Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Make an Old Desk and Office Chair Shine!

Whew!  I tell you what, I need to get my head together on all of these projects!
Is my casing finished? Nope.  How about that flowerbed? Well, it’s waiting for the plants.
Have I gone ahead and started other projects anyway?  Well of course!
Enough about all my unfinished work, let’s move onto something I am excited to have actually completed!
Da ta da da ta DAH!
My cast-off chair and table transformation!

I am just loving this fun, bold floral pattern that you can pick up at Hobby Lobby, and what’s great is that this was all in the remnants bin!

Now I will tell you the tale of the sad little table and chair…

I pretty much fell in love with this desk sitting outside at a tiny thrift store.
It was in great shape, in fact, there was nothing wrong with it; I couldn’t imagine how something in such good shape could have wound up in a place for garage-sale leftovers.
She had to be mine.

 So I adjusted all of the seats and my daughter in the car (tiny Chevy Aveo, mind you) and stuffed it in there for the short drive home where it found its mate, the discarded office chair in the garage.

 Eww.  Nasty sight, I know.  It became nasty when it was wheeled into the garage to be sat on while working…and then the cats decided that they liked it very much…so much that we never took it back inside.  Eww.

But now we move on to the fun part!  The transformation…
I told you about the wonderful Hobby Lobby fabric and how I found it in the remnants bin, but the beauty of this project is that you CAN use high-end fabric with minimum expense!  Think about it, you only need the width of your chair and the desk (if you are choosing to cover one) and so you won’t be charged for a full yard, AND you can use that nifty Hobby Lobby coupon!

First thing, first.  Wash that fabric! Gentle cycle for wash and dry, we want no surprises (AKA, surprise shrinkage)!  I was using a type of duck fabric, so I wasn’t worried about it unraveling, but if you are using a burlap (which would be FANTASTIC) or some other fragile material, I would look it up first.

Next up, Iron out all of those wonderful wrinkles that come from laundering.  (Put on appropriate setting).

On to the disassembling!

Take apart the chair back from the frame, and the chair seat from the frame using the screwdrivers necessary.  Be sure to collect all of the bolts in a baggy so you won’t wind up running around like a crazy person looking for your one missing screw and finding it in the vacuum later! (True story.)

Now for the tough part, taking out EVERY one of the staples that holds that fabric in place.
I had to use a combination of a staple remover, flat screwdriver, and vice-grips.

Place your fabric on and then grab out your staple gun and start stapling like a mad-person!

No, not really!  Put the stapler down!  I want to share with you, the correct way to do this. (Years of stretching my own canvases taught me something!) Place your seat in the middle of your fabric and make sure you leave enough fabric to be wrapped around ALL the edges (excess is good and it can always be trimmed back). Staple ONE side in the middle of the edge and then pull the canvas fabric tight directly across from it and staple the opposite side. Continue on the adjacent sides.
Now just go back and forth making sure to pull tightly on each side!

For the corners, I like to pull each edge tightly into the center.

Then I pull and flatten until the fabric is no longer puckering on the visible side.

 Immediate gratification!  Now you can collect all the other parts and start putting it back together in a snap (because I know that you neatly collected all of the hardware and haven't lost any!)

 Now sit back and marvel at your new office chair!  Or better yet, SIT on your new office chair! 

Here is another office chair that was a curb find that suffered the same cat-hair-covered fate as the first.Bam!  Now it's gorgeous!

I suppose you are wondering about the desk transformation now?  Well that is a completely different project entirely!  Infact, that is why it took me so long to do...I really dislike trying new things.  Well, let's just say that I am very intimidated at trying new things.

I knew that I wanted to use resin with this project but saw many, many horror stories about resin not mixing properly and entire projects being scrapped. (See why I have the intimidation?)

But there was Hope!  

I found a product called Enviro Tex Lite that had great reviews and little bashing and many blogs with detailed instructions for its use.  It is available at Hobby Lobby and is another must-bring-coupon item ($30 for 32 oz, I only used half).  While you are buying it, also buy two cups (one with ounce measurements) because you have to measure this stuff PRECISE and then pour into another container.

The fabric part of this project starts off just like the chair, wash, dry, iron.
Since I really dislike cutting fabric since it is so flimsy, I applied modge-podge to the desk and flattened it out all over making sure it was straight.  When it was dry, I took VERY sharp scissors and an exacto knife and cut it to fit the shape of the desk.

I read that there was a chance that when using resin on fabric, air could escape from the fabric and create bubbles and so I added another layer of the modge podge on the top just to be sure.

I didn't like how the lines of the fabric still wasn't exactly crisp all the way around so I wrapped a coordinating ribbon around it.  Note: Modge Podge did not work well with the ribbon and gravity kept pulling it down, so I adhered it with fabric glue and it worked great!

I don't have any pictures of the resin process because I was too intensely focused on getting everything exact (but this product is so great, I won't be so paranoid next time!)

I will say this: Make sure your surface is LEVEL.  This product self levels and drips off the sides, so if it's not level then you may end up with one side covered and the others not.

Follow the instructions, pour exactly the same amount of each into one cup and stir for one minute and then pour it into the next cup and mix for one more minute.  Immediately pour onto your surface starting from the outside and spiraling in.  Then 'spread' it using something along the line of cardstock or a foam brush.  I used the paper to do the top and a brush for the sides.
As I mentioned earlier about the whole 'level' thing, mine was not level and I had a tough time coating all the sides!

Once you start noticing all the little bubbles coming  up, it's time to start using some carbon-dioxide.  You can either exhale gently (which will get you dizzy fast if you are working on a large surface) or whip out the butane torch. (The butane torch is also a great way to get the husband to help!)

Keep him busy with that while you brush up the drips.  If the project is still dripping and you are ready to be done--no worries.  You can slice through the drips with a blade later.

By the way, it calls for a dust free room...yeah, I don't think that exists so there were a few specs in the finish.  (Also, tie back your hair!  The next day the tips of my hair were rock hard, whoops.)

Now this thing has a pretty extended curing time.  2-3 days for the hard cure so do this in a place that will be inaccessible to pets, accidental use, and little hands. (I chose to wait until the night before we were leaving for the weekend just to make sure!)

And there you have it!  A beeeaaauuutiful, high-gloss finish that can be easily wiped off (I just wouldn't use it to cut on for awhile)

I'm so excited to have both of them finished and hope they find a good home!