Quick Chinoiserie Change

I love quick changes!  I am a huge fan of BetterAfter.net, an awesome blog that features before-and-after transitions. BetterAfter is the brainchild of Lindsay, from Phoenix, who has been featuring pictures and brief descriptions of fabulous transitions since 2009. If you’ve never visited, check it out for some totally inspiring makeovers.

Anywho, I recently revamped an ugly $15 flea market chair, and it occurred to me that there is no better pick-me-up than taking something old and ugly and making it new and awesome…ESPECIALLY if you can do it in a short period of time.

Here are some shots of my chair during its transformation, which I think turned out pretty okay for an amateur like me.

1. Here’s what the original chair looked like. I LOVED the faux bamboo style woodwork, and I liked the fact that the chair itself was actually quite comfy – lots of cushioning and very stable and supportive. But the stained pea green and pale yellow plaid fabric? Yuck.

Flea market chair -- BEFORE

Flea market chair — BEFORE

2. Here is what I found when I removed the fabric and cushion from the seat back: the back fabric, support strip, cushion, and top fabric were ALL stapled into a teeny-tiny groove around the inside of the wood. Yikes.


3. Once I got the fabric (and every.single.one of those itty bitty staples–there must have been several hundred) out and off of the chair frame, it was time to spray paint. I chose Rust-Oleum Universal in Pure Gold. LOVED IT. It has paint and primer in one, and it only took two coats. I probably should have sanded….but remember I like QUICK transitions and I’m not really patient enough for perfection. I applied 2 coats as per the instructions on the can. Here is the result. I think the paint looks more metallic gold in person than it does in these photos.

After 2 coats of Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic Paint in Pure Gold

After 2 coats of Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic Paint in Pure Gold

4. Finally, it was time to put on the NEW fabric. I chose Robert Allen’s “Crystal Lake” fabric in a color called “Midnight,” which is a deep, navy blue sporting a modern take on a Chinese chinoiserie style pattern. I thought it would go perfectly with the faux bamboo chair frame. The two hardest things about reconstruction were sewing a T-cushion with a welt cord (I’m not much of a sew-er and I didn’t have a welt cord foot or a zipper foot on my sewing machine, so my welt cords look a little wonky) and–you guessed it–stapling everything back into that teeny-tiny groove in the seat back. I had to use a pneumatic 22-gauge upholstery staple gun, and even that was too large so I had to shoot the staples into the groove at a 45-degree angle. Not fun. But it turned out pretty well! Check it out:

Flea market chair -- AFTER

Flea market chair — AFTER

All told, it only took me about a day to re-do this chair! Granted, had I taken a little more time I’m sure it would look more professional and perfect. But, then I wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of a quick transformation, right?  I dismantled chair and painted the frame in one afternoon, and then about a week later, I re-upholstered and reassembled the whole thing on a Saturday night.

I’m not much of a lengthy project person, but if it can be done in a few days, I’m all over it. This is one project that wasn’t too terrible to undertake and I would definitely do it again given a seriously awesome thrifted chair.



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