Saturday, November 7, 2009


I have owned this Harden chair for a good many years. It happens to be one of my favorites and has found a place at one time or another as a side chair in the living room, an accent chair in the bedroom and, on occasion, a rather stylish desk chair. I love the Queen Anne styling and have always found it to be one of the most comfortable seats in the house. But the time had come to give the chair a face-lift or, in this case, a chair-lift.

Although I've tackled minor upholstery before—like changing the seat cushions on a dining room chair—the cost of materials and the challenge of having a tight fit edged with brass nail heads, definitely required a professional. (Luckily, I have someone in a nearby town upstate who was able to do it for $80.) But, first I needed to refinish the wood arms and legs.

By tearing away the original upholstery, I was able to cover the exposed wood frame with a coat of primer and then two coats of the same color paint used on the room's trim. My friend and long-time colleague at Country Living—and arbiter of good taste—Robin Long Mayer, helped me choose a burlap-like (but not burlap-priced) upholstery material and velvet piping to coordinate the chair with the room's decor. And it was off to the upholsterer.

When the chair came back with it's lighter covering, I realized that the finish looked flat and lifeless (see left below). What it needed was a glaze, stain or toner that would enhance the carved details and give it a somewhat antiqued look. I turned to one of my favorite decorative paint sources—Caromal Colours. After taping plastic around the new upholstery, I applied Caromal Colours Toner with cheesecloth to the arms and legs and, after a couple of minutes, removed the excess. As you can see below (right), it provided just the right hint of color and definition.

The only steps left were to apply a coat of wax, buff well, and remove the tape and plastic. The final result—a new look, and oh so stylish lift!

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