This summer I embarked on a COVID-home-remodeling-project; in part to stay busy and, if I’m being honest, the house needed a pick-me-up. While I have various DIY projects, this post is on this beautiful vintage chair. The chair has been in the converted garage since we acquired it, in its original condition. It wasn’t in terrible shape, but I want it to be shiny and new again for all to see and enjoy in the formal living room.
We got this chair in the most unusual way. My daughter rescued this vintage chair from the curb when she was volunteering at a Relay for Life garage sale many, many years ago. A neighbor dragged it out of the house and placed it on the lawn for bulk pick up. She rescued it, made a donation to Relay for Life and brought it home without asking. She knew I would love it, and I did. This chair is a constant reminder of my daughter and now that she’s grown and moved away, it’s become a priceless, cherished piece I could never part with. In many ways, this speaks to my daughter’s heart. She found value in what someone discarded and she saw what it could be and not what it was. I love her for all she is and isn’t.
This chair was made by Weiman/Warren Lloyd. Unfamiliar with this brand, I Googled it, only to find an obituary for Noah Holtzman from the Sun Sentinel, a south Florida newspaper. Mr. Holtzman graduated from NYU in 1929 and he founded Warren Lloyd Furniture in NYC by 1935. He moved his plant to Paterson, NJ and in 1970 he merged with the Weiman Company, forming Weiman/Warren Lloyd. Mr. Holtzman retired in 1980 and moved to Hollywood, FL. He passed away on May 8, 2006 at the young age of 99 3/4. By all accounts he was a good person and held in great esteem by family and friends. This warms my heart.
So Mr. Holtzman retired to my hometown and the timing of his death was around the time of the garage sale. Could it be? Was this his chair? I can’t say with certainty, but I would like to think this chair was from his Hollywood home and in some small way, I’m preserving a little piece of his life’s work.
It’s hard to see, but it was in need of a little love. The orange velvet was thin and lost that luxurious feel. The wood had many niks and scratches along with worn out spots. It wasn’t broken or missing any decorative pieces, so I decided to restore and stain the wood myself prior to getting it professionally upholstered.
Let me just say upfront I’m not a professional, I’m only sharing the process I used to restore the chair. My method may be incorrect and unorthodox for many, I’m sure a few readers are cringing, but my process worked for me and I’m very pleased with the results.
Before starting any project that involves any paint or stain, it’s important to be mindful of the weather. For best results, you should do this outside or in a well ventilated area on a dry and sunny day. You don’t want moisture or humidity affecting the outcome and you don’t want any health issues from sanding in an enclosed room – I actually did that in my 20s! I picked a Saturday that was breezy and 98°F. I also started early in the morning to allow plenty of drying time between steps. Let’s get started.
PREP THE CHAIR
Although the velvet was worn and needed replacing, I didn’t want to ruin it with varnish in case the upholsterer needed it for any reason. I meticulously covered the velvet with blue painter’s tape. I placed a piece of cardboard over a patio wooden table and placed the chair on top. I figured it would be easier on my back and it was.
SANDING THE WOOD
With a 3M fine grit sanding block, I gently removed the top layer of varnish/stain. I used a small artist paint brush to remove dust from the intricate detailed scrolls, vacuumed the entire chair and then wiped the chair with a damp cloth to remove any residue or dirt. I allowed 30 minutes for it to completely dry before moving onto the next step.
STAINING THE WOOD
Before applying the wood stain, I covered the bare spots with a Red Mahogany stain pen (it’s what I had on hand). As I blotted the stain pen on the bare spots, I used my finger to smooth out and blend in the stain with the wood. I repeated this step until all the bare spots and scratches were covered and the base color looked even. I waited an hour before applying a thin coat of the Varathane stain in Honey with a new clean brush. I waited two additional hours between the second and final coats.
Note: I found rubbing the stain into the wood also helped prevent pooling bubbles or drips. It really gave it an even and smooth finish.
Once I was done staining, I waited about 20 minutes before carefully removing the blue painter’s tape. I don’t know if 20 minutes was the right amount of time, but I was concerned the stain and tape would bond if I waited too long. I didn’t want to damage the stain as I removed the tape. I was able to remove the tape perfectly without damaging the stain, but the velvet was so worn, many fibers came off with the tape!
SELECTING THE FABRIC
The chair was originally covered in velvet, so I wanted to stay true to its origins. I didn’t have much luck with local fabric shops and by this time I had already picked out the new color scheme for the house. I saw two fabrics online from JoAnn Fabric and ordered swatches to make sure I liked the quality and color. They were beautiful so I bought enough material for the chair.
I chose a beautiful velvet chartreuse green Theater Velvet & Cactus from the Jaclyn Smith Collection and a floral print named Crawford Azure for the back. The green on the floral print is an exact match to the velvet and now the chair complements the decor and color scheme in the formal living room. A few days after I stained the chair, the material arrived and the upholsterer did his magic. The chair was truly transformed!
I have a few more details to take care of, but as soon as the living room is ready, I’ll share in another post. For now, I hope you find inspiration in my post and decide to tackle your own DIY project. As a novice, I found this project to be very fulfilling. It’s a joy to bring this beauty back to life and to display it in my home for years to come.
Leave me a comment below and let me know if you tackled your own DIY project.