before and after

before and after: chair love

by Grace Bonney

to kick off before and after day, i wanted to share a few great reader submitted chair projects that have been sitting in my inbox. it’s amazing what a little paint and some new fabric can do…

[imagine above: chair makeover by caroline at jcaroline creative]

[image above: chair makeover by d*s reader teresa]

[image above: chair makeover by jessica jones of jessica jones design]

[image above: chair makeover by d*s reader pam]

[image above: chair makeover by d*s reader jennifer]

[image above: chair makeover by kelly at kanibal home]

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  • I just love to see all of these lovely before and after upholstery projects. They really encourage me to reupholster two of my sofas with a fun modern print. Where might be a good place to purchase upholstery weight fabrics online? Thanks!

  • I love these! It’s motivating to see the transformation of these chairs. Are there any good resources online for the more difficult upholstery projects, particularly for wingbacks and tufting?

  • I love all the Before/After projects, but I want to speciically applaud those that play up the chair forms in the makeovers — Pam’s edging, Jennifer’s buttons, and Kelly’s diamond upholstery, which mimics the chair back. I think it’s great when these pieces are not only fixed or updated, but also remade in a way that really works with their original “bones.” Kudos to everyone!

  • It would be great if you could do a step by step explanation of how to actually do some of these make-overs. There are multiple ways I know, but I think readers would appreciate tips.

  • fmcaree

    i’ve thought about this but i really feel that this particular “column” is about a visual transformation. i try to save projects for wednesdays’ diy colum.

    that said, i’ll start asking those who submit entries if they’d like to provide a link to the process on their site i can reference.


  • I like many of the before/afters though I have to agree with Brian that the orange chair did look better before. Of course I’m going through an orange phase right now so I’m a little biased! My favorite is Jennifer’s chair…the black and white is very elegant and the buttons are perfect!

    It would be nice to see links to how they did it. I’ve redone a lot of chairs but I’m always interested in other people’s way of tackling it.

  • i also prefer the orange chair with brown legs. sometimes i think people are so quick to upholster something that they don’t think about preserving the original. but really all that matters is if the owner likes the final result and if they do then it was worth it.

  • These are great inspiration! I’ve just acquired a chair of my own and am looking for some ideas before doing much with it. That orange chair was rather fab beforehand, but I think it looks great revamped a little, too. Keep the chair makeovers coming, Grace!

  • Even though I “ruined” the orange chair, I have instructions for mine as well here. (If it makes the orange people feel any better, it was really a yellow-gold polyester fabric that was at least 20 years old.)

  • I love seeing all the great transformations! I just bought an old loveseat to test out my reupholstery skills, but am still looking for the perfect fabric…

  • Oh wow, Those chairs are GORGEOUS and so inspiring. I think my two favorite are Caroline’s and Jennifer’s. I’m a sucker for black and white decor!!

  • jcaroline,

    Thanks for showing us how you did your chair.

    By the way, I’m obsessed with orange, and I DON’T think you ruined the chair by reupholstering it. 20 year old Polyester is uncomfortable and a little gross. Cheers to your Before and After!!

  • I LOVE Jennifer’s chair. It looks amazing, and I’d love to get a link to figure out how she did it…

    I love the after tons more than the before. That yellow/orange fabric looks old and dirty. Thanks for sharing the instruction! They are incredibly helpful if I’m feeling crafty.

  • To all you great DIY’s-
    gorgeous…and I’m curious to know if you’re tackling the upholstery on your own or having it done? I bought a book on reupholstering chairs, and am wondering about the difficulty level? Obviously if you’re just re-doing a seat bottom it’s no prob, but the rolled arms, welting, etc. intimidate me….

  • i also prefer the orange chair before. i don’t think it was ruined, though.

    this post was really inspiring. i picked up a set of free vintage chairs almost a year ago that i need to refinish and recover.

  • per summer’s comment, don’t be nervous: jump right into upholstery. that’s part of the fun of DIY. i think the best pieces of advice i can offer (and some tidbits of advice i received when first starting out) is: there’s a lot to learn from trial and error, a good staple gun will get you far and follow what the person before you did (using their upholstery as a pattern). armed with a nice, hardy, thick fabric, start stapling, rotating opposite corners (so the fabric sets properly). welting can also be stapled on the edge of a chair bottom and you would be amazed what a glue gun can do. now these aren’t “professional” methods but they will get you started on some great DIY projects and you will gain confidence to move onto some tougher pieces (like wingback chairs). hope this helps! feel free to shoot me a line for any addtl pointers … i’m always happy to help.

  • Regarding the orange chair: I love the After. It’s much better than the Before. She also has some great instructions on her website.

  • WOW!!! Jennifer’s transformation from an old-crazy-person-chair to viceroy style is super impressive! I’m looking at my next project (yep, it’s a chair) and these are ALL great examples. Way to re-use existing pieces. awesome. -N

  • Before and After pics are the best b/c we get to see how valuable other people’s junk might still be. I love the black and white chair by Jennifer, it’s so pretty:)

  • I am so glad I saw this. I have a similar chair to j. caroline’s, thank you so much for posting directions about it and what materials to use. Mine is not orange, or gold, it is black, a sagging old piece that I’ve had a long time, and will probably recover similar to how it is now. I accept when people see these things in person, they may just look a lot more worn and due for a new cover. Things I see in thrift stores and yard sales… and don’t know what’s in the padding? I always want to change that.

  • wow! thank you all for your wonderful comments about my chair. it was such a pleasure to work on :D you can view its transformation here.

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