Home | Vintage Chair Restoration Project

About 5 years a go I bought these amazing vintage 50s chairs off eBay for £20 for four. They were, on the surface, not the prettiest but I could see that they had originally been incredibly cool before the years had taken their toll. Now with our house renovation fully under way I've been temporarily excused from woodwork painting duty to focus on some slightly more creative upcycling projects. First task: my beloved vintage chairs!

The seat and back pads are quite simply attached to the frame of the chair with a couple of screws so it was easy enough to remove these. I then sanded the thick dark brown paint off them to reveal a beautiful blonde, Scandi style, wood underneath. Once this was completely sanded (a much more time and physically exhaustive experience than I had expected) I then used Linseed oil on the wood to protect it and nourish it while still retaining the beautiful light coloured wood I'd revealed through my hard work. 

Next work: the seat and back pads. After a bit of thought I'd decided that I only wanted the seat pad to be covered in fabric. Whoever had originally covered the chairs had, I'm convinced, had a nail fettish. There were about 100 nails in the back board so it took a seismic amount of effort to remove all the plastic beige fabric, padding and the huge amount of metal from the wood. Once I was down to my raw materials of the two bits of wood I could then begin to breath life back in to them. For the back section this involved using wood filler on all the holes from the nails and then applying several coats of linseed oil to bring it up to the same colour as the frame. For the seat pad I decided to keep the wadding which was in pretty good condition and choose a green polka dot fabric to cover my chairs in. Cutting the fabric to size was a simple job of laying the seat pad on top and cutting with a 3-4 inch border. I then used a staple gun to stretch the fabric in to place and secure it making sure to create a seam so that the loose ends of fabric were hidden on the inside. For this you fold the fabric in on itself before stapling on top of the fold you have created.

Then I reattached the seat and back sections to the frame again and thus my chairs were restored! I'm not totally happy on the finish on the back section although I am pleased I didn't choose to cover it in fabric. It's very comfortable as it is and I enjoy the contrast. Unfortunately the nail holes had caused more damage than I'd expected to find. I'm going to pause on the project and work out if I want to do something else to hide the holes - potentially a fabric border around the back section using the same fabric as the seat pad or maybe painting them the back a pale grey colour. Let me know your thoughts!


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