Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Wingback Chair Transformation

My problem is I just can't say no. My friend Tara was buying a piece of furniture off of Craigslist and the seller just so happened not want this chair and pretty much unloaded it on her. Tara didn't want the old nasty thing (I don't blame her), so it would just be left out in the trash. Enter Ashley the free-furniture hoarder to the rescue! Fast-forward six months later and I'm finally getting around to reupholstering it. This wasn't my first reupholstering project, I did this and this a few years back. This wingback chair is on a whole new level.

I first shopped around for some inspiration:

Apartment Therapy, here and Crate and Barrel, here

I love the bright colors and bold patterns. Everything in our apartment is brown or muted patterns, so I want to be able to throw something a little crazy in the mix and still have it match. That's not asking too much right?

Martha Stewart, here and Design Sponge, here

I made Mike go fabric shopping with me until we finally agreed on an orange and brown floral pattern. We found it for $6 a yard at Hancock's and since it was so cheap I bought new matching material to re-do the old chair (it's in storage, so that's not a pressing issue). I found this great yardage guide on Apartment Therapy and figured I'd need about six yards for my project. Time to get to work.

I've learned in the past, you should try to keep the original fabric in tact, this way you can use it as a pattern. It also helps to keep notes as to how many staples you pulled out, where buttons were located, etc. Unfortunately, this was not an option for me. When I started taking apart the chair, the fabric was ripping in every direction. Plus, the amount of dust and grime rising from the chair convinced I didn't want that old fabric touching the new.

I pulled out about 180 upholstery tacks and maybe a thousand nails and staples (take a part the chair took more than six hours!). Mike's stepmom advised me to skip the tufting (the buttons) on the front of the chair to save time and agony - GREAT idea! Instead, I filled the divots with a little fabric tack and fiber fill. I added some new padding where necessary. I fiddled with the fabric until finally understanding how to put it back together. And found an unused pillow to repurpose for the new chair.

Hard at work - you can almost see all my band-aids on my hands!

So, here's the breakdown: I spent $36 on fabric, $10 on batting, $6 on upholstery nails, $2 on staples for the staple gun. A total of $54, three blisters, a lung full of dust and about 20 hours of work (would have been a lot more if it hadn't been for Mike). I'd say not bad for my first attempt.

What did I learn? What would I do differently next time? First, I'd wear a mask and rubber gloves (went to bed unable to breathe after the first day of ripping apart the chair). You can never have enough padding, so buy plenty of extra. That goes with the nails and staples as well. I'm glad I finished the project, as there were many times I had looked up the upholstery man phone number....However, I don't think I'll be tackling another project like this one in quite some time!