chair rehab project: suggestions needed!

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Here’s a sign that our marriage is off to a great start. On the day of our wedding, before anyone arrived and we were still setting up, Chad and I hit a yard sale that was happening across the street. We scored two of these wooden-upholstery lounge chairs for $20 each. We immediately knew that we wanted to strip the black paint off them; it was already peeling. Chad spent a couple of days working on it — applying the stripper, and sanding it down. We’re going to put a glossy white paint over them and think it will be quite dandy. The debate we are having now is over the cushions. They are in sad shape. It looks like they’ve been reupholstered (badly) a couple of times — you can see some kind of fuzzy flokati layer peeking out underneath this one. Here’s my question for you: Do we need to get brand new cushions (and where do you buy those?) or can these be saved (and how)? I have a lot of ideas for fabric — definitely we’ll pick something bright and with a pattern. But first we need to plot what we need, and then go from there. Anyone got reupholstery tips share? Help! — Angela M.

From our partners
Celene

Good for you! If you have basic sewing skills, this should not be difficult. Take a before photo for your guide, then take apart the cushion cover to use as a pattern. This should be a very doable beginner project. As for foam/cushion itself you can find replacements at an craft store chain, again use what you have as guide. They will look great in your new place, I’m certain!

Beth

Neat! I have a similar project (well, project is stretching it, because I’ve just worked on it in my head) with a Danish modern arm chair – looks like yours but the cushions are thinner. So I’m curious to see what you come up with! Mine has elastic bands (upholsterer’s webbing?) across the bottom that are sagging badly – does anyone know if I can detach them and staple them back tighter, or should I buy new ones (and if so, where)? As far as your cushion question, I found websites (seplace for custom cushions) that cut foam cushions to your dimensions. So if you don’t have another way to get the right size foam insert, that might work for you. Looking forward to seeing you post the finished product!

Sara

BETH! I have the same type of Danish modern chair (four of them actually) with the same sagging band problem. I’m a bit concerned that eventually someone will sit on one and plop right through the aging elastic. I would love suggestions or info as well if anyone has any …

readingglasses

Should be an easy project … just carefully cut the upholstery cover apart and use it as a template. As for fabric, oh, please, do Marimekko or Hable Construction fabrics. Anything sparky like that should be seriously fun and chic.

Kate

http://www.vandykes.com/subcategory/105/
the website above has webbing (your choice of rubber or jute) for a seat fix. i’ve a chair that needs exactly this kind of TLC . it’s been painted white, and i bought large floor cushions at a department store that fit quite well. now i just have to address the saggy seat issue. this company was recommended by a friend, and has a decent assortment of materials for all kinds of restorative projects from upholstery and refinishing to cabinet hardware.

I had a similar project a while ago – my cushions were entirely absent, so I ordered foam cut-to-order (from http://www.foambymail.com – much cheaper than the craft stores!) and wrapped it in thin sheet batting. That will give you much crisper corners than what I see in the top picture. The cushion covers I made to zip in the back so they could be easily removed and cleaned. Mine are wool crepe stablized by interfacing. The one tip I’d offer is, when you’re sewing corners, reduce your stitch length by at least half. If your fabric isn’t tightly woven, go back 1/16″ closer to the selvedge and stitch around the corner again. When you clip the corner and turn you won’t have any fraying.

The website link in my name will take you to a photo of the finished chairs (scroll down); if you think I know anything useful to you, just ask!

Allyson V

We have very similar chairs as well – I was able to find replacement cushions in the “As-Is” section of Ikea – they were a perfect fit, so all I had to do was make covers for them- and they were actually much cheaper than having foam cut. And our elastic bands were totally shot, so I cut them off and stapled piece of masonite cut to size over the bottom of the chair, so now the bottom cushion is perfectly stable. Good luck – can’t wait to see how they turn out!

I have a similar chair (mine’s Danish, too) and when I reupholstered the cushions, I also included welting. It makes the edges look nice and crisp. I also experiment with tufting, but the look wasn’t right for the chair’s simple lines; but it might be for chairs like your that are slightly fussier. You can always use Photoshop to try different styles and fabrics, it really helped me out.

Tracy

Try House of Foam in Palo Alto. They can cut new cushions to measure based on the dimensions of the not-so-great cushions.

kate

i’ve never been afraid to tackle a little reupholstery project either, but i think the best wisdom to share is to know when NOT to DIY… from your description, it sounds like the cushions are disintegrating. in replacing them, if you want basic solid rectangular shapes cut to size, you’re good to go to DIY (measure them, send that off for replacement foams, pattern off the old covers, and reassemble). but if the original cushions had any sort of shaping to them, and if you care about how they look / want an elegant replacement, you might be better served to take the originals in tact to an expert upholsterer (call an interior designer in your area — the phonebook can be so risky!). the downside with pros: projects take anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months, even simple cushions like these. hope that helps!

I am in reupholstery hell on my blog. I just can’t face someone else’s. LOL

sorry…. but… on your wedding day?! hehehe wow :) ah but your affair was a afternoon one huh? mine was in the morning about 11am… was up at 6.30 for hair, makeup etc…

dunno about in US, but you can go to foam places (Australia has places like Clark Rubber) and get them to precut it to the same size as old one and choose your preferred cushy-ness…. if you’re handy, you could pick apart the cover and use it as stencil for new covers?

chad

not only bought on our wedding day but they were carried home by the husband to be….. :-)

This is adorable–what a great way to start your married life together. I’d get the replacement foam cushions (easy to get and always a good idea) at a craft/sewing store near you, as you ca return them if they’re not right. The vandyke’s tip is a great one for webbing (kudos, Kate)–and in general that is a great source for things you never knew you needed. With houses especially they’re a blast. As far as upholstering, it’s not hard. My aunt taught me to make a muslin “test cover” first. After you take apart the covers you have on them now, redo them in muslin, so you get a feel for what’s best, then do the real thing in your pricey fabric. Best of luck! Oh, and make sure you have good chocolate around–a vital sewing tool.

forgot to mention that I quoted and linked you in my moli.com blog today. have a great honeymoon!

Rebecca

I redid the cushions on my rocking chair in preparation of child #3, so I can give advice from my own experience. I sewed my own cushion covers, very simply, using the old ones as the pattern. I bought new foam from the fabric store. It was expensive but I used a 50% off coupon and cut it myself at home with an electric knife (turkey carver borrowed from my dad). I would definetly go the http://www.foambymail.com route next time, I checked out the website and the prices really are great. As for the support, I don’t know how to redo the support so I might get that proffesionally done or I would use a jigsaw to cut out a thin peice of wood that fit under the cushion. good Luck!

Such fantastic info, THANK YOU!!

Sara

Kate, thank you! This is a perfect winter project for me, to create new webbing for my chairs. Lovely!

shelterrific » Blog Archive » chair makeover completed! see our new sits

[…] couple of months ago, I wrote in asking for suggestions on remaking two shabby looking chairs Chad and I picked up at yard sale — on our wedding day. […]

leslie

Hi, I too have 4 danish chairs like yours. Thanks for the sources for foam. I am an avid sewer so sewing cushion covers was/is no problem. However I cannot locate the missing rubber bands, does anyone have any ideas? VanDyke does not have them and I have been seplaceing for months! Thanks, Leslie

Joseph

This is an old thread, and so I doubt the originators of it will read this, but the chair pictured above is actually a valuable Danish Modern chair designed by Greta Jalk. She is quite famous, and it is quite rare.