I should subtitle this post with ‘how to ensure that you will never attempt anything with nailheads again.’ But I’ll get to that.
I found this sad chair on the sidewalk while walking the pup, it looked like a poor man’s Jonathan Adler Chippendale chair, so I grabbed it, hoping I could do something great. I cleaned it right away, sanded, and spray painted with the leftover paint from this project. I also carefully cut away the broken cane from the seat.
The first and obvious solution was to get some custom-cut plywood for the seat and upholster it the way I would any slip seat. However, I don’t have a car, and I don’t even think they handle lumber at the Brooklyn Home Depot. Google searches would have me trekking out to Sunset Park or Bensonhurst for some plywood. No thanks. I looked into re-caning the seat and it would cost at least $150 (for a free chair…again, no thanks). So I pondered solutions (even researched how to add springs to a seat!) and stuffed the spray painted-but seatless chair into an empty corner.
Then, I came across this post from 2 Friends 2 Cities via Martha Stewart. So easy! I had a roll of jute that I had ordered months ago (who knows why), and thought it would go nicely with the deep, espresso finish of the chair. I did make a few blunders along the way. For example, I should have pre-cut every strip and figured out how to position them ahead of time. Going back to front (vertically if you are facing the chair), the strips needed to be slightly splayed to accommodate the widening of the frame at the end of the seat, which I didn’t realize until I’d already nailed down a set of four strips. I also should have folded each strip over before stapling, to add strength and give a cleaner finish. Some of my strips seem to be tenuously hanging on by a thread, so things aren’t looking so good.
I HIGHLY recommend investing in a jute/webbing stretcher. You want your webbing to be as taut as possible, so it will support the weight of a person’s bottom. This is the one that I used, only because I have ordered from DIY Supply in the past and have watched their videos, so I sort of knew how to wield it, and always love supporting the small, independent companies.
Stapling the jute to the chair frame was the easy part. However, you need to reinforce those staples with something to add strength and durability…like upholstery tacks or nails. I opted for shiny silver-headed nails to add some polish (and I was inspired by Sherry’s rocker over at YoungHouseLove). This is where things went south. Those buggers (exchange the first four letters for a different four letters, ha) are stubborn! It is near impossible to get them in straight. At least half of them will bend while you are hammering…once one is bent, you have to toss it and use a new one. I got so close to getting many of them all the way to the frame, only to have them bend at the final hammer. Needless to say, I was frustrated! By the end, my arm was aching and my jaw hurt from muttering curse words under my breath (I kid you not, the pup does not like it when I curse…he gets very concerned and scared).
I wish I could say the final piece is amazing and unique, but alas, I kind of hate it. The jute webbing just doesn’t go with the traditional look of the bamboo on the seatback. And the nailheads are just too much. Perhaps if I had stuck with plain black nails? The good news is, aside from the nailhead fiasco, the rest of the project was simple and cheap. Free chair, leftover spray paint, $2 for a jute roll, staples, and nailheads.
The only good thing to come out of this (aside from the fact that some thrifty soul will probably snatch this up from our curb when I get rid of it) is that I finally added some nailhead trim to my burlap-covered bulletin board. I wanted to add about twice as many nailheads, but realized that the farther apart they were from each other, the less obvious it was that they didn’t sit straight.
I am sad about the failure of the nailheads. Maybe I wasn’t using the best brand? I don’t understand how people can have the patience to add this trim to anything and everything. I have a newfound respect for DIY bloggers because my chair ‘after’ looks so sad and pitifil compared to the many great and completed projects out there. Never again! And big props to the women who do deal with nailheads…my weak, sore hammering arm salutes you!