Brady Bunch Remodel » Modern Home Remodeling

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how to remove rust and pitting from chrome

So, more than 6 months ago I scored these amazing Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin chrome and upholstered dining chairs – a set of 6 for $200 on Craigslist – a total steal. However, they were in pretty poor shape – with very stained original yellow upholstery (which I loved,  but wasn’t able to be saved) and very pitted chrome bases. So, I purchased them, brought them home, and they sat in my garage for 6 months while I contemplated how to restore them. And I really wanted to restore them and reupholster them because they seem to have the potential to be very valuable – the asking price for a set of 4 of the same chairs on with original upholstery is $4950! What?!

So, I started googling and found this website about cleaning chrome. I was skeptical, but desperate, which is not the best combination. So, I busted out the tin foil and thought why not.

Step 1 Tear tin foil into squares, about 6 inches square

Step 2 Remove excess dirt from the surface of the chrome with a rag

Step 3 Get a plastic cup filled with water and dip the foil square into the water

Step 4 Rub the square over the surface of the chrome lightly – you will begin to see and feel the surface getting smoother. It really is pretty amazing and you don’t have to use a whole lot of elbow grease

Step 5 After you are satisfied with the results, take a clean cloth and wipe it down.

Some caveats – if the surface is severely pitted it may not be completely salvageable. There were some areas on the bottom of my chairs (where they would normally touch the ground) that were VERY rusted and so I wasn’t able to completely clean them. However, they were much improved and no one will really see the bottoms of the chrome where they meet the floor anyways.

Once again, this page has some more awesome tips and pointers.

Here are a couple more before shots of my chairs:

And after (removing the rust and pitting and with new upholstery) at home in our dining room*

*side note – these were originally slated for my studio space for my photography business, but I loved them too much and they look much more at home in our dining room!

Total cost for this project:

$300 for 6 chairs in poor condition on Craigslist

$0 for refinishing the chrome (used foil on hand)

$100 for 7 yards of gray textured upholstery fabric (purchased at Interior Fabrics on Burnet Road in Austin for $14.99/yd)

$450 for reupholstering / $75 per chair (done by Cardenas Upholstery in Austin)

Total $850 for 6 Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin chairs. Not the cheapest redo I’ve ever done but I. love. them.

  • Kate - Well done with the chair redo. The tinfoil trick is awesome! Too bad you couldn’t save the yellow fabric…it was soo cool! The grey turned out nice though!ReplyCancel

  • heatherandmike - I know, the yellow fabric was awesome! It was just SOOO damaged and stained…I don’t think even a pro cleaning job could have restored it. Love the grey though!ReplyCancel

  • vannypants - Those are a seriously incredible find!!! Why can’t Craigslist in my area have stuff like that? I have a pair of Milo Baughman lounge chairs that I inherited from my Grandmother… I’ll have to try the tinfoil technique on them for sure!!!ReplyCancel

    • heatherandmike - Yes, try it – it seriously works! It’s like magic!ReplyCancel

  • mid century modern chair makeover « - […] I purchased this mid century modern chair on Ebay for a song almost 4 years ago for Mike, as a surprise. I told him I was going to have it reupholstered and it could be “his” chair. Well, then came a million house renovations and a baby, so this awesome chair sat in the garage collecting dust (a lot of it)! Since we’ve been working on staging the Agave house the past couple of weeks I realized that we really needed a chair to go with the sofa in the living room, but we didn’t have one that would work. Then, I remembered this beauty. So, I dug it out (and boy do I mean dug), stuffed it in the van, and took it to my favorite upholsterer (Cardenas Upholstery if you’re in Austin). He does a great job and he’s cheap ($225 for the labor). The location is a little ghetto but that is why he’s cheap, you aren’t paying for overhead! Oh, and I didn’t even have to pay for new fabric since I had plenty leftover from when Cardenas reupholstered our dining room chairs! […]ReplyCancel

  • Antiques | Antique Furniture Store - […] how to remove rust and pitting from chrome » Brady Bunch …, they were in pretty poor shape – with very stained original yellow upholstery (which I loved, but wasn't able to be saved) and very pitted chrome bases. So, I purchased them, brought them home, and they sat in my … […]ReplyCancel

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