Teak Chairs: the Makeunder

We thought these teak chairs were beautiful as they were so instead of making them over, we gave them a ‘makeunder’!

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!

Stairs and Stripping 031_bof.jpgWho 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)!

Stairs and Stripping 034_bof.jpg

This pattern from a bygone era would probably look right at home in today’s decor!

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.

Stripping the wood

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!

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Chairs in their new home

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?

If you enjoyed this post, please pin:

For more dramatic chair transformations, check out these posts:

  1. Oak Swivel Chair Makeover:

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.

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13 thoughts on “Teak Chairs: the Makeunder

  1. What an amazing find! No wonder you ran home. These would sell for a few hundred dollars each in San Jose, perhaps more. I love the way you lovingly restored the finish and left the upholstery in place. I agree, too, that they look good with the neutral pillows. Score!

  2. Brilliant find! We don’t have the same ability to source things like this in England, as it’s against the law to leave things outside……they have to be taken to a designated place beside recycling centres but as soon as something goes in there it belongs to the company who runs it. You then have to negotiate a price. Sob! Those chairs are to die for, sweetie, and you’ve done the right thing by just cleaning …….living with them will develop your ideas as to fabric over time when they need replacement, won’t it? Great job, and thanks for sharing this. It’s given me inspiration of less is more!

    • Wow Christine; I had no idea that garbage pickup was so different in England; I haven’t been there since I was a kid! So if things have to go to the recycling centres, I guess they stay out of the landfill. If that’s the case, then I love that idea because at least it has the chance of getting saved! It saddens me that so much of our stuff goes to waste; if we could personally save it all, we would 🙁 Thanks so much for leaving a comment – I love learning something new 🙂

  3. I scrolled down holding my breath, worried that you were going to paint them, They look beautiful, nice job.

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