Dining Room Makeover
I was fortunate enough several years ago to be gifted with a dining room suite from my grandmother. This furniture actually belonged to her mother (my great-grandmother) and was passed directly from my great-grandmother to me. She lived in a small coal mining town in West Virginia. She lived a very modest life and treasured her dining room furniture. I can actually remember going to her home when I was very small and eating dinner in these chairs. She prepared fried chicken and biscuits and my father said that was her specialty.
This set is originally from the early 40’s, so I am guessing it’s seventy-some years old. When I received it, the chairs still had the plastic on them. She never removed it in all of those years! With a guilty conscience, I did remove the plastic, but did nothing else to it for years.
I have moved this furniture from West Virginia to Virginia Beach, VA to Atlanta, Georgia, to Chicago, IL to and finally to Roanoke, VA. I have had it in all of my dining rooms but really did not do much to the rooms it was in. To be completely honest, the style was much too “old fashioned” for my taste. It was also very worn, chipped and dusty. But, then I thought of all of the children, grandchildren, memories, history, etc. associated with this furniture and my family. I did not have the heart (or desire) to trade it in for an updated version. Especially when you look at the dining room furniture being sold for ridiculous prices and the quality the could not compare to my vintage set.
So, finally after all these years, I decided to make this set mine. I have put enough work hours into other furniture projects, that I felt confident that I would be preserving this furniture and not destroying it. I decided to “reward” myself with this project after I finished all of the orders, projects, recipes, etc. for other people. My goal was to relax and enjoy the holidays “order free.” The minute I finished my last order, I started disassembling the chairs.
First, I removed all of the cushions by flipping the chairs over and unscrewing the cushions. I set aside all of the hardware and cushions.
I filled a bucket with hot, soapy water and thoroughly cleaned all of the furniture, inside and out. You really do not need any special cleaning agents. I have learned that regular dish soap and warm water do the trick. Of course, you typically do not clean wood furniture with water except before a project like this. Water will ruin the wood over time…as we all know.
Next, I removed all of the tarnished brass. I cleaned all of the brass with “Brasso.”
This is great stuff! The brass was so black, I actually put the pulls and knobs in a plastic bowl and poured the “Brasso” on top. I let it sit for a few minutes. I then scrubbed it off with a wire brush and some serious elbow grease. Totally worth it.
The next thing I tackled was the cushions. My grandmother told me the seats were hand stitched and to preserve them. I was going to remove the fabric and store it. However, it was not coming off.
So instead, I just kind of beat the dust out of them and then covered them with this amazing fabric I ordered from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores by Waverly Fabrics called “Santa Maria Desert Flower.” I could not have created a pattern design more suited for me. I love the design and the colors are perfect!
I tightly covered the old cushions with the new fabric and used an upholstery stapler to secure it.
The difference is incredible!
Finally, I started painting the furniture. I used the Graphite chalk paint by Annie Sloan and a clear wax. It was definitely a lot of work. Fortunately, my good buddy Carissa came over and offered her strong painting arm to help. That’s right…she offered. One of the many qualities I love about that gal.
After it was all painted and waxed, I excitedly put everything back together.
I am so happy with the outcome! I keep walking in this room and sitting down and taking it all in. The colors I chose allowed me to appropriately incorporate some artwork my husband and I bought in India after our wedding and some of my personal artwork.
This room is now “ours.” We have history from both families, both cultures and it’s blended harmoniously.
Believe it or not, I finished this project at 2 am and then hosted a party that night. I guess having a house full of people coming over sure motivates you to finish!
Thank you HGTV magazine for sharing my project in the June, 2014 issue.