my marimekko project: finished at last!

i found this chair in a thrift store…

danish design teak chair

yes, that’s right. $2.99.

in case you’re wondering, i’m ignoring what you’re thinking: “yep. looks like it’s worth about that much…”

$2.99 for scandinavian teak chair

as if there was any doubt, they had to price it twice. first, with a price sticker adhered with super-glue (don’t let that little peeling pink corner fool you like it fooled me. that thing was a pain to peel off!). and second, using a white wax pencil, in big curly numerics pressed into the grain of the wood.

yup, worth about $2.99 is right. this thing had seen better days. the fabric (though i love the geometric design and colour) was very dirty and worn through. the wood had a sloppy stain job slapped onto it. it was also covered in white spots, from rolling paint onto a nearby wall i assume.

but there were a few things i loved about this chair. the wood was solid, and despite having a few screws loose, it was in good overall condition. it was also comfortable to sit in (upon returning home, i may or may not have burned the pair of pants i wore while testing out this chair; this chair was gross yo). and it had that distinctive scandinavian look. minimal. beautiful curves. not pretentious. i also loved the sandwiching of the light wood within the dark.

two-tone teak

so this chair (actually, two of them, but i only refurbished one of them since it was my first time and i was flying by the seat of my soon-to-be-burned pants)… came home with me.

and then it sat in the garage for about a year.

don’t judge me. you know how these things go. you gotta wait for naptime, the planets to align, inspiration!

enter marimekko. i knew i’d use the fabric to re-cover the seat. but first, i had to battle the dust mites that had colonized this chair for the past few decades. i unscrewed the seat from the legs and frame, and started to take off the fabric.

underside of chair

someone had gone staple-gun happy. i used gloves and pliers to pull each staple out of the wood…

pulling out staples with pliers

once i got the first layer of fabric off, there was the original fabric still covering the chair…

and beneath that was a decomposing layer of thin padding. once all that was off, the wood beneath was in good condition. i cleaned it and when i went to give it a light sanding to smooth out the areas where the staples were pulled out, i saw this…

made in denmark teak chair

“made in denmark” in barely-there ink. that made me smile.

so then the fun parts. first, i had to sand the wood and stain it. i used “fine” and “superfine” sandpaper (in that order) to get the layer of stain and paint speckles off. then i used very fine steel wool to smooth out any remaining rough wood. this took a while, especially getting the impression of the “$2.99″ out of the wood.

next, i used a great little product i found a while ago. it’s a one-step wood stain… (i am not affiliated with this product in any way, though i might have inhaled some of its fumes. follow the directions, use a mask and use outdoors!)…


it is so easy to use. just wipe on with a cloth, wait, then wipe of the excess with a dry clean cloth. such a beautiful finish!

to cover the seat, i cut a layer of polyester fill (upholstery foam would work also) as well as a layer of 100% unbleached cotton quilt topper. the cotton helped keep the padding smooth and in place.

quilt batting and fill to pad the chair

i used a staple gun and soon realized why the previous owner had gone staple-happy. it takes a lot of staples, fairly evenly and closely spaced to get a nice snug finish.

technically, you could carefully measure and cut the fabric first and then staple it into place. i stapled it first and then trimmed away the excess padding and cover…


almost there! now this was the scary part: cutting into the fabric. the marimekko fabric i’ve been going on about. measure twice, cut once? i think i must’ve measured five times. but i did cut. and stapled the same way as above, over the padding. then screwed the seat base back into the frame…

…”og her”!

(that’s danish for “et voilà”)

finished marimekko danish chair

coincidentally, i just og her so very much!  and i think i might have the confidence now to make the matching chair.


p.s. many thanks to aron and clearlytangled for contributing their thoughts here during this very marimekko week! 

p.p.s. one last look at the pretty fabric, pretty curves :-) 

marimekko teak chair

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30 Responses to my marimekko project: finished at last!

