Furniture Facelift: Hickory Chair and Ottoman

From the yard sale and salvage shopping last weekend, we came home with these shells : a hickory chair frame, and the frame of a footstool. The chair screamed porch to me, and the footstool seemed the perfect friend. The second I bought the chair, I just knew they wanted to be a pair, and they wanted to be red.
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 I’m completely doing the chair differently then it was intended. By the nails and hole pattern that is in it, the chair didn’t have a solid bottom – it was either a simple fabric top, or more likely, it was a basketweave of straps on the bottom and the back. I decided to make a solid bottom, and leave the back open. I just really like the open frame of the back, and want to keep it – but there will be cushions to make it comfy!

I gathered my tools, and got to work on the nails. They were really old and rusty, and as long as I got underneath of them, they came out pretty easily. Only a few gave me sass.

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There was also one small crack in the chair, so I filled it with wood glue, and clamped it together to dry. Since I was painting it, and there were going to be a LOT of holes being filled with wood glue, I knew the chair would end up with texture – so I didn’t worry about it looking perfect, but I wanted it to be structurally sound. Since I was painting it, this would cover up a lot of those flaw (that’s one of the reasons I felt OK painting natural wood).

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Both the chair and the foot stool had a lot of tiny holes in them from previous upholstery. The chair did, anyway. I’m not convinced the ottoman holes were from that, but I treated them the same way.

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I filled the holes with wood filler, which I wiped down with a sponge while it was still wet – this really helps save sanding time later. Poor things looked like a kid who got poison ivy and had calamine lotion all over their body.

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After a sand, they got coat number one. I just used spray paint. Easy breezy. Also, if you need any bricks, you can see the giant pile in the second picture. You can come get them from me if you want!

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The second coat made it much richer, of course!

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Next, I used a piece of cardboard to make a template for the seat support. I basically eye-balled it, then put the slightly larger piece of cardboard on the chair, and traced the outline of the seat from underneath.

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We then took the template, and found a scrap piece of wood that would work for the seat – this is actually the sink cutout from the laundry room renovation! Recycling!

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The ottoman, being a rectangle, was easier. No template, just a straight trace on the wood.

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Next, the patterns were cut to size!

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And we tried them on to see if they fit. Hooray!

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I cut foam padding, batting, and fabric to size. I used a utility knife on the padding, only because I don’t know where my electric kitchen knife is since the move. That works REALLY well if you are doing this at home.

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 I stapled the fabric on with my electric stapler. Since this was an easy job, that worked fine. I have a staple gun to use with the air compressor for more complicated jobs, but it was at the Cottage. Totally not worth a three-block drive.

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I used the leftovers from the foam padding for the ottoman. To keep them on, I used spray adhesive, and I had to fill in some of the gaps to make it not look dumb. Also, I think the shape in the middle of the right side is Vermont. I’m sincerely hoping this means I can drill into my ottoman for maple syrup at anytime. Also, it makes me want to plan a ski trip for the winter. Vermont seems lovely!



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I started to do the drilling to attach the seat to the chair. Initially, I was scared to do this on my own because for some reason I thought the chair would be really fragile and I would break something. Then when I got a drill bit stuck in the chair, I realized the hickory was really pretty strong. So I waited for some muscles to get home from work to do the rest. Doug texted me on his way home and asked if I wanted him to bring home anything for dinner. I told him I he could bring whatever he wanted, with a side of “don’t-be-mad-I-got-a-drill-bit-stuck-in-a-chair.” Since he never gets mad, this was basically a done deal. And he brought milkshakes!

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And here they are! Bought in two different places, and married together with color and fabric.

Chair : $10

Ottoman : $10

Paint : $10

Fabric, Batting, and Foam : Probably $15 worth. Maybe.

So, $45 for the pair? Not too shabby!

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OK, porch. Let’s hurry up and be done. I’m ready to decorate you.


    1. No, we are not. You would have painted the chair beige. And struggled over which shade of beige to paint it. And thought a brightly colored throw might be “a bit much.” 😉

  1. This is all very encouraging. I too have bought a worn chair for $10. I thought I was being quite silly in buying furniture when I don’t have a lot of finished house renovation. But when you see something that is a bargin and will probably work with the house it is hard to resist.

    1. Goodness – I buy a ton that I have no idea what I am going to do with it. So I would completely encourage you in that! Luckily, this porch is going to be the death of my bank account, so having a few small projects around can keep me busy while I try to refill. HA!

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