I think it would be fair to say that I have fallen in love with re-furbishing vintage and antique chairs and whilst it has been a complete learning curve for me, I have to admit that I have enjoyed all of the challenges that each of our Chair Projects have thrown at us. Believe me, these two were no exception.
We discovered these two ornate chairs in a gorgeous Flea Market in Hove called Department. Once we started to strip them back, we could see that they had already been re-upholstered once before. Lets just say that I think whoever did them before had got a little staple happy from looking at the Mount Everest size mountain of staples we had to remove from the two chairs.
We wanted to try something a bit different on these chairs, something a bit more rustic and so after some hardy negotiating at our favourite Brighton Street Market, we came away with some Hemp upholstery fabric and decorative nail strips (which we had previously used, and loved, in one our New Throne post). I had a visual in mind of what I wanted the chairs to look like, so I turned to my trusty friend Annie Sloane to provide the paint distressed wood furniture finish that would complete our rustic worn-down vintage look.
Now, I know that you may have probably read through our chair blogs before and whilst obviously riveted by our tales of upholstery trials and tribulations, I wanted to focus more on the distressed paint effect achieved on this particular project. I read recently that Annie Sloane’s paints are a bit like a bug, “once bitten, your home won’t ever look the same again” and I realised how true that was. I counted back over our many projects and realised that we had equally fallen in love with this fantastic paint, along with the rest of the furniture restoration fanatics out there. So I thought I would share with you, how we achieved the look we wanted on these chairs.
The beauty with using Chalk Paint is that most wood surfaces do not need any preparation prior to applying the paint itself. However a good friend of ours said it was always best to give any varnished surface a good sanding to help the paint hold even better. We found this to be true.
Ensure that you use a good quality paintbrush and apply the paint quite thickly. Don’t be afraid to move the brush in different directions, garaunteeing that the paint gets worked into every nook and cranny. Depending on the finish you want to acheive, you may want to add another coat, however one coat is sometimes enough, as it’s very thick paint.
Once the paint (whether one coats or two) is dry then pick your sandpaper of choice. Again, depending on the look you want to achieve you may want to go for either a fine grain sandpaper or more of a coarser grain. For our chair we used a coarse grain sandpaper as we wanted the wood underneath to be quite noticeable. Be sure to think about where you are rubbing the paint away. Think about where the paint could naturally be worn away over time and concentrate your efforts on those areas more.
One alternative to sand paper is wire wool. This can sometimes be a bit more aggressive, but is easier to control around more rounded surfaces.
To seal the the painted surface, use a soft cloth to rub in a coat of clear wax. As we were using white chalk paint we only used the clear wax, but there is a darker wax you can buy that gives a more distressed and worn look. We had used this on our TV stand project earlier in the summer.
After the paint was applied and finished with the wax, we set about stapling the fabric to the main body of the chairs. Again we had used the previous fabric as a template to cut out the hemp upholstery fabric.
We decided to add back in the upholstery buttons which had previously been blocked up and covered when the chairs were re-upholstered before. Knowing that finish would look the better for it, we covered the twenty buttons needed. To see how to do this in more detail, you can read our blog entry ‘Push The Button‘.
After stapling like crazy and applying the finishing touches of the decorative nail strip’s, the twin chairs were finished and ready. Actually I’m sitting in one as I type this now.