We started out this year’s festive season—as you do—with a day-long marathon of vintage chair re-upholstering. Yes, I had bought a lovely specimen (read: sagging, dusty number with potential) online to act as the final flourish in a multi-coloured spectacle of seats collected from assorted corners around the house.
Some of you are aware that I have a slight um… chair acquisition problem. I love ‘em. Each one has its own little personality, its own unique flair. They are like perfect snowflakes: unique and special in all the world.
Why are you rolling your eyes?
However, this is not one of those times when I succumbed to the power that is a snowflake/chair vortex. My excuse for this one is that I GENUINELY NEEDED IT to go with the newly-acquired kitchen table (handed down via my uncle, aunt and with a small detour via my cousin, but which actually used to be my grandparents where we ate Roast Beef and Leathers for decades – yes, that really is a thing – just stay with me.) But, when the vintage, internet, snowflake chair arrived home, I remembered that old saying that “objects on the internet are smaller than they first appear” (except, of course, for certain American politician-wannabe’s hair and evil-ness) and realized that the chair was, well, to phrase it in holiday terms:
I am approximately 11 feet tall in my red-and-white-striped Santa socks, but, seeing as how it was soon to be the season of all things merry and I am also a soft touch when it comes to underdogs and sad, forgotten objects that look unloved and are sure to be the last item on the auction table that no one wants, I immediately fell in love with the chair’s elf-sized proportions and proceeded to pull it up to the table with the rest of its rag-tag companions.
Gingerbread crumbs! It was, indeed, a vertically-challenged chair but, not wanting to hold that against it just because I happen to have knee caps that start higher than most, I opted to move another um… necessary chair to the kitchen (requiring re-painting and a seat cover re-do) and use the new, toy-making-sized specimen with my also vertically-close-to-gravity dressing table, instead.
The sound of giggling elves would have filled my head were it not for the seat springs of torture and upholstery of doom. There followed muttering, upholstery tack pulling, fabric ripping, straw removal, more muttering, sanding, priming, painting and other blah, blah, blah that all goes under the un-desirable category in my mind called “prep”.
I am not a fan. Thus, I justifiably consoled myself with holiday libations in the form of truffle hot chocolate, so there!
However, all of this blah, blah, blah was in the name of getting ready for the main event, my favourite part: the festooning, the fancifying, which was, in this case, the upholstering of the elvish chair into a thing of petite beauty.
It’s a small chair, I thought. Positively elvish in proportions. Even though the swoopy, curly bits of the back looked a wee bit tricky to me, I figured it would take a couple of hours, tops.
Practical Man spent a Sunday wielding a staple gun for approximately six hours straight, when he had intended to be spending a Sunday wELding (not wIELding) something fun on to his currently derelict but FREE fishing boat. I therefore tried to appear innocent and unconnected to the Elvish Chair of Evil and do my penance by untangling the outdoor Christmas lights.
Which, were, of course NOT tangled because Practical Man had put them away and so, yes, they were labelled and wound in very orderly fashions on some kind of thing-a-ma-bobs that probably started life as something else like a bedroom slipper or a supersonic carrot peeler but have lately been wrestled into submission into something that you wind Christmas lights on to keep them labelled and orderly and not only that but they were secured further with twist ties so as to not escape the labelling and orderliness into which they had been placed.
So much for my penance.
I attempted to atone by flinging Christmas lights with festive flair into the bushes in front of our front porch, so if you happen to be driving by, it’s my fault they look like that. I re-fueled with more truffle hot chocolate and some flirting with the upholsterer to keep his spirits dashing and dancing while he did battle with fabric, fluff and staples.
The elf chair is nearly finished, but for the part that involves me heating up the not-so-innocent-sounding glue gun (my first clue that I shouldn’t be using a tool with this label) and burning myself repeatedly while attempting to adhere some kind of ribbon-y stuff–whose technical name is bric-a-brac. rick-rack, Cadillac or something–to hide the 6 hours of stapling that Practical Man worked so hard to perfect.
Anyhoo, it’s a magical chair and I think Santa will help with the final touches.
The Mensa puzzle calendar on the desk (not mine–I know you are shocked to learn) says Wednesday, October 15 and now, fresh from a day of Christmas shopping in nearly 13 degree weather in the middle of December in southern Ontario, I am slightly confused about what season it is.
But, the arrival of the first batch of fast-tracked Syrian refugees yesterday to Canada has reminded me: it’s the time when we invite those we love and also, those less fortunate, to come a little closer. A time for the elf chairs and all the others to celebrate together at our grandparents’ precious table.
