Category: Thrifting

Lucite Chair Before & After

Those of you who follow my instagram or twitter may remember a vintage lucite swivel chair I posted a few weeks back. I found the chair on craigslist in a little town just north of New York City. The red vinyl was all torn up, and the lucite body was covered with scratches; but I loved the fundamental design of the piece and decided it was worth restoring. Here is the before and after:


I decided to reupholster the chair in white fabric. The original mod red vinyl was certainly a cool look, but I wanted to give this chair a real transformation. I found a creamy Italian suede for an excellent price at the fabric store. I love the little perforations that reveal a silver backing. The fabric looks simple from afar, but has a bit of personality up close. The silver backing also coordinates with the chair’s hardware.

FabricCU_v2 Hardware

I took the chair and my new fabric to my favorite local upholsterer. He removed the chair base, and I took the lucite body back to my workshop for restoration.


Most scratches can be removed from lucite, but it is a labor of love. I wasn’t 100% sure I would be able to erase the deepest scratches on this chair, but I decided to press on anyway. Here is a step-by-step tutorial:



1) Start by wiping down your piece with water to remove dirt and debris. You could also use soap, but never use household cleaners on lucite; over time they create tiny cracks called “crazing,” which is next-to-impossible to remove.

2) My chair had a ring of residue around the bottom edge. It seemed like glue, perhaps from the old upholstery.

3) I used Goof Off and paper towels to remove the residue. I can’t guarantee Goof Off doesn’t interact with the plastic, but since it was a one-time application, I didn’t worry too much.

4) Deep scratches need to be worn down with wet/dry sandpaper. If the scratch is deep enough that your fingernail catches on it, you’ll need to sand it. I used 400-grit and then moved on to 600-grit.

5) Wet a small piece of 400-grit sandpaper and rub the scratch in a circular motion. You’ll see a bit of white frothy stuff (<– technical term). You can stop once the original scratch is barely visible. Repeat the process with 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper.

6) Sanding will produce little hazy spots on the lucite. As you can see in photo 6, my chair had a boatload of hazy spots.

7) This is where acrylic polishing products like Novus come to your aid. They are designed to buff out fine scratches and hazing. I started with Novus 3, which had a moderate impact on the hazing. Novus 2, on the other hand, had a big effect. Use a soft, non-abrasive rag to apply the product.

8) This photo shows the piece after a few rounds of Novus 2. At this point, turn on the radio or some trash TV because you are going to need to rub and rub and rub Novus 2 for hours. Eventually the marks from the sanding stage will disappear. It’s a slog. Once you’re satisfied, spritz on some Novus 1 to give the piece a final polish.

9) And voila! The end result is clean and clear. My chair almost looks new again!  Of course it isn’t absolutely perfect, but there are no conspicuous scratches left.

The upholsterer reattached the base, and there you have it! There was no manufacturer label on the chair, so unfortunately I still do not know the maker. But in my research, I did discover that this exact chair is in model Molly Sims’ Hamptons house. Isn’t that nifty?

After2 After3_small   After4_brighter


A photo of the same chair in model Molly Sims’ Hamptons house. Source: Cottages & Gardens


Those of you who follow my instagram or twitter may remember a vintage lucite swivel chair I posted a few weeks back. I...

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Quick & Dirty Bachelor Pad Makeover

We all know guys like my recent clients: three bachelors who have been out of college for a number of years, but their apartment is still outfitted with broken Ikea furniture and family hand-me-downs.  My clients had a very small budget for decor, but they knew it was time for an upgrade. So I gave them a quick and dirty living room overhaul.


When I design on a budget, I like to outline general parameters for the room without setting my heart on anything too specific.  In this case, I wanted to create a sophisticated, but unfussy space, filled with natural materials and vintage accents.

My first purchase was a vintage leather couch on Craigslist for $400.  I love the warm medium tone of the leather.  We paired the couch with a grey loveseat, which we found at Target for $430.  The tailored look of the loveseat is a nice balance to the informality of the leather couch, but the loveseat’s tufted back is still a nod to the traditional. 

LoveseatBeforeAfter Trunk My next find was an antique wooden steamer trunk for $50 on Craigslist.  It has beautiful detailing– leather and nailhead trim, brass hardware, and an old monogram– and the dimensions are perfect for a coffee table.  Opposite the loveseat, I placed a pair of armchairs from Home Goods and a small antique table.  I found the 8×10 rug at Tuesday Morning for $235; it adds some much needed pattern to the room.  Lastly I picked up a few throw pillows to bring in more natural textures and pattern.  

There is still work to do, but this living room has taken a big step forward!

  PairChairs Pillow Overview

We all know guys like my recent clients: three bachelors who have been out of college for a number of years, but their a...

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