Have you noticed a theme with DIY blog posts? How they often start with something like, "This project was so quick and easy! It only took me 30 minutes! Simplest thing I've ever made!"
Here's the intro for my project: this was the most obnoxious DIY project I have ever undertaken. I hated almost every second of it, it took nearly 2 full days to complete (and I really do mean full, as in, I did nothing else for 2 days straight), and although I like the outcome, I don't think this is a project I will tackle ever again.
In general, I make things myself for two reasons: 1) I love the process . . . just plain creating something is fun for me, and 2) I can't afford to not make it myself . . . if I don't make it on my own, I can't have it, period. This project falls solely into category number 2. If I ever get tired of the look of these chairs (please sweet heavens no), I will hopefully have enough money to pay a professional to do it for me.
All right. So now that you are fully informed on just how much I despised working on this, and won't be fooled into thinking this is a simple, easy, 30-minute DIY project, here are the chairs that nearly killed me:
I reupholstered the crap out of those suckers. Look at them, sitting there so smugly, mocking me and my poorly-informed ideas about how easy they ought to have been to re-cover. I can hardly decide if I love them for what they are now, or hate them for how they crushed my innocent DIY spirit.
Why were they so horrible to reupholster, you ask? We'll start at the beginning.
When I purchased these chairs a few years ago, I loved their modern shape and thought their argyle-patterned fabric was pretty fun:
But after 4 years in a room that was various shades of brown from top to bottom, I was dying for some color, and these chairs were (conveniently) looking very worn out.
I knew I wanted a bright red fabric for my chairs; at first I had my eye on this Amy Butler fabric, which I estimated I would need about 7 or 8 yards of, bringing the cost of this project to about $63. I know that's not a huge price tag for "new" chairs, but I really can't overemphasize how cheap I am, so I dragged my feet for weeks, unwilling to shell out $60+ for a project that, to be honest, I wasn't 100% confident I could accomplish.
Then we stopped at Home Fabrics on a whim, and holy moly, it is the best store of all time. We got the cream rug that's now in our living room (pictured above) for about $30, an adorable red houndstooth home decor fabric for my chairs for $3 per yard, and a few yards of quilting cotton for $2 a yard (project unknown). I have never seen prices like that before . . . unbelievable. So the cost for reupholstering these chairs rang up to a whopping $18, and I have at least 1 or 2 yards of chair fabric left over (I'm picturing matching family outfits for a matchy-matchy family picture on our new chairs . . . that would make the best Christmas card ever).
(See how we're smiling? We don't know what we're in for yet)
My mom is an angel, and offered to help (or did I drag her unwillingly along, kicking and screaming? Can't remember now, I've repressed the upholstering memories). We started tearing those chairs apart, foolishly excited over their soon-to-be new look. It didn't take long for us to realize that whoever made our chairs must have had a friend in the staple business . . . I don't know how many staples exist in the world, but I think about 90% of them were used on my two chairs. And we didn't know there was such a thing as an upholstery staple remover, but I'm going to wager a guess that it would have been $14 well-spent. We used screwdrivers and pliers to pry thousands of staples loose to remove the fabric (which is, shockingly, even less fun than it sounds). This was the part that made this project so awful--the de-assembly took forever. Putting it back together honestly wasn't too bad, but by that point I was so frustrated by how long it had taken to remove the old fabric that I hardly cared how it looked anymore . . . I just wanted it to be done (it's about to get a little grody in here, but it really reminded me of giving birth . . . at some point, I really stopped caring about how it happened, the little birth plan they had me write while I was pregnant was tossed out the window, and I just wanted it to end. I even used one of the completed chair backs as a focal point to keep going through the horrible labor of the rest of the chairs . . . and that's where the metaphor stops.)
I cut the fabric apart along the seams and used them as pattern pieces (make sure you add in a seam allowance), and sewed new seats for the chairs:
Add in some piping (my first time sewing piping! It was the only easy part of the project), and we were ready to reassemble the chairs:
A million staples later, they were completed, and although I don't think I'll ever want to reupholster anything ever again, I have to admit that I really like how they came out:
No one will ever mistake them for professionally upholstered pieces . . . they have plenty of little mistakes that I was too tired to fix, or just didn't know how to do. Although I'm tempted to only show you the pictures that make them look perfect, they certainly have their flaws . . . for example, I didn't even attempt any sort of print-matching at the seams, and you can see that my sewing was a bit sloppy:
And there are some funky areas where the fabric was pulled too tightly (notice the houndstooth dipping in the middle of the seat here), as well as the wacky chair bottoms:
I'm not sure if this is standard, but there is a panel of black fabric that velcroes along the bottom of the chairs to hide their ugly innards, and I obviously didn't reconstruct it correctly, since it's gapping all over the place. And not pictured are the impressive puckers at the back of the seats (can you spot them in the last photo, down at the bottom of the post?) or my staple-removing-induced arthritis. But you know, the little imperfections really don't bother me much . . . I'd rather have it done than perfect.
For comparison purposes, here is a living room semi-before picture (but picture the trunk still being brown, and the lamp not being there at all):
Even Forrest hates it. So . . . brown.
And an almost-done picture . . . minus all the boring brown pillows, minus the worn-out argyle print chairs, plus some fun sort-of-new chairs, an area rug, and some color via a solitary pillow, lamp, and trunk:
Still on the to-do list for this room:
- curtains (I'm at a loss for curtains . . . do I go with something colorful or neutral? What color? Patterned or plain? Long drapes or a simple shade? Any thoughts?)
- pillows for the couch (I'm struggling to find a BIG, bold red print to use for the pillows, although I'm thinking of maybe getting just a yard or two of that Amy Butler fabric I considered for the chairs)
- wall art . . . we've lived here almost 2 months now and there's still nothing on the walls
What do you think? Were my chairs worth all that work? Have you ever tried your hand at reupholstery? If so, and if you did a great job and love it, I'm just going to hire you when Forrest inevitably spills grape juice on my new chairs. There are some things Scotch-guard just can't foresee.
(I'll be milking this horrible, horrible project for all it's worth at these link-ups)