Before and After: Cane Chairs
I didn’t think I could show my face until I had finished them. Why did it take so long? A combination of a four-month-old who just beat colic, and this chair not being the easiest to reupholster. But check out these beauties… I’m in love!
Hilarious how so many of us have these chairs. One reader had already redone her chair. Let me start by saying that this is not a project for the faint of heart. It did take some muscle and some patience, but look how cute! Totally worth it. Also note that I’m not a pro. Not even a semi-pro. I’ve only done mild upholstery jobs, so I just made this up as I went along, and it went something like this:
1. Remove the screws underneath the seat to release the cushion (My brother’s tip is to take pictures as you disassemble the chair in case you need to go back for reference when you’re ready to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.)
2. Remove all of the staples and fabric. (I used needle nose pliers because it’s what I had, but my brother recommends an upholstery staple remover) Save this fabric because you’ll need it as a pattern to cut out your new fabric.
3. Sand your chair so the paint can stick well.
4. At least 2 coats of spray paint. My ultimate FAVORITE spray paint of all time – and will never stray – is Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch. No they didn’t pay me to say this, and they wouldn’t have to. I love this stuff like I love Cheerios for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The applicator tip is big like a can of hairspray so you don’t get carpal tunnel from spraying, and the coverage is by far better than any other brand. You can get away with less coats. The reason I chose spray paint for these chairs is because there are no brush marks, the caning on the sides would have been a disaster to paint with a brush, and it’s quicker. You can do a few coats within 15 minutes of each other. Note: I started with matte finish, but didn’t like how it felt so the top coat on these chairs is semi-gloss. Much better.
5. On to the cusions. A bazillion staples need to be removed, and you need to try to salvage the fabric as much as you can so you can make a pattern out of it.
6. My chairs had the original upholstery with the buttoning, so all of these buttons needed to be removed, again I used the needle nosed pliers.
7. The cushions were a little worn and needed some extra quilt batting to beef them up, and since I wasn’t going to do the buttoning, I filled the holes like Heather did to smooth it out. (Good thinkin’ Heather)
8. Used the old fabric to cut out the new fabric, plus a little extra. I wanted to be able to pull and tug on the fabric and then trim later. My fabric was directional and I bought 3 yards for both chairs and it was PLENTY. Probably would have been okay with 2 1/4 for both chairs. (btw- fabric was $5/yard at Home Fabrics in Pleasant Hill, CA)
9. The back piece facing out goes on first. I centered my directional fabric and stapled it tightly in the center working my way out. Pull hard and get that fabric tight. I used a PowerShot heavy duty staple gun and it worked great. Definitely an air compressor and nail gun would have been even better, but I didn’t have one – and they scare me. You can rent one and get even better results.
10. I had to make sure my fabric was straight before I nailed the whole thing down.
11. LOTSA staples.
12. Removed buttoning, filled holes and added a few layers of batting to the back cushion
13. Staple, staple, staple.
14. Trim the excess. This is where your piping will go.
15. Okay, this is where I got janky. I used the original piping from the chair because, lucky me, it matched my new fabric. As far as online tutorials go, I fail because I haven’t taught you how to make your own piping, BUT, looking at it, it doesn’t look too tough to recreate. the tough part is attaching it to the chair so you don’t see the staples. This is where the air compressor would have been great, but would have taken great precision, and since those things scare the bejeebies outta me, I glued. Yes, in the spirit of “I’m not a pro, let’s wing it,” I glued the trim. Wood glue. Seems to be holding up nicely. If I didn’t have the original piping I would do one of three things, recover the piping with a sewing machine. If you take it apart you’ll see how it’s constructed quite easily. Or I’d buy cording and glue two widths of it, or what Heather did was use nailhead trim. I’ve had a hard time getting nailhead to sit straight, but she looks like she got it down.
16. Last row of piping on the chair base and replace the cushion.