Friday, December 2, 2011

Dining room chair upholstery craziness!

We used to have a cool old antique table and chairs that I bought in a hormone daze during one of my ill-fated pregnancies. It was ill-fated enough that the dining set never "took" either - the top was not durable enough for our crazy family and we don't have a separate "everyday" table - we eat there every day at dinnertime.  Then the chairs started falling apart. Wild Thing liked to stick his fingers through the antique rattan backs and make holes (sounds fun if you are 14 months old, huh?). Our American sized family members and friends would occasionally get a scare from the creaky smallness of the chairs. And I just didn't have good mojo with the set - though I didn't realize that until we got rid of it. We gave it away to a woman who was thrilled to rejuvenate it and give it a good home. yay!

So we went to a sale at Macy's and bought a brand-new table and set of 6 chairs.  We'd checked them out and liked them a lot. Then when they went on sale at, like, 40% off - well you all know how that works. This was a few years ago. I want to say 5 years?  At the time I remember saying to Mr. Wonderful that the only problem was the seat upholstery. "But it's ultrasuede!" he says..."the only thing our cat won't shred into threads over a weekend!". True dat.  But it was cream colored - or more of a very light taupe. It's hard to remember for sure you see, because they got so dirty I didn't even take a "before" photo.  Although I did save the piece I used as a template for the new covers as Exhibit A: (oh, the shame...)

In fairness, there were a couple of chairs that were not that bad. Like the 2nd armchair that we keep in our bedroom since we don't have a large enough dining room for it on a daily basis and besides, Mr Wonderful needs a place to throw his khakis at the end of the day. And this one looks particularly hideous, so it was probably the seat Wild Thing sat in, but I'm not sure. They were mostly pretty bad.

And I tried. I Scotchguarded. And I cleaned them a couple of times and bleached them in the sun.

But at the time we bought them I remember telling Mr. Wonderful that I would have to recover the seats at some point because white or cream or light taupe just doesn't work for dining chairs you use everyday. Especially if there are children involved. At least in our family where no one bothers to pull the chairs out after meals and make sure there isn't sauce and noodles and milk and wine and chunks of pork chop stuck to them. Who has that kind of time? (I know. You all probably do that kind of thing, but we didn't and look where that took us!)

I searched and searched for some interesting print that wasn't too interesting for Mr. Wonderful and a general aesthetic.  I seriously considered a cotton laminate, which has worked so wonderfully for our kitchen chairs (where we do eat breakfast in our little nook since remodeling the kitchen). But vinyl seats in the dining room was not a place I could go - even a designer cotton laminate. But I really mulled that over a long time...

It's true that ultrasuede works best with our cat (we have 2 cats, but only one bad shredder cat - the other one just barfs everywhere which is another home dec challenge in itself).  But I couldn't decide on a color. Then very late one night while browsing ultraseude on I had this thought that the chairs could be all different colors. Maybe to pull colors from the rug underneath (which now looks all spotty and dirty, so getting that cleaned professionally is next on the list I guess!).

I think this works.

The blue one is not actually that bright in real life - a more bright navy rather than indigo...but you get the idea.  The colors really do pull from the rug nicely and they are all dark enough to mask more dirt/stains than the white/ivory/light taupe color.  I need to buy a can of Scotch Guard to be on the safe side though.

Some notes on the actual project execution: 1) I have done this at least 3 times before with old chairs, and the process was much more challenging with new chairs.  The industrial staple machine they must have used made the staples impossible to pull out easily.  After the first chair, I actually just ripped the piping out and removed the black covering to reuse - then just stapled the new fabric right over the old fabric and added new piping.  I don't think there are any oily stains that will seep through - I tried to spot any - but that is a risk I think with just recovering rather than removing the old fabric.

Also my first experience with this type of piping - okay, who am I kidding? I've used piping exactly twice for a project, ever.  Anyway, I just made the piping with 2 inch strips and cording, then stapled it along the edges and covered the raw edges with the salvaged black netting fabric (whatever that stuff is called).  Don't look to close and it pretty much approximates the original piping look that the chairs had.  If I'd had a print that I decided to use I may have skipped this altogether, but with the ultrasuede it's a nice detail.

It's been forever since I've linked up to Sara's Whoop Whoop Friday, but I'm home with a sick boy on what was supposed to be my day off let's Whoop it up!