HOUSE: Newburgh

Jacobsen stool rehabilitation.

I bought this 3-legged Arne Jacobsen stool several years ago for about $10 (yes, seriously), and despite having initially planned to repair and refinish the molded plywood top, years passed and I managed to convince myself that I like the chips/scratches/wear. Well, there’s a fine line between “nice patina” and “broken mess”, and I finally got around to facing reality and gave the thing the rehab work it deserved.

First, I used Zinsser Ready Patch to fill in the areas in the veneer that were chipped out and damaged. (Ready Patch is one of those amazing products that I can’t imagine living without. It is seriously amazing stuff. I use it to repair everything from holes in walls to gouges in woodwork to damaged window sashes.) I overfilled the patches, and didn’t worry about getting it pretty. Once it was completely dry (about 3 hours), I very carefully sanded and sculpted the filled areas with my Mouse Sander (a very handy tool to have) and a fine-grit sandpaper. I also have the entire top a very light sanding, just to remove any flaking paint and give the new finish a nice surface to adhere to.

After wiping down the top with a tack cloth, I wrapped up the legs in plastic bags and painter’s tape. Next I applied two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Painter Touch Ultra Cover 2x with a semi-gloss finish. I can’t recommend this spray paint enough—it applies very evenly with excellent coverage, dries quickly, and I haven’t had any problems with the nozzle clogging. Wonderful stuff. I don’t think I’d attempt to apply paint to something like this with a brush, by the way. There’s a time and a place for spray paint, and this is it.

I’m showing this photo of the underside of the stool for one reason: This is where Fritz got his name! It’s true. I was lying on my back and playing with him on the floor, and I happened to catch sight of the manufacturer’s name on the bottom of the stool. So while Fritz is absolutely NOT named for a piece of furniture, this is what put the name in our heads for the first time. It stuck, and it’s perfect.

Anyway, back to the stool!

Not bad, huh? No, it doesn’t look brand new, and that’s just fine with me—I actually like that you can still see the tiny cracks in the veneer through the paint. It still has character, and it still looks like it’s supposed to. The only difference is that now I can sit in it again (or use it as a side table or a footrest—I love stools!) without worrying about ripping huge chunks off of it.

There are always those who will argue that refinishing furniture ruins the value, but the chips in the ply were getting worse and worse by the day, and I don’t want the stool to become a decorative object out of fear of damaging it further. Jacobsen designed furniture that is meant to be functional, and I get a lot of use out of this thing. It has a small footprint, it’s incredibly well-balanced and sturdy, and it’s surprisingly comfortable. Doesn’t the true value of a functional object primarily lie in its usefulness?

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