Restoring this sweet mid-century Formica and chrome table and chairs was a labor of love.
The set was a Christmas gift from my aunt when I was just three years old. My parents had a similar set in our kitchen. Here my brother and sister were entertaining me at a playtime tea party.
I found this photo of my parents and I at what appears to be a party in the unfinished cellar of our home. We didn’t call it a basement back then. Here my table is being used for drinks.
The set was just about in continuous use through all those years as it was strong and useful. Later I used it in our own kitchen when our daughters were small and our grandchildren eat at it and play on it presently.
Then, last fall, this happened…
Shortly after my hip replacement surgery, I was told to do some physical therapy exercises in front of a mirror so I could see if my form was correct. As I had done umpteen times before, I sat on the table. This time the table collapsed sending me to the floor on my brand new hip. In a moment of panic I scrambled to my feet unsure how I even maneuvered to standing. Amazingly, I did not hurt myself but my childhood table lay broken.
So, we began the process of restoring the table and chairs. We removed all of the screws, buffed off years of grime with steel wool and were surprised so much of the original bright chrome remained. John spray painted the bottom of the legs where the metal was bare. I used wood filler to fill in missing chunks in the upholstered chair seats and backs. We ordered new cups for the bottom of the legs.
We worked together covering the chair seats and backs with pretty fabric. I applied trim, matching as closely as possible to the original. The fabric went on well and the trim added sparkle just like on the original set.
I really didn’t want to cover the pretty fabric with clear vinyl but that wouldn’t be practical. The old covering could be washed but the fabric would soon be soiled with use. Applying the vinyl to the seat bottoms was easy but it was so much harder to get wrinkles and folds out on the curved backs. We persevered and because the perfectionist in me was getting frustrated, I enlisted the help of our oldest daughter, Erin. It was the most difficult part of the project.
John purchased all new screws and reassembled the seats and backs to the bright and shiny legs.
After a gentle cleansing to remove marks from the Formica table top, the set was finished.
Using leftover fabric, I sewed reversible kid-sized place mats and napkins.
Ready again for cookies and milk
I’m so happy with the results!
Children, nieces and nephews as well as grandchildren and their small friends have gathered round this little table. If I searched through old photos, I know I’d find more. I’m thinking there will be many more years and lots more kiddos playing, creating and eating on this restored set.
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