Before & After: Family Heirloom Finds New Life

published Jan 27, 2015
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(Image credit: Sheila McIntosh)

After facing decades of moves and time in storage, Sheila decided to restore this chair her husband’s parents bought in the 60s. It’s now ready to take on another 50 years:

(Image credit: Sheila McIntosh)

From Sheila:

My husband’s parents bought this chair around 1960 shortly after they were married. It eventually landed in my husband’s childhood room and then followed him as he grew up.

During most of our life together the chair was stored away. By the time that we decided that it needed more love, it was really showing it’s age. The cord was disintegrating and broken; the finish was bare in many places. There was water (or beer?) damage and little tooth marks here and there. It needed a full-on restoration.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I had the skills to do it. So I turned to YouTube, consulted a bunch of woodworking sites and relied on the guidance of “friends with experience.” I carefully dismantled the chair and removed the cording while taking tons of pictures for guidance. I hand-sanded the frame to bare wood and patched where needed. Then I re-glued, stained, applied a topcoat and polished the hardware before re-weaving the cord.

There were some frustrations: the stain didn’t “take” evenly; there was much sanding and restaining. Surprisingly, the weaving of the new cord went very smoothly.

One of the important things to me was to restore the chair with materials that would stand the test of time while getting staying somewhat true to the original. The cord is a polyester macrame cord, “Bonnie Braid,” sourced from Pepperell Braiding. The finish is a Varathane oil stain with General Finishes’ Armor Seal as a top coat.

We’re really happy with the final result. The best part is that my husband’s parents are in awe of the transformation; they say it brings back memories of their first years together!

Now I’m looking for a matching ottoman to restore!

Thank you Sheila!