There are different family stories about this pair of vintage Japanese floor chairs, I’m not sure exactly how they were originally acquired- one family member says that they were picked up on a trash day from a curb in LA. Another says they were from a garage sale. One thing is for sure, they were already well used when my parents adopted them in the 60’s or 70’s. They gifted them to me a few years ago and I’ve planned to recover them ever since.
(Okay at this point I need to add a short update on the mystery: it’s been confirmed that the chairs were found in the trash one summer when my mom took my brother and I to Japan. He was 5 and I was 4, and at that time they were already old and discarded. So we’ve dated the chairs to about 60-70 years old.)
Modern day versions of this chair are still available for sale. I love the way I can fold mine and store them away easily.
I’m guessing the old version like mine was the precursor to the modern day video game chair that teenagers love so much. These sure do look comfy:
I started my project by enlisting the help of my dad. I had taken one chair apart a few years ago, gotten stuck, then eventually threw the chair pieces in a big black garbage bag, and left it for “some other time”. You know how that goes….
I did originally ask my husband for help. Bob the builder is not the typical carpenter husband who is so busy working on everyone else’s house that he can’t work on ours. In the eleven years we’ve lived here he’s renovated practically every room in our house, put in a pool, helped landscape an acre of property, built a 400 sq. ft. vegetable garden, built a house for my parents, and built another apartment for income property (and that’s just the big list). So you can see why I’d rather have him stick to his other projects….right now he’s smack in the middle of building a second apartment with my son. Here they are pondering over it….
My dad on the other hand is retired, and has a nice little shop right next door (in between our houses and behind the apartment), and I knew could recruit him for this project. He’s literally a creative genius and is always willing to help me out with my projects!
He started by helping me sort the pieces, figured out what was missing (some broken dowels and back cross-pieces), and manufactured new ones. It was sort of like putting a puzzle together, only without the picture to look at and with pieces missing:
Here he is in his cool little workshop with our various chair pieces scattered about. It looks pretty cluttered, but he knows exactly where every little thing is:
He sorted out the pieces that needed reupholstering and brought them down, along with the original fabric so I could use them for pattern. Here are two backs and two fronts, covered with their old foam:
I do love the old fabric- it’s so vintage retro. It just wasn’t in the best shape. Not to mention it didn’t match anything in my house. I used them as templates to cut my new fabric pieces. I cut them a little big just in case. Now that I’m looking at it, I should have saved that fabric to make a handbag…..darn it!
Since the foam wasn’t in the best shape I decided to use an old thick blanket as a second layer for more padding and a smoother finish. Isn’t that pepto bismol pink blanket lovely? Ii knew I would use it for something someday. Thank God for lots of storage space:
I stapeled that old blanket right over the old foam with my upholstery stapler, then trimmed it to size:
Over that went the new upholstery fabric. I must have bought this for another project years ago that never ended up happening. I think it’s a perfect neutral for these chairs:
I used the hammer to make sure all the staples were nice and flat. Here you can see how I worked around the dowels. Hmmm…my chipped pink nail polish matches the blanket:
Here’s a view of a finished side. An old dowel on the left and a new one on the right:
Here are all four pieces neatly upholstered and ready for my dad to piece back together:
Back to his shop for putting the puzzle back together. Notice the original felt on the chair bottom. Still in great shape after all these years. It’s older than I am! These pieces were still in pretty good shape so I didn’t need to sand and stain them, but at this point I could have opted to do that, or to paint them:
Here’s the pug Mogley checkin’ out the new chairs:
These are so perfect for sitting in front of our fireplace! My husband and I put my ipad in front of us on the coffee table (yes, that he built), along with our coffee or tea, and watch Netflix together in front of the fire. The padding insures our backsides are comfortable all the way through the movie. :)
It’s been awhile since I’ve done an upholstery project, so it was fun getting this done. It was also a great feeling to finish a project that has been on hold for so many years, just sitting in the back of my mind waiting to be attended to.
But seeing all that green tile in these pics really makes me want to get that old office tile project taken care of. It’s the one room left in the house that we haven’t re-done the floors on. I guess I’ll have to ask Bob the builder to put it on his to-do list…..