Sitting pretty

Several weeks I ago, I picked up four chairs at a consignment store for a reasonable price. The catch: the chairs were in pretty rough condition, having likely never had any love. The stain was chipped and wearing off, and the cushions (that’s a misnomer — the chair seats have no real cushion) have seen far better days. But the chairs have nice curves and beautiful carved roses on the back rest.

So this weekend I refurbished one of the four. The other three will follow, likely one chair at a time. First, I sanded the remaining stain (there wasn’t much) off the chair. I used 150-grit sandpaper and because the stain was in such shabby shape, sanding was a breeze. After sanding, I wiped away the excess dirt and grime with a wet rag.

Since the chairs haven’t been well-cared for, I applied several coats of wood conditioner to moisturize the wood. I used MinWax. Although the pre-stain wood conditioner says it works best when followed with stain, I didn’t have any trouble following with paint.

After the conditioner dried (it’s quick — only ten or fifteen minutes, and less with such dry wood), I applied two coats of latex primer. I did this to ensure the stain won’t bleed through the paint. I allowed the primer to dry for several hours. It was an absolutely beautiful day for painting the chair. The sky was a brilliant blue, it was warm with a slight breeze and hummingbirds zipped past the porch, their wings buzzing madly.

Finally, I painted the chair with Martha Stewart’s Sunken Pool paint. It’s a lovely aqua blue. To make sure the rose design was still visible — a friend commented that if I painted in all the cracks and crevices the design might fade into the rest of the chair — I purposely applied the paint sloppily, allowing the primer and wood to show through. The design has taken on a distressed, antique look. Again, I let the paint dry for several hours.

I have to say, it was painful putting back on the ratty old cushion. The beauty of the body of the chair amplifies just how terrible the cushion really is. Anyway, I plan to add foam and recover the cushion in a pretty fabric. When I get to that (it may take me a while to re-do the rest of the chairs since the one took all day), I’ll make sure to post an update.

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