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How To Up-Cycle A Retro Dining Set

Creating that 1950’s style…

Today at the Bees Knees, we’d like to share this up-cycling project.. This little retro gem was advertised on Ebay and we bought it for the grand sum of 99p! After researching the piece, it turned out to be a rare 1950’s Clarion Dining  Set by Steelux of London.  Here’s a step by step tutorial which we hope will inspire you to have a go at something like this yourselves…











Step 1: We cleaned the table with a mixture of warm soapy water and bleach as it had been stored in an outbuilding and was covered in cobwebs!

Step 2: We removed the old plastic vinyl from the chairs (being careful to rescue the original cardboard Steelux liners which were attached to the underside of the chairs (see photo). If you are planning to sell a retro piece such as this, buyers or collectors will want to know it’s authentic..

Step 3: We protected the original black trim on the table with masking tape and then sprayed the surface with a layer of primer. This was followed by several coats of Plasticote Satin in a suitably fabulous shade of retro inspired “Baby Blue.” This can easily be purchased from DIY stores or Hobbycraft for around £7.50 for a can, which is enough for several projects. Be sure to work in a well ventilated space (preferably outside) and wear a mask. Stand well back from the surface you are spraying and spray the paint in several thin layers, allowing each plenty of time to dry.

Step 4: We then applied a fresh coat of White Satin Eggshell paint to the tubular frames of both the chairs and the table. Once dry, we than applied masking tape to the areas above the plastic feet and painted each of the feet in a black satin paint.

Sourcing Vintage & Retro Fabrics…

Step 5: It was then time turn our attention to the seats. We found this fabulous 1950’s inspired floral kitsch fabric at a vintage and retro fair. You can also search for fabric from particular eras on Ebay.

A 1950’s inspired kitsch floral fabric was the perfect choice..

For comfort, we then cut pieces of wadding to the size of each chair seat and chair back and glued this in place. Placing a square of fabric right side onto the floor, we then positioned the seat pad (wadding side down) onto the fabric. We placed the original Steelux cardboard liner on top, and used upholstery tacks to secure the fabric neatly to the underside of the seat.

It was important to retain these cardboard liners as they featured the manufacturer’s mark.

Step 6:We cut fabric to size for the chair backs and this was neatly hand sewn into place. Finally, the seat pads and seat backs were re-attached with the original screws.

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And there you have it, a completely unique and bespoke piece which would grace any vintage/retro inspired home 🙂