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About That $2 Chair

As first mentioned in our tweaking post, we added a $2 chair to our living room set up. It’s a little funny that we’ve grown our furniture collection with a yard sale find – only to have our own sale in August, isn’t it? In any case, we spotted her a few weeks ago, we decided the last thing we needed was another chair (for where?, we said), but we bought her anyway. A couple dollar impulse buy never hurt anyone.

She needs some work. But since bringing her home, we’ve been focusing more on our backwards learning rather than rushing through projects, so still she sits like this:

The sign reads CAUTION, because the seat is no longer attached. You can see she’s even missing a fourth screw to hold the bottom in place, and the holes themselves have been tirelessly gouged over time; they are far too large.

The black vinyl seat is spotted with old paint (we think), the backrest has been poorly stained with a shiny, honey color, and the iron frame, while sturdy, is pocked with rust, nicks, and mismatched screws.

We think this’ll be a quick fixer upper, and a few hours in an afternoon will have her looking pretty again. Stripping the old polyurethane off the back (and likely re-applying a dark walnut color) is a given, but Scott and I have gone back and forth on the frame and seat.

Originally, we thought a clean, white frame could add a breath of fresh air:

But… what if we went bold and bright instead? (Think apple red, sunny yellow or kelly green.)

Or we could pair the happy color with a sleek white seat. While running errands this weekend, we actually found a remnant swatch of white vinyl and surprisingly, we loved it. It’s easy to wipe clean, and on such a small surface, it won’t feel hot and sticky on a warm day. We didn’t buy it at the store, but after waffling on the idea for the afternoon, we’ve since ordered a yard from

If we go with the white vinyl, we could always mix the old with the new and leave the original black frame as is and update the seat. (Again, keep in mind that the backrest will be stained a dark walnut with a less shiny, abrasive finish.)

Scott admitted he actually liked the rusty, old frame – we’ll call it, um, patina – and I agree. We’re leaning heavily towards the graphic colors of black + white, which leaves the option open for a fun, colorful pillow (always a good thing!).

Because the chair is hanging in our tweak-in-process living room, we’re keeping in mind our ultimate goal: toning down the dark, wooden window blinds, our once-gold curtain panels and colorful photo frames as to no longer compete with our already vibrant media wall. We’re always on board for punchy accessories (ahem, pillows!), but maybe it’s time we approach our tweaks with a minimalist approach, this chair included.

What do you think? How would you tackle this mini makeover?

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  • katie7.18.12 - 7:27 AM

    i actually tried to buy a set of similar chairs on craigslist a couple of years ago – i think the set i was looking at were paul mccobb chairs. i just tried to look this up again and come across this:

    just thought you might be interested.

    and i think i would leave the frame as is unless it is really bad. i debated spraying a metal fire place grate, but once i had it installed, i discovered that i really liked the patina.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY7.18.12 - 8:33 AM

    I really love the look of the last option (original black frame, white cushion). Adding a punch of color with a pillow seems like the perfect solution to me! Great find, btw…ReplyCancel

  • Katie: That how-to-identify-a-McCobb post is really interesting and helpful! Thanks for linking to it.

    Kim: I also agree with the leaving the frame as-is.ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.18.12 - 9:16 AM

    Katie, awesome link, thank you! We most definitely have a McCobb knock off, and like you, Carrie and Marti, we’re loving the patina look too.

    It’s just too much fun to Photoshop a few other options – just to be sure!ReplyCancel

  • Zandi @ Radical Possibility7.18.12 - 10:07 AM

    I love the last option!!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis7.18.12 - 12:21 PM

    I was leaning toward the bright and bold until I saw the last option. Love the pairing of Black, white, and the wood.
    Can’t wait to see what you pick!ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.18.12 - 12:32 PM

    Thank you for the feedback, everyone! The graphic mix of b&w with a dark wood tone will look awfully pretty…ReplyCancel

  • kaylan7.18.12 - 12:38 PM

    i love that chair! i think i’d take a different direction entirely – grey frame, canvas fabric for the seat in a fun design, and a whitewashed backrest.

    i’m so with you on eliminating the dark and heavy. i’ve spent the last year redoing or replacing all of our dark pieces – it’s amazing how much bigger our tiny apartment feels when there isn’t so much competition for your eyes.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin @ Desert Domicile7.18.12 - 12:53 PM

    Such a cute chair! I really love the last option paired with a colorful pillow :)ReplyCancel

  • I love the last option as well!

    I also think something natural colored, tall, and textured would look good on the wall to let the eye travel upward when looking at the wood tones. The first thing that comes to mind is a fan we used to have with a long handle. Sorry I cannot find a picture.ReplyCancel

  • Kalli7.18.12 - 6:10 PM

    I like the last one – white vinyl and black frame. Since the black is already kind of scuffed up, you could also consider sanding it or really subtly dry brushing it with some gray or dark brown paint for a gentler, chalkboard kind of effect instead of solid black.

    If it were my chair, I might also be tempted to draw on some design to the plain white vinyl like this: with permanent markers.ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.18.12 - 6:20 PM

    Kalli, you are braver than me! Although, I like the idea.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY7.26.12 - 11:06 AM

    Random – But I found a look-a-like to your chair on a blog just a second ago, and had to share:

    (scroll towards the middle) Looks like that one has just a plain wooden seat. Not sure if you’re interested in doing something like that, but thought I’d send it your way for comparison’s sake!ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.26.12 - 12:15 PM

      Hey Carrie, I can’t seem to find it in the link you’ve sent along?ReplyCancel

  • Amanda7.27.12 - 8:28 AM

    Oh oh oh! I think you should to this to your chair

    How lovely is that!?ReplyCancel

  • Lesley7.31.12 - 7:30 AM

    Love this chair and I would swear it is the same chair my mother’s best friend had in her home during the 60’s and 70’s.ReplyCancel

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