Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chairs with History

When my Grandpa died last year, and the funeral was past and immediate matters attended to, we were asked what we wanted from his house.  I'm pretty sure that a wooden vehicle handmade by Grandpa was pretty high on most of our lists.  Next on my list were these chairs:

They had been in my Grandparents' basement for as long as I can remember, and are very likely older than me (nobody remembers for sure when they were bought but my uncle guessed around 1970 and I've heard possibilities that they were already recovered once since.).  I liked the lines of them and they were always pretty comfortable.  Plus, they rock and spin.  AND they have lasted at least 40 years so that's some solid construction.

Surprisingly, nobody fought me on the chairs and my parents dropped them off last summer, August I think.

Matt and I had intended to recover the chairs but we were in the middle of the porch foundation project at the time and so they were going to have to go in the basement until we got to them.  We decided to store them in the basement.

Turns out in they didn't fit down the basement stairs.

So they sat on our torn-up porch for months until we needed to clear out the space so Matt could finish redoing the floors.  Then they got taken apart so they could make it down those stairs and then they sat in the basement, in pieces for a good 4 months.

Last month, in a "it's a new year we need to check some projects off the list" fit of motivation, we finally got around to recovering the chairs.

The 6 month wait time could largely be attributed to being scared.  Matt had recovered some office chairs in the basement but that was a pretty basic, stretch the fabric over the foam and staple.  We had made these two bench covers (1, 2)  too but those were also super basic. These would require sewing.  Which sounded rather precise.  Most of my sewing doesn't need to be precise.

It turns out the process was much easier than expected although still a little time consuming.

This isn't going to be a step-by-step on how to recover chairs because, trust me, we barely knew what we were doing (and knowing that Matt has sisters who do/have done this professionally and could probably save us if we got too overwhelmed really helped).

We estimate that it took us about 20 hours total.  That was over multiple nights, multiple steps, and between the both of us.

Cost: Around $100 total to replace some of the foam, all the fabric, and use polyurethane and a whole lot of tools we had on hand.

It was mostly a matter of a lot of staple pulling.  A lot of seam ripping.  Estimating how much fabric we would need (and then adding 2 yards "just in case", which we turned out not to need, thanks Pinterest, for making me think we needed more).  Three trips to JoAnns.  A trip to Lowes (staples).  Cutting the fabric by cutting around the original pieces.  Sewing.  A lot of yelling (from me) "I have no idea what I'm doing!".   Being amazed that even with all our fumblings we managed to sew something that looked like chair covers.  Stapling.  Cursing for not leaving enough fabric for said staples.  More stapling.

Then repeat for chair #2.  (We definitely needed to do them one at a time, I referenced the put together one often when doing the first.)

We did most of this work in hour increments, on weeknights, for 2 weeks.  While watching Lost.  Then we were mostly done.  Like 50%.

Matt sanded down all the arms and legs and poly-ed them.  We liked the light wood color enough not to mess with stain.

I ironed and hand-sewed on the backs of the chairs.  If you see them in person please don't look too close.  I definitely am not good at the even stitching thing.

Now we are left with these beauts:

I like that the fabric still makes them look a little vintage-y.  I really like that we were able to take something of my Grandparents' and make it our own.  That these chairs that have held probably almost every member of my extended family at some point in the last 45 years, now live on in our house.  I like their history.  
Now, as for the question Matt asked when I told him we were getting chairs from Grandpa's house.

"Where are we going to put those?"

That's an excellent question.  And one we currently have a very good solution to, because, as you may notice from these pictures, we don't currently have a couch.

The short story is that we're (eventually) buying our first ever brand-new couch.  The long story will probably be coming once that purchase (and maybe some floor refinishing...) happens.  You are welcome.  Get yourself psyched.

Now I am feeling rather empowered by our successful chair recovering.  It really wasn't too bad at all.  If I can do it, believe me, you can too.

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