thoughts on defacing a classic and the voices in your head

"Paint me".  I couldn't resist.  
I had to deface the classic natural Breuer Cesca chair with paint.  The little voice in my head, or maybe it was my gut, was chiming in and I was scared.  "But it's an iconic chair!"  
This led me to an internal debate as to whether anything was sacred and off limits to paint for me. 
I felt bad for a bit because I realized that besides the living and breathing,
 I really couldn't think of anything I wouldn't paint.  
And besides these were knock offs, right?  So there was nothing to lose financially.
(They were less than $20 a chair, so my kids can trash them- and they will- 
and I won't freak out and have a nutty like this...)
But what if they were the real deal?  Would that matter?  
It would definitely have me weighing my options more,
 but in the end it probably wouldn't.  
I have a bad tendency to "hyper focus" on little details like color flow and pattern and it drives me crazy.  I am always in edit mode, which explains while I am constantly painting and sewing and my house is in project mode 24/7.  
I can't leave well enough alone and even if something is damn near perfect I will think "I wonder if..."
I'm sick.  I consider it a form of design mental illness.  

In this case the chairs, table and floors were just a big sea of wood tone. It needed to be broken up, and painting the chairs would create a floor/table buffer.  If I kept them, I would be bored to tears, and end up painting my table or floors.  See what I mean?
 I guess I am not a purist or a traditionalist in this area, so I quickly squelched my guilty feelings and got to painting.  But not before consulting social media first.

 I Insta- FB'd this:
I was so intrigued by the outcome.  The Facebook consensus for the most part was "NO paint!" while Instagram was all "paint them bitches!"  Two camps.  Obviously this didn't help in my decision making, and if anything it had me thinking I might be doing the wrong thing.

 I had to consult my Magic 8 Ball...Google.

Did you know there are VERY few images of these chairs painted out there that can be found using keywords on Google.  I did find partial paint jobs...

a little too cute for me:
 just arms, would be kind of cool if all my chairs had arms:

But no full monty.

 I was sure they were going to be fine, but you still always want the reassuring image that tells you "don't worry, it will be OK" and validate your craziness.  And since I couldn't really find any, that started me thinking "maybe Facebook knows something I don't".
And then like magic, Instagram offered up the magic link to Jenny's recent paint job

and the voices sang "Paint!" loud and clear.

 I took the plunge.   I found a half used cane of spray paint in a soft minty blue, and decided to give one chair a go.  Two coats and a layer of high gloss polyurethane later I had success,
 in my eyes at least:
It just felt so much fresher, and better suited to my style.
And isn't that what decorating is all about?

I have some tips for anyone wanting to paint this style chair. You are definitely going to want to spray these because any type of caning or wicker just invites drip marks if you use a brush.

First off, prep.
Unscrew the backs and seats from the chrome base.  Make sure they are clean and lightly sand the wood edges to give your paint something to stick too.  I used 150 grit paper.
Wipe off dust when done.  I gave them a coat of Krylon primer and let them dry.

If your chrome frames were looking rough like mine were,
 give them a quick polish by rubbing away any grime and pitting with fine steel wool.
My husband taught me this trick...
Freaking magic! And easy!
They were gleaming like new.

I ran out of spray paint after my first chair (it was just suppose to be a test- and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did).  The color was VERY close to Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.  I had used that color in a high gloss for my front door, and still had about a pint left.  I had an idea...
I had a Preval Sprayer on hand that I picked up from True Value for a future project.
I decided to test it on these chairs.  Bonus- instant gratification.
Here is the skinny on the Preval Sprayer... It allows you to turn your own paint into spray paint.
The sprayer cost $5.99, and additional cartridge refills were $4.99.  Pricewise, it is right in line with regular spray paint, but the square foot coverage was 4x greater than a regular can. 
It is a great solution for small projects.
Cheap and genius, with less noxious fumes!

I followed the directions and thinned my paint out according to the ratio suggested on the box, shook the mixture up and added the spray cap.   
I was ready to roll! 
The thinning part is very important.  At first I added less water because I really thought it would dilute the paint too much- but I was wrong. I found the sprayer clogging almost instantly.  I added more water and was back in business.
Here are some important tips to get the hang of this tool.
-wear gloves, my hands got filthy with overspray since I was holding the seats to ensure a good angle.
-the metal spray cartridge gets VERY cold, so you might want to wear a thin winter glove under your rubber glove too
-don't tilt the sprayer beyond 45 degrees. This is a bit of a pain and takes some getting used to, but there is an air vent at the top that easily gets clogged if glass bottle at the bottom is too full or tips too far.
see the tiny vent hole?

-if the air vent clogs, simply unscrew the top part from the glass bottom and rinse off.
I kept a cup off water nearby to swish it clean, and I also cleared the nozzle by dipping the uptake straw into it and spraying water through.
-since the paint is thinned it was much runnier than usual, and I put too much on at first which lead to drip marks.  Just like regular spray paint, it will take some getting used to to get the right amount on without drips.  I needed 2 coats in all.
my mess o' drips
To fix my drip marks, I let it dry and then sanded it down and repainted those spots.
I used cups and empty paint cans to lift the seat backs up so I can paint opposite sides quicker and get a cleaner edge.

When I ran out of gas (the cartridge that is) I just pulled it out and pooped in a new one.
Best part is the cartridge comes with a new uptake straw and nozzle, so nothing ever gets too clogged.
I seriously love the fact that I can make spray paint whenever I want.
Mwahahahaha- like an alchemist I tell you!

