Sometimes things have to go straight in the shitter before you can actually pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move onward and upward. Such was the case with the Hoop Chair.  I talked about the flaming disaster of the Hoop Chair last week in what I think was some of my finest prose.  I know I swore a lot in that post so that generally means the post was very, very good.  Full of emotion, ya know?

Well this one is going to be equally full of emotion but on the opposite end of the scale.  The happiness scale.  Let’s recap.  A couple of weeks ago I spotted a chair I loved and wanted to buy but actually acquiring it became a struggle.  All hell broke loose and the world came very close to ending.  It was kindda epic.  You probably heard about it on the news.

I wanted the chair, the chair was gone, the chair came back, the chair was lost, the chair was a different chair and on and on until I and the store staff were reduced to puddles of saliva with eyelashes. You can read the whole story here. 

I finally ended up getting the chair but knowing I’d having to paint the chair and recover the cushion because the chair was pinkish and the cushion a weird pink/grey.  So I planned on doing an entire post on the process, because who doesn’t want to know how to paint and recover a brand new chair they just bought??

So I painted the chair.

That part worked out fine.  The chair had a really strong pink undertone so I just dry brushed it with a mixture of neutral colours to get rid of the pink tinge.  Easy.  Worked perfectly.  I used some old acrylic folk art paints I bought years ago at a garage sale.

But my next thing to tackle was to recover the cushion because it was a light grey and I hated it with a mighty strength.  Then I thought … HEY!  I bet there’s an easier way.  I bet there’s a cheaper way.  I bet I could just SPRAY PAINT the cushion. I mean, I’ve seen people all over the land of blogs and Pinterest do it.  They just spray paint fabric.  Velvet, canvas, outdoor pillows … basically anything.  So I did a bit of research and discovered that Krylon made a spray paint that even they recommend for painting fabric.

So I spray painted my light grey cushion black.  It took 3 cans at a cost of around $6 a can so a total of $18.

Doesn’t it look great?

It turned out reasonably well.  I was shocked, pleased and prepared to tell everyone to do this.

Then I sat on the cushion.  It was O.K.  A bit scratchy maybe. And crunchy. And stiff.  It was very much like sitting in a bag of potato chips that wasn’t filled with chips, but with shards of glass rocks.  It was insanely rough and scratchy.

I guess I’d better sand it, I thought in a moment of panic.

I sanded my spray painted chair cushion.

This resulted in fine particles of black paint residue forming a cloud around myself, the chair cushion and the majority of my neighbourhood but I just kept on sanding.  I Lucille Balled the shit outta that chair cushion.

Within minutes I was covered in a black dust, the backyard was covered in black dust. The only thing not completely covered in black dust was the cushion which now looked like it would be comfortable sitting on the ass of pretty much anyone at a Bon Jovi concert in 1987.

I had an acid wash emergency on my hands.

I gave up, swore at the chair, went to my trusty local fabric store and bought $50 worth of black outdoor fabric.  The exact fabric I used for my Restoration Hardware Outdoor Furniture hack as a matter of fact.

And I did what I should have done in the first place.  I recovered the cushion.

The chair is finally a relatively normal colour (although I’m still going to tweak it) and it has a perfectly comfortable, 100% fabric cushion.

But that’s just where the story starts.  Because the real story here is how I posted a picture of the chair when I first saw it in the store and an old high school friend of mine said I HAD to buy the chair and I HAD to cover it in twinkle lights so when I was sitting in it it felt like I was in a planetarium.

Holy Shit.

Marta, you’re a genius.

I immediately knew that this was the reason I had to have this chair.  This was the reason I had to buy it and do whatever I needed to do to make it work in my backyard.  This was the reason I had to paint it and fix it and spray it and recover it and make it perfect.

Because I had to make a Constellation chair in honour of Canada’s Tragically Hip.  And I did.

If you aren’t Canadian you might not even know who the Tragically Hip are let alone how constellations are associated with them.  They’re a band. They’re the band.  They are quintessentially Canadian. Gord Downie is a poet and a rock star and a wonderful human.  Last year when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the entire country mourned and rallied behind him and the band.  We celebrated the Hip for their subtle but unapologetic patriotism.  Their Canadianess.

I didn’t mention it at the time, but when my house was being shot for The New York Times I rearranged my bookshelves.  I made sure Gord Downie’s book of poetry, Coke Machine Glow would be in the shot.

It’s the orange book above my saddle.

