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Weekend Project: Glamorizing Dining Chairs (Hollywood Regency style)

November 1st, 2014 · No Comments · Decorating, DIY, Home, Interior Design

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Big improvement, if I do say so myself!

One of the best ways to save money and create a unique look while furnishing your home is to buy second-hand pieces. A good piece of furniture will last basically forever. A well-made furniture piece from 1960 is still a well-made piece in 2014. In fact, some vintage and designer items are worth much more today than they were worth when they were first made. My Mom always said that you should buy “quality pieces of furniture” and not mass-produced junk.

I actually like the construction of many vintage pieces better than many of the mass-produced furniture sold today. Of course, you can still find well-constructed, handmade wooden furniture these days but you are going to pay for it. Not just an arm and a leg, but your first-born, too.

Thank God for estate sales! And garage sales, Craigslist and Ebay! One person’s junk is truly another person’s treasure. I actually enjoy perusing these places for great pieces more than I enjoy walking around furniture stores that have already been curated by someone else. Let me loose at an estate sale and let ME curate what I see and envision what a piece can become! And isn’t it great to have pieces in your home that are unique and/or vintage that no one else can buy? I certainly think so, but I’ve always been one to march to the beat of my own drum rather than follow the pack.

Okay, enough talking, let’s get down to business. If you have inherited some dining chairs you aren’t crazy about or picked some up at a garage sale and they are still sitting in your garage, I hope this post inspires you to jazz them up and create something beautiful.

A few years ago when I was shopping for 4 chairs to go with a new round table I had purchased, I wanted chairs that fell within the Hollywood Regency style. Hollywood Regency is a popular decorating style that came about in the 1930’s and was made famous by celebrated interior designers such as Dorothy Draper. It is one of my favorite design styles because it encompasses everything I love: it’s eclectic, colorful and glamorous. How can you go wrong with that? :) Anyway, I knew I wanted some Chinese Chippendale/bamboo dining chairs yet the ones I came across in current production were ridiculously priced. After searching for a bit, I found some second-hand Chinese Chippendale chairs for a decent price. They were in horrible condition but in my mind’s eye I saw how beautiful they could be.


 As you can see, these chairs were pretty darn nasty when I got them. The first thing I did was to don a pair of gloves and unscrew the seat bottoms and throw out those dirty, stained seat covers and all the old foam underneath. I also threw out all the wooden seat bottoms, except for one, which I took to Ace Hardware so they could use it to make me 4 new plywood seat bottoms.

I know most people probably wouldn’t wash wooden furniture, but I just couldn’t stand not to. I scrubbed those chairs goooood and let them sit out on a sunny day to dry. Only then did I touch them sans gloves. The chairs had some type of faux, speckled “bamboo-like” coating on them and I felt that stripping it would make the new paint job adhere better. So I proceeded to use a low-odor paint stripper to strip the paint/coating off; I used two separate coats of stripper to get the job done. After stripping the chairs down, I handsanded and used a dremel with a sanding attachment to smooth out any uneven textures on the chair frames. (Stripping the chairs created some extra unevenness; if I could do it again, I would not strip the finish, I would just sand it to roughen up the finish a bit to help the new paint adhere.)

Before and after stripping down to bare wood

Before and after stripping down to bare wood

A couple of the chairs had a few small cracks on the legs here and there, so I filled them in with wood putty and sanded them down before proceeding to apply a coat of primer. After priming and allowing to dry, I painted each chair with high-gloss acrylic paint; I applied about 3 coats letting the chairs dry in between coats.

I bought foam and batting and cut the foam to the shape of the seat bottoms.

Foam cut to size

Foam cut to size

I placed the foam on each plywood seat bottom, wrapped the batting around the foam and stapled the batting to the plywood on the opposite (bottom) side. I then cut enough of the new upholstery fabric I purchased to completely cover each seat cushion and wrap around the bottom so it could also be stapled in place.

TCS Tip: Pull the fabric very taut as you staple each side. Staple all the corners last so any necessary gathering of the fabric will be restricted to the corner areas.

Wrapping and stapling fabric around batting

Wrapping and stapling fabric around batting

After buying some new screws and attaching the seat bottoms to the chair frames, my “new” chairs looked like this:


“New” chairs! I love them!

I honestly like them much better than these chairs that are selling for $659/pair at right now…

These are selling at for $659/pair

These are selling at for $659/pair

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