Chair Upholstery

I had purchased a pair Ethan Allen Josephine armchairs for cheap off Craigslist a while back with the intention to refinish and reupholster them for our dining room.They sat in my basement for nearly a year before I finally got around to them. At some point, they had been painted gold with the original red lacquer seeping through. Plus, they were covered in an odd blue-silver crushed velvet. Overall, not a pretty sight, but a little TLC would do them wonders.

I removed all of the existing fabric and spent what seems like hours removing all the old staples. Next, I started removing as much of the old paint and lacquer with some stripper and some scraping tools. After a few rounds, I sanded the less intricate details by hand to get most of the red bits out. Then, I used a Dremel to really get into the detailed flower carvings and finer details of the legs.

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I cleaned everything off and began the staining process. I wanted a darker color to contrast with our lighter oak floors, but not totally ebony. I feel that it’s better to have some contrast than be slightly off. I applied a first run of english walnut stain from the local big box store to get the depth I wanted. After letting it sit for a day, I applied a warmer reddish walnut stain to get a warm richness. I let them sit for a few days to fully cure since the humidity was high after several days of rain. I applied three coats of satin poly with light fine sanding in between for a smooth, durable finish.

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I didn’t want the chairs to be too formal (pretty traditional in shape) and for them to have a bit of fun. The winner was fabric I found from Rifle Paper Co.  because it reminded me of whimsy Scandinavian illustrations. J helped me stretch the fabric and staple it to the frame. It’s a little hard to do yourself and requires more hand strength than I have. I grabbed a spool of upholstery cording and made miles of trim. After gluing the trim on and nearly a year later, I was finally done.

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