Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dick Van Dyke makes a furniture comeback!

This past summer, I bought a chair for $4.98 at Goodwill. When it comes to ratty looking, sturdy pieces of furniture, I’m like the cat lady who lets in any old Tom. Instead of 50 cats and an overflowing kitty litter box (I’m down to one cat, thank you very much), I have an infinite number of places to sit, most of which have needed or will need a facelift. The "Dick Van Dyke" chair, as the Goodwill folks named it, was no exception.

The chair came in a yellow stain with a matching faux yellow leather seat. It was very…monochromatic. But underneath all the jaundice, I could visualize a colorful clothing catch all for my bedroom. My clothes needed a place to call home instead of the floor when I tried on 15 outfits in the morning before finally settling back on the first one I tried on and this chair would be that place.

My first plan of attack was to remove the seat. Be sure to save the screws! I put them in a plastic Ziploc sandwich bag for safekeeping. For some reason, the chair had a massive amount of extra screws where the arms meet the legs. None of them were actually holding anything together so I removed them. What was up with that?

After the screw removal, I had a number of holes that I had to fill. Unfortunately, my wood filler was DRY. No worries. Just add a little water IF you have a water based filler like I did. Not too much water, just enough to turn it back into a soft putty. Then I filled any gouges or holes (useless screw holes!) with the filler and a flat metal putty spatula.

This is the part where I add that, while taking the chair down to southern MO to show my Mom my wonderful find, I pulled the chair out of the car and knocked off the edge off the top of the veneer. I taped it to the chair at that time so I wouldn’t lose the veneer. When I was doing my putty work, I simply added a small amount of wood glue to the veneer, taped the crap out of it to the chair so it would be secure and fit closely and let it dry. I filled the holes after it was completely dry.

When the holes have all dried been filled and dried, take your chair either outside or to a well-ventilated room and sand it. I sanded the filled holes down to blend in AND I sanded the entire chair lightly to prep it for primer. I wasn’t about to restain this chair. Great find but not worth the staining effort. It was going to look much better in a nice shade of blue than a nice shade of walnut stain.

I used a spray paint primer on the chair. Outside. I used white. In hindsight, I should have used gray since I’m painting it blue, but the white looks so much more crisp.

After the spray paint has dried, allow the chair to sit in the middle of your living room taking up space for over a month or so. Just because. That’s what I did. No point actually FINISHING a project.

In addition to the fine painting cosmetics of the chair, you will need to recover the seat. My seat feels like a piece of hard plywood. Maybe that’s because it is. No matter what I did, short of creating a new seat with some sort of fabric bottom instead of plywood, it will always feel that way. Therefore, to ease the pain in my tailbone when I forget it’s hard and sit down fast, after removing the gross old fabric (only two layers) and a gross old batting, I covered the existing foam with a new quilted polyester high loft batting. You can find it in the "quilting" and/or "batting" aisle at the hobby store. I was going to replace the foam, but it appeared to be in fairly good shape and not too stinky. I used my trusty staple gun to secure the batting to the underside of the existing plywood chair seat.

The fabric I chose is a thin cotton Kona Fabric. I like the Asian influence Kona Fabrics embrace and it really goes well with my bedroom decor and colors. I didn’t feel like using an upholstery weight fabric mostly because of cost but also because I want to feel like I can change the fabric anytime I want. For some reason, I feel limited with upholstery fabric. I simply stapled the fabric onto the plywood like the batting.

For the actual chair painting, I used Dutch Boy. It’s available at Wal-Mart and comes in these cute little easy pour containers. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive. I just used an everyday interior latex in a semi-gloss (easily cleanable) for the job. To apply the paint, I used a mini roller for the large parts and a foam brush for the more intricate, hard to reach detailing on the back of the seat (Asian influence?).

When the paint had COMPLETELY dried (another month in the middle of my living room, of course), I screwed the seat bottom back onto the chair and voila! A perfectly cute and useful new piece of furniture!

I think my total cost ended up running around $25 ($5 for chair, $10 for fabric and let's say $10 for the paint because I can't remember!) Not too bad! (I'll post a better picture soon!)

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