Alternate title: How we banished the 80’s from our dining room. FINALLY.
You see, our dining room used to be filled with a mish-mash of horrible 80’s fabric. Our 8 chairs had four different fabrics on them, each of them slightly more awful than the last. I got a headache every time I ate dinner at the table, and I felt the need to constantly assure guests that we had not chosen for the chairs to look that way – we just hadn’t gotten around to fixing them yet.
Well, Corey and I recently (FINALLY) got around to giving these chairs a major overhaul and I’m pleased to report that my dining room no longer looks like it was taken straight from a bad 80’s movie. Well, if I’m being honest it still looks a little like a bad 80’s movie, because we haven’t tackled the head chairs yet…but it’s still a major improvement!
We started off by getting rid of the headache-inducing fabric that was on the chairs. In the process, we discovered three (three!) different layers of fabric, because apparently we are the first owners of these chairs to ever actually think of removing fabric before adding more.
Fabric number two
Fabric number three
We decided to leave the bottom layer of fabric on the chairs, simply because these chairs are very old and we had no idea what kind of condition the padding underneath that last fabric was in. We weren’t about to deal with taking the chair down to it’s bones and starting the padding from scratch, so we just left the padding safely covered and added an extra layer of our own padding for good measure.
From there, all we had to do was add the new fabric! Y’all, I don’t know if you realize this, but reupholstering these types of chairs is SO EASY it’s almost embarrassing. You just wrap ’em up like a present and staple the new fabric on. Seriously – try it.
I know what you’re thinking. Plain navy fabric? How boring are we?
Let me assure you that there are greater forces at work here, and that the navy is just part of a grander plan. When we eventually get around to reupholstering the head chairs (hopefully sometime within the next decade), we plan to use this fabric:
Yummy. We were inspired by the “Carly” chair at Crate and Barrel – we saw it in the store one day and fell head over heels in love, and from there we knew that our dining room had to be planned around this fabric.
The chair isn’t available anymore (sad day!), but it also came in that navy color and it just about made us cry it was so beautiful. So, we decided to go with plain navy for the main chairs and this gorgeous stuff for the head chairs. Then we’ll of course, be infusing color through other places like a rug, curtains, and accessories.
But anyways – back to the chairs.
Once we had the seats reupholstered, it was time to paint them. Normally, when we paint or stain something we always sand down to bare wood before we add anything to it – it’s always been drilled into my head that that’s the best way to take care of these things, and so we just blindly followed the advice we’d been given.
Well, this time around, we decided to try a little experiment.
That would be three of our chairs with three different sand jobs. The one on the far left has been sanded down the bare wood, the one in the middle has just been scuffed up a little, and the one on the right is untouched.
The plan was to have two of each type of chair, paint ’em, and see which one works the best. We figured if we hated the finishes of any of them we could always go back and re-sand, and we were very interested to know which sand job would end up looking the best. We marked each of the chairs with a number (1 for the fully sanded, 2 for the middle, and 3 for the un-sanded ones) and got to work.
After one coat of primer, here’s how they looked:
Chair 1 (full sanding):
Chair 2 (light sanding):
Chair 3 (no sanding):
It’s hard to tell by the photos, but the chair that seemed to take the paint the best and get the most even coverage was actually chair 2, with only a light sanding. Chair 1 seemed to just soak the paint right up, and I had a much harder time getting the coverage even than I did on the other two chairs. Shockingly, I’d say the chairs that were the biggest pain and looked the worse throughout the process were the two that had the full sand job!
Going into this little experiment, I would have sworn that the chairs with a full sand job would be much easier to paint and would look much better in the end. I absolutely proved myself wrong. They were much more difficult to paint than the other chairs, and once all was said and done it’s next to impossible to tell the chairs apart.
I dare you to tell me which one is which.
We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the chairs over the next few months, and we’ll let you know if it turns out that one of them doesn’t hold up as well as the others. But as of right now? I’m declaring that a full sand job isn’t always necessary – the chair with just a small amount of sanding (to scuff it up and get it ready to latch onto the paint) was by far the easiest one to paint. And in the end, I can’t tell the difference between the one we didn’t even touch and the one that Corey spent forever sanding, so why waste the time to sand if the finished product will look the same?
We’ll keep you updated on how things go, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s okay to go light on the sanding from now on.
And, um, can I just gush for a minute about how much better this room looks? A few weeks ago we were working with this:
So much better.
Now if only we could do something about those awful floral head chairs. Soon, I hope!
What’s your stance on sanding? Do you go for the full sand every time, or have you realized (like us) that sometimes less is more?