published Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Design Trend: 1960s-style metal patio furniture is back in vogue

Do-It-Yourself Refinishing

Got a steal of a deal on vintage metal patio furniture? Refinishing it yourself is a good weekend project.

1. Wash furniture with a mild detergent and rinse.

2. Use a wire brush to scrape off rust and loose paint flakes. Or have a commercial furniture restorer do this by sandblasting.

3. Check the finish: If paint has bubbled (a sign of rust underneath), use a screwdriver or chisel to break the bubble and chip away the bubbled paint. Then scrape with wire brush.

4. After all rust is removed, prime the metal with a rust-resistant primer such as Rust-Oleum. Pick a primer color that is closest to the color of paint you will apply.

5. Paint or spray with rust-resistant paint.

6. Let dry and repaint. Plan on a minimum of 12 hours for each coat of paint, depending on the temperature.

7. If desired, finish with a single coat of Rust-Oleum clear spray.

Source: Various Internet sites

The newest look in outdoor furniture this summer is actually a revival of a 50-year-old favorite.

Metal gliders and shell-back chairs are the summer seats on which baby boomers grew up. The retro look brings back the nostalgia of Southern nights gently swaying in a metal glider on grandma's porch. Or beach trips to mom-and-pop motels where two spring-loaded shell-back chairs were standard accouterments outside each unit.

Retro metal patio furniture, sometimes dubbed "contemporary mod" styling, returns this season in hot colors of fire-engine red, daffodil yellow, Kelly green and neutral white. It is comfortable, sturdy seating that has been updated with powder-coated finishes to make the metal more weather-resistant, less prone to rust.

Chad Pulver, manager of Southeastern Salvage on Lee Highway, purchased an old metal glider two years ago at an estate sale and refinished it.

"I'd seen them in photographs of my mother growing up. I ran across it and really wanted it. Then our buyers came across these," he said of the metal gliders and chairs the company has stocked.

"They are selling like hotcakes," he said, "to baby boomers and younger generations."

"Younger buyers want the nostalgic look," added David Lillard, Southeastern Salvage buyer. "I'm sure there are a lot of people who grew up in the '70s and remember them on their aunts' porches."

Marsha Yessick, owner of Yessick's Interiors and a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, said her 40 years' experience in home furnishings has taught her "the classics always return."

"Rockers that have a gliding mechanism will always supersede new introductions. What was formulated years ago -- that worked -- will never diminish," she said of this retro revival.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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