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Help Me with an Eames Chair Restoration Project

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We're on the edge of our seats—the seats of new-to-us Eames shell chairs.

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This past weekend was an all-around winner: I got to hang out with college friends (and our growing clan of children), enjoy a ridiculous view of Lake Michigan, run on the beach—AND I scored a pair of Eames chairs. 

For free.

One of my best friends has an uncanny knack for finding the most incredible treasures—I’m convinced her good luck is a karmic reward for her kind and generous countenance. Case in point: After we ducked out for evening vacation essentials (Wild Turkey, candy, and artisanal bread), she was giving me a tour of the one-stoplight town and spotted 4 of these chairs. We pulled over. Even in the dark, we both immediately knew what we were looking at, but we flipped over one of the chairs anyway and promptly confirmed our suspicions (1, below). We were about to become the proud owners of iconic Eames Molded Fiberglass Side Chairs.

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My friend insisted on running up to the house to make sure they were really giving them away for free while I stayed on the side of the road screeching at her not to do that—convinced they’d get suspicious about what they were giving away and change their minds (further proof of her good karmic standing versus mine). 

Eames Chair Eames Chair

As you can see, the legs have a great deal of rust on them (2, above), but overall the shells are in pretty good condition. They only have minor cosmetic issues, like flecks of paint (3, above), small scrapes (4, below), and minor chips (5, below).

I've refinished furniture before, so I'm not a complete DIY newbie, but I've never dealt with rust or fiberglass, so I need your guidance! Are the legs salvageable? I've heard it's easier to find Eames chair legs than shells. Since I'm planning on using and enjoying them, not selling them (so I'm not worried about the resale value), should I look for new bases rather than deal with the rust? Or would new legs be blasphemous? And what would be the best way to take care of the fiberglass shell?

Eames Chairs Eames Chair

What course of action would you recommend? Help me out in the comments below and I'll report back with updates! 

Tags: home, diy, restoration, eames chairs