From dated and tired to a whole new life

Back on August 4th, I told you about a chair I saved. It was tired, old, nicked up and even gouged in areas.  But it was still strong and had plenty of life still in it.  I thought it would be a quick face-lift but then life got in the way.  Well I can finally show you the finished chair. Here’s the beginning.

Nightmares of the 1980s

There are a few things I definitely hate about these chairs.  I have first hand experience with this furniture.  Back in 1988 I was surprised by a new living room set of furniture by my grandmother.  She thought it would be nice if I had matching furniture.  Now I loved the furniture I owned at the time.  But she hated it.  Not only did she buy me new furniture, I had picked it out for my first home and it was only 6 years old,  but she arranged for new owners of my existing furniture. To say I was upset would be an understatement.  But respecting your elders meant to me at the time to keep my mouth shut, smile and say thank you.

Fast forward 2 years, and the only time my youngest son ever need stitches was after a fall near this furniture which left him with a scar in his one eyebrow.

When I took in this chair I knew I would ask my eldest son and wife if they would like it.   They were buying a home and would need more furniture.  They wanted it,  but didn’t like the color or the cushions, and I wasn’t going to give it to them with the sharp edges which led to my son being hurt.

There was plenty of sanding to do.  I enjoy the process of sanding by hand and rarely use a sander, but this job was too much to tackle without a sander.  The varnish was so tough it gummed up trying to remove it.  I went through more sandpaper than I had expected with this job.

Then it was on to fixing those pointed edges.

Plenty of edges to be rounded
Sure it’s wood so kids can still get hurt, but there is no need for pointed edges

Since my son has a black futon in the family room for overnight guests, and this chair would be used in the same room I knew it needed to be darker.  I decided to use an ebony stain. I’ve always liked the look others got using ebony, but I never had a project that needed it.  In hindsight,  I should have just used a no VOC black paint and watered it down to get a consistency that would have acted like a stain.  It would have been faster, and fume free.  But I can say I’ve used the ebony stain now.

Here’s the final look of the chair.

Using the original cushion covers

Now planning the project, I spotted some upholstery fabric and dragged my dil to see it.  She liked it and I was able to buy more than enough to recover the entire chair. Now that the stain is darker, she likes the original covers.  I’m not sure, but it’s her chair now.

What do you think? Here is the new fabric draped over the back. Which would you like?

I vote for the new fabric


  1. I was wondering how you were getting along with your chair project. You have done a wonderful job- the chair looks terrific. Solid wood furniture just keeps on giving!
    I suppose the fabric depends on the rest of the decor of the room in which it will be placed. In my own home, I go for neutral tones and then change accessories like cushion, pictures and accessories for colour.


    • Thank you. Yes, I finally got to it. The problem, after the sanding, was having time to work with the stain without the grand children stopping over. It’s rare that I have an entire day without at least a short visit, and the stain takes much longer to set.

      I do like neutrals for my house, then add little punches of color around the place. If I keep my walls neutral then I can change the decor whenever the mood strikes. But because they have chosen to go with the neutral fabric on the chair I’ve spent time looking at it and wondering if a pillow could dress it up. I have to stop myself because it’s theirs now to do with what they please.


  2. Well, I think you’ve found your answer. It doesn’t much matter which fabric you like. It’s their chair and you have to respect their choice, whether it’s the best choice or not.
    I would’ve had a hard time if someone I loved had imposed their taste of furniture on me, as well. We had a similar situation with a car given to us.


        • I’ve been to Minnesota a few years back, we stayed in Winona for two weeks during September. It gets hotter there than here during the warmer months and colder than here in the winter months, I feel for you. It gets pretty cold here in PA as well, which was why I loved corduroy pants in the winters when I was younger.


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