(photo by Donna Griffith for The New York Times)

On Monday I’ll finally be revealing the finished hoop chair.   It was a struggle.  But I don’t mind a struggle.  Anything else would bore me.


  1. Christine says:

    I love your story!
    So many of us in our own diy world try many things and learn as we go. I will see something online and say-I could do that! Maybe not lol
    At the end of the day it is fun to try and we are our own worse critics are’t we?
    Give it a go-what is the harm?

  2. Tiff says:

    I needed a laugh today & just got it! I too have started projects like this that had me so frustrated I finally just burst out laughing & figured I could the story to liven up a cocktail party. Can’t wait to see it with the twinkling lights – now you’ve got me wondering what else I could cover with twinkling lights…✨💃🎆

  3. PatK says:

    Is that a corner of an outdoor fireplace in one of the pictures?? If so, it is incredible what you have managed to fit into a small backyard! A chicken coop, a cob oven, a pond, seating area, a fireplace(?), a woodpile & heaven know what else I may have missed! You are amazing!!

    • Karen says:

      Yup. It’s all in there. :) I’m going to have a full reveal of the backyard next week or the week after. ~ karen!

  4. Renee Ryz says:

    That is very realistic looking cane for it being plastic! I started out thinking you were probably going to paint it black or a dark charcoal gray. Can’t wait to see with the lights!

  5. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    To this day I cannot keep still when I hear New Orleans Is Sinking. I subconsciously start doing the shoulder bob and then the rest of the body just follows along.

  6. MartiJ says:

    Ok, this time you’ve done it. You’re insane. Completely and finally over the edge. IN. SANE.

    But I’m looking forward to seeing the chair they will carry you away to the asylum in. :) Monday it is!

  7. Katie says:

    Love that chair! I’m American but a fan of The Tragically Hip (thanks to my childhood/teenage years spent in Oshawa) so I’ve been doing what I can to share them with my coworkers at the University of Florida. I tell them I was the girl in Bobcaygeon since it’s where our cottage was. Little white lies, right??? :P

  8. Lisa says:

    Totally understand the fight to get that chair – love it (particularly now it is a “you” chair). Looking forward to seeing it with lights. By the way – the kale salad – yummmmmm. Made it twice now. Not a kale convert – but love that salad. :-)

  9. s says:

    “I Lucille Balled the shit outta that chair cushion.”

    Thank you for this.

    I can’t imagine spray painting a cushion, much less sanding one!

  10. Jody says:

    You had me at The Hip!

  11. Shawna G says:

    As a proud Kingstonian and Tragically Hip Lover thanks for all the nice things you said about Gord! Oh, and nice chair. I’ve also heard that you can paint fabric with chalk paint… not sure how it would feel but the pics I’ve seen look nice.

  12. Mary W says:

    YEA! Another mention of the NYT article! Well played, my friend.

  13. Jamieson says:

    Happy to hear you’ve rectified your hairy hoop issues.

  14. Linda says:

    Can’t wait to see the chair ala fairy lights. But where are the girls lately? Any news about the hens?

  15. Anne says:

    Still looks pink to me. It’s like I can’t unsee the pink. You are goofy artist and I love that about you.

  16. Beth says:

    Karen, I’m so glad to hear that you aren’t finished tweaking the color! It’s still a little too pink to be perfect.

  17. Kathy says:

    The chair looks like someone with an eye for proportion made it. So I’m thinking, you said it’s plastic not cane, does it’s heritage stem from a creative genius and was then remade in plastic to make it possible to own one. Glad you tried the paint cause you know now I won’t. Did you have to remove the painted cover? I too will paint anything. The color of something does’t matter if the size and shape are winners.

  18. jaine kunst says:

    The chair is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it adorned with lights. You are a genius!

  19. Eileen says:

    Coveting that chair…laughing over the process. Thinking this is why I’ve become so – let’s call it “reluctant” – to tackle my ever-lengthening list of projects: because that half hour quickie seems to mutate into the harrowing unending relationship….

  20. Chris White says:

    When I got to the final reveal pic all I could imagine was your lovely statue somehow covering his eyes while you sanded the bejeezus out of the painted cushion. Great post!

  21. Pattie Meyers says:

    boy howdy, I know I would have made a complete idiot of myself over that chair. You’re a lucky chick for finding it. I’m on the hunt.

  22. Liz says:

    This is amazing and I love it and now I want a planetarium chair in spite of having absolutely nowhere to put it. Enjoy! You’ve earned it! The struggle goes on…

  23. marilyn meagher says:

    I am coveting that better be comfy after all of that..