Once it dried I reattached the seats to the chrome bases and was done!
As you can see, my renovation is still far from being done- but that will start up once the kids return to school next week.  Painting, window treatments and finish carpentry coming soon- as well as a crazy light fixture for over this table. 

So, I need to know... what would you have done?
Paint or purist?


Ashley said...

You went with your gut and it shows that your gut is right. Knock-offs aren't precious and unless they came from a dearly-departed relative, I think anything is fair game.

The mint is all kinds of fresh.

Heather Peterson said...

you know from FB that I was in the no-paint camp, but I LOVE these! The risk paid off!


Laura/Hayestone/Design Share said...

No purist here...I would definitely have painted them.....I will paint anything, *including* my children! What? Halloween is the perfect excuse! The chairs look seriously great, so much hipper and more suited to your spot. Well done!

Katie Waddell said...

So perfect for me.....just saw Jenny's pic and wanted to do the same to my chairs. Thanks for the push! :)

Rebecca Pederson Hessey said...

Love this color!

Emma (Glitter and Gold) said...

i love them!!!! great color choice . . . i need to know where your table is from???

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely on Team Paint but hey, after the fact, that's an easy call! The look great and the paint makes them so much more visually interesting even though I've always loved that style. I've looked at the Preval sprayer at my specialty hardware store and they couldn't speak to how well it works so your thoughts on that are super appreciated and ai believe I'll pick up one of those very soon. Thanks. Robin

Sayschnicklefritz said...

Girl, you did the right thing. The chairs look fresh and more interesting now, have a presence in the room, rather than being more, heavy and sluggish looking wood. I have a similar but opposite problem: white chairs and a white dinner table. I think I might paint the chairs orange or navy blur. Por que no?

Danika Herrick said...

Hi Emma,

My Dad made the table as a wedding gift. Long story, but the top is actually made from the floor boards of the house we threw our wedding party in (actually the dance floor) and the legs were porch columns we found at a salvage yard. Super sentimental!

April said...

After seeing how great your chairs turned out, I'm looking around for things to paint...they look amazing! Part of the trick is that you have an awesome eye for color!

The Sterling Cherub said...

Totally agree with what someone said upthread, as long as the chairs aren't precious designer originals, then paint away! Personally, I have a hard time seeing all the ladies in the blogworld painting genuine antiques that are wood and in relatively good condition just so they can do the newest paint trend - just because you CAN paint it doesn't mean you should. So many of those pieces I see shoudl be restored, but who am I to say? But since these are copies and you wanted to break up all that wood (and I can see your point for wanting to do that!), you did the right thing by going for it. They look amazing after and I love your color choice!

I have several Preval spray kits at home and have yet to use even one of them! I'm one of those picky girls that has to have my paint be THE EXACT color I have in mind, and will mix until I get it right, so being able to make my own spray paint is a godsend! I'd forgotten I even had the Prevals until I saw this blog post, and am glad to see someone IRL using them and giving tips on best methods, so thank you for that.

Lastly, did you get the e-mail I sent you with the scans of your O'verlays product in the Sept. '13 Country Living magazine? (Hoping it didn't get caught in your spam folder!) If not, let me know and I will resend it to you.



My Interior Life said...

You know I was on the Instagram Team Paint! I think I even recently saw Jenny's chairs and may have mentioned that too or meant to. Obviously, if they were originals, I might say no. But otherwise, go for it. And you did, and they look amazing!

Leah said...

the chairs look fantastic!!

nigel said...

love the new look. also love your typo in which you "pooped" in a new paint cartridge. i really needed that hearty laugh, so i thank you sincerely. :)

Danika Herrick said...

Ha! I totally missed that Nigel! I was a bit "pooped" myself at that point!

Unknown said...

PAINT! I love em!

Nancy {at} powellbrower at home said...

love it, thanks for introducint the Preval sprayer...looks too good to be true! Gotta try it.
Love those chairs.
xo Nancy

LindsB said...

PAINT!! I couldnt have left them alone either, plus they really do look so much better with paint. I can hardly believe they are the same chairs!


Not a thought.....absolutely paint! They look great!

Jessica Davis said...

Awesome - I am totally buying the sprayer. Think I might get the kit. Hmm..... now for some projects!

Anonymous said...

I have a set of these but mine have fake brass legs and fabric seats. I much prefer the cane seats. Have you seen the tutorials for cross stitching the caning? I kind of want to do that but I know my kids will destroy it immediately.

Danika Herrick said...

I found a site that sells Breuer chair replacement seats for about $40! Much less than it would cost to re-cane (time and supplies, and I would probably mess them up too!)

Missy Craig said...

So..... I have a dilemma. I have two "originals" with the sticker GFM, meaning they were made in Poland. But, the awful predicament is they were found in a trash pile and are in HORRIBLE condition. So I need advice from some fellow junkers, to paint or attempt to restore??? (They will be sold in my booth-tique, Gypsy Junkture!) So I would like to sell them for the highest possible bargain!

Missy Craig said...

So..... I have a dilemma. I have two "originals" with the sticker GFM, meaning they were made in Poland. But, the awful predicament is they were found in a trash pile and are in HORRIBLE condition. So I need advice from some fellow junkers, to paint or attempt to restore??? (They will be sold in my booth-tique, Gypsy Junkture!) So I would like to sell them for the highest possible bargain!


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