A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear…

Here is an easy and inexpensive way to gain a few extra years out of some pretty grubby looking Ikea chairs…

When we first moved into this house two years ago, we had so many expenses!  My Mr. was about to s**t a brick over all the money we were spending.  We needed so much!  I was totally psyched when I found these kitchen chairs at Ikea.

They are called “Nordmyra,” and they were only $39 each!  I love the clean and modern look of them, especially contrasted with our old, beat-up farmhouse table.

My excitement waned pretty quickly, though, when I saw how badly they were holding up.  The white seats and backs became so dingy looking, and I couldn’t get them clean, not even with a magic eraser.  When the papery coating started tearing off in places, I figured they were done for.

I started shopping around for new chairs.  West Elm, Crate and Barrel, CB2, Pottery Barn, even Target yielded results in the $175-$279/chair range!  Ouch!  I need four of them!  Mr. would s**t a whole two-story colonial if I told him I needed 900 bucks to replace our two-year-old kitchen chairs!  I knew there had to be a better solution.

I tinkered around with a few different ideas, but settled on decoupage as the best solution.  I couldn’t get a staple in to reupholster them the traditional way, and I wanted something that would wipe clean anyway.

Decoupage is practically foolproof!  And all you need is some pretty fabric (mine’s from Calico Corners), a jar of Mod Podge, a paintbrush, and some clear polyurethane to seal it all up so it’ll wipe clean with a soapy sponge, which is a must in a household like mine with three sets of crusty, dusty, and slimy hands touching everything.  Case in point:

probably how the chairs got to be this way in the first place…

Start by cutting a piece of fabric to roughly the size of what you are covering, be that the seat or the backrest of the chair.  Brush a thin layer of Mod Podge on about a four inch by four inch area, in the center portion of what you are covering.

Next just lay on the piece of fabric and press it gently into the wet glue.   I try to be mindful of the pattern of the fabric and the repeat, centering it on the seat or backrest, and using the geometry of the pattern to line everything up straight.  In this case, a diamond smack in the middle, and I used the points of the adjacent diamonds to make sure it’s on a straight horizontal.

if you are wondering if I’m a virgo, the answer is, extremely.

Once everything’s lined up just how you like it, just fold back the loose fabric and start brushing more Mod Podge over the rest of the piece, until it’s all covered and all the fabric is adhered.

Now trim the excess fabric away, leaving about a half inch to wrap around.

A little Mod Podge on the rim…

…and begin wrapping the fabric over the sides and around the back/bottom.

Around the sharp curves, you will need to snip slits in the fabric to keep everything smooth and not bunchy.

At this point you can begin brushing the Mod Podge on top of the fabric as well as under it.  It really helps to adhere things smoothly and it’s a sealer too!

I left too much excess, do a better job trimming than me.  Less overlap is better.

Try to smooth out any pleating around to the backside.

Once the piece is covered and smoothed out, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge over all the fabric to seal it in place.

Now, for the back of the backrest, follow the same steps again: brush glue on a four inch by four inch area in the center, line up the fabric, glue under the rest of the fabric (this time leave a quarter inch margin around the perimeter unglued)…

cut little “X”‘s where the bolts go, so you can screw it back together when you’re done

…trim the excess away (this time leave a scant eighth inch excess).  Now turn the raw edge of that bitty excess under, gluing it down as you go.

Seal it all up with Mod Podge and let it dry.  Hit it with an extra fine sanding block, and brush a few coats of clear poly.  I chose this brand because it cleans up with soapy water.

mineral spirits are a real pain in the tush.

You can decoupage just about anything, which I love, because I am crazy about textiles for adding color, pattern, and interest to a room, and it’s often a challenge for me to find exactly the item I’m looking for in the color and pattern I like.  Next I’m going to work on some plain storage boxes and magazine files for the bookshelves in my living room, and I really want to try out this nifty idea too:

So for little things like that, the Mod Podge is probably all the sealer you’ll need, but I chose the poly step because of all the hard wear and tear my kitchen chairs endure.  Mod Podge can handle a wipe with a damp sponge, but if it gets really saturated the glue will loosen.

All in all I was able to silk-purse-itize my $39 sow’s ears for under $100, which is a heck of a lot better than $900 plus a 2-story brick colonial.

Ta Dah!

…special thanks to www.makeit-loveit.com.


3 thoughts on “A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear…

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