. Another perk is that they look fantastic in other rooms of the house too. I’m almost tempted to steal them for another room…almost.
Just so you don’t have to scroll all the way up here’s how they looked when we brought them down from the attic and dusted them off.
And now dun de dun dun… the after.
It’s so wonderful to finish up a big project and have it turn out like you had imagined. With that we can mark off one of the last big projects on this Master Bedroom makeover. We still have a few things to do like adding a new head board, refinishing the dresser and sprucing up the closet doors. But those projects are for another day.