Alison's Cure Project: Dining Chairs, Buy or DIY?

Alison's Cure Project: Dining Chairs, Buy or DIY?

Alison Gerber
Jan 9, 2014
(Image credit: Alison Gerber)

This is my project, for those who missed my first post - we badly need to fix our dining chair situation. There is no more pressing need in our tiny apartment than that. All of them are now coming apart at the seams. But I can't decide - should I repair them, or should I start hunting around for something new? Is it time to buy…or DIY?

For some, just looking at that shabby old thing with its fraying, terrible re-upholstery job, is enough to get their car engine started and drive them all the way to the door of IKEA. For others, the thought of getting some pre-fab, allen key piece of furniture as a replacement for something actually made of wood is enough to make their head explode. But me - I'm kind of between both. I simply can't decide.

Here are the reasons I might go with "Buy":

1. Lack of time. I'm a Mom of two, a blogger and at grad school. I'm currently on break from classes, but do I really want to spend however many nights its going to take to repair chairs? When I could be writing poetry? Or reading great books? Or…heaven forbid…sleeping? My lack of time is my number one reason to go with "buy".

2. I'm afraid they won't turn out so great. I'm no DIY guru, I've never repaired a chair before. I've sent out some emails today asking for assistance from friends, but still, what if they turn out wobbly? What if the upholstery looks terrible? My husband is complaining at the moment they are uncomfortable (because he's constantly bracing himself while sitting, in order to not break them) - what if they're still uncomfortable? I hate the thought of all that work ending in a null result.

3. They aren't my dream chairs. How much time should one spend on something they don't forsee themselves keeping forever?

Here are the reasons I might go with "DIY":

1. It will save money. I know that fixing up these chairs won't cost nothing, but it certainly will be cheaper than going to the store and buying new ones. I have a small budget for things for the apartment: it's never "both/and" around here, but rather, "either/or". If I can save on the chairs, then perhaps I can buy something else I would really like. I have a few things in mind. But if I spend on the chairs, those other things are out of the question.

2. It's kinder on the earth. I hate adding to the world's landfill, I really do. And reality is, if I don't fix these chairs, isn't that where they'll end up? And the kind of chairs I can afford to replace them with, will either be from Craigslist or IKEA (not necessarily the SIGURD chair pictured above ($65.00), but it gives an idea of my price range). How long will they last, really? The idea of "disposable furniture", just doesn't sit well with me.

3. I can't actually afford my dream chairs right now. I'd love to have a set of Eames dowel-leg chairs in bright, fun colors, or some Wishbone, or Era chairs with their lovely lines…but those chairs are expensive. They are way out of my league right now. So, rather than go on a second "in the meantime" option, shouldn't I make the best out of the "in the meantime" option I presently have?

Okay. What do you think - buy or DIY? Anything I'm missing here? Please weigh in on the debate in the comments below!

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