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Black + White

After asking for your input on our totally teal console and then waiting months before putting our plan into action, we promised ourselves that the same would not happen to our 2-dollar chair. We mentioned that we were leaning towards the clean, crisp look of black + white, and we even confirmed our leanings when we picked up a yard of white vinyl. And over the last few days – days, due to dry times and the slow paced in-betweens – we took our yard sale find from this:

to this!

Difficult decisions aside, it was a simple project that somehow warrants over twenty photos; I’m still not sure how that happened (the 20+ photos part, that is). After setting aside the already unattached, sad seat, we started by stripping the backrest from the wire frame.

We were never a fan of the honey-colored wood stain, not to mention, it was scratched up, and the glossy finish only emphasized that. I used Ready Strip (on hand) to get it off – the same thing we used to refinish the legs on Grandma’s chair.

It takes a few hours for the stripper to work its magic, so I turned my attention back to the seat. I started by prying out all the staples (they came out really easy; no pliers needed!), and after I pulled off the bottom cover, Scott noticed a peek of red fabric show through the black vinyl.

Our plan was to keep the black vinyl in tact, replacing only the torn up bottom piece and simply adding our white vinyl on top (to keep things easy, of course), but our curiosity got the better of us. We’re not sure what we thought we’d find, but this old, worn fabric only further confirmed our white vinyl decision:

It actually turned out to be a good thing that we took off both the bottom piece and the seat cover, as I was able to use them as templates to trace the proper sizes onto the backside of the new vinyl (and yes, we used more of the same vinyl as the bottom cover, mostly because we had more than enough left over!):

Before I stapled anything into place, I needed to fill the gaping screw holes that had been chipped into (or out of?) the wood over time. We discussed filling them with wood putty, but in the end, Scott gave me these to do the trick. I’d never seen them before, but he rustled them up from his BBOT.

They’re super pliable, and I was able to cut each strip in half and roll them into little tubes, making them the proper depth for the gouges on the seat bottom. I just pushed them into the gaping holes, layering some side by side to completely fill the gaps. They have a scratchy surface, so when you screw into them, the edges will bite into the wood – genius! And since we were planning on covering the bottom, the way it looked wasn’t terribly important.

Next, I began stapling my vinyl template over the red fabric. I started by putting one staple on each side, alternating opposite sides and pulling the vinyl taut. From there, I played with the corners until I found a fold that left virtually no wrinkles from the visible top.

As I did with the sides, I worked on opposing corners until all four were complete, then I simply folded and flapped my vinyl (due to the round edges; this helped to keep the vinyl smooth on the seat surface) and stapled along the way. Again, I worked on one side before following up with the opposing side, which helps to keep the fabric tight and prevents it from bunching funny.

I was careful to place my staples in a somewhat orderly fashion, although it didn’t matter too much since I stapled on the bottom piece to cover the exposed wood. From there, we were ready to screw the bottom into place!

After the seat was complete, I checked to see if the Ready Strip was finished. The paste-y brown formula (think of it as a glue-like consistency) will turn white once it’s ready to come off, and while some spots were still brown(ish), I used a putty knife to see if it flaked off easily – and it did!

After scraping all the old honey-colored polyurethane off the backrest, Scott used our electric sander to file off the remaining bits. By doing so, we got a smooth, dry surface to work with, and I added two coats of Minwax Jacobean (it’s one shade deeper than our other favorite, dark walnut). I followed the cans instructions exactly, wiping off any excess stain between coats.

While we could have called it done, you know how we feel about Polycrylic – we use it as the finishing step for almost every project in our home that gets a coat of paint or stain. I only applied one thin coat in a satin finish, just enough for piece of mind (and to keep the surface nice and wipeable, too).

We’re almost positive the backrest was made from cheap plywood, but we sort of love the funky pattern it creates on the front – while the back looks more traditional. What’s the saying? Business in the front and party in the back? (I grew up in a hockey family; it’s a miracle I emerged without a mullet! Anyway.) Except ours is opposite, whoot!

We used all the same original screws with the exception of one that had gone missing (yup, some are mismatched), and other than wiping down the metal frame, we kept that as is. Mmm, patina.

As you’ve seen in our tweaked up living room, the $2 chair (although, I suppose it’s now an $8 chair, with our $6 vinyl and all) is positioned between our coffee table and kitchen. The skinny legs and overall airy style work perfectly in our tiny home, and we couldn’t be happier! (Oh, and it’s Maddie approved.)

Since those initial living room tweaks, we’ve sold our shaggy rug (yard sale, yeah!), and we’ve even begun collecting quotes on upholstering the lovely chair and new blinds (we’re nixing the red-toned Venetians for softer, white honeycomb shades). While our room feel extra bare with the lack of our grey, fuzzy rug, we do have a replacement on the way – and we couldn’t be more excited! More on that as we (hint) piece it together.

