Re-invented Chairs!

Monday, May 31, 2010 | Category: Fabric, Furniture, Material Girls Projects

I’ve always known that I’ve had a complete and utter fascination with chairs.  It began in college when 1000 Chairs was on our required reading list.  While others were complaining that we had to memorize the names, designers, and years of 1000 Chairs, I just fell in love with the course.  I also become more aware of my chair obsession whenever I visit consignment stores.  My design radar immediately zooms in on a vintage chair and my mind starts racing.  What fabrics would look good on this chair? What finish do the legs and arms need to be?  Does it need nailheads? Tufting?  Self cording or a contrast welt?

I would much rather prefer to start from scratch, as opposed to settling for a fabric that a chair comes in at a retail store (and you know these generic solid colors are never what you want anyways!)

Not to mention, how I just love giving an old chair new life with a bold printed fabric.  A lot of times, after I’m done re-upholstering a piece of furniture, the new piece is almost unrecognizable from the original.  Who would have thought that a lounge chair with a nice big outdated floral print could look so chic in a white linen?  You may want to think twice before putting that hand-me down piece of furniture on Craig’s List!

Here are some before and afters of chairs I re-upholstered for clients.  As you can see, new fabric can make a HUGE difference!




(Vanity Chair- Kravet fabric; Stool- Pindler and Pindler fabric)



(Vintage lounge chairs- Pindler and Pindler fabric)



(Vintage Chair- Robert Allen fabric)



(Vintage Chairs- Duralee fabric- with and without added cushion for height)

BEFORE (summer slipcover)

AFTER (winter slipcover)

(Chair- Duralee fabric)



(Antique Chair- Kravet fabric)



(Vintage chair- Robert Allen fabric)



(Dining chair- Kravet fabric)

I have this wing chair out on approval from Again and Again.  It has great lines and lots of potential as a desk hopefully once I find the perfect fabric, you will see a “Before and After” of it very soon! (by the way, does anyone else use a wing chair as a desk chair?  How is the comfort factor?)

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16 Comments to 'Re-invented Chairs!'

Maryam in Marrakech 31 May 10 at 2:46 am

Amazing what some new fabric can do! I just took an ottoman in to be upholstered with a vintage piece of hand embroidered fabric from Kyrgyzstan. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Blue Artichoke Interiors 31 May 10 at 2:31 pm

1000 Chairs was a required book for me in design school as well and I reference it often. I love your before and afters. Thanks for sharing!

Cheap Sticker Printing 31 May 10 at 5:18 pm

Awesome. It’s entertaining to see how those chairs were re-invented. Beautiful!

emily 31 May 10 at 6:31 pm

Ok Seriously – shut up with those tall back vintage chairs and Duralee fabric. A.MAZE.ING! I also love the green stool! They’re all great! I’m about to attempt my first reupholster.. eek! Great post!

Kate Hersch 31 May 10 at 7:06 pm

I loved this blog! I am a chair freak myself. I found this vintage papasan chair off of Craigslist, painted it, and has a cushion made from vintage needlework :

I enjoy your blog!


Kate Hersch 31 May 10 at 7:07 pm

I am a chair freak myself. I bought this papasan chair off of Craigslist, repainted it, and had a cushion made from vintage needlework.

I adore your blog,


Christine 31 May 10 at 9:23 pm

I have the same obsessive passion to collect chairs and breathe new life into them too. Your work is amazing. Love the before and after pictures and the fabrics!!!… are gorgeous. Thanks so much!

[email protected] Beautifully 01 Jun 10 at 11:27 am

Love it! I just posted a fun chair re-do on my blog 🙂
I love love love redoing chairs too! Great post!!!

withandwhere 01 Jun 10 at 12:18 pm

I am a huge believer in reupholstering the old to bring it up to date. 90% of my soft goods in my own home are thrift store or estate sale finds, reinvented. Great post!

Sanctuary 01 Jun 10 at 4:07 pm

We are thrilled to see all of the “re-inventions” We are taking some of our old grandmommas furniture and doing the same thing! Repurposing is the way to go! love it!

shabnam yasmin 01 Jun 10 at 11:46 pm

I really liked the idea!! It gives a new look, to our old chairs

The Beso Team 02 Jun 10 at 10:20 am

Wow, what amazing transformation of the chairs. Great fabric choices. This will definitely make me think twice, although I am not the most crafty individual. Perhaps it will give me the motivation to re-do an old chair, to look new again.
Thanks for the post and the inspiration!
The Beso Team

Dan Shand 03 Jun 10 at 9:42 pm

Great Design!

Nancy Ellison 05 Jun 10 at 6:18 pm

Great post and yes, I have in the past used a wing backed chair with a secretary and also used one with a dressing table. Both were covered in a gold and salmon striped silk fabric. I did not use them for comfort I must confess. but used them for the look.

Facebook User 07 Jun 10 at 9:29 am

Kate- that’s awesome! It’s amazing what a new fabric can do.

Maria- love love love the chairs! (and the whole room) The before and after was quite the transformation! Those fabrics you used are some of my favorites- especially that Windsor Smith you used for the drapes. I was contemplating using that one in my new house but the scale was too big for my room. Sigh

Thanks everybody for your comments! I am beyond obsessed with re-inventing chairs so I loved seeing/hearing about your own chair transformations!

how to reupholster a chair 16 Apr 13 at 11:39 am

Also remove any foam or padding from the seat. If you have the right
eye and the patience, you can redecorate a room on any budget.

A table is adequate in many spaces, especially if you want to keep the room open and bright.

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