Antique, Swivel Office Chair Refinish

After adding one small detail yesterday and snapping photos 
in between some serious rain showers…
…I finally wrapped up refinishing my antique, swivel, office chair.
Wait. How did she get there?
Here is the before picture of the antique chair
that was passed down to my husband.
It was made by W.H. Gunlocke Furniture Co. in the early 1900s
and desperately needed attention.
Its finish was nearly worn completely away and among several
bumps and bruises, was a broken foot.

After some new paint, clear coat, 
and the addition of a couple small details, 
I brought it back to life.

First, I sanded the entire chair with 120 grit sandpaper
and applied a base coat of primer, excluding the base.

When that was dry, I painted three coats of 
in Olde Farm White
(a bright white with a touch of warmth and slightly creamy). 

I love this paint.
The colors simulate the old milk paint 
but the satin finish is far more durable 
(it does not absorb fingerprints, etc. like authentic milk paint does). 
And, the beautiful, smooth finish does not require a clear coat.
 After the paint dried,
I used a fine sanding sponge to distress the edges of the chair,
careful to sand only where the paint would naturally wear.   
I really went at the arms, 
which would have been most prone to rubs and bumps. 
I left the base alone and simply applied a satin finish,
clear coat of polyurethane that I had on hand.
Something inside told me to leave this part of chair alone.
I have a hard time with completely removing 
the maker’s hand from an antique (if I can still see it). 
I pictured the furniture maker, 
carefully crafting the chair for a measly wage in order to feed his family, folding his arms in satisfaction when it was finished, and sending it on it’s way to be sold for far less than its worth 
now that it was being made in a factory.
Maybe it’s just me, but I wanted to leave a little original behind. 
And, the base brings out the hints of distress 
throughout the edges at the top of the chair.
I added a narrow skirt (3 inches) to the bottom,
made with Osnaburg
 (a loosely woven, very freckled, flax fabric) 
with woven hemp trim,
and attached it to the base of the seat with small staples.
I only skirted the front and side section of the seat…
…because the mechanics are my favorite part of the chair.
I was not about to hid them with a skirt.

And you’re probably wondering why 
I didn’t bother to clean the dust off.
To that I say,
Do you have any idea how old that dust is? 
(I will clean it soon, I promise.) 
I added a little more pretty 
to a fairly masculine chair
by adding a rosette made from the same Osnaburg
and tied it to the side of the chair
with a torn strip of muslin.

Do you love it?

Because if you don’t,
I have a little [vinyl] chickadee that needs to land somewhere…

What do you think…chickadee or rosette?

Thanks for stopping by freckled laundry! 

For more great before and after furniture photos,
be sure to stop in and see my freckled friend,

This post is linking with

The Girl Creative

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Due to “scraper” websites that earn revenue by scraping feeds (like an automatic copy & paste) and stealing the creative content of others, I can no longer provide FULL blog posts via email subscriptions. I apologize that you now see a partial post and have to click over to my blog for the rest. I try to create lovely and original content so I appreciate your understanding. If you don’t, I am sorry to see you leave and thank you for being a part of my journey while you were subscribed. {Jami}


  1. decdiva1 says:

    beautiful!!!!! i love the rosette! the bird is cute too, but the rosette just goes w/ the “oldness” of the chair! i have a chair very similar to that sitting in my shop waiting to be tended to, now i’m inspired! thanks jami!

  2. decdiva1 says:

    p.s. i’m your 25th follower! and your chic baby is sooooo cute! love her dress too!

  3. vintage girl at heart says:

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting this post and you did not disappoint!!!
    Love every tiny little thing you did with this chair and it is so special that it is a Family Heirloom!!!
    I am on the hunt for one now for my son’s room!!!

  4. How cute! I love the skirt you added! Great job!

  5. Great job on that chair. :) It came out really nice. :) Where in NY are you? I’m upstate too. :)

  6. So cute! I like the rosette better…

  7. Thank you so much for your sweet comments, ladies! I’ll reach out to each of you individually. Looks like the rosette is in the lead (my favorite, too).


  8. Beckie says:

    Oh so pretty…i just {LOVE} how you left the bottom of the chair in it’s original state! Gorgeous! I am a fan of the rosette as well. Tuesday is the last day of your feature so I’m going to put together a few of your projects (for sure this chair) and put together a post for tomorrow! More people need to see your wonderful blog :)

  9. Love how you lovingly rescued and restored this chair! The osnaburg ruffle is a really nice touch and it goes so beautifully with the rosette which should stay on the chair. Tho that little fat bird sticker is mighty cute! Love your chair model, too!

  10. alikaye says:

    I love what you have done Jami…and especially love the rosette. Make sure that it is eiter removable or easily flipped over to the back though so it can still be comfortable to sit on…it would be a shame for that heirloom not to be functional any more…

  11. beautiful! you have such vision! If I saw this old chair, I don’t know if I could imagine it to that the way you did….and I’d say I like the rosette. Nicely done, again ;-)

  12. Gorgeous! I love the rosette, and I love it off center! You did an amazing job with this makeover. I love that you left the legs the way they were. It helps it keeps it old fashioned charm. Just adorable!

  13. What a fabulous makeover! I adore all of the fabulous touches you added to this heirloom.

    Thank you so very much for your kind words and support.
    May your open door only reveal beautiful things.

  14. Kimberly says:

    This is lovely! I vote for the rosette! (It looks AWESOME on that chair…) Plus, I just love rosettes. I’d like to go buy an antique chair now so I can do just this sort of thing to it!

    Thanks for stopping by bugaboo, mini, mr & me! I’m glad you liked the reading wreathe. It’s one of my favorite creations.

