Chair season 2013


I have a soft spot for dilapidated chairs.  Whether it's at Goodwill or a garage sale, I can't seem to pass up an old chair with potential.

This means, much to my spouse's dislike, that we must work around, move, and store these (often) useless and (almost always) ugly chairs, sometimes for long periods of time, before we can find the time to restore them.  I say "we," but my part is really limited to the acquisition, the (sometimes dubious) vision for what we can do with it, and the upholstery (if there is any).

Byron is the restorer of chairs.  He takes them completely apart and then with sand paper, pocket screws, and epoxy he puts their pieces back together and patiently gives them an attractive finish.  And, le voil√†!, a new piece of functional furniture appears.

Chair rehabilitation in Seattle occurs only during the time of year when it's warm enough to putter around in the unheated garage and when the Mariners can be listened to on the radio while doing chair work.  So, you can see, chair season is really April - September. (Of course there is always hope of a post season.)

This chair season has turned out to be a particularly productive one.

It began with a very sad chair that our friends Alex and Sarah discarded in their last move -- a molded plywood chair whose plywood was delaminating.  Although Byron had threatened to toss it a dozen times given its seriously compromised state, I somehow convinced him it was the right chair for our entry if it could be spiffed up a bit.  So . . . Byron tackled it.  He peeled off layers of wood and sanded down others, got some new hardware, and then sanded a lot more before finally painting it a shocking yellow color.  I think it's exactly right.


After that chair, Byron was reenergized.  Mostly, I think he just wanted to use the new paint sprayer again.  But whatever.  Next he next tackled two very broken chairs that we had claimed from his dad's basement before he moved in with us several years ago.  Byron remembers the chairs being used in their home when he was a kid.  Turns out, the chairs have been in his dad's family as long as anyone can remember (and Herman's 89, so that's a long time).  He thinks one of them belonged to his father, Gottlieb, before he married Ageneta Siemens sometime before 1920.  That puts them roughly in the neighborhood of 100 years old.


The chairs had different issues -- one had a split down the middle of the seat; the other couldn't hold any weight.  But after Byron worked his magic, which generally involves a lot of epoxy, he had them back together and ready for use.  Their original robin's egg blue color (which I really liked) was in bad shape and had to go, so they received a coat of the jolting yellow paint we had a gallon of.  Somehow Byron managed to fix them up while retaining much of their antique character. They joined the dining room to be employed as extra seating when necessary and to just look pretty the rest of the time. 


The next task was to rehab our dining chairs.  It was about eight years ago that we decided to furnish our dining table with mismatched chairs from thrift shops.  That wasn't our first choice, but the price was right and they were functional. All have center back rails, but that's about the extent of their sameness.  Initially, Byron touched up and tightened things so we could reliably invite people to sit on them without fear of collapse. Albeit quite ugly, they have served us well for many years.

This spring we finally gave them attention like sanding and applying some Tried & True, plus more tightening and shoring up.  Now they are super strong and the wood looks nicer.  AND, drum roll please, I finally upholstered all of the seats to match -- something I have wanted to do since 2005. My upholstery skills are limited a staple gun and scissors, and I used fabric I bought by the yard at IKEA a year ago.  Mismatched and all, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.


Most recently, Byron also fixed up and painted two small chairs for Wyatt's room.  One of them was Byron's when he was a child.  The other we picked up at an charity auction a few years ago.  Both needed some structural attention and also needed to have all traces of the old paint removed and/or covered.  We went with a bold and deep blue color, which looks good with the white and blue and orange already in Wyatt's room.  


The chairs get constant use at his art table. Of course, they also get dragged across the room and put to use reaching the top shelf of the bookcase or climbing onto the hamper . . . or the dresser.  We occasionally pull them out on the deck when we need a kids' table for dinner, too.
(Gratuitous shot of cute kids.)



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