Antique Potty Chair

If you follow my blog, you know that I love working on any project with a history.  Old pieces, family pieces, sentimental pieces…they are all such an honor to be a part of.

A client recently asked me to refinish her family’s potty chair dating back to 1925.  The initial inquiry had me raising my eyebrows, but once I saw a picture of this sweet family heirloom, I was so excited.

Antique potty chair before

The original paint was badly chipped, and the client wasn’t a fan of the image on the backrest.  She wanted the tray and the seat to be stripped and stained a medium brown, and the rest of the chair to be painted an off-white.

The chair had been painted multiple times over the years, so stripping multiple layers was a challenge.   When I finally got through to the raw wood, I was concerned that the wood had a green hue.  Once completely stripped, my concern became a reality—the seat was made of poplar.  Poplar is a great wood for painting, but it doesn’t take stain evenly and can tend to have a green hue.  I like to refer to poplar as the wood that has a face for radio.

Raw poplar wood

I tried to stain it, just to see if I could be lucky and get a good finish.  I was not lucky.

Poplar that takes stain unevenly

It was time to call the client and let her know that the original vision she had for the project was not going to be a good option.  We worked together to find a solution and decided to paint the portions of the chair that she had wanted stained in a complimentary but deeper neutral.  We were still able to achieve the two-toned effect—just in a different way.

Repainted potty chair

Distressed repainted potty chair

I distressed the finish on the chair to make it appear “age appropriate” and to honor the history.  The completed potty chair is now ready to be passed down to her grandchildren—and hopefully for generations to come.


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