Thursday, April 26, 2012

Refinishing an Antique Chair

 About a month ago my in-laws came to visit for the day and when they arrived my father-in-law hauled an old antique chair out of the trunk of their car.  I was instantly smitten.  I'm not sure if he had intended to or if he just felt bad since I kept sighing over it, but he gave the chair to me.

 The chair was sadly in need of some TLC but I didn't have the time then so the chair went up to our dark cave (otherwise known as the upstairs-currently-being-renovated).  I finally had some time this week to work on it.  I've never refinished an antique piece without painting it so I'm not sure if I've done it correctly, but I love the way it turned out.


As usual, I didn't take a very good "before" picture, but you can see the chair was dirty, scratched and worn.  The back of the chair was caned, but sadly it had been punctured in a couple places.

I dragged the chair outside for a good cleaning and some sanding and oh boy, was I nervous.  But it had worn so much in some places it was splintering.

Once I finished sanding, I put one coat of a pecan colored stain on.  We liked the contrast of the two tones so I chose to go light on the stain.  I finished by rubbing on some Annie Sloan wax. 

I wasn't sure what to do about the caning so I consulted my favorite furniture expert, Miss Mustard Seed.  I read her post about refinishing a cane-backed chair with some drop cloth and a piece of trim.  And fortunately I just happened to have some drop cloth on hand.  I stapled it on and then glued on some trim I found at the fabric store.

Isn't she pretty?  The best part is that the chair is completely functional and surprisingly very comfortable.  The seat height and back are adjustable. 

 On the back of the chair I simply glued a piece of drop cloth over the cane.  (I did iron and fold the drop cloth beforehand so that the edges looked finished.)

While I was cleaning the chair, I noticed a couple metal plates.  One had a serial number and the other identified the name of the chair company.  Turns out the chair was made by the B.L. Marble Chair Company.  I did a little google searching and enjoyed reading a little about the history of this chair company.  I also read in one place that the bottom of the chair would have productions details either written in chalk or on a piece of paper.  I found the piece of paper but unfortunately it disintegrated the second I touched it.  I also found an engraved marking that identified the wood as birch.

I'm not sure how old this chair is, but I think its worn character fits just perfectly in our home and now I'm on the lookout for another chair to complement it.  By the way, my father-in-law only paid $15 for this chair... I'm not sure of the value of this chair, but I'm pretty sure that was a steal!


  1. I'm so looking for one of these! I really really really don't enjoy my modern plasticky desk chair.

  2. Oh! This turned out so well! I bet your father in law wants it back now!! I r like how you dealt with the broken caning. your fix-it job looks clean and tidy. Lovely!

  3. The trim turned out great - what did you buy??? LOVE how awesome it looks.

    ~ Mom ~

  4. Love the pecan stain. I have never worked with soft wax, but after this I might try it on this old trunk I'm working on.

  5. Your chair is lovely. I also have a similar wooden desk chair that I refinished. And yes, it amazing how comfortable they are! I use it every day and absolutely love it!

  6. I love pieces with authentic distressing/patina. Your chair is beautiful and I think you did just the right amount of rehab on it. (I have a little chair addiction, so I love this post!)

  7. I love it! The color is beautiful and the drop cloth looks great. Wonderful transformation!

  8. You brought that chair back to life! I'm your newest follower and I'm off to view more of your posts.

    Lovely photos, by the way.

  9. What a beautiful story and rescue! She's gorgeous!

  10. I love this chair! You did a great job on it too:)

  11. this chair is awesome! i love the rich finish and the industrial look!

  12. What an amazing chair! I love the color of the wood and the new re-upholstered top! Thanks so much for sharing :)


  13. What a gorgeous chair. Such a thoughtful gift from your father-in-law. You must be a good daughter-in-law. :)

  14. I agree with your conclusions and looking forward to your coming updates. Thanks for sharing

    Antique chairs

  15. Amazing trasformation, Your chair is beautiful, The color is beautiful and the drop cloth looks beds company UK


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