before and after

before and after: kelsey’s chair

by Grace Bonney

i’m such a sucker for a simple chair makeover. i’m loving this before & after courtesy of d*s reader kelsey. all she needed was a coat of paint and some bold fabric from ikea and tah-dah! a new look for under $20.


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  • i adore your website, but i see nothing really that innovative about someone painting a chair and putting some new fabric on it time after time. yawn. would like to see a bit more variety with the before and afters.

  • Omg I LOVE it! Do any of these Before-and-After-ers sell their awesome stuff? Because I know there have been several items I would love to have!

  • I have to agree with christina on this one. I adore Design Sponge and have been a fan and reader for a long time but I don’t like the direction that the blog has been taking lately… it’s like seeing the same stuff over and over and nothing innovative.

  • I agree that this isn’t innovative- it’s simple, and that is what makes it cool. Most people don’t have the time or cash to bring the design world to its knees. However, most of us have time to transform the mediocre items we do have into something that we WANT. I am always inspired by the simplicity of before and afters like this.

  • wow, “yawn”? can’t you just go read another blog when you get bored? sheesh. i like this because i totally would look at the before and think “this really isn’t going to get any better/go with the rest of my house.” but the after is great! i have been wondering about this exact fabric as well – looks really great against the black.

  • sorry, i have to agree w/pp. not to be a downer, but b/c you have cared what folks have posted about in the past – painted chairs and new seat covers, while nice every once in awhile, are getting boring fast on here.

  • i think these before and afters are great inspiration. not everyone is creatively-minded and resourceful. I like these posts because they inspire people to say, “hey! if i put some new paint on this and switch out the fabric, this chair doesn’t have to end up in a landfill.”

  • i’m certainly not insulting the whole website by writing ‘yawn’. all i’m saying is i would love to see anything other than the same type of chair. how about a refurbished buffet? or a coffee table? or a head board?

  • I wish I would have found that chair before Kelsey did—it looks fantastic in its new form. And for the nay-sayers moaning about the SOT, “if you can’t say something nice…”—come on, be happy that someone out there is reclaiming a chair that had seen better days and will now be the life of the party. It takes courage and confidence to post even the most modest makeovers. Nice work, Grace.

  • Well said, Kris. Move on to the next thing if it doesn’t strike your fancy! For some people, it so great to see inexpensive makeovers that are DO-ABLE!

  • Sometimes if you want something then you just have to go for it. So… christina, if what you want is a not boring blog, how about quit complaining and instead provide it with some of your own befores and afters? we only would be happy to see some new innovative transformations.

    This one is wonderful, in my opinion. I always get amazed how someone can see the beauty in an old scruffy peace and give it a new happy life.

  • Long time since I sent in a comment. I agree. I’m SO SICK of seeing chairs “before + after”, but Grace is so kind to post and expose the talents of readers. If you have super creative ideas and can do amazing “make-overs”, send them to Grace. I would love to see more of the FANTASTIC stuff everyone makes at home, other than chairs.

  • I love to see these before and after pics – just to keep my creative juices flowing. A lot of times the patterns of the fabric or paint are different from what I would think of – so I like seeing all the different takes people have on doing a similar project. I love Design Sponge in general – keep up the good work!

  • Yes, it’s “simple”, but before insulting someone’s work, how about a more constructive approach? If you truly don’t like waiting a week to see another chair, why not suggest that for the future posts, all similar projects get posted together in a “round-up” fashion? I think that would be a great idea, although I have the feeling that the reason there are so many similar posts lately has something to do with a lack of submissions.

  • I like just about everything on this site, so to those saying you would rather see more interesting items for the before & after here’s an idea…you do them! get to it!
    I adore the fact that design sponge exposes all ends of designs, both high end and DIY. Anyone that can’t just get the best out of each post should move on.
    I agree with Lisa that suggesting a round up would be a much better route if you must criticize. If one was a true admirer of design you would want to take in as much as you can and be inspired by it.

  • The restyling of any furniture is a
    good thing. It’s even better that someone did this on their own instead of paying a decorator to pay someone else to do it. The even bigger picture is that people are out there rolling up their sleeves and going through a process that has many unseen benefits. Think of how happy that made someone to see her chair on D*S. Now, let me show you how to make headboards!

  • While I don’t mind the chair, I have to agree that this is the first time visiting design*sponge in a few weeks because I too have found it to be a little dull recently. Ever since the format changed things seem to be a little less exciting. I think I really liked the previous format so much better. It felt like there was an abundance of design to indulge in every day – now it seems sparse. Sorry – J

  • wow… lots of bitching. i think the idea here is to help people out with their own interior design and to give people ideas. taking an old crappy chair and fixing it up so it actually looks nice is something “simple” as others have said, but also very useful for those that want a nice home on a budget. Also, in this age of consumerism and the need to recycle, isn’t it nice to see people recycling furniture so they don’t need to go into landfill??
    so i think, well done to Kelsey, it looks lovely!

  • oooh… i really like this one! its fresh and modern without being over the top dramatic. i like the paint, it has a different kind of finish it looks like.
    thanks for the before and afters. i don’t mind seeing the same genre of furniture redone different ways. its fun… keep up the good work!

  • not that remarkable but FINALLY! a before/after where the after actually looks better than the before! a rare post.

  • In the past couple months, there has been exciting redos: a dresser before and after, of which readers complained, among other things, that it was too “Anthropologie” and a home office which readers also complained about. I’m not sure what innovation you all are looking for. You will see the same trends. Art is a slow revolution, with lots of overlapping and copying. I think the more content that you see on the site, the more that will look the same. I think what is on the site reflects Grace and her style aesthetic, and that of her readers. Kudos Grace! I love this site.

  • hi guys

    i just got home and caught this comment section. i don’t normally get too involved in here but i wanted to add a quick note: i post the best of what i receive in my inbox. lately it’s been a whole lot of chairs. if something more interesting comes in that looks nice and is well shot i will certainly post it. if you have any better transformations to share, i’m all for it.

    as for this sort of makeover being simple, i don’t think that’s a bad thing. people tend to get just as upset about transformations that are fancy, require expensive fabric, or the help of a professional upholsterer so i think it’s tough to please everyone.

    that said, if you browse the before and after tab in the menu you’ll see way, way more options than chairs.


  • I love it – I don’t know what the big deal is…honestly, hasn’t everything already been done anyway? All ‘new’ things are just slight modifications on something that someone else has already done.

    If someone wants something fresh or new, then stop wasting time complaining here an do something to share with the rest of us. It’s a simple remedy.

    I think this is a really well done refurbishing of a piece that otherwise that would have gone into the garbage. I have 6 chairs that can be redone and I can’t wait to break out the paint! Thanks for the inspiration for people on a budget!

  • i have ordered amazing facric to reburbish my chairs and I am so excited to send the pics in! Here’s my suggestion for the readers who’s needs are not met: critique the actual work, instead of what is posted-that is much more constructive and exciting!

  • i’m a newbie to this site, but i love it! Simplicity is wonderful as is the more complex…let’s see it all and then some! Agree w/those that say, don’t complain but send in alternatives instead. I would love to see ideas for turning buffet tables/china cabinets/armoires into home office pieces. Also looking for king headboard ideas. Simple but sophisticated.

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