Home & Garden

How to paint and reupholster an old chair

How to paint and reupholster an old chair

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

How to paint and reupholster an old chair

After visiting flea markets, estate auctions and garage sales, you may have a piece of furniture that needs just a bit of work before it adds that touch of distinction to your decor. The question is, How do you turn that flea-market find into a treasure?

We turned to artist Beth Halstead of Alternative Situations in Toronto for inspiration, and she came up with this textured finish, which is a mix between decorative painting and decoupage. It has a mellow glow that will make any piece look as if it were finished in another century, but it's simple enough that any do-it-yourselfer can achieve the same great results. And the best part is that you probably have most of the materials already – just get together some paint, tissue paper and glue and you're on your way.

Take a look at a larger image of the refinished chair.

You need:

• Plastic sheets or old shopping bags
• Masking tape
• Medium fine-grade sandpaper
• Cotton or polyester rags
• White craft glue
• 2-inch (5 cm) latex brush
• Tissue paper (in any color)
• Small paint roller
• 1 litre each latex eggshell paint in moss green and antique white
• Acrylic low-sheen varnish
• Epoxy

To make:
. Cover work area with plastic drop cloth or newspaper. Protect existing upholstery with masking tape and plastic or simply remove it if you are going to redo it for the finished piece. Remove any loose paint and debris from chair by lightly sanding entire chair frame. Clean chair with damp rag to pick up any dust residue left after sanding. 

2. Mix 4 parts glue with 1 part water to make glue solution. Starting with small and inconspicuous area, apply solution with latex brush. Immediately begin putting crinkled tissue paper on glued area. Use brush to glue down any edges and folds that may be loose, then roll over with roller to remove air bubbles. Continue until entire chair frame is covered. Allow to dry overnight.

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3. With clean brush, apply 2 coats of paint to entire chair. Make sure each coat is dry before moving on to the next step. Make an overglaze by mixing together 1 part acrylic varnish, 1 part antique white paint and 1 part water. With rag, rub glaze over entire chair using a circular motion, adding or removing glaze until desired look is achieved. To protect finish, evenly apply 1 coat of epoxy.

Recovering an old cushioned chair seat
To re-cover a removable cushioned seat, remove the old fabric, leaving padding intact. Cut new fabric by laying the seat, cushion side down, on the wrong side of the fabric. Draw the seat outline approximately 3 inches larger all the way around the seat; cut out.

Place fabric wrong side up. Centre seat on fabric, cushion side down. Pull fabric over back edge of cushion and staple centre of fabric to wooden back, at least 1/2 inch from fabric edge. At opposite end, pull fabric across cushion for a smooth fit, and staple on back as before. Repeat with remaining 2 sides. Make sure fabric is still centred. Alternating sides, and moving from the centre toward each corner, staple fabric at 1-inch intervals. Fold material neatly at each corner and staple in place.

For fabric, you can use a coordinating piece of material, as we did, or decorate artist's canvas with latex paint in a coordinating color to match the chair finish. Try painting stripes, checks or a diamond pattern, or stencil the canvas to match stenciled walls or printed wallpaper. Tip: Spray the fabric with fabric protector before upholstering your seats.

Designer's tips:
• The simpler the chair frame, the easier it Is to apply the finish.
• Always allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.
• Begin each project In the least noticeable area.
• We used green for our chair, but try Prussian blue, wine red or other colours. You can also coordinate paint and tissue paper; for example, a rust point base overlaid with peach tissue paper.
• Try the finish on picture frames, a chest, a small table or even a hat box.
• For a bright splash of colour, use tissue paper (printed or solid) In a variety of vibrant shades. Cover the piece you're redoing with a coat of white latex paint. Glue on tissue paper and then finish with two coats of acrylic varnish and one coat of epoxy. Other things you can use in this manner include leaves (as above), newspaper, Japanese rice paper, pieces of old wallpaper or soup-can labels.


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Home & Garden

How to paint and reupholster an old chair