Back-To-School Student Furniture

This was a bittersweet week for a lot of parents.  We packed up our beloved babies and shipped them back to university housing with loads of home cooking in little freezer containers and an assortment of hand-me-down furniture.  Or so I intended.

The young prince in my household, however, had other ideas.  It was not going to suffice to have an assortment of mismatched, used and patched-together furnishings in his personal space, however much he is supposed to have his nose in a book.  After a decent struggle on my part, I gave in, partly due to his creative and thrifty approach to getting his way!

Ikea was visited.  The basement was searched.  Items were rejected and magazines consulted.  A colour scheme was carefully chosen and supplies purchased.

One thing my student wanted was a desk chair for his room.  (I’m unsure why, since I have only ever seen him work lying on his bed.)  This is a


style of chair of which I had four in the basement:

These were once obtained from Craigslist for a project I had intended to do, that had simply slipped way down my list.  We searched my scrap fabric cupboard and found this beautiful old Shumacher fabric from the curtains of our first house:

Found fabric, deep-tinted “Fresh Start” primer

Once my handy student understood the potential of these chairs, he decided to double his labour and renovate two of them.  This is a step-by-step of his self-guided project:

1.     First, he removed the seats from the chairs, carefully taking off the original (but stained) fabric to use as a pattern for the shape of the new seats.

2.     Cut out the new fabric covering, being sure that the repeat in the pattern is centred both front to back and side to side, and is identically placed on both chairs.

3.     Carefully wrap the fabric over the seat in the same manner as the original fabric.  My son discarded a nice cording trim that was originally on it to make it look less fussy and to avoid any sewing element to the project (which would have required far more time as well as my help).  Smooth the fabric symetricallyand staple it onto the underside of the seat as you go, making it taut but not too tight so as to pull or create lumps.  Note how the corners are folded smoothly.

Underside of seat

These are 5/16-inch staples and you need a heavy-duty stapler for this project.  Staples will go in on the underside of the chair, spaced out for evenness at first, then gradually filled in to a spacing of about 1 inch apart or less, all the way around the wooden underside of the padded seat.  A few staples could be added further from the edge to secure the loose parts of fabric.

A more finished option would be to cover the entire bottom, half an inch from all edges, with a piece of muslin-type fabric in a neutral colour.  Iron the edges under, before stapling such a finish over the decorator fabric.

4.     Wash the wooden part of the chair with TSP, following the package instructions.  Painted furniture can chip if the paint does not adhere adequately, so proper preparation of the surface is essential!  Rinse and dry.

5.   Sand with sandpaper between 80 and 120 grit in texture.  Make sure you rough up every surface for good adhesion.  Wipe off all the sandings to prevent them from ending up in your paint job and creating a rough texture.

6.     Prime the entire chair with an adhesive latex-based primer.  We use Benjamin Moore’s “Fresh Start” for every paint project due to great results.  In this case, since my son chose a very dark final paint colour, the primer had to be tinted dark for best results.  Your paint store will know the correct colour to make the primer for the paint you choose if you are ever using a dark paint.  Allow to dry according to the length of time in the instructions on the primer can.

7.     Sand again very lightly, with 120 grit paper to enhance adhesion for the paint.  Try not to expose the wood anywhere, this time.  Wipe off the grit from sanding.  Sanding between coats also gets rid of any bumps and lumps in the paint job, which occur from time to time.

8.     Paint the chair! Normally, I paint furniture

“Black Beauty” waterborne interior alkyd

with an oil-based paint, but this chair will be in my baby’s room and we do not want any harmful emissions.  So, we used this Benjamin Moore waterborne interior alkyd in a pearl finish.  Unlike the now-outlawed and somewhat toxic traditional alkyd paints, this newer product is a water clean-up.  Delightful! “Pearl” is a softer sheen than a semi-gloss, but is not flat so it will wear better.

My son wanted a masculine-looking room so black was his preference.  Since it would be on the chair with the blue checked fabric, we chose a black which is a darker version of the blue on the fabric, called “Black Beauty”.  A more brown-based or all-black shade would also have worked with his other furniture, but the fabric and chair are expected to be together for a long time . . . .

The paint goes on a bit lighter than its dry colour.

9.     Let dry according to the time specified on the paint can.  Sand very lightly, wipe off the dust and apply a second coat of the main colour.

10.     Reassemble your chair and voila!

My son’s personal decorating style could be described as a slightly modern take on traditional, and very masculine.  I love the modern twist that this shade of black gave to the classic check and traditional-style chair, perfect to give a little sense of “patina” to his modern Ikea desk set.

Not sure how those speakers are contributing to the study area, but we are off to a good start on the academic year with a sense of personal comfort and a good environment in which to hit the books.  We’ll talk about drapes and floorcovering another day, son!

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About patinaandcompany

I am a compulsive beautifier of all things habitable. Give me your ugly, non-functional and visually repellent, and I am in my element. Also, an avid and experienced gardener determined to share my horticultural experiences with others. See more at "About"
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8 Responses to Back-To-School Student Furniture

  1. Auntie Donna says:

    Good work Max! Good wishes as you return to University!

  2. gracefully50 says:

    Well done!! I’m so impressed!

  3. I am getting such a kick out of this. Especially when you say you can’t imagine he needs a chair since his bed is his workspace…

    He did a great job. Painted and reupholstered and everything… pretty impressive! Now you know you can put him to work when he comes home next summer!!

  4. Pingback: Rehabilitated Chair Project, Phase I: Gold-Leafed Crackle Finish | patinaandcompany

  5. Mole Control says:

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