Things are moving along in the Chamber of Secrets. We’re almost done with the built-ins, and I’m hoping to get the painting done in the next week or so. We’ve made a decision on the floors (more on that another time),and I’ve picked out textiles for the window seat and curtains. I’ve also finished the update on the Herman Miller shell chair and made some progress on choosing a light fixture.
Part One: Improved techniques for painting shell chair upholstery
I wrapped up my long ago post about painting the tulip chair with the statement that I probably wouldn’t try painting upholstery again, unless it were for outdoor furniture where high sheen and an asphalt-like texture might not be such big deterrents. Well I was driven by necessity (and a meager budget) to eat my words and give it another try, and I’m so glad I did! I gave you a sneak peek of the updated Herman Miller chair in my last post about the Chamber of Secrets, but today I want to share some details about what made this attempt at painted upholstery so much more successful than the last one.
Here’s a photo of the chair just after I’d paid $20 for it on Craigslist. I really love the color of the original fabric, but unfortunately I couldn’t save it. I tried steam cleaning, many stain removal products, and lots of elbow grease, but I was only able to upgrade it from revolting to disgusting.
- Black latex interior paint in a flat finish (I had a quart of the least expensive paint I could find color matched to Benjamin Moore Onyx)
- One bottle of textile medium
- A container for mixing the paint and textile medium (I followed the directions on the bottle)
- Paint brush
- Spray bottle filled with water
The two major differences between this project and when I painted the tulip chair were the type of paint I used and the spray bottle of water. For the tulip chair I used acrylic paint (which is what the tutorial I followed recommended). It’s perfectly intuitive that shiny paint will result in shiny upholstery, but I was still so disappointed with how plastic looking my chair was in the end. Even with the flat paint I used on Herman there’s still a slightly reflective quality, but doesn’t bother me.
Using the spray bottle to wet the chair before I painted each coat also made a big difference. The paint kind of soaked into the fabric rather than sitting on top of it. I did about four coats, and sprayed a little less water each time. After the painting was done I gave the fiberglass shell a good scrubbing with a Mr. Clean Eraser and polished up the chrome base with some Brasso.
I’m so happy with the way this chair turned out that it is completely off my to-do list. I no longer feel the need to reupholster it, and can instead divert that money toward the tulip chair makeover fund.
The Herman Miller chair will live in the Chamber of Secrets, but I took a quick shot of the two shell chairs together looking like very beautiful fraternal twins.
Part Two: Choosing a light for the Chamber of Secrets
The next big task for the Chamber of Secrets is choosing an overhead light fixture. With the addition of the built-ins, we’ll need to move the light’s location over about a foot so it’s still centered in the room. That means a ceiling hole to patch (oh joy! more drywall!) and I’d like to have it sorted out before painting.
Most of our downstairs light fixtures are schoolhouse shades from Schoolhouse Electric, and we’re considering doing that upstairs too. They look nice, give good light, and are kind of undemanding visually. Here’s a shot of the fixture in our living room:
I like them a lot, but I also like the idea of something a little more… adventurous. In case you need a reminder, here’s the inspiration board for the Chamber of Secrets:
Numbers two and three are eBay listings, so no guarantee they’re still available. Neither of them is exactly cheap ($315 and $199 respectively), but they’re both such beautiful and unique vintage options. Although I love the Factory Satellite (number one), I’m a little concerned that some of the charm would be lost if we had to shorten the drop. Number five is similar to what we have in the rest of the house, and I really love the added pizazz the stripes give it. Four and Six are both Ikea options and are waaaay cheaper than the others ($39.99 each) and I think they could both work. I’m kind of partial to number six, but I’d want to paint the chrome part of the fixture black. I think a trip to the Portland Ikea to check them out in person just may be in our future!
Do you have a clear favorite of the ones I’ve shared? Any other great sources for lighting I should check out? Thanks for reading along and have a wonderful rest of your week!