    • Karen says:

      Ohhhh it is! I’d like to make/buy some sort of footstool for it though. For those times I don’t want to be curled in a ball in it. ~ karen!

  24. Monique says:

    Still so funny.. you are the most hard working girl I know..well..know..:)
    The chair is inspiring you in more ways than one..

    THat’s something I would the fabric paint end up w/ a mess and have to start over..
    Love the GD book RIGHT THERE.:)

  25. Sabina Missana says:

    OMG “I Lucille Balled the shit outta that…” spit my coffee out! Hysterical! Can’t wait for the big reveal Karen!

  26. Sideroad40 says:

    Very cool look! Sleek and urban. My ‘porch wicker’ got destroyed by raccoons this spring who snacked on every piece of supporting ‘stick’ in the weave. Wicker sticks all over the porch in the morning. Thought FOR SURE it was a porcupine, but put up a trail cam and Voila! caught a granddaddy raccoon in the action. Note of warning :) (I sprayed with cayenne/water which seemed to deter them afterwards) I live just north of you…

    • Karen says:

      The chair is fake wicker (aka plastic) so I’m good unless I happen to have plastic raccoons. Although spraying around my community garden plot with cayenne might be a good idea. ~ karen!

  27. Janet Billson says:

    I know nothing about Krylon spray paint, but I do know that Fusion Mineral Paint does a fine job on fabric. Canadian made by Homestead House in Toronto (Etobicoke), and this paint has no VOCs and is perfect for furniture, metal, glass, laminate, and even fabric. I’ve painted that dreaded microsuede that keeps the handprints on it… you know the kind. Awful stuff. But with Fusion it turned into something that is like vinyl. Smooth to the touch. Not scratchy at all.

    Anyway, I can’t wait to see what you do with the twinkle lights.

    And way to go, with the ode to the Tragically Hip. I love that you put that orange book front and center!

  28. Are twinkle lights Canadian for fairy lights? I want a chair like that now. Better get the house finished first, though.

  29. You are so talented Karen and your can-do attitude is inspiring. Thanks for always sharing what you’re up too. Want to take a nap in that chair!

  30. Marna says:

    Love the chair! Can’t wait to see the finished project. :)

  31. Valerie says:

    As a wine taster might put it – a perfect finish – to a labour of love.
    One more suggestion though – a spray of water proofing on each side of the cushion and around the cane on the chair. I mention this because I have a few very small tables outside made out of cane that I did not spray and they have unravelled in a few spots around the edges. I wish I had sprayed them when I first put them outside.

  32. Brandy says:

    Oh goodness….I needed that laugh. Thanks Karen!

  33. Elaine says:

    Wow! It looks amazing, Karen! I’m usually not a fan of this more modern design but your very attractive chair has definitely changed my mind! I wonder if you have ever toyed around with Fabric Medium and ordinary acrylic paint (house or craft paint). Well done!

  34. Tina says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m old but I would have gotten gallons of rit dye and dunked it.

    • Karen says:

      Polyester can’t be died with Rit. Also … honestly sewing a cushion cover was way less work and mess than dying that fabric would have been. It was just sewing a square. That’s it. :) ~ karen!

  35. Vanessa says:

    What about dyeing the cushion? $3 Of Rit dye and instant black!! But it looks great. Well done.

    • Karen says:

      I don’t think Rit dye works particularly well on polyester. Plus this had some sort of coating on it. It was a weird fabric to begin with. :) ~ karen

  36. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Seems a lotta hassle for a chair. But then it is “The CHAIR” so maybe it’s worth it. They better be twinkle lights………….

  37. Karen Hall says:


    I LOVE that CHAIR…..

    BUT….Karen I love you more!!!!

    I o look forward to opening my email and yours is there. Like a Suprise…lol
    I always have to read it right away. Totally expecting to smile….and usuall laugh my ass off and I am never disappointed.


    • Karen says:

      Thank you very much. I feel like I should say something particularly funny at this moment but … well I can’t think of anything, lol. ~ karen!

  38. Danni McLaughlin says:

    I’ve found that sometimes, Pinterest lies. (You can rock that hair, girl! You can use this paint to make a landscape rocks cast a lovely, not creepy glow! You can make a wedding veil out of recycled coffee filters. You know the ones.)

  39. Kelly says:

    Love that chair! I’ve been tempted by fabric paint as well. Could not do it. I will paint almost anything except fabric. Maybe a paint JUST for fabric would work? I dunno.

  40. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Love That Chair!

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