a barrel of fun.

My house is not large.  Just in case you hadn’t noticed.  It’s also old, built in 1904.  Back then, unless you were building a mansion like Glensheen, rooms were not that big.  My house was originally a farmhouse, so definitely not a mansion.  So, it’s no surprise that my living room is a modestly sized room.  Not only that, but one wall has a large arched opening that leads to the piano room …

living room 2

and another wall has a large arched opening that leads to the front hallway …

front hallway

Leaving the wall with windows, built in book cases and radiator and a second wall with just one window (it’s behind the sofa, just out of range of this photo).

living room 1

By the way, these are all old photos, I have’t actually decorated for Christmas already.

One the positive side, all of the these open archways make the space feel open and light, but on the downside, furniture placement is a challenge.  Sometimes in summer I’ll move the sofa in front of the radiator, but putting a giant piece of furniture in front of your heat source isn’t the greatest plan for winters in Minnesota.

In the past, since it’s typically just Mr. Q and I hanging out in the living room, our sofa and chair combo has worked out great.  I get the sofa and Mr. Q gets the chair for movie viewing.  But now that my sister and niece have moved to town, we need more seating.  We can all squeeze in on the sofa, but that’s a little too touchy-feely for us (and my sister always gets annoyed when I try to touch her with my feet, which of course means I do it frequently).  However, I don’t have a lot of space for more seating.  So I have been on the hunt for a smallish side chair that would be at least somewhat comfortable.  I also didn’t want too spend much on it.

When I came across this barrel cane back chair on Craigslist, I wasn’t quite sure about it.  The price was definitely right at $40 though.  I also noticed that it would be a simple staple job to re-upholster it, always a bonus!  But still, it did have that 70’s – 80’s vibe that I’m not too fond of.

barrel chair before

Whenever I’m looking at a piece and can’t decide whether or not it can be helped with paint, I generally then head to pinterest to see if I can find some examples.  Bingo!

chair example

This chair, by the way, is priced at $699 at Horchow.com (bwa ha ha ha).

Anyway, dang!  It’s pretty cute, right?  As it should be for $699!  Especially with all that chippy-ness going on.  All my chair needed was a chippy paint job and new fabric on the seat and it too could look this good, for a mere fraction of the price!

I started by removing the seat.  It was just screwed on from the bottom like most dining room chairs, but in an interesting twist it had this row of piping at the front.  It was held in place by staples …

chair piping

I ripped that off and kept it, not sure at that point if I was going to re-cover it and put it back on, or just go without.

Next I sanded the chair lightly and cleaned it with TSP substitute. Then I used my spray paint trick on the cane back first, and then painted the rest of the chair using Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen.  Since this chair was for me, I wanted plenty of chipping.

And I got it, along with some crackling too!

barrel chair chipping

For the seat, I purchased some heavy linen upholstery fabric and painted on a blue grain sack stripe using my favorite skinny tape (some girls have skinny jeans, I have skinny tape).

grain sack stripe tape

I used acrylic craft paint and a stencil brush to stipple the paint on.

chair seat 2

I decided the chair didn’t really need that length of piping trim along the front, what do you think?

barrel chair front

I do think it needs a small pillow to really be comfortable though, so I stole one from my patio chairs for now.

barrel chair pillow

It was such a beautiful day last Saturday when I finished the chair that I couldn’t help taking advantage of it and staging these photos outside.

barrel chair in fall

My “Boo” pumpkin is a fake, FYI.

boo pumpkin

I think it looks pretty good for a fake though.

But, back to the start of our story.  I purchased and revamped this chair to provide additional seating in my living room.  Here it is in place and just in time since I’m having my sister and niece over tomorrow night.  We are going to have a barrel of fun watching scary movies and eating Halloween candy (since I always buy some, but seldom actually get any kids at the door).

barrel chair in living room 2

Here is a fun ‘aerial’ view of the living room (taken from the front hall stairs).

aerial view of living room

This chair has to sort of float in the room, the back is fully visible from the piano room.

barrel chair back

Luckily it looks good from all angles!

At least I think so, what do you think?

Sharing at:  French Country Cottage and The Curator’s Collection


34 thoughts on “a barrel of fun.

  1. I love it! It gives me the push to finish the second chair in a pair of these I have had for a year! I painted one in Annie Sloan Paris Grey and the other is just sitting! You have inspired me to complete the set to sell.


  2. Great idea for extra seating. ..plus its very portable to move into any of the other rooms where you might need an additional seating area. Love the redo..looks great and LOVE the price!


  3. It looks great. I love the crackle. I love the fabric too. I love the price too. I like that you are using it where you can see the back as it is just as pretty as the front.


  4. Perfect solution! It’s darling and flexible too, easy to move. No piping needed. The Horchow chair doesn’t have it. I really like the “deconstructed” furniture, not that the rest of this chair is that, but it’s more unfussy. Have a great Halloween party! So glad you can hang out with family so often!


    1. Let me put on my English Honors BA hat for a moment:
      “unfussy” great word! Words are used to convey meaning within context, and even though unfussy is not in the OED, its meaning is understood intuitively by all who read this blog.


  5. The interior of your home has the same floor plan as the home I lived in at 2526 13th Avenue in Nor. St. Paul I had the same living room issues, not much wall space two arches. Wish I still lived there. Makes me homesick to look at your pictures.


    1. Oh, I feel bad for making you homesick. I wonder if your former house and my house were built by the same person. I can’t imagine there were that many builders in this area back in 1904. When was your’s built, do you know?


  6. I have a similar problem in the living room at my 1918 home. There is the front door, a door to the office, a door to a bedroom and pocket doors to the dining room! Where do you find the skinny tape?


    1. Doors, doors, everywhere! It does make it challenging to arrange furniture. I’m fairly sure that our forebears felt you only needed one spot for the sofa and that was it. I found the skinny tape at Menards. It’s made by Painter’s Mate and is .23″ wide.


  7. Love the chair, great job as always. And your room are beautiful, especially those stripes on the walls–so cool! I have a similar challenge in my space, not because of open archways but because it’s one big, open skinny rectangle. Congrats on finding a place to squeeze in more seating!


    1. Thanks Paula. I have to admit, my niece sat it in last night and it did not pass the ‘two movie test’. It would have been OK for one movie I think, but two pushed it past the comfort level. But it does look great and will work perfectly as a chair for guests.


  8. Your home is absolutely charming. Love old houses, and what fun it is decorating them. Hope to buy an old house this spring and love all your ideas. Thank you for sharing.


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