One of the first pieces of furniture I bought after I purchased my apartment was a dining room table. I was out exploring the antique and vintage stores on Queen street East when I spotted a mid-mod teak table that I liked. It didn’t come with chairs, but I figured I’d be able to find some easily enough somewhere else.
Fast forward more than a year, and I still hadn’t bought any chairs. If I wanted to use my table my seating choices were limited to my desk chair, or a small stool that I’m pretty sure my mom bought at Ikea when I was still in junior school (does that make it an antique?)
It wasn’t that I couldn’t decide what style of chair I wanted, it was that I’m cheap, and my dream chairs are decidedly not cheap.
My dream chair is the Eames DSW in white. Unfortunately at about $400 a chair it was miles out of my price range. I wanted the original fiberglass version – there are molded plastic knock-off versions available but I don’t like them nearly as much, and they’re still about $150 each which is too much for something you don’t love. I needed another plan.
In April, while talking to my mom, she mentioned that she’d seen a version of my table featured in Style at Home magazine, and she suggested I take a look.
Isn’t it great? I love the stark black against the warm wood. This picture was the inspiration for my biggest furniture project to date. A few weeks later I was in a Salvation Army Thrift store when I spotted these:
I think they must have come from a restaurant as there were a couple of dozen chairs scattered throughout the store, and I spent a good hour testing all the chairs to get the best four (some were quite wiggly).
Deciding what type of paint to use was my next step. In an ideal world I’d have a backyard or garage where I could have spray painted the chairs, but as I don’t have either I needed a slightly less messy method. My original plan was to use regular black paint, and then add a top coat of glossy varnish, but a salesperson at Benjamin Moore gave me another option – high-gloss black paint.
First I took my chairs outside to the back of the building and cleaned them. I used a scraper to get the gum of the bottoms (eww!) , and then washed them using TSP. Next I sanded them thoroughly to remove some of the clear varnish.
I decided to prime them first using primer I had on hand, but I’m not positive this step was necessary, and might actually have slowed this project down as the primer was pure white – quite a difference from the black paint I applied next.
The black paint took me three coats (I think – I lost count), and it was a rather major undertaking. The problem was I had to make sure to paint the entire chair, so I had to turn each chair over, paint the bottom, flip it around once it was dry and then paint the top. After a while I was really sick of working on the chairs.
I think they look much better then when they started.
Here’s what this project cost:
- 4 thrift store chairs: $40 at the Salvation Army Thrift Store
- Sandpaper and TSP: $0 – I had it on hand
- Foam Paintbrush: $1.09 at Canadian Tire
- Coronado High Gloss Black Paint: $21.99 at Primetime Paint and Paper
For a total cost of $71.28 (tax. included) I’m pretty pleased with my new dining chairs. While I still wish I could have the Eames chairs, at a fraction of the cost of one I think these are a splendid substitute.