Entryway Update: Vintage Theater Chairs

 

This week I’m sharing an update to our entryway that’s been a very, very long time in the making. It’s still not a finished project, per-say, but we’re certainly getting a whole lot closer!

Let me start at the beginning. You may have noticed in the last couple of living room tours I’ve shared (the first one here, and the second here) that I’ve kind of left out any photos of the the little entryway nook beside our front door. That’s because it’s kind of an awkward space that’s been tricky to fill – too big to just leave empty, but it’s too small (and right at the bottom of the stairs) to fill with our typical bench/coat tree combo. It didn’t take long for me to decide on the perfect solution: vintage theater chairs! Flip the seats up when you need more space, flip ’em down when you need a place to sit or want to set something down. Easy as pie. Unfortunately, deciding on the perfect addition to your home is a lot different than actually finding it.

I regularly scoured Craigslist for what seemed like forever (over a year and half!), and then when I was finally ready to give up, we found the perfect chairs – well, almost perfect. We were on vacation with my Mom and Dad in Ithaca, New York, and we stopped into Significant Elements, a fabulous architectural salvage shop that always has something we can’t live without. This time, it was theater chairs! It was a set of three seats, which would knew would be too big for our space, but after talking to one of the super accommodating employees, they offered to reconfigure the chairs for us if we were willing to come back to pick them up in a few weeks. Since our trunk was already full of vacation luggage anyway, we agreed to make the 3 hour trek back to Ithaca in a few weeks.

 

Found: The perfect theater chairs! Well… almost. They were manufactured around the 1920s and came from a lecture hall at nearby Wells College, which was originally founded as the ladies-only sister school to Cornell University. Think of all the smart gals that have sat in these seats!

We went back a few weeks later to pick them up and ran into another little roadblock. We learned from one of the employees that old cast iron, while very strong, is actually quite brittle as well. In short, we wouldn’t be able to go home and plunk the chairs down in their spot and immediately begin using them – we’d have to figure out some way to anchor them so that the connecting bars wouldn’t bend and crack. We really didn’t love the idea of bolting these babies to our beautiful hardwood floors, so we started brainstorming other options.

Eventually, we decided to create some kind of a small platform to which we’d attach the seats. We wanted the platform to blend in with our floor and woodwork so that it wouldn’t stick out too much. So we headed on over to Lowe’s and bought a big ol’ board made of composite pine that mimicked the pattern of our floorboards. I bought about a gazillion different shades of stain to try and match our floors as closely as possible, and also picked up some quarter round moulding the same size as the moulding on our baseboards.

 

How hard could a bit of wood staining really be?

 

… and then I started researching the proper way to stain wood, and realized I definitely needed to make another run to the store for more supplies. Who knew there were so many steps to changing the color of wood!? There was a whole lot of sanding, pre-staining, layering different stain colors, a few layers of sealing, and finally adding the moulding. All said and done, it took me almost a week to do it all from start to finish, mainly because of the crazy precise waiting periods between treatments – you can’t rush them, but you can’t wait too long, either. It’s complicated, trust me.

I totally thought I’d just be able to buy a can of stain and get crackin’. I was wrong. I can’t recommend these babies here enough – it makes SUCH a difference when you take the time to sand, pre-stain, and use a good quality brush.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that we eventually found the perfect cocktail of stain colors and everything came together just the way we’d imagined. We had to hoist both the platform and the chairs up onto sawhorses in order to bolt the chairs to the board, which was kind of scary, but it all worked out. The platform is resting on a piece of carpet padding, and it doesn’t budge a bit. We saved our floors, AND we can finally sit in our beautiful vintage theater chairs! Mission accomplished!

Except, as always, one project leads to another… and I feel like these chairs are really driving home the fact that I’m ready for a new paint color on that accent wall. Is it just me, or does that shade of orange make everything look green-ish? And don’t you think some coat hooks would look great mounted on the wall above the chairs? But I’m getting ahead of myself – those are projects for another day… first, here’s a slew of pictures of our chairs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comment

  1. Wow! You did such a nice job blending it to the floor! 🙂

    1. Nikki says: Reply

      Thanks so much, Ashley!! 🙂

  2. Nicole says: Reply

    They look wonderful! Good job. And I agree- hooks on the wall above would look very nice too.

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