One foggy Sunday morning, I was doing the only thing I can drag myself out of bed early on a Sunday to do: prowl the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It was still early when I spotted a trio of interesting, outdoor, iron chairs and motioned to my shopping companion. Unimpressed, she made a face. Still, I stopped to take a second look and, obligingly, she stopped too.
The design was almost primitive, with skinny, stick-like legs that flared out in contrast to the tall, narrow backs. The thing that really caught my eye were two brass knobs at the top.
After a moment my friend whispered, “I don’t think they are going anywhere. We can always come back.”
I couldn’t argue with her logic. The chairs were hardly the sort of in-demand item that get scooped up right away and there was still so much ground to cover before the flea market started to get crowded. Somewhat reluctantly, I continued on.
Later that morning, those quirky chairs were still nagging me, summoning me back for another look. By the time we made our way back to them, I already knew that I would buy one of them and exactly how I would refinish it. Luckily, the vendor agreed to sell me just one of the chairs (breaking up the set)–and for a steal–only $25! I handed over the cash, threw that sucker over my shoulder, and we headed towards the parking lot. I could tell that my comrade still had doubts about my judgement, but my doubts were gone. I had a plan.
Drawing inspiration from Kelly Wearstler’s Sonnet chair (above), I gathered the necessary materials for my easy DIY chair makeover: foam, batting, faux Mongolian fur in black (with the longest pile I could find), sandpaper, a scouring pad, and black spray paint. Prepping the chair was easy. I unscrewed the seat from the base of the chair and and removed the decades-old vinyl covering and padding beneath. Sandpaper smoothed away the chipping paint and prepped the iron for a new coat. And knobs I had admired shined again after being scuffed with a scouring pad.
The seat turned out to be a piece of circular plywood. I opted for a much thicker foam than the chair had originally been given and cut the foam to be congruent with the seat. Then, I stapled the batting around the two and trimmed the excess. The faux fur fabric went over the batting, following the same method. Lastly, I screwed the seat back on to the newly painted frame.
And this is how the easiest DIY chair makeover turned out:
This chair now serves as my vanity stool 95% of the time and pulls double duty as a spare dining chair when I host a dinner. (I’m a proponent of mismatched dining chairs and made a conscious effort to curate distinctly different styles, but more on that in a future post…) In any case, I absolutely love my quirky little chair! Is it exactly like Kelly Wearstler’s Sonnet Chair? Well, no. However, it does recall the same slender bars, furry seat, and even has similar brass knobs.
To close, here are a few lessons I learned from this experience…
Listen to my gut–and those nagging feelings.
Don’t let someone’s doubt cloud my judgement.
There’s noting easier than reupholstering a chair with a pop off seat.
Beloved items don’t need to cost a lot.
Embrace the quirky.