How five misfit chairs and a clashing table band together to create a beautiful, budget-friendly dining space
For decorators, both chairs and flea markets are kinda like porn. Regardless of what it is you’re into, there’s something for everyone. While a traditional ladder back is comparable to the missionary position, a 1960′s leather-clad chrome chair has more in common with an orgy. Similar to DVDs at the XXX video shop, flea markets are ripe with fresh new methods of self-discovery.
Clients are clasping their wallets tighter than ever, making splurges on designer dining rooms out of the question. Dining spaces are quick, fun and simple to create; I refuse to let this economy banish them to decorating purgatory. My team hypothesized a four-legged design strategy — create a chic dining space for less than what we’d spend on a custom tablecloth before the economic downturn. We would group mismatched pieces together, then Tim Gunn it [make it work]. Clever choices mixing do-it-yourself tricks with professional tailoring allowed us to affordably create a dining room in which to have our cake and eat it too.
The usual suspects
To do it ourselves, we called in our routine tools and materials: fine grit sanding block, orbital sander, spray primer, high gloss spray paint and a spray handle. While the fine grit sanding block is great for scuffing ornamentation, the orbital sander is great for straight-edged surfaces. Guarantee top-notch adhesion by investing in a can of spray primer; a single can will cover three small dining chairs. High gloss spray finishes are brought to the next level by adding a spray handle. Why? The spray handle creates a consistent flow of paint eliminating problematic overspray.
She had us at Hej [hello in Danish]. This $27 Danish modern cane back chair left much to be desired between its gloppy black finish and cheesy polyester cushion. Damage to the cane detail became invisible thanks to a uniform coat of red spray paint.
Our Victorian find’s heavy finish rendered its frame more Victor and its floral fabric more Victoria. Decor Demon’s gender neutral infusion allowed him/her to stay true to his/herself but in a more polished manner. This gender bender’s frame set us back $5.
We gave the green/gold finish on our $16 country girl the thumbs up. The knicks and scratches? Not-so-much. Cue the spray paint!
Upon discovery of this 1960′s-era vanity chair, we were conflicted to change her. Miss Thing’s existing brass finish and avocado upholstery were rather charming. Too bad! Hours later we updated the $21 find with color and fabric. Her tubular steel frame made her the easiest chair to spray.
Bent out of shape
Spraying our $16 bentwood beauty was trickier than we anticipated. Spraying evenly among the curves takes some serious attention to detail. She was, however, the easiest to sand as the sanding block maneuvers well around the circular bent wood.
The consistent mod look comes from new Robert Allen cushion fabric purchased for $22 per yard. We used two yards and paid our upholsterer $20 per chair for new cushion fabrication.
The big finish
Our quintet sits pretty with a coordinating table cloth made from Sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabric. Am I purposely concealing our $22 table? Perhaps. Because two top secret pieces of wood are sandwiched between the top and base raising it to the correct height? Possibly.
Our seamstress, Chean, added tailored pleats and a band of red velveteen to our concealing tablecloth. Although we spent $85 on professional fabrication, a similar look can be achieved DIY-style with a ready made version, ribbon and hot glue. The entire project set us back $354 and one full day of labor. Three years ago, I had clients dropping that much on a tablecloth alone. Welcome to interior design, 2010.
While the objective of this sentence was to fill you in on my favorite of the five chairs, it became a shameless plug showcasing my assistant, Gidget.