before and after

before and after: i heart jen’s chair

by Grace Bonney

sometimes i see a before and after project and think “how could i ever live without that [insert any furniture type here]?” and today, jen mowrer‘s gorgeous orange dotted chair is one of those projects. what do i love even more than this chair? the fabric itself- jen and her husband matt picked up this gorgeous “dawson’s dot” fabric for $3 a yard at their local hancock‘s store (they were having a closing sale). and guess what- it’s a laurie smith fabric! i have such a soft spot for crazy laurie from trading spaces– i’ll never forget her sorority makeover where she walked around singing “kappa, kappa cabana”. anyway, back to the before & after.

this gorgeous chair (shot with jen’s daughter lottie sue and their cat, ernie) has quite the back story. matt’s parents took this hand-me-down chair to a local store owner in their town to have it reupholstered. then they called two weeks ago to let jen and matt know they picked it up and were on their way. then they called about 15 minutes later with bad news….the chair picked up wind in the back of the truck and it flew out of the car. on the interstate. suffice to say, things did not look so good for the chair and jen and matt thought it was destroyed. but it turns out that their upholsterer is a miracle worker and was able to repair everything. (the chair was in BAD shape- the legs broke off and the fabric was scuffed ALL over). that’s an upholsterer to hold on to for good. the result speaks for itself- and the button detailing on the arms is just to die for. thanks to jen and matt for sharing this gorgeous before and makeover- i’m so glad their chair survived it crash and came out even better than before.

[stay tuned for 2 more before & afters at 12:30 and 1:30]


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  • That fabric (and sweet baby and cute kitty) just takes my breath away. I’m so sad that the Laurie Smith line is discontinued.

  • This is GORGEOUS. Legs or not, I think the curvy back makes the chair. Too bad the fabric is out of print- I’d love to do an ottoman in this…

    Jenny ;-)

  • perfect valentine’s day post because i’m absolutely in LOVE with that chair. the laurie smith fabrics are (were ;( ) the best–such great prints and frequently on sale.

  • I really like the skirt- it fits the new mood of the chair well. And those two on the chair are awfully cute!

  • Oh my Gosh! That chair is so cool! That couple is really creative and I love their tastes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And, they must be beautiful people, b/c their daughter is absolutly GORGEOUS!!! I like their style!!!

  • I adore this fabric! I got some about 2yrs ago & wish I had bought more. I made it into bedroom curtains for our master.

  • I’ll have one of each: the lovely chair, the wonderful kitty, the pretty baby…

    I would be curious to see the lines of the final version without the skirt…can’t tell if I might prefer it with some space underneath?

  • Awesome chair, I’d just prefer it skirtless. I’ve made new legs for an armchair before – it’s quite easy if you don’t want anything super elaborate, or you can just pick up some new ones at Home Depot or Lowes (the choices are a little slim though).

  • Love it! I’ve been so inspired by all the chair renovations featured on the site. Really makes me look at the possibility in objects now. thanks

  • Beautiful…love the fabric. I got a good giggle out of the visual of that chair flying out of the vehicle onto the interstate. So glad it wasn’t damaged beyond repair…or that nobody was hurt.

  • Love the chair! And I’m wondering if they had to put the skirt on the chair after the mishap on the interstate (since she said the legs were messed up). Either way, with or without a skirt, this chair looks great!

  • Uh, sorry to impose a totally not design comment, but the wind picked up the chair on the highway and flew off?! No way that should have happened if the chair was properly tied down. I’m glad the chair was the only thing that got hurt. Word to the wise, anything tied down to a vehicle must be securely tied down with lots of rope. That means strong rope, not twine or string, and secure means tight and to multiple points of contact with your vehicle.

  • thanks for the tip on the Laurie Smith Fabric Sale at Hancock. I went yesterday and got a few of her patterns for only $3/yard. Just wish they would’ve had this pattern :) thanks, the chair looks great, I will be doing an ottoman with my fabric! Inspriring!

  • hi! looks amazing! i have a chair i want to reupholster, but how do i go about doing it?? anyone have any good instructions?? thanks!

  • Again… I never would have guessed that the original chair could be crafted into such a gorgeous “after”. Bravo!

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