Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chairs: Before and After

Today I have a blitz of chair remind us all that a dingy old piece can have a fantastic new life if you give reupholstery a chance.

The first one comes from reader Rae. She found a bergere chair in the dumpster - legit the dumpster - and knew that it would look awesome with some new fabric. Way to have a vision, Rae. The before:

Yep, that's a dumpster chair. But Rae went on a hunt for a black and white buffalo check fabric and once she found it, she sent it off to a nice upholstery man and voila:

Just lovely...and especially so, paired with the golden stool and layered rugs.

Our next two contestants come from reader Jaime. She too found a sad chair, this time a wingback, in the vicinity of a dumpster. The before:

Jaime thought to herself, "This would be PERFECT for my baby's nursery!" I applaud looking past the trash bin and realizing that with a little work, this chair could become a special nursery piece. Jaime selected a hot pink coral fabric and after some professional reupholstery, here is the after:

Nicely done. Jaime also scored some awesome cane-backed tub chairs for $10/each (!) on Craigslist and decided that reupholstery would make them feel like new. The before:

And the after:

So fresh! So clean! I love that textured fabric and the hot pink piping makes a very traditional chair feel quite modern. A standing ovation...

Take note that neither Rae nor Jaime tackled the upholstery jobs themselves. Don't forget that there is a whole workforce of skilled upholsterers out there just waiting to do these jobs for you. I think we get overwhelmed thinking that these kind of re-dos are DIY'll find that although reupholstery is not cheap, it often yields a much better, custom result than buying furniture new.  And (usually) still at a fraction of the price. Not to mention that most vintage pieces are very well-built and thus will stand the test of time in your home. Do a little research and get some price quotes in your area. I bet you will find someone whose pricing is reasonable and whose work is fantastic.

{{Climbs down from her soapbox}}


  1. This post must be a sign for me....I went digging in our storage space yesterday, and fished out a chair that looks almost EXACTLY like the one in the first pic. Ripped out cane back, terrible seat, etc. I told my husband it was also loose/unstable in one of the joints, so I was going to give it away.
    Definitely having second thoughts now!

  2. Anonymous8/09/2012

    I am so jealous of Jaime's find! I have been looking for a pair of tub chairs forever. As for dumpster diving, as much as I would love to score a free deal like that, the proliferation of bedbugs has me totally freaked out about the idea. A friend of a friend got bedbugs from a weekend trip to a 5 star hotel in NYC. He soon found out that the "romantic getaway" with his wife was turning into a $4,000 extermination project.

  3. I LOOOOVE all these chair makeovers! Before I worked in the interior design industry, I didn't realize that there are upholsterers who know how to do these jobs. It's such a fun way to make a customized piece!

  4. These are GREAT. And you're right about the prospect of a DIY being daunting--no shame in hiring a professional!

  5. Applause for the cane back tub chairs!! I'm gonna go check craigslist in my city...just in case!

  6. Can Jaime share the name of the textured green fabric and where she bought it? Thanks so much. The contrast piping is gorgeous.

  7. I love them all. I had a 1970s orange flowered, thrift store sofa redone in a gray fabric last year as well as two vintage chairs. They are so much more pleasing (and cheaper) than the hundreds of high end stuff we looked at. I am just itching to have others redone or start dumpster diving for fresh meat.

  8. Amazing makeovers!! Plus several of the chairs need very little yardage. Love the hot pink trim against the green!

    I need to start Craig's List searching!

    Art by Karena
    2012 Artists Series

  9. Love this post! Gosh . . .lovely fabric and a little TLC makes such a difference!

  10. Talk about vision. These pieces look fabulous. I especially like the last one. What a transformation!

  11. Anonymous8/12/2012

    Your blog is so you have twitter or fb to follow with??

    If you want some cute Swedish d├ęcor inspiration, check out my blog:)

    Have a great week dear

    LOVE Maria at

  12. Just goes to show you what a little creativity, design sense and the right upholsterer can do! Absolutely love that middle one!

  13. Anonymous8/16/2012

    Where can I find the pnk coral fabric? Love it!!


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