  1. Abby says:

    The fabric looks great on the chair!! Wow I’m so impressed.

  2. Fantastic! Love transformations like this. <3

  3. Beth says:

    This is awesome. It’s beautiful and a Classic. Hurry and do the other one! What you have now is a priceless treasure. I’m glad you could see beyond the surface to the beauty below. Take care and have a nice week- end.

  4. Corey says:

    Well worth the suspense! She is gorgeous. I have two (not including a third one that I BROKE) from a set of four such (three legged) chairs (whose curves fit snuggly into slots built into the matching table) saved for recovering (although the wood finish is still quite magnificent) that most obviously need Marimekko. (parentheses!)

  5. LOVE IT. LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! this is utterly fantastic!

  6. AlwaysMod says:

    This looks beautiful! Great job!

  7. Van says:

    Aw, I think my chair is the same EXACT thing.

    I love how you cleaned yours up and made it officially GORGEOUS. I just tucked the fabric into mine. No stain. No fuss. ;) Because I’ve no time!

  8. Sheri says:

    Danish Modern. Very avant garde in her day, and now beautifully restored. You did a great job. Love the fabric!

  9. Cassy says:

    WOW! Excellent use of that fabric. Way to revitalize a good find.

  10. Ann says:

    Gorgeous transformation! yes-yes, you must refinish its mate.

  11. Jodie says:

    Love the chair refinish. I’m definitely going to be looking more at the restore a finish stuff. I have a dining table with heat rings on it… Also loved your pieces on marimekko. I had run into marimekko for the first time a few months ago and loved several of the prints. Someday, would love to have a piece in my stash. :)

  12. SixBalloons says:

    Swoon. SWOON! Love the work that you did and the fabric choice is amazing. That backrest teak wood with curve is gorgeous.

    Can you let us know the total cost of your DIY Project?

    • imadeitso says:

      let’s see, the stain was $5.99, i’ve used about 1/4 of the bottle and have used some more of it to restore other furniture (a teak hutch and a dresser). the fabric was a gift, i don’t know how much it cost, and i’ve used about 1/4 of it. the fiber fill and quilter’s cotton was leftover from another project, but i’d generously estimate and say maybe $5 worth for both. the sandpaper was $4 for each package of multiple sheets, of which i used half a sheet of each grade.

      so excluding the fabric and taxes…

      chair $2.99
      stain $5.99 (lots leftover)
      cotton and polyfill padding $5
      sandpaper $8 (lots leftover)
      staples for staple gun (negligible? i have a box of 1000+)
      my time $worth it
      roughly $22 ($11.49 if you count only the portions used)

      thanks for the enthusiasm everyone :)

  13. googiemomma says:

    this was fun! i’d never heard of marimekko before. you inspired me to learn more about it on my own.
    your final project i grade an A+. ;)
    well done.

  14. Dvora G says:

    I love what you decided to do with the fabric. It came out fantastically!! I am sure you will enjoy it a lot.

  15. ~*~Patty says:

    how absolutely wonderful…I am convinced that chair found You dear Ana…a brilliant wedding of chair and fabric…almost like a reunion of sorts

    can you tell I’m Loving the “made in Denmark” on the bottom of your now gorgeous chair

    you must be SO pleased…enjoyed your photo reveal very much too!

  16. Pingback: Marimekko Blog » Marimekko Lumimarja Strikes Again

  17. Pingback: my marimekko chair featured on *always mod* | i made it so.

  18. I thought I already commented on this? hhhmmm… nevertheless, this is beautiful! You did a great job, and that fabric some justice! :)

  19. Juli says:

    Beautiful job!

    Visit my shop for more marimekko fabrics at good prices!:)

  20. MyMove says:

    Wow, great job turning that $3 chair into a Marimekko home decor gem! This is a wonderful weekend DIY project. I’m going to have to take my shot at attempting something like this with Marimekko fabrics.

  21. Pingback: under the weather, dusting off… | i made it so.

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