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Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Hi friends, welcome back to the final part of our Fall Into The Holidays series!  With the encouragement of our organizer Lisa from Shine Your Light, each week we're sharing simple ideas to get 4 rooms in your home holiday ready now, before the hustle and bustle of the season sets in.  I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week!  We've already shared projects to get our kitchensbedrooms, and living rooms in shape for the holiday season, and today we're working on ways to get our dining rooms in shape for the holidays.

My project today isn't officially in my Dining Room, but it's dining related!  I have a set of barstools that I found on Craigslist several years ago, knowing that they would need to be spruced up at some point.  See them back there in the photo above?  They look decent from a distance and you never really see all of them, but up close they're in pretty rough shape.  Well years later, this series gave me the motivation I needed to get it done!  Here's the before... again, the worn spots are hard to see in photos, but trust me, they were rough!

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I tried to touch the knicks and scratches up this Summer before our big photo shoot, but they weren't accepting any of my usual touch up products very well.   When considering a makeover I always thought I'd recover the seats, but as I prepared to do this project I realized that the black "leather" was actually in decent shape, and it's definitely a breeze to clean, so I decided to keep it as is and work with just updating it a bit.  I also thought I might paint them when I bought them, but in the end decided to keep them wood toned.

Before working on the frame, I removed the nailhead trim.  I've stripped several pieces of upholstered furniture, and this tool is by far the best thing I've used to remove staples and nail heads.  Here's my exact one, and here's a similar option. WAY better than a flathead screwdriver and pliers!

These chairs had some serious varnish on them, so I started by sanding them down, focusing on smoothing out the scratches, with both a palm sander and by hand.  Although I at least roughed up the entire frame, I didn't completely sand them down to bare wood- I didn't have the time, energy, or desire to do that.  I was hoping that hitting the hot spots would get me by.

Then, I vacuumed and wiped them down good and applied a coat of gel stain.  I've used it before on some other projects (like changing the color of my orangey oak armoire) and know what works best for me when working with it now.  I like to use pieces of an old t-shirt, and moisten a section with mineral spirits, then dip that section into a little bit of the stain.  It's thick (like a pudding consistency) so it doesn't run or soak up into the rag like normal stain does.

Then I work in small sections rubbing the wood down.  Diluting it with mineral spirits makes it go on and spread out easier, and it keeps the stain from becoming sticky.  Here's a chair after one coat-

I like gel stain because one of the benefits is that you can go over pre-existing finishes with just a bit a sanding before hand.  Here's the chair after two coats.  They turned out a little darker than I originally wanted, but I already had this color on hand so I just used it.  I'm not sure what kind of wood these were, but you can see a few places where it did not take the stain evenly.  Part of that could be due to the wood, and part is due to me not sanding off all of the original finish.  It doesn't bother me enough to wish I would have sanded more!  It all blends in pretty well together.

Another benefit of gel stain is that you don't really need a top coat, but I gave them a quick spray with satin poly to finish them off.  It gave them just the tiniest amount of sheen (without being shiny) instead of a flat finish.

Now, to replace the nailhead trim, I thought of adding a fabric skirt around the edge.  But again, for this project I didn't have the time or desire to make those.  I remembered seeing a pleated ruffle trim by the yard at Hobby Lobby, though, so I thought that might work to add a little detail and cover up the staples around the seat material.  Unfortunately, they didn't have black.  They did have white, though, so after no other options panned out, I decided to try to dye the white.

I went through the process on my Instastories yesterday, but basically my first attempt left me with a deep charcoal instead of true black.  I started out using some black dye I had on hand, which was for 100% cotton fabric.  The trim was a poly/cotton blend, so that's why it wasn't fully accepting the dye.  I ran to get a different formula for synthetic fabrics and tried again.  It helped, but still wasn't truly black.  I was out of options so I decided to use it anyway.  However, it needed to be pressed, and as I did IT TURNED BLACK!!!  At first I thought it was the heat making it discolored, but as it cooled the color never changed back to gray.  I don't know if the heat set the color or altered the fabric or what... but I didn't care at that point!  Can you tell this wasn't my favorite project?  ;)

Ok, with (practically) black trim ready to go, I stapled it around the edge of the seat.

Then, to cover up those staples I used a ribbon trim and just hot glued it to the top of the ruffle trim (not actually on the leather seat).  I had planned to use a plain black gimp that I bought, but them came across this striped ribbon at JoAnn's and thought a little color variation might be better.

I like the little extra detail and definition the striped trim added.  So here they are all finished!

(By the way, that's the most wonderful candle! It's tiny and it fills my entire living area with the scent!)

I'll fully admit the wood tones didn't turn out perfectly, but they're way better than they were and they're good enough for now.   I'm still on the hunt for new barstools, but until I come across the right ones these will do in the meantime.

 Similar Lantern Pendants  ||  Similar Ginger Jars here or here

Alright, seating at the bar is open for the holidays!

Be sure to check out these other great ideas to get your Dining Room ready for the holidays too:

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Would you like to comment?

  1. what an awesome subtle but dramatic makeover!

  2. They turned out great!! Love the pleats and ribbon detail. Isn't gel stain the best!

  3. Looks great, Jennifer! Way to keep at it when Plan A doesn't work out. I've been there! And I still think you are so brave to use dye! I've never touched the stuff!! :)

  4. It's the little details - like that trim that you added - that make every project you do a notch above the rest!

  5. I can't get over how the pleats and trim totally customize these stools! Such a cute detail, thanks for sharing!!

  6. I always enjoy seeing your posts in my inbox. And, inevitably, end up ordering something via your wonderful links. Hello from a fan in nearby Kansas!

  7. Love the detailed step by step with photos, really helpful. Thanks for sharing! =)


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