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Vintage Chair Rehab

Vintage Chair Rehab

before and after chair rehabVintage Chair Rehab

Have you wondered how to refinish a vintage chair?

I’ll tell exactly how I did it.

I purchased this chair at a local estate sale. The chair had so much detail and character. It was speaking to me…. ‘Please make me beautiful again’. I’d been looking for a vintage chair to refinish for quite some time for a new office chair. Comfort was key as I spend some much time in my office chair.

I tried it out and it felt very comfortable even with not much cushion left.

2015-07-18 11.06.59 It was purchased for only $40 bucks, which felt like it was a steal for something so beautiful. So I hauled it home and started refurbishing it immediately.

First I removed the existing red leather upholstery. When I was taking off the leather I found like old horse hair, which is what they used back in the day for cushioning.

Once removed the seat cushion, I saw all of the holes and realized it must have been a cane chair initially.2015-07-21 20.40.14

The chair had some kind of finish still on it which I needed to remove so I could stain it. BEWARE! This finish remover was highly toxic. I did it outside on a windy day which was perfect. Thick rubber gloves are necessary as it will melt the thin ones. I used a cheap paint brush to apply the remover. A small plastic scrapper let me scrape all of the old finish off even in the detailed areas. You know it’s working when it starts to bubble.

2015-07-25 17.50.40After applying several coats of the remover and scraping, this is what it looked like. I still had to do a little sanding with steel wool to remove the remaining finish.

I puttied the holes with a stainable wood filler and then sanded.

Then I stained it with an old rag and Zar morish teak wiping stain. I thought it looked great but was a little reddish. Not exactly what I was 2015-07-27 18.43.16going for. It amazes me how colors change on a larger surface. SAMPLE SAMPLE SAMPLE before you go big. It will save you a lot of time having to re-finish it.

Then I let it sit for a couple days to dry and soak in. I decided to kill some of the red, so I wiped it with black stain. Once stained, I took steel wool to aged the stain a little and give it a distressed look.

Finally I clear coated it with deft clear polyurethane satin to give it some protection.

To upholster the seat, I cut a piece of plywood that fit inside the chair seat area. Then I bought some foam at a craft store.

Make sure to cut the foam to the same size as plywood.

Sprayed adhesive on the plywood and adhered the foam.

Then I found some upholstery fabric in my closet. (not my favorite but it worked)

A staple gun was used to secure the fabric to the plywood, then set into the seat area. (I forgot to take photos of this step…Oops)

2015-11-07 19.00.49Tada! The finished chair! I think it turned out great. I know I’ll be reupholstering the seat soon as I’ll be moving into a new office. I’m thinking it will be something colorful and more modern. I love mixing the old and new styles together to make something unique.

This chair is insanely comfortable and now has a new look. It is one of my favorite things to do, saving something from the landfill and making it beautiful again!

You can find all of the supplies needed to complete this project at our local paint store Morgan Paint co.


Good luck on your rehab project, you’ve got this!!!

Cheers from the gorge.