The Chair Part One

by mutteringhousewife

Because I’m going back to work next week, and have to write some tutorials for the two hundred students I’m about to meet to stop them from tying me up, shoving me in a cupboard and running around the classroom in their underwear, because I’m starting a research project, because it’s AGM season and I have a whole lot of Treasury stuff to finish and reconcile, because I’m on the quest for the perfect bathroom mirror, because I’ve got to make a metric buttload of jam for the upcoming fete, hang on, I’ve lost track. Oh yes, I thought I’d renovate a chair.

I may have mentioned that we’re putting in an attic. We’re at that agonising point where I’m about to bid a fond farewell to the builders, but the painting isn’t finished, the wardrobe guy might be able to get drawings to me next week, the shower screen man had to go to a funeral so can’t fit me in for another fortnight and the alarm man has gone on holidays so can’t connect the smoke detector.

I’m sure we’ll move up there eventually. I plan to have a workspace in the new bit, and a new workspace needs the perfect chair. I’ve had the same chair at my desk (when I’ve had a desk, not much in the last decade) for as long as I can remember.


It was once one of a set. One of the fondest memories of my childhood is of our morbidly obese next door neighbour sitting fairly gently one on of these and smashing it to pieces. Precious moments.

Anyway at some point someone, probably my mother, painted this one white and gave it to me. It is just about due for its second paint job.

I don’t know if you’ve had a crack at this yourself. I’ve really only painted new stuff. I had a fair idea that sandpaper would be involved, any excuse to go to Bunnings really – did you know you can get these cute little pointy hand held sanders that you Velcro the sandpaper onto? A very comfortable lady’s sander you’d describe it as if you were irredeemably sexist. Excellent workout for the triceps as it turns out.

But the – how much do you sand? Just enough to rub off the stickers that tiny hands have put on there that have since become one with the paint? Get down into smoothing off the dents and chips? Half sand off the paint even though shabby chic has been and gone and I never liked it anyway?

I hoped to resolve these questions with a visit to the local paint shop, and even pick up a pot of paint so I could start Part Two. I foolishly chose one of those fancy shops which, as it turns out, are rather reluctant to sell you paint and would much rather point out very carefully how much of a feckless idiot you are for even contemplating such a project. “Do you even know what type of paint is on the chair right now?” asked the blonde assistant who, possibly from weeping out the back at man’s inhumanity to man, had a smudge of mascara under one eye, making it very difficult for me to concentrate on what she was saying. What would James Valentine’s form guide suggest in such a situation? Offer her a tissue? Come at her with a Wet Wipe? I went with what I was comfortable with, the slightly open mouthed stare. “That finish? Well, you’d need to apply this primer, then this crackle medium and a couple of layers of top coat, then sand it back, then another coat and then black wax it”. Ahahahaha. Ha. Yeah. Nah. Do they ever sell anything to anyone?

What she had convinced me of is that the paint should come off. It did appear that my mother just slapped on the one coat all those years ago, which meant that most of the paint was coming off very easily. Showing the original colour below. Originally, it had been stained a fetching olive green, not a colour you very often see in chairs any more.


This does mean that I need to let go of any idea I had of just roughly sanding it back and lacquering it. It looks like something the perpetrators of the Zombie Apocalypse would relax on after a hard day amongst the brains.

So my choices are to sand it enough to get a smooth surface, then prime it and paint it. Or sand it back enough to remove all trace of zombie and stain and lacquer it. At my advanced age I know myself well enough to realise that I’m capable of getting the larger surfaces smooth and a lot less green, but there’s no way I’m getting into those nooks and crannies even if I get involved in a whole lot more things to procrastinate about. So primer and paint it shall be.

No I don’t know what colour. Didn’t you read the title? I’m only up to Part One. I do hope there will be a Part Two, the desk I’m having put in isn’t one of those standing desks that are so very 2013. I’m going to have to wait for another burst of enthusiasm to come along.