I wasn’t ready to throw down $399 for the desk and another $199 for the chair, so I sought out some other options. And what did I find at my local Goodwill for $8?
It has a very similar look to the Julia Chair, but up close it was a bit worse for wear. It doesn’t look so scary in the photo above, but you can see below that the white paint was chipping off all over, and the peach-colored vinyl seat cover, as well as the rest of the chair, had dirt in every crevice.
The first step in the transformation was to remove the seat by unscrewing it from the bottom. I discovered that the ugly vinyl wasn’t the original seat fabric.
Removing staples does not require too much skill, but it’s a pain. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that these staples were old and rusty, so they broke easily when I tried to pry them out with my flat head screwdriver. I ended up having to yank out many staple parts with pliers. And the rusty staples and icky fabrics gave me the eebie-jeebies.
Once I removed all the staples, I got to see the original seat fabric, which was a bamboo pattern. It actually wasn’t so bad, although the colors certainly aren’t me, and it was dirty and musty-smelling.
The next step was to give the whole chair a good scrub down. Unfortunately the faux bamboo material has lots of grooves, so between that and the criss-cross pattern with all the inside corners, the cleaning process took a while. Next I tried to sand off as much of the chipping white paint as I could. The chair was originally some kind of yellowish color, which must have coordinated with the yellow on the original seat fabric. Because of the chair design, everything had to be hand sanded. Good times.
After sanding, I gave the chair 2-3 coats of Kilz primer, doing a light sanding between each coat. It was tricky to get good coverage on the intricate seat back. Once the primer was dry, I did another light sanding and then used my spray gun for the turquoise paint. I put on several light coats, with a light sanding between each coat. I let the final coat dry for over 24 hours, then used my spray gun again for several coats of Minwax Polycrilic in a satin finish.
Meanwhile, I also had to recover the seat, which had been removed at the beginning of the process. I found a turquoise and brown trellis fabric at Jo-Ann. I would have liked to have reused the old foam cushion because was perfectly shaped for the seat, with contoured edges and even cutouts on one edge for where the seat meets the back of the chair. But it was so old, and had the original fabric’s design etched, in what I can only assume is dirt, on the top of the cushion. It, too, gave me the eebie-jeebies.
Instead I purchased a new 2-inch foam cushion at Jo-Ann and cut it down to fit the dimensions of the chair. I even created a bit of a contour around the edges, just cutting off the top corners with scissors. Sorry, no photo of that glamorous trim job. I placed the new cushion on top of the wooden seat, then wrapped batting around it and stapled the batting to the underside of the seat. After that, I wrapped the fabric around the batting and stapled it securely around the bottom of the seat also. The only tricky part about the fabric stapling was trying to keep it as taut as I could, while keeping the trellis pattern consistent on each side. With a geometric print, things can get wonky really fast if you’re just pulling and stapling, because you have to keep everything lined up.
Finally it was time to marry the chair and the seat together. I simply screwed the seat back in from the underside using the original four screws that I had safely tucked away during the makeover. Here’s the finished product:
A chair makeover usually is no biggie, but here were the trickiest parts of my job:
- Getting the grime out of all the nooks and crannies
- Sanding the multiple layers of peeling paint by hand
- Getting the primer, paint and poly into all the corners and nooks and crannies on the bamboo grid. I had to spray right-side up, upside down, and from all sides. The hardest part was getting to all the hidden parts while trying not to get too much spray on the easily-accessible parts, which causes drips.
- Getting the rusty old staples out of the bottom of the seat
- Keeping the geometric pattern lined up all around the seat as I kept it taut while stapling