How to Revive a Vintage Chair

Hitting the road after an awesome weekend visiting one of my college girlfriends in rural New Jersey, I pulled out of her neighborhood only to find this beautiful chair on the curb!

Refinished Chair and Lamp with Rag-tied Shade

Chair & lamp on sale at Painted Lark.

I stopped to load it in my car and the previous owner came out to help me. He said he didn’t know if it was an antique, but it belonged to his wife’s grandmother. Let’s just say they were a bit older than I am…. it’s an antique.

It needed love, lots of love. When I picked it up, it looked like this:

Saxon Before

And if you couldn’t see the gold-ish streaking in that photo…

Saxon Before Gold Paint

That would be Sophie the dog in the background… almost all my pictures are edited for dogs or children!

Here are the steps I took to bring the chair back to life.

1. First I pulled off all the upholstery, taking lots of pictures as I went so I could reuse what was there.  It had a few layers, including horse hair. I put everything salvageable back in and added an extra layer of poly-fil. I like my seats a little cushier than they did in the old days.


That green cup is for all the rusty staples.

I didn’t have any upholstery specific tools, so this is what I used and it was fine.

Saxon Upholstery Removal Tools

2. I ordered a replacement for the missing round medallion on the front of the chair from Architectural Depot and glued it on with Gorilla Glue. No product placements here, just items that have worked for me.

3. I spray painted the frame with primer, white gloss-2 coats, and a clear sealer. If you haven’t spray painted before, do read the directions on the can and follow them. Plan to layer on many light coats and wait in between for the full drying times. Trust me, it will make it look so much better!

4. I found this fabulous fabric on sale and actually flew it back from a visit with my family in Florida. I have since seen the same fabric at JoAnn’s. I put everything back on in the reverse order I had removed it (thank you to the pictures I had taken!) and used a handheld staple gun. You can get these inexpensively anywhere-I picked one up at Target this summer in a pinch. Yes, staple gun emergencies do happen!

5.Disclaimer: I can’t sew! Luckily right around when I got my hands on this chair a dear friend was trying to teach me… so I could at least sew a line (not a straight one-what is the secret?). I googled directions on sewing piping and made some in the same fabric as the seats, then hot glued it over the staples. I’m not sure of the specific tutorial I used, but there are lots of great sewing sites out there with instructions for projects like piping.

Totally revived! This chair is available at the Painted Lark boutique.

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