Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Birthday Surprise: Giving an Old Heirloom New Life

When my cousin Sara (often mentioned in this blog) and I were very little... maybe 2 or 3, we received, from our grandparents, each a hand crafted doll and child rocking chair. The chairs were hand built and crafted by our Grandfather and the dolls were hand sewn and crafted by our Grandmother. They were identical and we each got one of each. Yet over the years, the multiple moves, the family upheavals and whatnot we both experienced not to mention going away to college, marriage and having children... in the end I long ago lost my doll and she long ago lost her chair... so we were each left with half the set, so together we have a full set of the items our grandparents lovingly created for us 30 years ago.
This was the doll. (The cutie in the pic is my baby cousin)
And here is the chair.
As you can see in these pics, even though both of these items are in very good condition for being almost 30 years old, both are quite worn. The chair in particular has needed a good coat of paint for quite a few years now. It is stained and chipped and worn down. The knobs on the top kept falling off leaving large pointy screws where they could harm Bug. So with Bug's birthday party a mere week and a half away I decided to breathe new life into this chair as a birthday surprise. 
So the first thing I knew I wanted to do was to not damage or change the actual chair in anyway. I wanted to keep the actual chair as close to how it was as possible. This meant even keeping all the same hardware from when my Grandfather built it. So the first thing I had to do was take the cushions off. 
The top one could be removed by removing a panel in the back that was glued on, screwed on, nailed on, and then painted over. There were four screws, about ten tiny brad nails all that had to be removed carefully. The bottom cushion was easier, it was bracketed on with four brackets. 
So once I did that the chair looked like this.

So then I decided to paint it green. I wanted to keep it as close to how it looked before as possible.. but I had a very specific design in mind. Bug got for his first birthday a set of crayola dinosaur sheets that came with a comforter and a matching curtain valance. Well the Valance was a bit useless to us because his window is so wide we would have needed about 3 more of them  and they were rather expensive. Plus he already had curtains I made him. 
Here is the bed set.
The valance matched the comforter. So my idea was to re-upholster the cushions in that fabric and paint the chair a pale green. It would not change the look of the chair very much at all... but give it new life.
Here is the chair being painted.
With all the original hardware saved.
And here is the finished result.
The only thing I still have to do once the paint fully dries (it was mostly dry when I took this) is to actually attach the cushions and replace the panel and touch up the paint. This is though for the most part exactly how it will look though. I still have a bit of the fabric left I am trying to decide what else I can do with it. So there you have it, a 30 yr old chair brought back to life.

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