Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweet William

Many of our furnishings were generously provided by our parents, and many of those items actually have a lot of family history and sentimental value. I really feel like it adds something to our home - amidst the IKEA and craigslist finds are a lot of what my Grandma M. would call "old friends."

Of course, figuring out how family pieces fit into the style we're developing for our own home is an ongoing process. Sometimes a little experimentation is in order!

These chairs are family treasures from my mom's side. A matching set of four!

I like many things about these chairs, but I think anyone who ever sat in them will acknowledge that they aren't the most comfortable of chairs. So a little over a year ago I decided to increase their comfort quotient a bit. [That's number of times shifting in your seat/(number of hours sitting + number of drinks consumed) -- though using that equation I think I actually want to decrease the comfort quotient, right?]. I'd recently been coming across a lot of DIY chair reupholstering projects in my various internet explorations, and it seemed like a pretty straightforward thing to give a whirl. Plus I knew I'd get to use my staple gun, which my dad gave me as part of an incredibly awesome housewarming present when I moved into my first apartment (a very well-stocked tool box!).

So I spent some time looking around for the perfect fabric. This was during the early days of my turquoise obsession (which I can happily report is still in full swing, 13 months later), and some fabric from Tonic Living caught my attention. It's called Sweet William, in teal (there's also a pink version). [Note: I've subsequently seen it a few times on one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love - how prescient am I?). I ordered a few yards, and also ordered some 2" upholstery foam from the internetz (without a car, I often have an easier time ordering supplies online and being patient than trying to find what I need locally). It turns out Tonic Living is based on Canada, and shipping time was 2 weeks. I displayed much patience.

To make each chair, I started by detaching the seat. That meant flipping the chair over and unscrewing the four screws holding each seat on. Then I traced the outline of each seat onto the upholstery foam using a sharpie, and used an exacto knife to cut around the outline. Then I cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the top and sides of the foam + seat with a few inches to spare. I lay the fabric on the ground (with the back of the fabric facing up), then lay down the foam and the seat (bottom up). Then I worked around the seat pulling the fabric taut and stapling it to the bottom of the seat. The corners were the hardest because the fabric had a tendency to bunch a lot there, but by folding in the right places I managed to keep it pretty clean looking. Then I screwed the seat back onto the frame. Tada!

I'm a fan - a little bit of color, plus quite a bit more comfortable!

With the leftover fabric, I used my sewing machine (for the first time) and made a pair of curtains for the window in the front door. It just involved cutting two pieces of rectangular fabric and hemming them around each edge. Then I mounted a small curtain rod I had on hand, and hung them using ring clips.

I'm now (13 months later) in the process of planning a hallway upgrade - and the curtains are going to match the color scheme perfectly. Can't wait to get started - this one involves a trip to Home Depot to purchase some lumber. I'll be trying out something a little new, and might get myself some new tools (including the next step up from a staple gun: a nail gun)! Here's a sneak peek at what's inspiring me:


  1. A nail gun? Be sure to notice that most or all of them are pneumatic, which means you run them off of an air compressor. If you really want something like a mail gun, let me know 'cause I have something like it (it drives nail-like staples; large and super strong) that I acquired for a repair job here at the house but don't seem to have much use for now.

  2. Thank you! Will definitely keep you posted. I may also be able to do it by hand, as long as I get a nail punch. I'm excited to try some new techniques!

  3. So THAT's how you recovered those chair seats!! They look so nice!! Re your upcoming plans ... yet another option is construction adhesive. Who knows what will be happening next at beacon st manor?? btw, turquoise fabric is really IN this year -- lots of new fabric lines built on turquoise.