Thursday, June 19, 2014

Before & After: Bistro Chairs

Before: Our patio table was cheap and dated looking, and the grill was hogging up a lot of extra room. 
Minnesotans cherish their summertime. With the winters we endure here, being outside in pleasant weather takes on a religious fervor. Living in the city means we have to maximize every inch of available outdoor space, since we don't have a large yard. This patio is a shared space, regularly used by most of the residents in our building.

We've been revamping this outdoor room since we moved in two years ago, living with it and making adjustments as we thought of them or could afford it. We replaced a glaring overhead light with softly glowing cafe lights using a lightbulb outlet converter to avoid hiring an electrician to rewire our 120 year old house. I planted herbs in the window boxes and switched out a tired, not-so-white-anymore rug for a more durable black one to handle the heavy traffic of the front entrance. I also rehabbed the mailboxes with chalkboard paint, a great move for an apartment building where the names on the boxes change frequently.

The final touch was replacing this ghastly patio table and chairs, that's been around the place for more than ten years. I hated the cheap looking plastic chairs, and the umbrella hole in a table sitting on a covered porch. We also added a grill to the set up, but it all felt quite tight and constricted.

I found a few patio ideas I liked online at Target and World Market, but I felt they were overpriced for their quality, style and durability. I needed a round table that could comfortably seat four. I decided to see what I could find locally.

Before: We purchased 10 of these bistro chairs
on Craigslist for $70. 
We found a lovely wicker table with a heavy glass top on Craigslist that looked right at home outside. We found the chairs separately, though they needed some serious rehabbing. They were rusty and the seats needed cushions to make them comfortable enough for daily use. However, the shape was just what I was looking for, and I felt up to a little elbow grease. Poor Eric got suckered in too.

He kindly and dutifully scrubbed down all ten chairs with sandpaper and steel wool. Then he coated
the chairs with  Rustoleum spray-paint in Soft Iron. He also found replacement chair feet to keep them from scratching up the deck.

Next, I went over to S.R. Harris to pick up cushion foam and upholstery fabric. I painstakingly traced the wooden seats onto the foam, and cut it out. I used the seat as a pattern for the fabric too, adding four inches to the perimeter of the circle to allow it to comfortably cover the seat. I used a staple gun to cover the cushions, and Eric screwed them back in.

We also moved the grill to a smaller, unused nook on the other side of the patio which opened up a lot of space and helped it all to feel much more relaxed and inviting. The grill is getting more play too, since it's far easier to cook without bumping into the table and chairs. As a final touch, I've been toying with an indoor outdoor rug under the eating area, but I think there is just too much dust and debris to keep it looking great.

After: Painstaking Sanding, Spraypainting and reupholstering gave us a pretty new look. 
I'm pretty delighted with the results of all the tinkering. I think it looks far more polished and airy and I like the way the new furniture complements the iron railings and accents the orange red shades of the bricks. We've been spending lots of time out here already, and the new look feels much more inviting to me.

Do you have any "outdoor rooms" at your place? What have you done to make them more user friendly? If you have mosquito prevention tricks, I'd love to hear them!

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