Until then, we’ve got bare floors – and that big, empty wall, too (but luckily, our living room shelves went to a happy home during the weekend’s sale):

We’re looking forward to filling in all the gaps as we slowly tweak the room back into shape – although Scott has to constantly remind me to work on my backwards learning. I’m just excited, that’s all.

But back to the chair. The black + white combo was the clear winner when we first posed the options, and we’re thrilled with the results. What do you think?

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  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY8.8.12 - 7:49 AM

    Aweeeeesome =) I love how it turned out! That wood grain is stellar with the new stain…ReplyCancel

  • Kim! It looks amazing! Wow. I’m floored and in love. You two are definitely rubbing off on us as we decided to almost sell everything in our living room in our upcoming yard sale this Saturday. The only hesitation are our chairs. They are big armchairs, which are comfy and still like-new, but they are TOO big and bulky for our living room. They have to go. But when it comes time to get replacements, Chris is having a hard time swallowing the fact that not every chair has to be so comfortable you could fall asleep in it.

    Oh dear. hahaha.ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.8.12 - 9:09 AM

    Thanks, ladies!

    Julia, really, what is it with men and their need for over-stuffed furniture? (Kidding, kinda!) When I first moved in with Scott – back when we were in Cincinnati – he had the largest, poofiest sofa known to man. Luckily, since then, he’s realized that furniture can be much more sleek but still be comfortable. (i.e., our current couch, which he loooves!)ReplyCancel

  • Tonya8.8.12 - 11:43 AM

    Kim I am curious about how smelly the Back to Nature remover is. Could it be used in the house?ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.8.12 - 12:03 PM

    Hi Tonya, we actually did use the stripper in our home. It claims to be “odor free,” although, there IS an odor – just not the kind that requires you to cover your nose/mouth. It’s more foul smelling than anything, but nothing that pierces through you.

    We’ve used strippers in the past that are much more toxic (outdoors!), but this one is just as good and environmentally safe!ReplyCancel

  • Emma8.8.12 - 12:23 PM

    Wow! That chair looks great. I have a chair similar to “the lovely chair” and reupholstered it myself. It made such a difference. I recommend adding piping the corner seams as it adds a nice structure to the pillows. I also put a zipper on my “pillow covers” (inside is a block of foam wrapped in batting) so I can wash them. I chose a cream textured fabric. Your upholstery quotes shouldn’t be too high because your job is much easier than the typical upholstery job. Good luck with the rest of the living room remodel!ReplyCancel

  • Your chair turned out so great and I love the party in the front/business in the back backrest. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the room comes together!ReplyCancel

  • Kalli8.8.12 - 5:46 PM

    Looks good! I actually really like the woodgrain pattern, it makes it look fancy somehow.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie8.8.12 - 6:47 PM

    “happy home”? Now that’s pressure if I ever heard it. I hope to not disappoint…ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.8.12 - 7:17 PM

    Jessie, we know they’ll look awesome!!ReplyCancel

  • Trude8.9.12 - 6:25 PM

    It turned out awesome! Love the clean lines, and the kitty pillow makes it. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jillian8.10.12 - 9:31 AM

    We have honeycomb shades in our living room (behind the linen curtains) and it’s amazing how much cozier and warmer they make the room in the winter (and also cooler in the summer, you know me and my sweat ‘staches)! They also look nice and airy! Good choice. Any idea yet for your blank wall?ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.10.12 - 9:38 AM

    Jill, good to hear! A few of our neighbors have honeycomb shades, and we like them a lot, so now we just have to sift through a metric ton of samples we had mailed to us – but we’re so excited for the change!

    As for the blank wall, we’ve been collecting some new artwork, and we’re pretty sure we’re going to DIY a picture rail – a loooong one. We both loved the idea of a mirror, but it would just reflect our kitchen – which we think might look messy and cluttered. If it was opposite a window, we would have been on board with a huge mirror though! (Did you get that one you showed me?)ReplyCancel

  • Jillian8.10.12 - 10:05 AM

    Oooh, good point! I wouldn’t want our bookshelves reflected in our living room either. I do like the mirror we have in our dining room, but it does face the window. So nope, didn’t buy! Maybe for our next place someday!ReplyCancel

  • wyatt @ funky home store8.15.12 - 5:18 AM

    Well worth the effort for the end result. I love doing furniture makeovers not only is it good economy but highly rewarding.ReplyCancel

  • […] we’re fans of DIY decor posts – especially if they contain lots of photos! Check out Yellow Brick Home‘s DIY chair re-upholstering post. They’ve turned a 2-dollar chair into a sleek and […]ReplyCancel

  • InativeSpeaker6.30.13 - 5:10 AM

    I am planning to replace cushion & rexine for my computer table and these tips are really helpful. In fact, i thought of buying a new one but not any more after seeing this blog.ReplyCancel

  • Dana Z5.11.16 - 9:16 PM

    I’m JUST discovering your blog now thanks to a coworker and totally in love with this chair. You guys have inspired me to do some diy-ing of my own. I love how simple a lot of your projects are and currently obsessed over the live slab bench with pink hairpins!ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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