Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leather Chair Rehab

Now that my studio is up and chugging away at full steam, I'm finally getting to some home decor projects I'd been putting off due to lack of space. My most recent project was a rehab of this lovely chair.

I found this back in October in a local thrift store, for a whopping total of 11.00.

It is a large, heavy piece of furniture, beautifully made with great lines and a comfy, firm seat.

It had obviously been well-loved because the leather was in sorry shape, but beyond that, and a few dings to its wooden feet, I couldn't find a thing wrong with it. It came home with me and has been sitting in my studio ever since.

The plan was always to try painting it to see if I could "repair" the scuffed and pitted leather. When I told people that was my plan for it, I got a lot of shocked stares and a few, "Why would you paint it??" questions. But the truth was, it wasn't going to be comfortable and warm to sit in with the leather so scratchy and damaged. I had high hopes that paint could heal its wounds and restore it to something that could again be well-loved.

Up it went onto a table and the first task was to sand the rough patches of leather and wipe the whole thing down with some rubbing alcohol to try and tame some of the oils and tannins that could wreak havoc with my acrylic paints. Then it got a first coat of Gesso.

Terrible coverage, and indeed, the tannins crept into the gesso, staining it a little. So, a second coat...

... with somewhat better results. The coverage was pretty good, though still streaky, but I was afraid to use more Gesso for fear of putting so much paint on the thing that it would just turn to stone. It was time for a coat of paint...

I used a latex house paint and while I had been worried that this, too, would go on streaky, I was wrong- the coverage was nearly perfect, except for spots I simply missed. So far, so good. The leather still felt supple and soft, and most of the damage was now covered. Time for a second coat of paint...

Even better. And because I'd felt that the color of the first coat had been a little more pink and flesh-toned than I wanted, I'd added a bit of brown to the mix before painting.

Still a little pink-ish, but getting close enough into the mocha range I'd been seeking that I was satisfied. The leather was still soft and flexible.

Time for some text...

I used heavy-bodied acrylic paint in a squeezie bottle for this step and just journaled some of my favorite words and sentiments all over the piece. I wish my handwriting was better; this is the point at which I became less satisfied, but for 11 dollars and a quart of paint, I was pretty happy over all.

I lightly sanded and painted the feet, and last night, it got installed in its new home, one of the upstairs bedrooms.

I hope it enjoys many years of use by happy, comfortable readers. And from now on, I won't be intimidated by great furniture with shabby leather because I know that paint cures all ills!

Happy creating!
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