The Free-Chair Makeover +Tips on Being Safe with Mold

Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy Monday! We had perfect weather here this weekend to be outside. Which in my case meant working on projects outdoors - using my sander, pulling out the spray paint for the first time this year... and trying to remember all the other project I put on the back burner because of the weather.

This weekend was all about finalizing some of my home office updates (which I'm so excited to share with you tomorrow). Two weeks ago, I shared with you the two finds that really kick-started the update and while I was able to fix some problems with the desk right away, due to weather and my visiting college roommate I just finished up the chair this weekend.

And... I LOVE it! If you have been reading for a while, then you know this isn't my first chair makeover... and for those of you are newer around these parts, let me say, I've made over quite a few chairs for living in just a one-bedroom apartment.

Just so we can all be reminded of the others here they are:

First office chair
Mid-Century bedroom chairs
Second office chair

If you look at them all, what I hope you will see with this latest (and hopefully last for the office) makeover is that I've learned quite a bit from those first makeovers and think I have a much more professional end-result with this chair.

So how did I take this chair from the moldy-nasty mess above to the trellis chair below? With some patience, sunshine, and spray paint (oh, yeah... and crossed fingers that all the mold is gone or blocked away).

When I first picked up the chair which had been posted with another three as free for the taking on Craigslist, I didn't realize just how bad the mold situation was on them. From the picture that was listed on Craigslist (I thought it was only really the bottoms of the seats that were bad. Probably from being stacked that way for a while and being left outside.

It wasn't until I got the chair to my apartment and on to my porch that I realized really how disgusting it was. But I was holding out hope because the metal from of it was in really good shape and it was the exact type of chair I was looking for to pair up with my new Goodwill desk.

Here's what I saw when I got the chair up to my porch. Look how truly gross it was:

Just nasty.

As soon as I saw the extent of the mold, I wanted to get a deeper look and trash as much of it as I could. If it was going to be dangerous for my cats or me to be around, I wanted to know as soon as possible.

A few things about working with mold. Always work outdoors or in a very well ventilated area (like a garage or open basement). Wear protective gear: eye-wear, gloves, face mask. Don't touch the mold directly and do your best to not breathe any.

My first step was to grab a trash bag, drill, pliers, scissors, gloves, and my sunglasses and to dig in. I took apart the chair and started with pulling out all of the staples from the bottom of the seat and the the chair back. 

I was relieved to find that on the chair back, the mold was blocked by a layer of plastic so it didn't penetrate the frame. But things weren't as good on the seat chair.

After getting the moldy fabric off the seat bottom and directly into the trash bag and removing the seats foam (mold got to that too, I was down to just the wooden seat and it wasn't looking good.

All of the dark area on the left is mold stain. I admit, I freaked out. My first thought was to just scrap it, but after a little more time, I realized how difficult it would be to get it cut perfectly (especially since there is a lip on the front of the seat.

After looking at Lowe's for mold blockers, I decided it was easier on my wallet to by a primer that blocks stains and smells (Kilz) and to use a water and vinegar solution to try to get off as much mold stain as possible.

Here's how it looked right after I sprayed it with water and vinegar:

Top of the Seat

Bottom of the Seat

I let the water and vinegar mixture really seep in and dry in the hot sun. After it dried out, it was looking a little better, but not enough for me to call it good.

After Drying in the Sun

So I picked up a respirator mask at Lowe's and attempted to sand away the stains; and sanding made a huge difference!


I was happy with what the sanding did for the stain, so I wiped the seat down and sprayed it with two layers of Kilz (which I didn't get to photograph because it started to sprinkle out and I had to bring the seat inside - leaned against my open door to dry).

Then the fun part began!

I started with the seat back. It had great framed, curved and cut to fit the metal frame. You can see those in the next two pictures.

As you can see in the pictures, I covered the foam with a layer of batting, which I attached with Elmer's spray glue.

I then laid down the fabric and cut just about an inch around the edges and stapled all around. I was really proud of the finished edge I made on the bottom of the seat back.

I also was happy the back worked out because it has two sort of ledges to hold it over the frame. It was a bit tricky to not make the corners full of chunky fabric.

Once the seat back was finished and the paint was dry on the seat base, I started putting together the seat. On the first office chair I made, I used the 2-inch green foam from the craft store and was really disappointed in how chunky it looked. So I opted for a different padding for this chair and highly recommend it! I bought the Poly-Fil Nu Foam in 2-inches. It is noticeably thinner than the green foam and more compact. It was just what I had hoped to find. 

I traced the seat onto the foam and cut it out. Well, attempted to cut it out. The biggest takeaway from this project is that I don't own any sharp scissors! After shuffling between three pair of scissors I got the foam cut out. I used spray adhesive to attach it to the seat and then added a layer of batting to it to round out and soften the edges.

Then I wrapped and stapled the fabric around it. I chose the fabric because I already had it on hand from a pre-blog DIY headboard I made years ago. Finally I attached both the seat and the back to the frame. 

I love how it turned out!

I'm not worried about having the chair in my apartment with the state that I found it in. I took good precautions to clean it up and make it safe.

I am so excited to share the office makeover that goes with this chair! Check back tomorrow to see my new office space!

{I party with these blogs!}


  1. I love it!! Great job and find :)

  2. Amazing transformation!

  3. Your chair turned out great!!! LOVE your fabric<3 Pinned


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