Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Help for my dining room chairs!

This week's Works for me Wednesday is the Backwards edition where you present a dilemma to your readers and let them help you come up with a solution!

I share a lot on this blog about what it is like having 3 kids, now I'm thinking specifically
about what it does to your house.

My dining room table is where we eat all our meals because our kitchen table only se
ats 4 and we are now a family of 5. The problem is that with 3 little kids eating nearly every meal at that table, it is getting kind of, um, well, gross!

We clean it off after each meal, of course, but I'm beginning to t
hink I need to soak the entire table in a vat of cleaning solution.

I have recently realized that the underside of my wood table is coated with crusted on food at each of my kids' places at the table. It is years of build-up, my friends! Not something your typical 409 will handle!

And my dining room chairs?

They have/had cream cloth seats!

Oh how I wish someone would have warned me when I bought them shortly after we got married that if we planned on having kids the cream would really not be the way to go. In fact, there really should have been a disclaimer right there in the Pottery Barn that said in bold letters, “IF YOU PLAN ON HAVING SMALL CHILDREN IN YOUR HOME ANY TIME DURING THE LIFESPAN OF THESE CHAIRS, DO NOT BUY THEM! THESE ARE NOT THE CHAIRS FOR YOU!”

In hindsight I should have covered the chairs the children would use with plastic, but no, I opted for a white towel under their booster seats. But bad spills go through the towels and when your oldest graduates from the booster if you still use the towel he will wiggle so much that it will slide around and not completely protect the chair (but on the plus side he will use the towel as his very own extra-large napkin!)

I have had the chairs professionally cleaned and they come most of the way clean, but then I again fail to figure out a better way to protect them and they get dirty again in about 2.5 seconds!

I've thought about recovering them in a fabric that would clean easier and not show dirt as much. One day while in the fabric store there was this kind of navy burlap and I considered it! Then I began to imagine the chafing and I reconsidered.
But what fabric is right?


I could throw any hope for attractiveness out the window and recover them with vinyl!

Then there is the problem that recovering my chairs may fall into a craftiness level where I just cannot hang!

Help! Anybody know anything about recovering dining room chairs?


  1. At my son's preschool, they have their chairs covered in regular fabric with clear vinyl on top. That way, you can still have pretty fabric under the plastic.

  2. How about slip covers which slip over the whole chair which can be regularly laundered? There are some really good looking ones out there-or you could make your own-I think it's pretty easy. I feel your pain though, I spent a goodly period of time digging the crumbs out the crevices with a wooden skewer last week :/ Next time NO CREVICES.

  3. How about that indoor/outdoor fabric that is popular now for patio furniture. Or oilcloth.

  4. Recovering chairs really isn't too hard of a thing. I did it with our very first dining set and I just winged it (wung it???) I went to Hobby Lobby and found some fabric I liked from the "fancy and expensive" section, bought a staple gun, and got to work. You're probably better off not getting fabric with certain patterns or stripes since that will make it harder to get straight and nice looking. I also bought extra fabric so that if my kids had a bad spill that wouldn't clean up, I could just recover that one chair.

    Another route would be to buy some seat cushions (even Walmart has the Better Homes and Gardens ones for under $10 right now!). Those can just go right in the washer when they get dirty.

  5. Don't be afraid to recover your chairs--it's actually really easy! My husband and I have tackled it twice, just in front of the TV one night, and it takes about an hour to do all six.

    That being said, I think you could find seat cushions or plastic covers and only use those on the kid chairs.

  6. I agree with the first comment. Use pretty fabric that you like, but go over it with clear vinyl. That way you've got the best of both worlds!

  7. I am getting ready to recover my dining room chairs!

    I would probably follow the advice of #1 comment...but we have two plain wood chairs that my munchkins use...so that takes care of that issue for us.

  8. I've recovered my DR chairs and I'm fixin (southern term) to do it again. I did use clean plastic the first time, but this time I think I'm going to use a wipeable leather. It'll look good and will last. By the way, the plastic did work and it kept the chairs looking great for about 5 years.

  9. My very clever sil purchased a flannel backed vinyl table cloth at the dollar store and wrapped it around the chair seat and back. When she wanted to have company and nice furniture, she just whipped the tablecloth off of the chair. I've even seen the suggestion of sewing and "apron" for the chair from the same kind of table cloth

  10. Recovering is easy, and you can use oilcloth (sort of a liquid repellant fabric similar to some tablecloths and even barkcloth from the 40s) that comes in gorgeous patterns. Or use indoor/outdoor fabric -- there are so many lovely fabrics in this spectrum and they look very designed, not just the old striped awning specials we used to have when we were growing up! Oh and PS -- use a pattern, not a solid!

    I wonder if instead of using a water solution you could use something like olive oil to soften the food particles and keep your table nice, since water may spoil the finish?

  11. I recently read a blog about painting chair seats with interior satin paint, sanding, repainting, sanding and then coating with paste wax. So I tried it. Took the seats out of the chairs and had at it. They turned out great, washable, etc while the kids are little. Plan on something better when they get bigger. Hope this helps.

  12. I have the same problem and similar chairs! I am learning from all these comments! Thinking about recovering mine!

  13. All great suggestions. If you just go the recover route (which wouldn't be hard) you could use scotch gaurd to help prevent stains.
    some other ideas:
    -get different chairs at a garage sale for the kids.
    - use a towel big enough that you can clip it to itself underneath the chair

    I would personally use a protectant like scotch gaurd and then put a nice thick chair pad on top. The added bonus will be that the kids will be higher up.

  14. Great question. I think lots of people can relate. I know I can!

    So, how handy is hubby? cause if he (or you) can do this, I would suggest replacing the cushion with a cream painted wood seat. I would pop off the cushion and use it as a template to draw it onto a piece of MDF wood that is smooth and paintable and cheap. Then screw it from the bottom.

    If you buy new chairs, go solid surface for sure.

    Good luck!

  15. Oh wow, I'm totally with you but your cloth chairs look MUUUUUCH better than mine, and we've only had them for about a year! I'm following your comments, too, because I also need a solution!

  16. You guys have been so much help! I really appreciate everyone's comments! Thank you! Now I am setting a deadline for myself -- one month 'til it's done. That gives me a month to decided which option I want and do it!!!

  17. Bummer! I can't give you any helpful tips, but it looks like you got some GREAT tips in your comments. It cracked me up when you said your kids would use the towel on the chair as extra large napkins! We are currently using a towel under my daughter and she is only allowed to sit in ONE chair. It has helped tremendously!! (My son is still in a highchair.) I just hope she doesn't learn the habit of wiping her hands on her seat when we are a guest in other people's homes! ;)

  18. You can use seat covers or cushions for your kids chairs.


I'd love to hear what you think!