You don’t have to be a retro or vintage fan to appreciate the charm of old furniture. A bit of paint, fresh upholstery and imagination of course. So much is needed to make an old armchair into a modern work of applied art.
Renovating an old armchair by yourself can also be a pleasant way to relax! In addition, its final appearance depends on you – so you can match the aesthetics of the furniture to the rest of the arrangement and create a unique design that will delight and amaze. But let’s get down to business – how to restore an old armchair on your own?
Think about the arrangement
Even from a very ornate, carved armchair you can make the essence of minimalism and modernity. The question is – is it worth it? It would be nice to keep the essence of the aesthetics of the furniture you want to renew, change only the elements that require immediate renewal. And possibly match the color scheme with your current interiors
So before you start renovating an old armchair, think about which elements of the composition need to be refreshed, and which need a complete change. Try to imagine the final effect and its placement in the living room or bedroom. If your interiors are kept in Scandinavian style, you need a different vision than for a rustic armchair, right? The coherence of the arrangement always comes first!
Prepare everything you need
- Restoration armchair – if you don’t have any in your basement and you want to try your hand at it, check out the flea market,
- foam for the seat and back,
- upholstery fabric,
- furniture padding,
- tape or upholstery belt (non-stretch),
- upholstery fabric – you usually need about 1.5 meters for one chair,
- sander and sandpaper of different gradation,
- everything for wood – depending on your creative invention, it can be stain or paint, as well as protective varnish,
- brushes and rollers for painting,
- glue for wood,
- upholstery stapler and staples,
- also have a hammer and a set of screwdrivers on hand just in case.
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Choose upholstery fabric
The fabric is the part of the armchair that catches the eye the most. This is because it stands out not only for its color, but also for its pattern, texture, and play with light in the room. It is worth choosing the fabric which has been reinforced with plastic fibres – thanks to this its durability increases considerably, it is resistant to abrasion and mechanical damage. On the market there are also available fabrics with the technology that delays absorption of water. This is especially useful with children at home
Remember that the choice of colors and patterns strongly determines the style in which the armchair will be finished. If you dream of a glamour armchair, choose velvet option in strong and elegant colors (e.g. bottle green or sapphire), and if you prefer Scandinavian coolness, simple upholstery in shades of gray will be perfect. Looking for something more extravagant? A rose pattern upholstery will work in a shabby chic living room and a leafy pattern in an urban jungle.
Renovate wooden parts
Renovating any piece of furniture starts with taking it apart and checking the condition of its various components. So, you take apart the armchair, keep all the screws sorted in a separate container, and replace them with new ones or rust them out if necessary. If the chair is in reasonably good condition, disassemble it into a seat and leg structure – and if not, use wood glue to put the whole thing back together
Once you’ve ripped off the old upholstery, you can then proceed to sand the aged varnish or paint off the wooden parts. Flat surfaces can be polished with a sander, more intricate ornaments gently with sandpaper – so as not to damage the structure. If you want to reveal the true color of natural wood, you need to carefully remove all layers. Then, using brushes and rollers, you apply paint or stain (preferably at least twice) and protective varnish.
Once the wooden parts of your chair have dried, you can start further fun. Use upholstery staples to attach straps to the seat and back that will support your weight. Next, stretch upholstery fabric over the whole structure and glue it to the upholstery foam. Cut the foam to the right size and stick it on
Once the seat and back are comfortably soft, you need to secure them. Pull the sheepskin over both pieces (keep a reserve of fabric) and sew it with staples to the back of the backrest and the bottom of the seat to prevent it from slipping. That leaves the final piece – applying the upholstery.It is advisable to cut it out in accordance with the template to leave sufficient margins for aesthetic overlaps.
Draw up the dimensions of the backrest on paper, add one centimetre of space on each side, and then apply it to the upholstered part – you will then see if any corrections are needed. Attaching the upholstery itself is trivial – you do it with a stapler