Before/After Midcentury Modern Chairs (with a Star Wars surprise!)

Midcentury Chair Makeover
On our way to the best place in LA to get french fries, we saw these two chairs sitting curbside. Score? Keep reading to see the “After”.

We didn’t have our handy dandy Honda Fit with us (AKA: The Tardis), so had to disassemble these guys almost completely on the side of the road to cram them into our Challenger. Totally worth it. While we were unscrewing the base, we found this tiny gold Gunlocke stamp.

Gunlocke chair gold stamp

Gotta love finding quality midcentury furniture on the side of the road. We got the chairs home, put them back together, and started sanding away. And sanding. And sanding. And sanding. The wood was in VERY bad shape, and needed a lot of patching.

MCM Chairs - Sanding

After a couple of days of sand/fill/patch/repeat, we decided to use Danish oil to stain the chairs. So easy to work with, and dries so fast. After staining, we sealed everything with a layer of furniture paste wax, which is the best stuff ever.

MCM Chairs - Danish Oil   MCM Chairs - Staining

This guy came out to help:

Midcentury ChairNothing from the chairs was salvageable (it looked like they had been used as outdoor seating, for some reason, for a couple decades too long). We cut new foam by using the chair seat as a template. This is high-density foam from Joann, bought for 50% off. We cut it with an electric carving knife.

MCM Chairs - Foam   Reupholstering midcentury chair

We got some batting, also half off at Joann, and wrapped it around the chair seat and foam. You can see our hyper-accurate [lie] fabric measuring in the photo below. For the first chair we used a buttery soft black suedy-leather (that’s the scientific name). For the second chair we went with plaid, inspired by this post on Design*Sponge. <3 plaid.

MCM Chairs - BattingAfter cutting the fabric, just flip the seat over and staple it to the back, folding the corners like wrapping a gift. We didn’t have any of that black slick fabric that usually goes on the underside of a chair, so we just went with what he had… yep, Star Wars. Had to have SOME touch of geeky home decor, right?

Star Wars Fabric on Midcentury ChairAfter repeating this for the chair back (minus the Star Wars fabric) and screwing everything back together, we get these:

Midcentury Gunlocke Chair MakeoverLove them! And the entire project was under $50.
Here’s the underside of the chair, which only we know about but like nonetheless:

Star Wars Fabric ChairIt’s kind of hard to tell in the above “after” photo, but the plaid has a pop of teal going through it, which matches our bedroom walls.

Midcentury Plaid ChairWe’ve been really lucky since moving to this side of LA, when it comes to finding random awesomeness on the side of the road (like this record console!), but these chairs are definitely one of our favorite finds.

MCM Chairs - Before-After

On a side note, we’ve been working like crazy on a ton of nerdy DIY projects, so stay tuned.


  1. Jennie Lee says

    Hi! It’s me; the weirdo who carries on about beach towels. I know this is a dumb place to put this email, but I hope it works out okay. I have just returned from, with a run-down of their beach towels, gleaned from 50 PAGES of them. They have: Doctor Who, Agent of Shield, Batman, Spider-Man (3), Star Wars (6), Mario, Superman, The Princess Bride (3), Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Marvel Comics, Big Hero 6, Walking Dead (2), and Batgirl beach towels. They cost more than they should, but sometimes you just gotta have it. Anyway, maybe they’ll go on sale…?


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