Dining Room Chair Repair

There is such a sense of satisfaction when you take something old or worn or damaged that most people would wrinkle their noses at and transform it into something useful and beautiful….something that looks like new again and that you can continue to enjoy for years to come. I think this is part of the joy of flea markets and garage sales and of course of Ebay. Whoever thought up the old adage “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” was certainly spot on in his observation. Not that we have too many flea markets or garage sales in Central America, but there is the Latin American version of Ebay called MercadoLibre dot com. It’s my go to site when I need (or even if I don’t need) something for my new house such as furniture. Last month after checking out the prohibitive prices of new dining room sets at several furniture stores (I should have known this by now) I figured my best bet would be to buy a used set. Not that used ones are cheap in my area. I found the prices of used dining room sets pretty steep as well. After several days of checking ads and posting questions, I found a nice little dining room set with six chairs and a china cabinet. It was solid wood and looked quite sturdy. I decided to buy it.  The china cabinet was  beautiful and in near perfect condition. All it needed was a good buffing with furniture polish to look as good as new. Not so the table and chairs. Although the set was well made and sturdy,  the wood on a few of the chairs was worn in several areas from use, and they desperately needed to be re-uhpostered.  One of the chairs seemed to have been chewed on by a puppy. Or a terribly destructive dog.  The entire stretcher under the chair was quite chewed up with distinct teeth marks. There were several gouges and scratches on the splat and armrests and the underside of the slipseats which were made of particle board were cracked and sagging.

The stretcher looked like it had been chewed up by King Kong. Or his dog.

The particleboard on the underside of the slipseat was cracked and sagging. The old upholstery was torn and stained. Not to mention drab.

Not all the chairs were in such bad condition of course, most just had scratches and nicks, but the two end chairs with armrests needed to be repaired professionally so I sent them off to my next door neighbor Elmer, who is a carpenter. I honestly didn’t think he’d be able to fix them so that they’d look new but I figured he’d be able to camouflage the bite marks somehow. In the meantime I set out to reupholster the chairs.  The fabric on the chairs was positively hideous. Pale and boring. It was your ordinary burgundy/cobalt blue/cream upholstery fabric.  These chairs were screaming for color.

The old upholstery was drab and boring

Close up of the upholstery on the slipseats. Aside from being very ugly, it was torn and stained.

Enter Ebay. I searched for a fabric that would match my barstools. They had been recently painted and upholstered in yummy fruity colors and I wanted a fabric that would not clash since these chairs would be in close proximity to them. I found a gorgeous Liz Claiborne plaid in fruit sherbet shades for $15.00 dollars a yard (Regular price was $25.00 dollars a yard) and I snatched it up before someone else did. It was a medium weight upholstery fabric and I calculated about half a yard per seat, so I ordered three yards as it was 54 inches wide. While the two chairs with armrests were at the carpenter’s, I began to reupholster the other chairs. I removed the old fabric and used it as a pattern to cut out the new piece. I also inserted a piece of thick plywood underneath each seat, right on top of the particle board effectively covering it up and making the seat strong and sturdy once more. I used the same sponge filling too because I found that it was in perfect condition and it was not necessary to replace it.  I used a staple gun to fix the fabric to the underside of the seat, pulling taut before stapling and making sure that no wrinkles were left in the fabric.

The new plaid fabric was fixed to the seat with staples

Before screwing the slipseats to the chairs again, I covered the scratch marks and nicks on the wood with a nifty little product called Furniture Repair Markers by Jobar. They look like felt tip markers but instead of ink, they are filled with a wood stain that effectively covers up and hides just about any unsightly scratches or nicks. They come in a package of six different shades ranging from light brown to reddish to black and are designed to completely covered up scratch marks and render them invisible. Then I buffed the chairs with Old English Scratch Cover and they soon looked as if they’d just left the store. Old English is one of my all time favorite products. My grandmother alway used it on her furniture and it would positively gleam. I bought both the furniture pens and the Old English scratch cover from Amazon. By the time I had all the seats re-upholstered and the chairs buffed and polished, my neighbor brought the two end chairs back. I was delighted to see that he had been able to repair them quite effectively and there wasn’t a trace of doggie bite marks anywere in sight. I bet the previous owner would want to buy them back if she saw them now! hehe….

The new reupholsterd end chair. Not a bite mark in sight. My neighbor did a great job repairing the stretcher.

Gleaming mahogany and a bright Liz Claiborne plaid in scrumptious fruit colors

I dare you to find a single scratch mark in this dining room set!


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