Monday, July 19, 2010

The Chair Project... Done!

I know I've been taunting you with the finished chair project for forever now so without further adieu... here it is! It was a longer process than I expected, and not to mention I've been distracted with other life going-ons, but I'm very happy with the end result (it was worth the sweat and tears) and it looks great in the new apartment.

To refresh your memory, here is where we started. Orange cherry wood and mauve velvet.

I started off by unscrewing the seat bottom from the frame. Then as you can see, there were hundreds of staples (I might be slightly exaggerating, but there were a lot) in the chair frame and seat bottom. I removed every single one of them... by hand... with pliers. Ugh, it wasn't fun.

Then I tackled the seat back. I took tons of pictures as I was disassembling everything so that I would have a visual of how to put it back together.

The tricky part was the slight groove around the perimeter of the seat back. (You can slightly see how the staples are indented in the groove in the picture below.) I needed to buy a special upholstery stapler so that the tip of the stapler would be able to fit in that groove. Otherwise, I wouldn't have a tight, taut fit.

That's where this guy comes in. I purchased it off eBay for $25. Don't you just love eBay? I wouldn't even know where to begin to search for a used pneumatic stapler if it wasn't for eBay!

Once all the upholstery was off, I sanded, primed and spray painted the chair with Rustoleum's Heirloom White.

Finally I added a coat of Minwax's Wipe-On Poly to protect the paint.

And as you know from this post, I ordered my fabric from the fabulous Jenny at Little Green Notebook. (Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the reupholstering process. I think I was too wrapped up in making it perfect to take pictures.) I rented an air compressor (similar to this one) from Home Depot for the day and was happily stapling away when...dun, dun, dun... I ran out of staples. The staple gun came with a line of staples and stupidly I bought more staples at Home Depot thinking they would fit. Of course they didn't. And please note that you cannot buy the special upholstery staples at any of the home repair stores. I know, I frantically checked out every single one of them in town. You can only get them online or I suppose if you have a re- upholsterer in town they might lend you a few. So I bought them here and returned the air compressor. $30 down the tubes. The second time around fared much better. I was able to finish the project and now I have enough upholstery staples to last me a lifetime.

So here it is, the finished chair. I really love the way it turned out and how the fabric unexpectedly matches our sofa!

Navy loves the chair too!

But wait... there's more! (Yes, I know I'm beginning to sound like an infomercial, sorry, it's a long post) I was shopping with my mother-in-law at some of her favorite thrift stores in Massachusetts when I stumbled upon this vanity bench. Loved the shape and the size, just didn't love the dark wood or the fabric. For $65, I thought it was a worthwhile investment and it would match the chair.

Luckily I had enough paint and fabric left over to re-do this for practically free. And since the upholstered seat came right off, I was able to use my hand held stapler instead of the pneumatic stapler for a quick and easy job. One day I will have an air compressor, just not while I'm living in a tiny NYC apartment.

It's the perfect bench slash ottoman for our tiny living room. Extra seating that takes up minimal space is always a plus.

I just love when rooms easily come together.

So here's the spending breakdown:

Original chair: $50 off craigslist
Sandpaper, Paint, Primer and Wipe-on Poly: approx. $30
Fabric: $162 for 3.8 yards (I probably only used 2 yards for both projects, so I have a lot left over)
Pneumatic Stapler: $25
Upholstery Staples: $19 (They only cost $5.80 but the UPS ground shipping cost twice as much!)
Air Compressor rental: $60 for two rentals

Total: $346

The cheapest reupholstery quote that I got was for $175 so honestly, if I had gotten it reupholstered professionally it would have only been slightly more expensive. However, the experience was invaluable and now I actually own the tools to do this again. The investment was definitely worth it.

Finally, here are some resources that were indispensable during my completion of this project:

Centsational Girl- Kate really is the It Girl for all things involving spray paint and refinishing. Without her I wouldn't have discovered Rustoleum Heirloom White!

DIY Upholstery's You Tube videos- The instructive videos from DIY Upholstery really helped me understand the ins and outs of basic upholstery. Chris also said that pneumatic staplers were the way to go when reupholstering big projects... and I completely agree. Pneumatic staplers are amazing! (Just can't wait until I the day I own my own air compressor. Upholstery projects, here I come.)

Little Green Notebook- Jenny supplied me with the fabric and as always remains a unique source for creative inspiration.


Stacie said...

You are so amazing! And I can confirm for readers: the chairs look great in the new apartment!

Theresa Cowing said...


Kristina said...

Wow, the chair is just stunning! I really want to try upholstery myself. Thank you for all the links they are very useful!

Sean said...


I know you mentioned the color and brand of the paint, but it doesn't seem "high gloss" like I've gotten from Rustoleum before. It seems more Satiny. Is that the poly that contributes to the low luster?

I like the way it turned out, and am gonna attempt this myself this weekend.

Thanks for sharing.

Navy Bean said...

Hi Sean,
I just checked and the Rustoleum Heirloom White is a satin finish. I'm not sure if that color comes in high gloss. The poly does give it a slightly sheen but definitely not a high gloss look. Good luck with your project and if you get a chance, send me a picture!

christinep said...

Hi Janis - First time visiting your blog from design sponge, I'm so inspired by your chair update! Questions - just bought a chair myself to reupholster, seeing how you raved about the pneumatic stapler, I probably should buy one as well. Is there a reason why you chose the BOSTITCH brand over the over staplers on ebay? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Navy Bean said...

Hi Christine,
I highly recommend the extra effort it takes to get the pneumatic stapler... I think you'll definitely see a difference in the end. I just got the bostitch because that was the cheapest at the time. I'm sure they all work similarly. Also, just make sure to order the correct staples too. You don't want to run out like I did! You can buy them here:

But just so you know the lacquer finish staples looks a little orangey (not stainless steel) but it doesn't really matter because the staples will be hidden.

Good luck and send me a picture after you're done!

Rebekah said...

What an incredible transformation! I have two extremely traditional wing back chairs that I love & have been wanting to reupholster to give a little bit more of a contemporary feel, but have felt a little stuck! Thank you for the inspiration! :)

Centsational Girl said...

Completely gorgeous! Didn't I spy this on Design*Sponge today? LOVE it! Perfect choice of fabric !
~ Kate

Navy Bean said...

Thanks so much, Kate! I couldn't have done it without your awesome tutorials!

Vicky @ Pearl District said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THE CHAIR!!! IT's sooo gorgeous! I'm a new follower and drool over all your posts!!! Thank you so much for amazing content! I'm featuring this post on my blog! (not that it's influential or anything)

Blessings to you!


Anonymous said...

I am amazed! What a beautiful piece of furniture! Makes me want to try an upholstery project for myself..

em said...

congratulations! the result looks amazing!!
thanks for the tips as well! said...

Wow - I love that chair! I just scored a curbside find chair similar the other day. Do you mind if I link to this post when I do my post about my re-do?

Navy Bean said...

Thanks so much Urban Cottage! Of course, please feel free to link to this post. Thank you so much for asking! Good luck with your re-do and please send pictures if you have a chance! :)

Design Challenged said...

I am so happy to see this post!! I have recently moved into a new home and the previous owner left 3 chairs that look just like this except with green fabric. My husband has been nagging me to throw them out but I was going to give upholstering a try. Wish me luck- Thanks again for the great information!

portable air compressor said...

Thanks for the ideas. There's always something new to learn and improve on in this mad internet world. Uptiming is surely something to keep an eye on.

Chase the Star said...

Hi! Love this chair! I wanted to let you know that I am featuring it on my Fabulous Furniture Finds this week at

Barbara @ Chase the Star

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