And I am nothing of a builder

For all my love of cooking and baking, I’m not a kinetically talented nor handy person. The numerous faded scars and cuts from the tips of my fingers to my elbows are a testament to this particular fact.

A girl can dream, though, of being the second coming of Martha Stewart (or, more in my vein, Nigella Lawson). My bedroom, the only real space that I truly inhabit in my roommate’s pretty already-fabulously furnished apartment, is kind of a design disaster but I never seem to do much about it save for collecting things I’d one day like to showcase in some fabulous design plan that still exists, nebulous and half-formed, in my head.

There are about as many DIY projects I’d love to start as there are dishes I’d like to cook — if I ever had the time, money, and space. But unlike those things created in the kitchen, I can’t seem to rouse the ambition for any craftier, non-food tasks.

So when the aforementioned roommate wanted to reupholster the dining room chairs, I was pretty happy to assist, not only for the cushioning upgrade, but also for the experience of being able to take one step forward in my domestic goddess ambitions.

Of course, the roommate did the bulk of the groundwork, researching methods, deciding on the fabric, and purchasing all materials. I was there to merely lend a steadying (if not very steady) hand and the fine company of my sterling wit. (No, don’t laugh.)

Reupholstering chairs

In the style of youthful Boston apartment dwelling, these chairs were abandoned by their previous owner and reclaimed by my roommate when she moved in. Their fabric: abysmal. Their cushion: nonexistent. Their frame: distressed chic. This could work. My roommate always knew she wanted to reupholster them some day.

We unscrewed the seats of the chair from their frames, a fairly easy task given that several screws had been missing anyway.

Reupholstering chairs

Reupholstering chairs

As it turned out, the previous owners of the chairs had been pretty reupholster-happy themselves. Like counting the rings of a tree to determine its age or looking at layers of rock and sediment in the earth, these chairs had been reupholstered no less than 5 times. Each time, the seat was merely wrapped in another layer of fabric and secured with approximately a hundred thousand staples.

Finally, after pulling up all the fabric and pulling out all the staples, we got to the seat of the matter – a sort of cheap plywood, but hey, it would do.

First, we measured and cut out some 2” thick foam to add more cushioning to the chair. Unfortunately, the square cuts of foam and the trapezoid shape of the chair seat didn’t quite line up, but this oversight would more or less be covered up by the batting and material.

Reupholstering chairs

Reupholstering chairs

The results are very pâtisserie française. The black and white colors in the fabric break up our decidedly orange kitchen/dining area. The distressed look of the frames gives our chairs a vintage charm. Compared to before, the chairs are a dream to sit on.

Reupholstering chairs

I’m not sure what this setup is about. We were trying to stage a nice, sophisticated table to reflect our sophisticated, big girl chairs and ended up throwing in random objects together that you’d probably never find on a dining table. But whatever. This whole project has given me a sense of accomplishment, perhaps an urge to take a glue gun to the world. Martha Stewart, watch out. I am one ball of twine away from unseating your reigning position over the domestic world.

The long weekend is coming up! I am going to take the opportunity to slog through the large number of cookbooks I impulsively bought:


Modernist Cuisine! Yes, that expensive $450 six-volume set devoted to molecular gastronomy and the like. It’s stupid expensive and I haven’t a hope of making 90% of the recipes featured, but it’s dense and it’s beautiful and it’s full of science. Did you know that one of my most favoritest things about cooking and baking is the sheer science of it all? So Modernist Cuisine is like the gastronomic equivalent of Playboy publishing its ten year compendium of all their best centerfolds.

And should I over excite myself with all this new knowledge at my fingertips, I may also just cook a little, drink a few martinis, and catch up on Downton Abbey. Are you watching that show yet? Because you totally should.


One comment

  1. Pingback: When life hands you lemons « Sweet Synthesis

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