Thursday, September 20, 2012

DIY $3 Chair

I mentioned yesterday that we added a free chair to our living room.  After thinking about it, I realized that wasn't exactly true; it was more like three dollars.

About a month ago, I found this baby on the free section of Craigslist:
 Sorry, Pat had worked a LONG day and refused to get out of "his" new chair for the pics.  Anyway, it was free because a cat had demolished the arms on both sides.  Normally I shy away from used upholstered furniture, especially from households with out-of-control pets, but since it was leather, I figured I could wipe it down and make it as good clean as new.
Yes, Madison is topless.  She refuses to wear bibs, but she's still really messy when she eats, so unless we're in public, we just take off her shirt.  She tends to prefer being naked, anyway.

This chair was so much nicer than I had hoped from the ad.  It's real leather (so soft!), and very comfortable.  Other than the arms, it was in perfect condition!  I'd say it was two hours in the car (one with a very angry baby) well spent.

My plan for the chair was to reupholster the sides, fronts, tops, and inside (in other words the whole) arms.  On closer inspection, I realized that:
1) most of the damage was on the outside
2) the tops of the arms were soft, buttery leather (softer than any cheap-o fabric I would be able to find to replace it with, and
3)  I lack the skill it would take to make such a big upholstery job look professional.  For the people who say it's just like wrapping a present, I say you should see my presents.  Then you'll understand my decision.

Taking all of that into account, I decided to only upholster the parts that REALLY needed it, AKA the fronts and sides.

I purchased 2 yards of $1.50/yd fabric (on clearance) at Walmart.  It turns out that I only needed one yard, but better safe than sorry, right? 

I stapled the fabric to the chair (right over the damaged leather), pulling TIGHTly as I went.  This process took me three weeks.  In actual labor hours, it was more like an hour, but I couldn't staple with Madison in the house because she's terrified of the loud noise it makes, so I had to wait for Daddy/daughter grocery shopping dates. 

Here it is now:
 It's not quite finished yet.  I need to fix the top left corner of the right arm (you can see where it's loose), trim the extra fabric on the bottom left, and use nailhead trim to finish the look/hide the staples.  I'll share that with you sometime in the next ten years when I find a "round-to-it".
 There is some damage from the cat that's still visible, but it's not very noticeable.  The picture below makes it look WAY worse than in real life.  I guess the flash really picks it up.
Since I found this on CL, I've been trolling the free section looking for more.  It can be addicting.  Have you ever scored a great piece for free (or $3) ?



  1. good job, but really, who let's their animals do that?

    1. I know, right?! And for how much damage there was, it obviously wasn't a one time thing. I don't do cats anyway, but if Bella did something like that, I'd have her outside or in a kennel anytime we left the house in a hot minute!