Whatever the language or constructs of each of our faiths or beliefs, it’s the season of hope, of giving, of kindness and peace.
(And lots and lots of cookies, hurray!)
From our house and hearts, we wish you Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016.
Posted by Christine Fader in Crafts, Fabric, Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales, Retro Decorating, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: Chair, christmas, crafts, decorating, Eastlake, Elf, retro, upcycling, upholstery, vintage, wooden
Hands up if you think office chairs don’t have a lot of vintage style.
At least, not the ones you can find in your average medium-sized town for a medium-sized price. But, I needed to find one because Practical Man has been fretting lately about my posterior.
I love a man who frets about my posterior and mine is apparently at risk.
I’m in posterior peril, if you will.
This is due to the fact that I am an old-school girl who types at lightning speed. I need to do it in a chair, at a desk. None of this lolly-gagging about on the floor with my keyboard in the air. No sireee. I am all about respect for the home row and that requires a chair.
This is the desk chair I have been using:
You’d think we’d have lots of chairs to choose from since I have what some might call an addiction to chairs. They are one of the first things I gravitate to at an auction or flea market. I have a rocking chair with no seat or rockers. I have a tiny little child’s chair (even though we have no children). I once made a flying leap from the car as we passed a yogurt shop that had incredible vintage-looking outdoor chairs.
Now, I try to avert my eyes as soon as they land on a fetching seatable specimen. With their winning personalities and come-hither nature, you can see how an innocent person might end up with a herd of chairs.
Not me, of course. Mine is more of a flock.
But to get back on point, desk chairs aren’t really chairs. At least, not in a good way.
They usually contain way too much plastic (at least in the stores I can afford) and they look, to me, like giant orthotics sitting in a room. Thus, I have been waiting for a beautiful vintage specimen to reveal itself to me somewhere.
You get it, don’t you?
My desire for something affordable, with chrome-y legs and a 1950-1970s industrial vibe?
Something straight out of a Mary Tyler Moore episode that could turn my world on with its smile?
Where-oh-where are you, my gorgeous retro lovely?
In the meantime (over the past several years), we have been using the aforementioned chair that I spied, abandoned and forlorn, at the side of the road on the way to work one morning.
Some people have rescue dogs and cats. I have rescue chairs.
Practical Man oiled its bits for me and I made it marginally more posterior-friendly by sewing up a quick cushion with a vintage pillowcase.
I can’t imagine why but, Practical Man is still not a fan.
Even I have to admit that after a few short minutes of writing, it is not a very comfy on the posterior, nor does it have anything resembling an ergonomically-supported back.
But, back-schmack. I didn’t care until recently, when I was dragged, kicking and screaming to the dark side.
I was encouraged to give desk chairs a chance.
Harumph. Not a vintage lovely among them. They were all new. As I trialed and tested, I asked the sales clerk why desk chairs were so universally ugly and never any fun colours or patterns. Was it so hard to design something reasonbly-priced, comfortable AND fun?
Eventually, I stopped punishing the people making minimum wage and lined up with the other people at the cash.
Was it my imagination or did we all have a sort of resigned, sorrowful look about us at our failed quest for a delightful desk chair? I’m sure I’m not exaggerating to say that there was a general air of gloom as we all meandered to our cars with our ugly, ugly but very comfy chairs.
Not for the first time, Practical Man and I set about re-inventing something as soon as it came out of its over packaging.
We got some vintage fabric out of my stash.
With only a staple gun, some scissors and a dream, we set about re-upholstering the seat with it.
By “we”, I actually mean, “Practical Man did it while I supervised”.
I make a great tool nurse.
Then, we actually put the brand new and already much improved, chair together.
It has more knobs and levers than the space shuttle. I bet there were no attractive desk chairs in space, either.
Here’s the so-far result:
I want to dislike it, but…my posterior is a traitor.
The chair is oh-so-comfy and ergonomic and blah, blah, blah.
I’d still like to make a slipcover for the back. But, I have a problem.
A looming sense of posterior peril, if you will, because:
- Sewing a slipcover will require some time at the sewing machine.
- The chair at my sewing table is a cute little something we found at the side of the road.
But, sewing while seated on a lovely-looking, albeit slightly uncomfortable vintage chair?
Posted by Christine Fader in Fabric, Retro Decorating, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: Chair, Desk, furniture, home office, how to re-upholster a chair, Office chair, retro, Sewing, shopping, Staple gun, vintage fabric