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Before and After: A Furniture Make-Under


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Feb 19, 2014 DIY, Furniture, Interior Design , , , , , 1 Comment

I have this chair and ottoman in my bedroom that we had bought at a local stoop sale for $30. It was perfect for our bedroom but it needed a total make-under. The wood was too dark, it had this horrible rattan on the top of the chair and ottoman that made it very unappealing. I decided to take on the job of refurbishing it. I started with the ottoman first. I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to re-do since it’s not very large. First order of business: removing the icky rattan ‘fabric’ on the top.

After prying off the bamboo edging, I uncovered about 200 staples or more that held the fabric in place. Can you say tedious? Using the smallest flat head screwdriver that I owned, I went about prying and removing each staple off of the ottoman. Let me paint you a picture: it’s mid-January and it’s a about 35 degrees outside or maybe colder. I, of course, am freezing but since I started the project, I had to finish it before I headed back inside to my nice and toasty house. Once all the staples were meticulously removed, I brought out my trusty hand sander and went to town. It took quite sometime to remove the dark stain but after numerous passes with the sander, the beautiful wood underneath was revealed. The wood underneath was gorgeous. It had this amost marbling look that made me wonder how anyone could ever cover it up. Thankfully, I UN-covered it and will keep it that way.

Once the wood was sanded to my satisfaction, I ended up just putting a coat of mineral oil over the whole thing and called it a day. The mineral oil just deepens the color just a bit to make all of the prettiness stand out. Next step, the fabric.

It took me a while to figure out what kind of fabric to use on the chair and ottoman. After much researching, I decided to use an off-white canvas to cover each piece. Unfortunately, when the fabric came in the mail, it wasn’t off-white..it was BRIGHT white. Way too bright for my taste and I think the stark white would not go well with the warmth that the wood brings. What to do, what to do…dye it, of course, because I have that much more time on my hands with an almost 3 year old wandering about. I didn’t want to fully change the color of the fabric, I just wanted to age it a bit. To do that, I looked toward tea-dying. When you dye fabric with tea, you basically just give that piece a bit of an age-y vintage-y look which was what I was looking for.

Here’s how I did it:

I boilded about 4 gallons of water in my largest pot and added about 15 tea bags into the pot to steep.  I let the tea steep for about 20 minutes. When I thought the water was dark enough, I removed the tea bags and put in the two pieces of fabric that I had already pre-cut to the dimensions of the furniture pieces. I let that sit in the tea bath for a good 45 minutes. You can of course leave it in longer for a deeper color or vice versa. After wringing it out, I threw it in the washing machine using cold water, and then into the dryer to set the color. The color difference isn’t anything major, but it just dulled the white enough to fit with my overall vision.

Next up: stamping because I wanted the fabric to pop just slightly. I had searched far and wide for a stamp to use on the fabric but unfortunately couldnt’ find anything that caught my eye. So if I can’t find it, I end up making it. Instead of purchasing a make your own stamp kit, I used what I had, and what I had was a potato. HA! yes, you read correctly. I used a potato. Potato stamping is super easy but once you commit to it, you have to finish it because a potato stamp doesn’t last forever and I highly doubt you can re-use it the next day because it’s a potato for goodness sakes. I had a design already in mind and after carving the potato into basically a triangle with lines, I began to hand stamp the fabric pieces. Once I handstamped them all, I set the fabric paint with my iron.

Now that all the hard work was done, all that was left was to attach the fabric to the ottoman. I ended up using simple upholstery tacks since the grooves were wide enough for the heads of the tacks and not for upholstery nails. The key to making sure the fabric is nice and tight all around is I worked from the center out, pulling as I went. The ottoman was small enough to do soley by me, but when I have to tackle it’s counterpart, the chair, I most probably have to get help…aka my husband.

Knowing me, the chair may take me awhile but the fabric is all set. I bought a stain stripper that I plan on using for the chair since the sanding was a bit tedious. I’m sure stripping the stain/paint will be the same. Stay tuned for that redo soon. But for now, I’ll enjoy the ottoman all by it’s lonesome.