After moving into my new home, I began to search for some seating for my back patio. It had to look great because it’s only separated from my living room by a wall of glass. And, it couldn’t be upholstered because it will be covered with pine needles in the fall and seed pods in the spring. Because it had to look great, I couldn’t use covers, either. The best option I found were some cool recycled furniture from Room and Board, which was quite comfortable and looked great. But it didn’t match my mid-century designed home.
I had a few Eames shells around so I started to wonder if they would work. If you look in the old Herman Miller catalogs, they were often shown outside. And boats and Corvettes are made of fiberglass, so they must survive outside, right? I asked the nice people at Modernica – who make amazing fiberglass shells – about it and they recommended against it. But, I figure that is the party line so they don’t get complaints if their fade or get rusted out from outdoor abuse.
So I didn’t want to take some nice (and expensive) old shells and risk putting them outdoors and ruining them. I also didn’t want to risk it with nice new Modernica shells. So, I figured I needed to find some vintage shells that were already messed up and not too expensive – so if they got ruined it was no big loss.
So I did just that! I found a two pairs of shells, 2 yellow and 2 orange, at a local dealer who gave me a great deal. I also found some good reproduction bases on eBay from JM Modern and ordered them.
Then, I did a bit of research on the internet and found some techniques on restoring old shells. They might as well look great. It didn’t sound too hard, so I undertook the process. I followed the instructions found on the excellent Plastolux blog almost exactly. I didn’t replace the mounts like they did, and used medium sandpaper, but otherwise I followed their instructions. The hardest thing besides the elbow grease was finding Penetrol – which I ended up getting through Amazon. Rather than repeating their instructions, I encourage you to check out their blog – great advice!!
Once the restoration was done I had an additional quandary – the chairs almost looked too good to put outside. Well, I got over that quickly.
A few other things. In the photos you will see those planters. They are vintage Gainey planters that I had around the house and it’s a total coincidence that they match so well. It’s kinda weird – I actually didn’t make the connection at first. But then I noticed the yellow one was the same color. A few days later I realized the orange one matched, too, and was pretty floored. The bamboo was just sitting in my side yard waiting for a good home.
Also, because my patio is rough tile, I didn’t want the powder coated bases getting all scratched up and rusting out. I found some clear plastic tubing at Home Depot that fit over the wire base exactly and cut a slit in it so I could slip it over the wire on the base. It seems to have worked so far – no scratching.
I hope you enjoy the photos and the story. Oh, and I’ve got some plans for a table to match. Come back soon to read about that…