Monday, September 10, 2012

Eames Upholstery Rescue

I scored 2 Herman Miller Eames chairs at a yard sale last fall and they have been sitting in the catch all room ever since. I know, shame on me. It's only a matter of time until we find a cool little kitchen table so I figured it was time to clean up the Eames' upholstery.

A little back story on the chairs...I have a thing for mid-century furniture, but so do many others who are willing to pay a lot more for the stuff than I am. It is hard to find this type of furniture in good condition and on the cheap. I was driving from yard sale to yard sale on sunny late-Autumn day and spotted these chairs perched at the front of a driveway that belonged to a young hippie-ish looking couple. I hit the brakes and hopped out. We chatted about the cool vintage chairs and he came down on the price for me considering the dirty state of the upholstery. I was looking at the rest of their wares when the neighbor came by and started going on about some awesome Perogies he just made and a new variety of weed he scored that he couldn't wait to try. They may have had a little side business going for all I know because I also bought a grow lamp for my veggies from the guy. Thrifting is sooooo entertaining.

Back to the chairs.

Considering these girls have seen probably 30 to 50 years of wear and tear, they don't look all that bad. But, the upholstery was definitely stained, probably with bong water, Perogies, and Lord knows what else, and needed a good cleaning before they are to be displayed in my lovely kitchen. Here they are before the cleaning:

Pretty grodie, huh? I have zero experience cleaning upholstery and really had no idea what I was doing. Soap and water sounded like the right place to start and I threw in a soft bristled toothbrush as my scrubbing tool.

I dabbed the toothbrush in the soap and water solution (I used a drop of Gain for the soap) and worked the stains individually in small circles. Here we are part of the way through. The Dobie loves to help...

At this point I started to get nervous because as the spots dried they left water marks on the material. Oh crap, this one might go down as a fail!

I put the girls under the dryer and let them process...

The next morning they looked like they had chicken pox...

I figured I was in this far, so I might as well try to salvage the project by washing down the entire chair. Heck, then the whole chair would be one big water mark!

I scrounged up a handled brush used for dishes that had fairly soft bristles and did my same soap and water mixture. Here goes nothin'! This is half way through the first chair:

Back under the dryer again:

And here is the finished project...Ta-Da!

They turned out beautifully! I am so glad I put the time and elbow grease into these iconic chairs. Now I just need to find the perfect little table to go with them!

Share a time when you saved an upholstery project from certain doom. You are welcome to share your before and after pics over at the Facebook page.


  1. "...bong water, Perogies, and Lord knows what else..." <---Lolz!

    Awesome job. Congrats!

  2. You did a fantastic job cleaning the chairs. The next time I have bong water on upholstery, I'll know to use Gain...LOL

  3. Love these Rach! Saw them on your facebook page and was so jealous!

  4. Thanks so much for the cleaning tutorial...I'm so not good at that kind of thing! Enjoy your chairs!

  5. My wife loves me even more right now for showing her your post. She's obsessed with cleaning and she always loves learning new stuff. Thanks for sharing and making me look good ;).

  6. Thanks for sharing such an informative and helpful work. Meanwhile, if you are in need and looking for upholstery cleaning you can visit our website offering services in affordable prices. thankyou!

  7. I must admit that you're really good at this! First off, cheers for your great works! I was thinking if you experienced lots of cock ups when you were a beginner in writings and also I want to share with you this upholstery cleaning maybe you need it one day.