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Have a Seat

My mother was raised by her mother and grandmother. Her parents divorced when she was very young and her mother was a single, working mom in the 1950s and 60s. Every Saturday, they drove from the rural town where they lived into the capital, Charleston, so that Mom could take a piano lesson. My mother told me, many times, about their usual Saturday routine: they would drive into the city, she would take her lesson, they would have lunch at the Blosson Dairy

(a diner where she liked to order an open-face turkey sandwich), and then they would stop by OJ Morrison (a department store) and her

mother would make a payment on the living room suite she'd purchased when she and my mother moved back in with my great-grandmother. I still own the matching chairs and a bookcase from that exact suite (they were always in my mother moved them from place to place her whole life). The chairs were reupholstered by my mother's paternal grandmother some time in the 1980s. Since then, they've been covered in a dated, floral fabric. Since I moved away from my hometown in 2005, I've been carrying these chairs with me everywhere, too. I've always wanted to have them reupholstered (and, for a while, I entertained the insane notion that I might actually do it myself). It's very hard to find people to reupholster furniture these days...and, when you can, it is prohibitively expensive. So, I developed a new plan!

In my last post, I told you I had plans to paint the upholstery. I followed this tutorial and ordered some Chalkworthy paint (I used White Linen). Because the fabric was printed and had some texture, it took about six thin coats of paint to cover them. In the end, though, I sort of like that the old pattern sort of peeks through (mostly, just the texture of the flowers with just a little of the color). Even after one coat, though, the fabric had been so lightened and refreshed, I was really happy. They honestly look great and, while they're a little stiff, they don't get a lot of use anyway and aren't exactly the kind of chairs you curl up in to read a good book anyway. They look great in the living room with their new pink pillows. I threw away the horrible old slipcovers (although, it was a little bittersweet because I remember when my mother first ordered them and we were so happy because they fit pretty well and covered that old fabric). When the weather warms up, I plan to take them outside, flip them over, and sand and re-stain the legs. They're a little beaten up and need some TLC to match their new, bright facelift.

I love that you can see the legs now (the slipcovers were long and covered most of the legs before) and that their shape fits perfectly with the rest of the room. When I first took off the slipcovers, I got a little nervous because there were some rips in the fabric and the back of one was pulling away from the frame. I stitched up the tears, though, with embroidery thread (and the paint worked almost like glue to keep the fabric together) and I was able to reposition the staples in the back and hammer them into the frame (the paint helped there, too, by securing the seam).

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