We thought these teak chairs were beautiful as they were so instead of a chair makeover, we gave them a ‘makeunder’!
Vintage Teak Chairs
You know, the funny thing about DIY projects is that they somehow beget another one – often right on the heels of the project you’re working on. After Hubs banished me from the house while he was stripping our staircase, I took a walk around the neighbourhood and stumbled on these teak beauties in the GARBAGE!
Who would ever expect to find teak chairs tossed out to the curb? Doesn’t everyone know how coveted these mid century lovelies are, with their graceful bent wood arms and retro-chic lines? I was so excited that I ran like the wind all the way home.
Have you ever seen that Ikea commercial where she runs out into the parking lot and yells ‘start the car‘! Well, that was me. I startled Hubs as he was in the middle of stripping the staircase and dragged him away to start the car so we could snag them before someone else did!
Hubs didn’t believe for a minute that someone had actually thrown these out, so he made me knock on the door to make sure. Yep, they were coming home with us!! Luckily there were two of us to move them; there was no way I was getting those into the car by myself. They were solid and heavy!
When we got them home, I inspected all around to see what shape the fabric was in.
There were no terrible signs of wear and tear; just a lot of grime from years of dust settling along the edges of the backrest!
Look how shiny the wood was (you can see the reflection on the arms).
These days, I’m loving matte finishes so off with the topcoat! I set up my own stripping station in the garage and got to work on them right away. Afterall, I couldn’t not take advantage of the fact that Hubs already had stripping solution readily on hand, could I?
The backrest and seat easily unscrewed from the frames so I didn’t have to be too cautious stripping the wood! Below you can see the natural colour of the teak. Isn’t it beautiful?! I couldn’t wait to transform it back to it’s original glory.
I love peeling back the layers of upholstery to see what surprises it uncovers. Look at this funkadelic retro palm leaf fabric. I would SO use this today if I had a bolt of it. I’m partial to orange (as you’ll see two pictures down)!
Strip Finish from Teak Chairs
Don’t forget to put on all the protective paraphernalia when you’re working with caustic chemicals: eye googles, gloves, mask!
You’d think it would be easier to strip a clear finish than paint but that wasn’t the case with these chairs. The finish was stubborn! But it was worth the extra effort to restore the wood to its natural colour. A low sheen topcoat would make it look like an oil rubbed finish without the upkeep of re-oiling it every once in a while. I Varathaned these with a water-based finish.
Steam Clean Fabric on Teak Chairs
Then it was on to steam cleaning the fabric – for what seemed like a million times, but who’s counting! Maybe one day I’ll upholster the chairs, but for now I love the neutral tone of the fabric and wood.
I found down pillows that were the exact same shade as the fabric; they make the backrest super comfy! We can always switch the pillows when we want a change but I prefer the tone-on-tone.
The teak chairs compliment our blue TV cabinet beautifully!
I may not have gotten too far on my walk that pleasantly fateful day, but we gained a new addition to our home that adds some much welcomed mid-century modern appeal! The chairs look fab and function as extra seating in our family/TV room.
It’s amazing how some elbow grease can revitalize old wood – whether it be a staircase or castaway chairs found kicked to the curb. What’s the most exciting piece you have ever found in the garbage and brought back to life?
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More Chair Transformations
For more dramatic chair transformations, check out these posts:
2. Vintage Steno Chair Update: This is the ‘before’:
3. Reupholster an Office Chair: (before)
4. See how we won a second place finish in the Ontario Science Centre’s Muskoka Chair Challenge:
If you’re interested in seeing the staircase Hubs was working on when I dragged him away to get the teak chairs, check out how Hubs’ staircase makeover turned out.