Yeah, NOT in my price range! We're pretty lucky in the midwest if you're in the market for this sort of thing, because there used to be a pretty large chair manufacturer in Wisconsin, so there really are a lot of this style chair for resale.
I posed the question of whether I should stain it dark or paint it white, as the finish was leaving a little to be desired. Then the very awesome Sara of the fun blog Russet Street Reno suggested trying out some Howard's Restor-A-Finish and Feed-N-Wax and seeing if it would bring back enough of the original luster to keep the chair au naturale. Since this sounded muuuuuch easier than my other options AND gave me the opportunity to meet a blog friend in real life, I was in!
I'm so glad I did! This system was SO. EASY! I was concerned that it was going to be a messy application like traditional wood stain, forcing us to hang out in my sort of gross and disorganized basement. Much to my surprise and relief, while it goes on the cloth looking like it's going to be messy like stain, once you rub it on the wood, almost nothing comes off again. Since we were both working on different parts of the chair, I would find myself putting my hand on an area that was wet....but nothing came off on my skin or clothing. Huge bonus if your materials tend to get more on your clothes than on your project like mine do.
We rubbed on one coat of the Restor-A-Finish, then hung out and drank some....ok FINE, a bottle of wine and chatted about tons of stuff and our mutual love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which basically makes Sara my new best friend. Then we put on a second coat, and wiped off the excess. I did a terrible job documenting the process since it went so fast, but I did get one shot of the back of the chair in progress.
The slats on the right are untouched, while the slats on the left have just one coat of Restore-A-Finish. I thought the difference was pretty incredible! I didn't have quite as amazing results on some of the areas where more of the original finish was rubbed off, like the arms. However, since I was looking at this more like a unique antique rather than a pristine recreation, I'm fine with character giving imperfections.
After the application of the finish, we rubbed on some of the delicious smelling Feed-N-Wax. The chair really started to shine at this point. Sara was sweet enough to leave some of this with me so I can apply a refresher if the wood ever starts to look dull.
Differences in lighting aside, I think the finish looks 1,000x better than it did before. Like I said, it's not perfect...but that wasn't the look I was going for. I just need to get my hands on a chair pad, and this project is done! Thanks again to Sara for helping me out!