The happy new life of my old theatre seats...

Hello dear readers!

Would you like a peek at Ian's and my holiday project?  Here's the final product!

They add soft and comfy and compact extra seating in our little living room... and give you the festive urge to make buttery popcorn and eat it in paper bags.


My good friend Les Sunde, who makes beautiful story-filled creations from rusty old things (you can read an article I wrote about him here-- and note that it takes a few seconds to load), gave me three red art deco theatre seats a couple years ago.

They came from the local old Bas Bleu theatre on Pine street here in Fort Collins, before the theatre moved.  (We think that they're from the 1940's-- their original home was a theatre in small town eastern Colorado.)  I had big dreams for these seats, but they sat in my garage collecting dust for three years....

... and then, a cute little reupholstery shop called Sparrow House of Designs opened up just blocks from my house.  So I consulted with the lovely owner, Gayle, and we made a plan to give these seats another life.


The fabric (velvet and vinyl and some kind of scratchy old material on the sides) was in bad shape, stained and a little torn and threadbare in places.


 We pried the cushions from the metal base with a screwdriver and got rid of the stuffing....

They were full of dust and stuffed with hay and burlap and ancient cotton padding. (Sadly, I'm extremely allergic to dust and hay, so these were an allergy nightmare. I wore a dust mask while removing that stuff.)


 I re-stuffed and reupholstered the seat and back cushions, with Gayle's help. (That's the cotton padding on the right, below.)


It was so fascinating to see the way these seats were originally assembled... there's this narrow, slinky-like spring that's holding the seat back fabric into place.



The metal back of the seats are kind of rusted from decades of spilled Cokes, I'm guessing.  I like the way the old metal looks, though, so we're keeping it intact.


I found some gorgeous, silky-smooth velvet fabric remnants super-on-sale at  Gayle did a beautiful job sewing the velvet for the seat, which I couldn't do with my limited sewing skills and non-upholstery-grade sewing machine.  Then she provided the foam and Dacron wrap for me and guided me through reassembling the seats.  (I think the foam was about 4 inches thick-- I glued a layer of Dacron to it with spray fabric adhesive.)


Ian helped me, too, since he's well-muscled and mechanically-minded.  There was an issue with one of the seat's springs, but he fixed it. (He always tells me from the get-go that he's not going to get involved with my latest creative dream-project, but then he gets sucked in for one reason or another and saves the day.)

I glued two layers of Dacron to the metal back (and glued them together, too.)  Then Ian and I wrapped the new velvet around the metal and cushion, which was a bit challenging because we had to wedge it in with that tiny, long slinky. We accomplished this with a hammer, mallet, clamps, and Ian's brute force. 

He built a sturdy hickory frame for the base, made from leftover, pre-finished wood flooring from our remodel.  Once again, I feel I owe thanks to the young boy Ian of the 1980s who obsessively played with Legos, thereby mastering the basics of construction... and it has served our whole family well!

Et voila! The end result...

One charming thing about these seats is that there's an ancient chewed-up piece of gum stuck under one of the arms.  We're keeping it there for posterity's sake. It's probably decades old-- any germs are long gone, replaced by the charming patina of the years. (Right?)  So if you come over to try out the chairs, be warned!  And, as we instructed Lil Dude, don't you dare remove that piece of gum...

We're trying to keep Wilma and her potential doggy-grime off the seats... we don't want to have to reupholster them again for at least a few years. :-)

That's it!  I wish you happiness in your own creative projects....