Step by step. When attempting a large-ish project, I find it helpful to break it down into components, which is a fairly easy thing to do when your project is actually five pieces of furniture. So because the table was intimidating to me, tackling the chairs first seemed like a good way to get moving.
To remind you, here is the before:
I bought the chairs individually on Craiglist and at the Alameda flea market. They're all different, but similar in that all four have curved backs and Queen Anne style front legs. As you can see, they didn't look like that much of a set before, though. So here's my chair rehab, step by step:
- Step one: unscrew the seats from the three chairs that had upholstery (the fourth chair has a caned seat.) Five minutes total - an easy first step.
- Step two: spray paint the now seatless chairs. Yes, I too used to think spray paint was tacky. But the truth is, it's by far the easiest way to paint something like a chair, and with a high gloss enamel spray paint, they come out with a finish that is glossy, hard, and stands up to wear. All spray painting should be done outside, ideally while wearing a mask. Remember to tarp your area, spray paint tends to get everywhere.
- Step three: repeat with spray paint as needed. I would say all four of the chairs got about five coats each. With spray paint, I've found the best method is to do multiple light coats - you prevents drips and get an even finish. I usually wait about 40 minutes in between coats, less time than is called for, but it's worked well for me so far. I do recommend waiting a full 24 hours between the last coat and using the furniture though.
- Step four: recover the upholstered seats. If you've never done this, don't worry, it's easy. Simply remove old staples and fabric with a screwdriver and pliers, and stretch and staple the new fabric over the seat. A good quality staple gun is your friend here, the cheap ones tend to be hard on your hands. Make sure that your fabric pattern is facing in the same direction on all seats, and that it's lined up the way you want it to be before you start to staple.
I was originally planning on upholstering the chairs with some Etsuko Furuya green ladybug fabric, but the off white background of the fabric was a bad match for the white white of the chairs. Luckily I remembered these great IKEA Hedda Lov curtains that didn't work in our house but I loved the pattern so much I saved them. The fabric is heavy duty enough to be used on chairs, and I'm so happy with the result.
- Step five: screw the seats back onto the chairs.
and voila! I have four freshened-up chairs that actually look like they match. Not too bad for a weekend.
Now, onto the table. I was planning on having it done for the contest, but a death in the family and some time out of town has put me behind schedule. As long as the rain lets up, I should have it to share by the end of the contest, though, so stay tuned. I'm planning on spray painting the legs, but do want something more heavy duty for the top - ideally a high gloss hard-to-scratch heat-resistant finish. Suggestions?