Refurbished Vintage Telephone Chair/Gossip Bench

Mar 19, 2017 | Home Decor | 0 comments

The past few weeks my husband and I have been in the process of moving into our new home (thus the reason for the lack of blog posts recently). The new place has lots more room and storage, which we’re totally psyched about, but moving is never fun or easy ya’ll. It always takes longer than you would think, not to mention, it’s always harder than you would think. There’s always one more cabinet to clean out, box to put up, room to clean, etc. Even if you’re super organized and armed with a checklist to make the process easier, it’s still exhaustive work.

Even though moving is an arduous task that I always dread, there is one thing I love about it. I always run across something I put into storage that makes me smile. One of which I thought I would share with ya’ll. 

This is my great grandma’s telephone chair or gossip bench (I’ve heard it called both). I’m not sure how old it is exactly, but it looks mid-century modern in style, so I figure around the 50s or 60s? I’ve had it in storage for years until I had some time to breath some new life into it. After we moved, I figured that time had arrived.

The piece was in pretty good condition considering its age. It just had a couple of places that needed to be glued back together and the fabric needed replacing for sure. Oh, and lots of rust that needed removing. All in all, though, I felt like it would be a good piece to be my first ever refurbishing project. I have some more things I would like to refinish and a few upcycling projects I’d like to tackle this year too. So I’m glad this one went so well because now I’m pumped for the other projects!

Anyway, back to this beauty. The first, and the most important part when revamping a furniture piece, take lots of photos and notes. Also, label everything. This will be super helpful when it comes time to put everything back together again.

Next, it was time to remove the rust and glue the broken pieces back together again. This was the messiest part of the whole process. Next time, I’ll be sure to wear gloves. My poor manicure…

After I got everything sanded and cleaned up, it was time for my favorite part. Paint! I agonized over whether to go gold or black. In the end, I went with this space black color. It’s got a bit of glimmer to it, which catches the light nicely. A wonderful update to the original matte black color.

Ha, ha, ha, again I should have worn gloves. I was totally covered in space black speckles. Luckily my husband had some sort of orange smelling cleaner he uses for his bicycle which removed the paint speckles and the rust I couldn’t seem to get out from under my nails. Yea! Thanks, hubby!

Anyway, after that, I started tackling the fabric pieces. I couldn’t believe how many tacks was used on this little chair. Before I start my next chair project, I’m investing in a good nail puller. A small flat-head screwdriver worked, but wow, that was not fun.

Anyway, 200+ rusty tacks later, I finally had everything pulled apart. Ha, ha, ha, I was also happy I was up to date on my tetanus shot too, considering I stepped on one of the rusty boogers before I could get them all swept up and thrown away.

The padding was still in good shape, so I decided to reuse it. Woohoo! I wanted to keep as much of the original parts as possible. The original fabric, though, needed replacing. It’s was frayed around the edges. So, I used the original pieces to create the pattern for the new pieces.

A note on picking fabric for your furniture piece. Think about how much use the piece is going to get. If it’s going to get a lot of use, you need a sturdy fabric that will stand up to a lot of wear and tear. If it’s not going to get a lot of use, you can use a more delicate fabric. This piece I knew wouldn’t get a lot of use, so I was able to use this super pretty piece of metallic damask fabric.

Before I put the fabric pieces back on, I thought it would be fun to sign and date the underside of the chair. So if someone ever refinishes it again in the future they’ll know when it was done last. Maybe that’s silly, but I thought it was something fun to do.

As for the border around the chair back, I didn’t have any leather on hand, but I did have some vinyl that I thought would work. I reused the binding out of the original piece since it was still in good shape. Again, make notes and take lots of photos to figure out how to redo any sewed pieces. This was done in such a way that it could be nailed/stapled back into place, and the fabric would overlap covering the nails/staples. Kind of cool, huh?

Now that all my pieces have been refinished, it was time to put everything back together again. I had to enlist my husband to help me get everything screwed back together, though. Taking it apart was a one-person job, but putting it back together was easier with two people.

As a finishing touch, I found some rubber caps to put on the feet from the local hardware store, but they were still a little big. They’ll work for now, but I’ll need to find some smaller ones. That was the only flaw, but it will work for now until I can find the correct size.

I absolutely LOVE how cute this turned out. I hope the other projects I have in mind turn out this cute too!

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