  15. Meg says:

    Oh, very nice. I love the white paint, it’s beautiful. I’m a fan of the rosette, but either one would be lovely! Great job!

  16. Cute cute! Thanks for linking up!

  17. Chris says:

    Lovely! I like the details especially.

  18. Simply gorgeous! I love the little ruffle and the natural wooden base is gorgeous! Fabulous refinish. Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase – I greatly appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful week. ~ Stephanie Lynn

  19. Hi Jami! Just wanted to let you know I’ll be featuring your chair today. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button if you like. Thanks again for linking up to The Sunday Showcase. ~ Stephanie Lynn

  20. I love the chair make over! So pretty! And your blog is great!

    Thanks for popping in over at TOTEally Posh and for the sweet comment!

  21. Jan says:

    Your chair looks fabulous…great job! My vote is for the rosette.

  22. I love your chair make-over, it’s beautiful! I really like the flower too. I would love to find a chair like that… in the meantime I made a “sort of” slip cover for my ugly blue fabric office chair!


  23. Tara says:

    What an adorable name for a blog. So cute! I love your project and would love to have you link this up at my Creative Link Share Party over at Trendy Treehouse

    Hope your having a great week. Tara

  24. girlfrugal says:

    I love the chair! The cute bird is a nice touch, but I prefer the rosette.

  25. Jami – I want your new chair!! It is the CUTEST thing I have seen! You did an amazing job — and I love all your added details — it’s amazing!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, too! :)

  26. I LOVE this chair. Love. Where do you find that fabric?

  27. Adorable..have you or could you, do a tutorial on that rosette? I just LOVE it. Great job on the chair. Very creative.

  28. Heather says:

    You made that chair look so lovely. I second Ginger about the rosette tutorial. I have seen many different techniques and would love to know how you made yours.

  29. Roseanna says:

    I like the rosette!

  30. The chair is so sweet and beautiful. I love all the sweet little details like the rossette, the skirt, and the birdie. Great job.

  31. Tami says:

    How adorable….love the both rossette and chickadee, but would have to say the chickadee has my heart.

  32. Shelia says:

    Yes, I do love it! Oh, what a wonderful job you’ve done on that little chair. Love your little model too!
    I’m coming to see you from Cindy’s Show and Tell Friday.
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  33. The rosette turned out great, a great combo of manliness and lady like features. Thanks for linking, please link up to Sister Sister again this week. Have a great holiday weekend,


  34. Leslie says:

    I love what you did to this chair! It is so stinkin’ cute now! Thanks for linking up to Hoo’s got talent!

  35. That turned out beautiful! So is your little model!:) I vote for the rosette.

  36. Love your chair!

    Thanks for linking up!

  37. ANNALISA says:
  38. Rosette for sure! The rose and skirt really make that chair, in my opinion!

  39. The only thing more beautiful than the chair is the adorable baby sitting in it. I prefer the chickadee, simply understated, although either way is fabulous.


  40. The only thing more beautiful than the chair is the adorable baby sitting in it. I prefer the chickadee, simply understated, although either way is fabulous.


  41. Patti says:

    Love the rosette….and the skirt. Very clever

  42. Love what u did with the office chair! I vote for the rosette. More original. We were both highlighted by Donna this week!

  43. Sooo cute! you did a great job. Thanks for following. I am following you back! Have a great weekend.
    Bonnie :)

  44. Just darling what you did with this olden chair…I love it and have one in my barn…I need to drag it out and see if I can give it new life…Love the cutie sitting in it…Thanks for sharing my friend…Great post…Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  45. You sure did bring it back to life! And then some. Fantastic job!

  46. The chair looks so charming!! I like that paint too … wonderful colors, beautiful finish and no strong odor!!

    Susan and Bentley

  47. You will want to check out my favs post tonight.


  48. I have a chair exactly like that and want to do something like this. I love Osnaburg and have been making pillows with that fabric a lot lately. I loved your rosette tutorial (we’ve been in contact via email) and made some out of grosgrain ribbon, silk ribbon and will try fabric, soon. You’re right…I’m addicted!

  49. Bekki says:

    I LOVE what you did with the chair! I happen to have that same chair sitting down in the basement, it currently has a weird green tinted stain on it. My husband picked it up at a garage sale for 5 dollars when he was in grad school. Oh I might just have to add it to my project list and actually let it see the light of day. I also picked up the armless version at another sale that is in much better shape and I use that one for my craftspace. Oh my wheels are spinning now!
    By the way your blog is lovely! I will have to become a follower, such inspiration!

  50. Ahhhh.. there’s my fav girlie office chair again! I ADORE this makeover! And the rosette caught my heart.


  51. Polo Chairs says:

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  52. shikha says:

    how cute i like it..
    ergonomischer Bürostuhl

  53. sitonitbean1 says:

    The chair is so sweet and beautiful. I love all the sweet little details like the rosette, the skirt, and the birdie. Great job..
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Aeron Chair

  54. Ergonomics says:

    beautiful!!!!! i love the rosette! the bird is cute too, but the rosette just goes w/ the “oldness” of the chair! i have a chair very similar to that sitting in my shop waiting to be tended to, now i’m inspired! thanks jami!
    Fluteline Footrest

  55. donna bee says:

    The chair is so sweet and beautiful. I love all the sweet little details like the rosette, the skirt, and the birdie. Great job..
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Office Chairs

  56. test

  57. Bunker Beds says:

    I like the post for giving the relevant office chair information on the topic and best thing is that I agree with them at majority of factors they mentioned in the topic

  58. S.Peil says:

    I would agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sad.
    S.Peil recently posted..(air your laundry friday) textile partyMy Profile

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