Today I want to tell you about this really cute chair I found a couple of weeks ago. I’d show you a before shot, but I forgot to take one, again. Too bad really, this one was a beaut!
I was out at a farm east of town. It was a beautiful, blue sky summer day that reminded me of the day I met Sam. Ah, but I digress. What was I talking about – oh yeah, the chair.
I found it in the milking barn. Covered in about a hundred years of cobwebs and bird poop. I could tell it was a find through it all. Mrs. L, the lovely matriarch of the family, who now owns the farm, said her dad used to sit on it when he milked cows. The family sold off the dairy herd shortly after his death decades ago. Since then the barn hasn’t been used for much.
It looks like an old- fashioned dinning chair, not too fancy. Definitely hand-made, with no screws or nails. Wonderful craftsmanship. What drew my eye was the geometric cut out pattern on the back and the gently curved front legs.
The seat was long gone, but the bones of its structure were strong. It just had a cheerful look to it despite the webs and bird droppings.
Mrs. L. said her father would sing to his cows and call each one by name as he milked them. When I touched the chair, I could just see him sitting there, serenading cows. And hear him too. He was signing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, “Skidamarink” and “Mares Eat Oats” to them. “Step on up Bessie” he would say or “Come along Elsie”. He was a kind, jovial man.
When I asked her if I could buy it she looked at me like I was nuts. Maybe I am, because I passed up a few beautiful things she thought were real treasures. But, I’m not looking for treasure, I’m looking for something I can work with. Something that tells a story.
How I Transformed It
- The obvious first step on this one was cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. And scraping. And scrubbing.
- Next came sanding. This chair actually wasn’t too rough. So, it just took a light sanding (with 220 grit sandpaper) to smooth the surface.
- I painted it with this lovely celery green chalk paint. I allowed it to dry overnight, then gave it another light, all over, sanding and dusted it off. I followed that up with a second coat of green chalk paint.
- After that dried I gave it one last sanding. The one that gives it character. This is where you think, where would he hold the chair when he moved it? Where would his booted feet rub on the legs while he worked? In other words, what areas have the most wear and tear. Those are the places I sand the most, sometimes all the way back down to the bare wood. I feather out the sanded area from the bare wood through the layers of green to give it a natural look. It gives the piece an old, used and loved looking finish.
- Now, it’s really important when using chalk paint to use a cream wax top coat. Chalk paint is just that, chalky. It’ll rub off on everything it touches if it’s not sealed properly. The wax coat is easy to use. Just rub it on with a soft, not fuzzy, cloth and let it dry. The more you buff it the shinier it gets. I made this piece a beautiful matt finish.
- For the seat, I cut a piece of sturdy particle board to fit the chair. Then I wrapped it in a few layers of heavy quilt batting till it was the softness I wanted and secured it with staples. Mrs. L. mentioned the chair originally had a cane seat. Those can be expensive, so I figured out a way to mimic the color and texture at a much lower coast. Burlap. It’s sold at fabric stores and I only needed a small amount. Again, I wrapped the seat and put my staple gun to work. To finish the chair, I drilled holes in the new seat and screwed it to the frame.
Remember when you’re using paints, stains, paint strippers, or any other product read all instructions carefully. And never forget your safety gear, eye protection, gloves, and so on.
I’m very happy with the results. It’s a cheery little side chair great for any room.