Monday, 30 March 2015

Vintage office chair makeover...

Remember this vintage office chair I found at the flea market? Yeah, it was ages ago...

The only thing it had going for it was its shape. I hated the blue metallic hammerite paint and the choice of upholstery. And I do not know whose idea it was to pair those two elements together!

I fancied stripping the metal back to the bare bones and hoped I'd find some rusty metal under that paint. I read a lot of hoo haa on the web about people having trouble stripping hammerite. Since EU regulations on paint stripper changed, several people complained it wasn't up to the job. I tried my usual Wilkos multi purpose paint stripper and it was fine. In the olden days, paint would bubble up instantly and so would your skin if you weren't careful. Well, the newer stuff does the job but it's much slower.

I had to apply it and set the kitchen timer for 30 mins, reapply and wait another 30 mins. I used wire wool to remove the paint but I didn't want to scrub too hard and lose the tarnish on the metal so I let the stripper do the work. It was a very slow process to get all the metal work stripped as I worked in small sections at a time.

But eventually it went from this...

To this...

A coat of dark wax turned it from this...

To this...

Once the metal was finished I set about dismantling the upholstered parts. I hadn't wanted to do that before I stripped the chair as I have memory problems and didn't want a big gap between dismantling and reassembly.

I took photos so I'd know how to put it back together. Then I forgot I'd done that, muddled through and found the pictures just now. Doh.

Under that red was the original green...

And lots of dust. Eew.

I realised the foam was not only a health hazard but also pretty shot so I replaced it with some 1'' foam from Dunelm. I drew round the old foam and cut it out with my electric carving knife. I stuck it onto the wooden seat and back with spray adhesive and covered it with my fabric.

My favourite vintage cabbage rose barkcloth. I stapled it on.

I decided to cover the green plastic back you can see here...

I just used a bit of spray mount and glued the fabric around the edges on the other side, holding it with clothes pegs.

I'm really glad I did that...

I think it looks so much nicer than the green plastic did.

So here's the finished chair...

I love it! The new foam makes a huge difference to the chairs comfort. I like that it's not too pretty as it lives with my desk in the living room.

I did like this version that I found on Pinterest but it's a little too girly for me and my living room...

Of course if you paint the legs there's no need to strip at all. Just re-spray...

And I loved the idea of using old tapestry pieces...

 but I had nothing the right size in my stash.

I thought about hessian grain sacks but I thought it'd be too trendy.
I'm happy with my choice and I think it's going to look good with my new sofa that I forgot to order today. Told you I have memory problems.

Another job is ticked off the list. I'm feeling so much guilt and anxiety at not getting on with the kitchen. I keep thinking that if I get hit by a bus, no one else will know how to finish the cupboards and my poor family will be left with half a nice kitchen, half a crap one. So no more fannying about. I need to get on with it. I can't believe it's April this week and I was planning on finishing the kitchen in the new year! Hopeless...

Back soon with more procrastination no doubt...


  1. Em, you never cease to amaze me with your handywoman looks great...I have at least 6 vintage pieces in the garage that need upcycling that I'm putting off xxx

  2. That chair is gorgeous, what a fabulous shape. The barkcloth looks wonderful. Great job! x

  3. I love the fabric, beautiful without being pretty, it works really well with the bare metal. xx

  4. Oh Emma Kate, c'est magnifique! I covered our old computer chair with cow fake fur fabric! xx

  5. What a superb job you've made of this office chair, love the barkcloth. The Pinterest chairs are lovely inspiration. Btw did you like my rusty wire basket? I thought of you when I bought it.

  6. I love it! Barkcloth is the most beautiful fabric. You ARE an inspiration to us all. Good luck with the kitchen!

  7. I must admit I liked the chair in its original incarnation, but you've tarted it up a treat, love that barkcloth!
    Ahh, Afflecks Palace, how I loved going there in the 80s, I bought a fabulous 1950s cocktail dress there is about 1983. The dress is long gone, but Afflecks is still there! xxx

  8. by the way, I got my husband to paint a bookcase for me today, with the lure of he could use that lovely Harris paint brush you sent me, all new and special looking , instead of my paint encrusted old ratty brushes! Thank you ! ♥

    1. You're very welcome! You can't beat a Harris paintbrush! xx

  9. Beautifully done, and lovely fabric! :)


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