Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vintage love

Before I ramble on about my latest project, let's get one thing straight. This is anything but a Mormon Mommy blog. As much as I fantasise about fixing things up, DIY and I do not have much of a history together. The last time I repainted something I rescued from the side of a road was about six or seven years ago. It was just a small side table - something that a three-year-old could have painted with ease.

So when I was walking the Faery home from school yesterday, and saw a lonely old dining chair sitting on a nature strip, outside an apartment building, I wasn't sure what to do... but something about that chair was calling me. I saw potential.

Only one problem - we were early into a twenty-minute walk home, in 30ºC heat, with Miss Pie in the stroller, because J had the car. No way could I grab that chair. When we got home, I rang him up and begged him pretty please to swing by that street on his way home, and if he didn't think the chair was a piece of junk, could he pretty please toss it in the back of the car and bring it home.

Five hours later, J walked in the door, carrying this chair. I was genuinely shocked that nobody else had already reclaimed it. As soon as I saw it again, it felt like I was welcoming home a new friend. There's a bizarre pull towards this chair - I'm even experiencing déjà vu as I type this sentence... spooky.

Anyhow, maybe I've been spending too much time on Pinterest, but I have grand plans for this chair. A completely new colour - perhaps something bright, like turquoise or yellow - and some cheerful new fabric to reupholster it. A pretty chair for the girls' room.

Naturally, I know nothing about such a process, but... how hard could it be? This is what the internet is for, right? Okay, so I don't even own a pair of plyers right now (moving overseas will do that - I've yet to reacquire many things we didn't bring with us). But dammit, I'm making a trip to Home Depot very soon.

(A little secret: I'm not bad with my hands. I used to top the class with my woodwork projects, many years ago. I like using my hands. I even used to daydream about doing some kind of carpentry course. Maybe I will one day, when I live somewhere that actually has the space for a little shed out the back. I'd be in heaven.)

So why am I writing about this? I figure that if I declare my intentions in writing now, the chair will spend less time languishing on our back patio. Blogging about it will force me to pull my finger out, and actually get started on this project much sooner than I would otherwise. I'm a procrastinator by nature, but I can also be obsessive about completing certain tasks, once I've begun. Just ask J how late I went to bed after assembling a dollhouse for the Faery's last birthday. Must. Finish.

Happily, this chair is as sturdy as they come. According to the label underneath, it was made by Stanley Furniture, in Virginia. I love that it wasn't from a cheap labour factory in a third world country. Even more impressive - my Google research tells me that the average dining chair from this company retails between $500-$800. Each. I realise that kind of money is normal to some, but I can't - for the life of me - imagine spending so much money on a single chair.

I get the impression this chair was sitting in someone's garage, alongside other DIY projects. The tiny splatters all over it are not from dirt - they're golden flecks, the casualty of another project. I pledge a better outcome for it.

For now, this lovely chair is sitting just outside our back door. Every time I walk past and catch a glimpse, I smile.


  1. Ooooh!!! This is exciting! What sort of finish Mad? Will you keep the lovely texture?

  2. I hope to keep the texture as much as possible! It has a lovely cracked varnish/shellac appearance to it, which I hope won't fade too much (I think I'll need to sand the gold specks down, or the new paint won't look so good).

    As for finishes etc, I have no idea yet. Need to do some research and visit Home Depot (it's just like Bunnings). Do you know anything about this kind of thing? Any tips?

  3. "How hard can it be?"

    Oh, famous last words, how you make me laugh!

    But you know what? I totally believe that you will make this goregous relic a piece of retro refurb deluxe. It will be perfect in the girls room. Hmm, stripes for the fabric?

    Nice score, lady! The fact that it was still there when J swung by meant it was yours all along.

  4. Possibly stripes, although part of me is worried I will fuck it up with stripes - you know, that thing called symmetry. But I do like the idea of stripes. I think I'll just have to peruse the craft store and see what they have in the way of fabrics, what I fall in love with, and then select the paint colour etc.

    Just realised I will have to ask for fabric by the yard... um, how much the fuck is in a yard? I suppose I'll have to turn to Google. Again.

  5. Clearly you have both the eye, the ability and the taste to accomplish such a project in style. I tip my hat to you. I think stripes would look fab (but I'm with you on having to check out the conversion on Google because I'd have no idea).

    What an awesome side-of-the-road find. Our street does a nice line in dead plasmas and busted nursery furnishings but stuff all else! Maybe I'm not imaginative enough though.

    I'm kicking myself I didn't get a photo of it, but recently, some enterprising individual had made a display near Thornbury station out of three old TVs they'd painted in three different primary colours. Written on the front screen of each screen was one word "Dead ... Set ... Mate". Used to brighten my commute no end.

  6. By the way, I used "both" when I should have left it out as "both" implies two... or something.

    (slinks off to bathe children)

  7. Mel, I am chuffed with this find as I've never been the sort of person to have any luck with finding great treasures in garage sales, or op shops.

    I wish you had taken a photo of that display! How long did it last?

  8. I was hoping you would try and keep the texture. Having said that I reckon a max white gloss would look really good on this too.
    Funnily enough I automatically thought of a heavy (deep red) velvet fabric. Maybe I've been playing too much cluedo or something PMSL. The closest I ever got was to sand and paint a small table and chair set from Ikea. I procrastinated for so long and the novelty wore off.. Maybe you might inspire me ;)

  9. Anonymous is me. Danielle. Maybe I need to set up a profile.

  10. Gloss tip noted - thanks!

    I made a visit to the local fabric store on the weekend, but none of the fabrics really grabbed me. A couple were okay-ish, but it felt like I'd be settling for something less, if that makes sense. A shame, as my fingers are itchy and I feel I should strike while the iron is hot, so to speak...