Saturday, 31 August 2013

Vintage Style Chair: An Upcycling Project

We're in the slow process of redecorating and furnishing our new home.  As it is a period flat I've been trying to find some suitable furniture.  My love of vintage extends from clothing to furniture.  If it was totally up to me, the starry eyed Australian who romanticises anything older than this century (because we just aren't surrounded by it in spades back home), then I would stuff it to the brim with antique furniture.  As any vintage and second hand loving blogger pals will attest, going the vintage or second hand route in our wardrobes helps to recycle and reuse.  Well so too with furniture!

Mr V. however, having grown up in a period property stuffed with antiques, doesn't relish the idea of living in a museum of Victoriana. So we've settled on going for a mix of modern and old as a compromise.

So far though I've scored several items of furniture for free. You'd be amazed at what people throw out here.  I found four Ikea dining chairs down the road the week we moved in that are now as good as new after getting a clean and new seat covers. Then I found this vintage style balloon back chair outside a house we were driving by. It was stacked amongst other items of furniture on the pavement with a note saying that anything there was free to anyone who wanted it.  So this chair came home with me.

Mr V. was a bit dubious.  It was pretty grimy and in need of doing up but the shape and the condition of the wood was pretty good.  I'm not proud and I could instantly see the potential in my freebie street find.  Inspired by transformational upcycling DIY projects by blogging pals I was itching to see what I could make out of someone else's cast off.  So here's how I upcycled this chair from this... this!  All for the cost of £3.95 and using where possible, things I had lying around at home to do it.

Firstly I painted the wooden base of the chair with paint primer that was left in the shed from the previous owners.  Cost - zilch.


The seat cushion which just sat in the frame was easy to remove. It was covered in a stained and dirty cream satin brocade that had clearly seen better days.

The fabric had just been folded over the cushion and MDF base and stapled in place with a staple gun.

Nothing a staple remover and a pair of pliers couldn't deal with!

Dreadful hoarder that I am, I realised I had a length of old period style curtain fabric in a bold yet feminine stripey pattern of scarlet red and a floral embossed cream.  I'd bought it over fifteen years ago at a curtain shop in Sydney.  Originally bought to be turned into an item of clothing and deemed too pretty to get rid of every time I had a clear out, it has been waiting for a suitable project ever since.  Cost - whatever I paid for this fifteen years ago in Australian dollars adjusted for inflation - i.e. next to nothing.

I used the old seat cover as a template to cut the shape of a new one by just laying it on the new fabric, lining up the stripes and cutting around it.

Once that was done I placed the cushion seat with the side I wanted to cover facing the wrong side of the fabric and flipped it over.  I didn't have a staple gun but I have plenty of old fabric glue lying around.  Cost - nada!

Using a plastic knife I spread glue around the perimeter of the seat.  Then working my way around and taking care to keep the fabric taut, I folded over the fabric at the edge and pressed it into the glue, forming pleats to follow the shape of the cushion.

The corners were a bit fiddly and a bit of origami folding skills were needed to tuck the corners in so that they sat neatly.  I trimmed off any excess with pinking shears so the ends wouldn't fray and glued down any bits that were sticking up to finish it off.

Voila!  One cushion seat cover as good as new.  The only cost of transformation being my time, some old bits and bobs and my imagination.

As we are redecorating we had some sample pots of some very nice Farrow and Ball paint in shades of white lying about. It seemed a shame to waste them so I took a sample pot of creamy white called Dimity that was deemed too dark for the walls, but it was just the shade to go with the creamy stripes in the cushion fabric. A small sample pot costing £3.95 was enough to get two coats on the entire chair frame.

Waste not want not! I'm very pleased with the final result and even Mr V. was amazed at the transformation.  Quite excited to find the next project!

Have a wonderful weekend all!


  1. those type of chairs are the easiest to re-cover. I'm amazed at what people put at the curb. I've drug so much home it's silly. My last was a huge lampshade that looks better on the lamp than the original.

  2. Love this chair! We find stuff all the time by the side of the road :)

  3. Gorgeous & neat. Bet it's become your favourite chair too.....

  4. Love this - well done and so smart.

  5. You've done a wonderful job, that chair looks amazing! Something so rewarding about reworking something you found for free, too. xxx

  6. So clever!!!
    Lo malo es que yo cuando veo la tela quiero una falda, jejejjeje.
    Te abrazo.

  7. A beautiful transformation, V. I see that you are as creative with upcycling furniture as you are with composing outfits. I love the shape of the chair and the fabric that you chose for the cushion.

  8. What a brilliant upcycling job! I adore the pattern of the seat and you've done it so well. Mr Eve and I did a lot of upcycling when we moved into our cottage, it's a lot of fun isn't it, and such a great feeling creating something totally unique.

  9. This turned out beautifully!

  10. This is magnificent! Now I really want to try a similar thing on some tattered old chairs. Alas, their seat cushions are quite firmly embedded and affixed -- I'm not sure I can lift (or pry) them out and have anything left intact for recovering. I've borrowed some books on upholstering, but boy, it's a complicated art.


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