Once upon a time – well, almost exactly one year ago – an avid Vintage Treasures Hunter spotted a pair of mid-century cane chairs on Kijiji. “Dear husband,” she said as she peered up at her Main Squeeze, “would you mind driving an hour both ways to pick up these amazing-I’ll-never-find-a-deal-like-this-ever-again-totally-vintage-tufted-i-love-them chairs with your truck?” The treasure hunter’s husband nodded his head, rolled his eyes, and picked up the vintage chair pair for his wife whose love language he knew was Antique Shopping. It took a full year and the help of the Vintage Treasure Hunter’s talented mom to fully reinvent the darling Vintage Chair Pair, but they were worth every bit of effort. These special chairs will be loved again for years to come with their new paint job and gorgeous new upholstery.
This is the story of a pair of mid-century cane chairs I found, and how it took us a year to fully finish redoing them.
Originally, I thought that I would take on the daunting task of reupholstering these babies. The more I thought about it, the more the prospect scared me. I knew that painting them wouldn’t be hard, but I really didn’t want to botch the upholstering. It’s not that I paid a whole lot for the chairs, but they’re of good quality and lovely – I wanted to make sure that they were finished properly and would be sturdy and beautiful for years to come.
That’s when I turned to my mom who is a professional upholsterer. She’s had many years of practice, and she lovingly offered to reupholster my chairs for me. Isn’t she the best?! She helped me choose the perfect fabric – a silver coloured cotton velvet – and she spent hours and hours working on making these chairs exactly how I had pictured them in my head.
I think that one of the tricks to being a smart DIYer is knowing when NOT to DIY. In this case, my desire to create heirloom pieces out of this vintage pair that my husband lovingly picked up for me outweighed my desire to learn and possibly fail at trying my had at upholstery.
Here’s what my mom and I did to transform these chairs into updated, heirloom pieces.
I pulled off all of the old upholstery and foam, and pulled all of the old staples out with some pliers and a staple removal tool. This was by far the worst part for me, but it is necessary!
I cleaned the wood with a degreaser and gave it a light sanding. I decided to use DIY chalk finish paint on these because I didn’t want to sand off the old finish completely and I wanted a painted look. I ended up painting the chairs with 3 coats of chalk finish paint that I mixed using Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White – a soft off white colour.
It took me a while to come up with the perfect finishing idea for the paint job on these babies. I finally decided on waxing them with a custom coloured wax I made by mixing a bit of Annie Sloan Paris Grey paint into some clear soft wax. This antiqued the details of the chairs slightly, but not so much that they looked dirty (which was how they looked when I tried using dark wax).
My mom was the mastermind behind the reupholstery of these chairs.
As you can see, she did a spectacular job on the tufting on the back of the seats. The cotton velvet was really tricky to work with, but it sure feels lovely!
She replaced all of the foam & batting in the chair backs.
Look at how perfectly smooth she got the curved backs of the chairs to look. Wow!
These are now resting in our formal sitting room, and they look so lovely here. I can’t wait to finish this room up and show you the rest!
For now, I’m fiddling with this gallery wall and coming up with a solution to make my keyboard look prettier on the opposite wall. Stay tuned!
What do you think of my vintage chair pair makeover? Have a great Wednesday!