Chair Update…

If you’ve read my previous blog, “Please Take a Seat…,” you know that I spent a good part of my summer refinishing old chairs.  The idea was to sell the chairs and give the proceeds to charity, specifically, The Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  

To date three chairs have sold, and the others are being sold at Fresco Furnishings in Grandview. 

While the money for the charity became the prominent motivation for me to complete the chairs, other factors contributed to my determination to get them done.  My husband wanted a garage that wasn’t packed with my “treasures,” and I needed to fight boredom during the pandemic.  Now that the chairs are completed, and in a shop for sale, I can reflect on the project.

I learned about myself, and discovered qualities I had not associated with my personality before.  I also gained a profound appreciation for the resiliency of wood and the craftsmanship, now almost 100 years old.

Some chairs were in really bad condition and I thought I would never get them in shape again. At the end of each day, dirty, sweaty and achey, I was surprised that I had the perseverance to keep going.  I sanded for hours on end, often without an electric sander because of so many curves and intricacies in the designs. With much trial and error, and the help of the internet, I learned how to change the trash-bound chairs into viable pieces of furniture.
I saw something special in every chair.  Either the detailed carving, or slender lines begged me to keep going and to find a way to make those special features prominent.

Repairs were not complex, but necessary on most pieces.  I live in a tool-poor household.  Yes, we have the basics, but in each step of the job I knew there was probably a power tool that would make the task easier. It was satisfying for me to muddle through with just the basics. After all the original makers probably didn\’t use fancy electric tools.

Here are the chairs that remain for sale.  

This is the first chair I completed.  I’m no dummy.  I picked what looked like the easiest chair to begin the project.  If I had some early success with an easy chair, it would motivate me to tackle the worst chairs later.  This chair is small, but has great lines.  I had to fill in many holes and sand all of the old finish before I painted it blue.  The center seemed bare, so I used a flower stencil to mask the area.  After the chair was painted, I removed the mask to reveal the rich wood underneath. Most of my chairs are distressed, especially on the edges.  I think it brings out the lines of the design. 

This chair had layers and layers of finish on it. It was a sanding marathon.  My arthritic hands hated me for this chair.   There is evidence that a previous owner was going to refinish it, because the caning on the seat looks new.  One of the rungs in the middle was missing, and one was broken, so instead of six, the chair has four rungs.  

The carving at the top was really pretty.  The initial plan was to paint it all white.  I tested an area, thought it was boring, and decided to paint the leaves and flowers in the carving with a variety of colors….greens, pinks, etc. But when I wiped off the white to add the colors, I realized the design was highlighted beautifully by keeping the wood natural.  It’s quite a special feature, I think.

These chairs were actually a garage sale purchase.  I loved the style and was hoping I could make them useful again.  They looked like classroom chairs with vinyl seats.  There was gum under the seat of one of them.  Yuck!  Thank goodness for gloves.  The seats also had fragile cardboard maker’s labels on them. They were made by Bianco Manufacturing in St. Louis, Missouri.

These chairs tested my abilities, and I had to ask my neighbor, Bob, to use his power tools to cut new wooden seats for them.  I knew I wanted to use the 20-year-old madras plaid fabric to cover the seats, so I chose red paint to go with the fabric.  They would be great accent chairs for someone with a retro or mid-century taste. 


This chair was the last and hardest to repair.  It started out ugly.  Someone loved this piece so much that they covered the seat twice and used metal rods on each side of the bottom to hold it together!  I could see that the chair started with a caned seat.  That was gone, and in its place were two layers of something else…fake leather, vinyl?  There were several holes drilled in the bottom rungs of the chair…four for the metal rod reinforcements, and several others.  With my minimal skills, I was able to repair the wood, patch the holes and make the rungs functional again without the rods.  

The wild fabric dictated the paint color.  I hope someone can love this chair as much as the previous owner did!

If you know anyone who might be interested in any of these chairs, please pass this on. I would love to continue to send checks to the restaurant fund.

One idea led to another. Fresco Furnishings has started their own fundraising drive for the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  You can take your gently used furniture and home-decor to Fresco on Fifth Avenue for them to sell and raise cash to support our neighbors in the restaurant industry. If you have questions or would like more information, please call them at 614-586-1963 or email them at 

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