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After the birth of her second daughter, Jontal Corley of Federal Way, Washington, sought a new creative outlet.
"I am a crafty and creative person, but now that I stay home with my two girls instead of working full-time, it's harder to justify my every crafty whim," says Jontal. "So I started looking for things I could get for free and 'upcycle' or just make look better."
That's when she came across a matching set of old padded chairs -- at no cost. She knew that with reupholstered seats, a fresh coat of paint, and a little DIY love, they could be upcycled into art-deco-inspired masterpieces. Click through the gallery to see the step-by-step process and how she did it -- all for less than $50!
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The first step was stripping the original material from the chairs. Photos were taken along the way to provide a step-by-step guide for accurate reassembly.
When choosing her supplies, Jontal decided on an art-deco-inspired fabric designed exclusively for Jo-Ann, Dritz brand decorative nails and tacks, the spray paint for Krylon brand (although in her more recent upcycling projects, she prefers Rustoleum), and Poly-Fil to add a little fluff.
She also used her upholstery needle, upholstery thread, sandpaper, and a hammer from her home supplies. In total, the project cost approximately $40, with the majority of the cost being spent on fabric.
Upholstery nails were removed carefully for reuse, providing authenticity and minimizing cost. The wood was sanded and painted a glossy white.
After repairing the burlap support of the seat, the stuffing just needed a little extra fluff, so Jontal added a bit of poly-fiber to the original horse hair, straw, and cotton blend. Then, she nailed the new fabric on. "I decided to add a few extra decorative nails and spaced them a bit different than was originally on the chairs," she says.
According to Jontal, the entire process took about three weeks since "it was hard to time things, like hammering, around naps and the personal exhaustion of having an infant and toddler to love on."
And voila! What a transformation. The chairs were sanded and painted glossy white before reassembling. Blue-and-white scallop-patterned fabric was selected to mimic the circles on the arms and create a cohesive look.
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Of course, every first-time DIYer is bound to encounter some setbacks, and this project was no exception.
"The first mistake I made was forgetting to consider the pattern of the fabric when purchasing the yardage I needed. Because I wanted the pattern to match in both chairs, and within each chair itself, I needed to purchase more fabric than I realized. If I had realized this when I bought the fabric initially, I could have purchased less fabric, instead of having to go to the store twice and getting two cuts."
"The other problem happened after I finished the first chair, and I realized I hadn't applied the top protective coat of clear paint! I had my husband help me carefully cover the upholstered parts of the chair with plastic-bag-type material we had left over from painting our walls, and then painted over the white. I was really discouraged, but by being fastidious with the fix, everything worked out."
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"The most special thing about the project was when I first went to take the first chair apart, I found the tag from the upholstery shop that last worked on the chairs. I live in Washington State now but grew up in the Bay Area of California, and the shop was located close to my grandparents' home, on Ramona Street -- and Ramona is my first daughter's name! It felt like it was meant to be!"
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"I think the biggest improvement has been to my confidence," Jontal says. "I saw I was able to do something big by myself, and it's inspired me to work on other projects, including an Ikea TV stand that is now a padded bench, and a vintage sewing table that is now a buffet/beverage station."
After completing the chairs, she was inspired to start even bigger and better projects. "I'm thrilled with how they turned out! I've already completed a couple more projects and hope to sell them so I can keep creating more!"
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