Mid Century Bentwood Chair Makeover

Several months ago I acquired 11 Mid Century Modern chairs that were very dated and on their way to the dumpster. I only really wanted/needed two for our house, but hey, what’s 9 more. Some of the chairs still had the original Knoll Furniture sticker on them and were dated December 1975! After some research I found out that the chairs were designed by Bill Stephens for the Knoll Furniture company and were manufactured mainly as office furniture in the 70’s. The company still makes furniture today! Half of my chairs have bentwood arms and the other half are armless but with the same overall design. I love the lines of the chairs, but the dated magenta-burgundy turned pink wool fabric had to go. My original plan was to update two of the chairs for our house by sanding the blonde oak and staining them darker and updated the fabric. I went with a simple black and white ticking stripe pattern for the fabric. The transformation was awesome, and the chairs were seemingly easy to update. We tried selling the remaining chairs on Craiglist, but never had many takers. Even after I spent several hours sanding down the million black scuff marks and reattaching some of the fabric that had started to peel off.

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Paint for days…

This year we have no major vacations planned, so with several days of Paid Time Off left I decided to take a week off for a little staycation. On my to do this: Paint our knotty pine office.

This will most definitely require a week off from work because we’re talking a lot of wood and a ton of paint.

Day 1: Prepping

  1. Sam and I piled all the furniture in our small living room and temporarily relocated the office computer.
  2. We removed the door and hardware, as well as the wall plates and light switch covers.
  3. Once the room was cleaned out, we applied water and Trisodium phosphate (TSP) with a sponge to clean the wood. The finish starts to drip and makes a huge mess when you apply this mixture, so as I wipe the wall with the sponge I have to wipe the drips with a towel. Kind of like you are waxing a car: wax on, wax off. I did this step twice, the second time with a clean bucket of water and TSP.
  4. Then we spackled as many nail holes and imperfections as we could find.
  5. Finally, I’m a messy painter, and I despise drop cloths that are always bunching, so I decided to tape off the floor and roll out rosin paper.
  6. I also gathered all my tools (brushes, rollers, paint, paper towels, paint stirrer and can opener…). Everything was ready to go in the morning.

Day 2: Priming
We are using Kiltz Premuim Primer that has stain blocking built in, which is important to help cover the the knotty pine completely. Using a brush, I started with the the wood grooves between each panel, and also the base boards and trim. This took me ALL DAY. Well not all day, but about 5 hours. The wood finish is still seeping through the primer, so I’m gueesing we will need at least another coat of primer before we add our actual paint color, Swiss Coffee by Behr.  The room is a lot brighter already, but we have a way to go. I see no end in sight….
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Veggie Garden

I find gardening very rewarding. When you think about it, growing plants is not rocket science. Plants need water and sun. Simple. Yet keeping plants alive is a craft and not everyone has a green thumb as they say.

Luckily I inherited a gardening itch from my grandparents, and for the most part my thumbs are green. My mormor (mother’s mother in Swedish) can turn a pile of dirt into a lush green garden. Her talent amazes me. A lot of our house plants were given to me by her.

When we lived in Albany, we participated in the Community Gardens and grew our own vegetables for several summers in a row. Growing your own food is the most rewarding gardening there is.

This summer with the help of Sam’s mom and her husband Mark we made some raised garden beds in our backyard. We thought this would be an easier option, rather than having to dig up the hundreds of rocks that are hidden under the soil. First, we searched everywhere for cedar planks to build the beds out of, but after doing some research hemlock is a more common and naturally not resistant.

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Rocks and Fire

Summer nights are for bonfires at our house.  That’s what you do when you live in the country. We inherited a fire pit when we moved in, but it was small (maybe 2 feet wide) and built into a slope. The spot was right off our deck, so that was convenient. If there were more than four people it was crowded and if you had too many beers there was the issue of falling into the fire because your chair is tipped at a right angle.

As usual I do not have a before picture of our fire pit, except for this awesome shot when we were power washing the deck. Forewarning, our house was a dump when we bought it and the pit was burried by three years of weeds.

Behold the fire pit pre-fire days. You don’t see it? It’s under that big pile of weeds (see it behind the deck steps). You can see the rocks peaking out from the burr bushes.

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Old Deck Furniture

We have been in our house three years now. That’s THREE summers with no furniture on our deck. Other than our grill and a few plants, the deck was naked. My grandparents had given us a large round metal table with 5 chairs, but it was too big. So they found a home on the grassy knoll next to the deck, which sits under the canopy of 100+ year old beach tree. The spit is picture perfect, if I do say so myself.

This summer my mormor (mother’s-mother in Swedish) had more outdoor furniture she wanted to trash. It was a small metal bistro set that had seen better days. The plastic seating had started to disintegrate, so that needed to be replaced and there was some rusting. When I was transporting them to my house, I stupidly left one in my car all day. In case your wondering, rotting plastic on a hot, humid summer afternoon releases a toxic smell that is pretty horrific.

The first step was to remove the old plastic weave, which was rotting so bad it basically crumbled in your hands and did I mention it smelled? It took me a good hour or more to strip both chairs and the table.


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