For years now I’ve been rummaging around in second hand shops, junk outlets and car boot sales (not in a ‘bag lady’ sense you understand – but rather with an eye to interior design and furnishing).
Yep, all that poking about in dusty old rooms and rubbing dust out my eyes in a windy car park in the middle of nowhere, has all been in a bid to find some beautiful worn-out old chair which has had its day. You know the type of thing – a seat your average man or woman in the street would happily bypass (and frequently do) without a second glance.
Or at least they would until they saw that same old chair several weeks later, its still-sturdy frame having been stripped down, sandpapered and painted/varnished and its seating re-upholstered and re-fashioned in a beautiful new designer fabric. If it all sounds a bit Cinderella’ish, that’s because it is.
The following ‘before and after’ photos, for instance, show you what I mean. Although admittedly this particular wing back was in relatively good condition when the client showed it to me, you can still see what a lovely transformation has taken place:
This country dining chair has been stripped, lightened using Annie Sloan Old White and Dark Wax then reupholstered to fit into a contemporary dining room:
The following antique chair was definitely a junk shop find, thanks to its torn arms and back.
In fact, as you can see from the photo on the left, the owner was actually using it as somewhere to display an old telephone. When I tested it though, it had a wonderfully strong frame. Just look at how wonderful it turned out after some loving care:
Reasons to upholster
Upholstering old seating is a fantastic way to bring a treasured old piece of furniture back to life. Provided the chair’s frame is good (you can test this by leaning on it and if it doesn’t crack or feel too flimsy you’re probably fine) you can strip and paint the wood then have the seating professionally reupholstered in a contemporary fabric. Choose the fabric pattern yourself or, if you’re having it professionally upholstered by someone like myself, I can show you samples and advise on what would work best both in terms of durability and how the new chair would fit in with the rest of your room.
Not only does upholstering in this way allow you to display that family heirloom in a public room (rather than hide it away in the spare bedroom) but it’s also less expensive than buying a new designer version.
Learn to upholster
Do the upholstery yourself (I run classes to teach the techniques) and you’ll get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you complete your new project. Your friends will also be impressed and probably try to hire you to do theirs (I speak from experience, folks).
The planet will love you
Of course, another benefit of upholstering is the fact it’s so environmentally-friendly –upcycling proving to be even more ‘green’ than recycling. That’s because recycling often means someone having to pick old furniture up and drive it to landfill where eventually it has to be disposed of, resulting in all that nasty methane.
Have I persuaded you of the benefits of keeping and restoring old chairs yet? If so get in touch, I’d be happy to advise if you’re looking to modernise some pre-loved seating. Or why not learn to do it yourself?
It would be lovely to meet you!