Simple Changes

Sometimes I’m lulled into acceptance. I see something in need of help, but there’s nothing I can do. I just learn to live with it, right?

The answer is a resounding “no”. Sweet Miss had a t-shirt that read “be the change you want to see in this world” or something to that effect. We don’t have to live with ugly, we don’t have to live with mean, we can make the world better in big ways and little ways if we just try.

This is beginning to sound quite philosophical for a post about an office chair, but simple changes can make a big difference.

When the MR was off in Iceland back in January, I tried to come up with projects that I could surprise him with when he came home. One of them was fixing his office chair that is just a touch too tall to slip under the desk.

A Whole Lot of Ugly

We first became aware of the issue when the front edge of the armrest began to show wear. I thought perhaps if I left the armrest under the desk when I stood up, it would stop the fraying on the tip. It did help alleviate that problem, but then we were left with another wear pattern partway up the armrest.

It’s been like that for years, and we just lived with it. So while the MR was gone, I decided to see if I could fix it. The armrests are held on with screws.

Hold It Together

Maybe I could just remove the padded part and all would be good. That lasted all of two seconds. It looked like I’d ripped the armrest apart and revealed a whole lot of ugly. Could I recover it? I had some shiny black fabric that looks nothing like leather or some fake brown suede. Neither seemed like a good option, so the project stalled for three months.

Sometimes I get side-tracked, and I worry. What if it looks horrible? What if I can’t find anything to match? What if the MR hates it?

Come on Kim, it’s a tiny bit of fabric, and whatever I do is bound to look better than it does now.

So I tore apart one of the armrests, tucked the fabric into my purse, and headed off to the fabric store. Bringing the fabric with me made finding something similar so much easier. I was able to match sheen, color, and pattern. I thought black leather would be simple, but there are lots of options. I couldn’t find leather, so I went with a matching vinyl remnant instead. For a little over $3, I came home with my supplies.

Then I just used a screwdriver and plyers to remove the staples and pull apart the other armrest.

Take It Apart

I hoped that by using less padding, the chair would slip comfortably under the desk, so I swapped the foam for a layer of polar fleece. I used the old armrest leather as a pattern and cut out vinyl and fleece for each arm.

Making a Pattern

Then I just covered the plastic form in fleece and vinyl stapling it into place.


All that was left was to screw the armrests back together.

I’m quite pleased with the results.

All Spruced Up

Up close, it still looks really quite good.

A Restored Armrest

Unfortunately, the problem remains. Even though I removed padding, the armrests won’t fit under the desk when no one’s sitting in the chair.

Fighting the Same Battle

I wonder if plastic lifts on each corner (the ones that are supposed to keep dents out of the carpet), would be enough to help the chair glide easily in and out. I guess it’s a good thing I still have some vinyl left just in case our problem returns.

I know it’s a small thing, but all those little stresses add up. Now when I sit down at the computer, I don’t see that little bit of ugly. And the MR gave it his seal of approval after I brought it to his attention.

What have you prettied up lately? Is there some ugly you need to get rid of?


5 thoughts on “Simple Changes

  1. Could you put some fabric on the underside of the desk? I have a piano bench and a vanity bench that I have had for a long time and just keep ignoring. They very faded, 80’s floral fabric on them. Someday…

    • Since it’s the MR’s desk, I know he’d never agree to fabric and I’m not sure it would be the right look for our living room. It would be fun to have a flirty floral skirt on a desk in my sewing room or maybe a guest room. Send me pictures when you do it.

  2. I go with my original idea……..move the ‘office’ over where the TV used to be on the other side of the the low wall next to the under counter fridge. That and filling in the floor to the fireplace would dress up the entire living room. And, since the wall is low, the person working in the ‘new office space’ could still be part of the living space with the rest of the family. Maybe when the floor is filled in by the man Mr. found who does remodeling, could make the new desk higher off the ground so his favorite chair would fit under it. Old desk (that was from the last house) out, new desk in. Or, it could be a pull-out computer-type desk, and then while entertaining could be closed up and the chair turned around to ‘chat with’ guests or…………………just enjoy the scenery.

    • Maybe when we replace the carpet, we can have an electrician put an electrical plug in the middle of the former tv zone. Then we could move the desk and have a place to plug in all the electronics without having cords everywhere.

      I like the way you think.

  3. Pingback: Across One April | bigwhitehouseonthehill

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