Transformed: $20 Danish Modern Chair
Jan 14, 2010
I'm ashamed to admit that this gorgeous chair had been sitting in my bedroom without a cushion for over a year. I got tired of seeing its unsittable likeness buried under piles of laundry, so I finally did it right and made a custom-fitted cushion and slipcover. Now our little sitting area actually has a place to sit. Despite the inspiring nature of this find, a few things caused my procrastination:
- Lack of a really good sale on upholstery foam, which is ridiculously expensive.
- Lack of the perfect fabric (despite my mammoth stash).
- Fear of piping.
- Virgo tendencies that require me to finish one project before beginning the next.
First barrier was removed by (finally) receiving the coveted 50% off Joann's coupon. The second excuse went away when I found several yards of off-white slubby fabric at a church rummage sale. Fear of piping: more on that later. Those other projects? Still unfinished, but this one is crossed off the list!
I'll tell you the story of how I acquired this 1960s beauty, and pass along a simple Ebay tip in the process. There's a handy sort function on Ebay when you want to look for big, heavy things you'd rather not ship— like furniture. Browse the category, then sort by distance. It's a simple but overlooked feature. If you're lucky enough to find something nearby with local pick-up only, most of the bidding competition is out of the game, especially if you aren't in a large city. (Wow, a shopping advantage in Northern Michigan!)
I was doing just that one day when this chair popped up at the top of my list: "Vintage Teak Chair." Local pick-up only, 12 miles away in Honor, Michigan. Honor is known for canoeing. It's known for fishing and deer hunting. But it's most definitely not known for vintage modern furniture. The photos and description were sketchy, but I bid the minimum, $20. The sleek, paper-thin, curved wooden back with its mod-Gothic arches was too much to resist.
I won the auction, and we found ourselves driving to the "outskirts" of Honor to pick up my treasure. It was inside a packed-to-the-gills garage next to a trailer with a circle drive and a whirligig of two little men sawing lumber. The seller came out to find the chair in the clutter. He said he thought there would be more bidders. I shrugged my shoulders. Then he said, "For an extra ten bucks you can have the cushion, too." I glanced at the rumpled 80s upholstery covered in cat hair and decided that day that I'd make a new cushion. And now, I finally I have. —Diane
Photos above: Diane Kolak.
Upgrade your slipcovers with a handy tool
Initially I was going to keep this cover super-simple and skip the piping (see aforementioned fear). I dreaded the thought of cutting all those bias strips and wrestling with the perfect alignment on the sewing machine. But self-fabric piping really elevates the look, and this chair deserved to look good. I searched online for tips on making piping and found excellent, printable instructions here. The job was made even easier with a piping foot (aka welting foot). It's a special accessory that feeds the piping through the machine, precisely aligning it with the needle. I zipped through the process without picking up the seam ripper!
Photo: April 1930's, A Sewing Shoppe.
What it cost
This is why I love vintage furniture! I now have a unique, beautifully designed, solid wood chair for the same price or less than a new one made from particleboard and plastic.
- 1960s teak Mod-Gothic chair, $20, Ebay
- Danish oil, leftover from previous projects
- Upholstery foam, $17 (50% off), Joann Fabrics
- Electric knife for cutting foam to custom shape, finally found a use for that old thing!
- 4 yards slubby upholstery fabric, $2, rummage sale
- 3 yards piping filler, $3.87, Joann Fabrics
- Piping foot, $10.95, Boyd's Sewing Center
- Thread and vintage metal zipper, from stash
What have you transformed? Show off your handiwork by emailing me a photo or two, and I'll share them here on Room for Inspiration. Email me.
TAGS: vintage midcentury furniture chair ebay tips before after fitted slipcover
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