Infusing an old chair with color is a fun way to introduce character or antiques into the home. Here is what happened to a little chair I stumbled across at an antiques fair. Warning: I painted it, so if painting old wood furniture gives you fits go ahead and click away now. Nice bones. The shape is attractive, the woodwork interesting, the finish was not all mucked up and the curvilinear lines are cool. One of the telltale signs of coming across a decent piece of old furniture is upon turning it over, one finds webbing under the seat. Sitting low and wide, my guess is Victorian, plus it appears to be solid walnut. Looks good so far. Next stop – price tag.
I can’t buy a solid wood chair wholesale for $200 of this quality, $1,000 might be more realistic. This chair is a bargain.
Images of the possibilities danced through my head. Given the size and dimensions, it will only ever be an occasional chair/display piece. Leaving it as a brown wood chair, regardless of the fabric, is limiting otherwise it will stand out as an appendage to the room. These nice big spans of space scream for pattern! What a great chair for a vibrant color. When the chair was naked I confirmed the mortise and tenon joinery and dowels – not a screw to be found.
Back to my initial premise regarding the math… One can’t get wound up micromanaging the dollars, remember the big picture.
“But the fabric costs more than the chair?” Fabric often does. There is no rule book which states furniture must cost more than the fabric. This is not a relevant argument. Depending on the fabric this can go completely in the other direction. Tip: This is a great place for a pricey fabric you love – you only need a small amount of it.
“Wait, this going to cost more to recover and paint than the price of the chair?” Very typical, but again it is like comparing apples to oranges. I bet the clothes in one’s closet cost more than the closet too. So what, again not relevant.The finished chair price is not so bad compared to what a similar quality chair would cost, plus getting it in the exact color and fabric selection one desires. The fabric I used is inexpensive compared to a more typical priced fabric of $100 or more per yard. Finding a chair of equal quality and construction doesn’t not happen in this price range. A standard retail mark-up for a store is x 2 or x 2.5, still not bad.For fun here are a couple of similar chairs found online. But my chair is so much better: The perfect spot for one of my favorite fabrics, Fireworks by Albert Hadley for Hinson. Doesn’t this chair look fabulous?
The point is when you find a great chair at a garage sale, tag sale, antiques fair or even the side of the road not to get sidelined by the additional costs in customizing the chair for your interior. You’ll still be ahead at the end of the day.