before and after

before & after: carrie’s dresser + sarah’s chair

by Grace Bonney

our first before & after of the day belongs to carrie of pattern of life. carrie found this somewhat dilapidated dresser and had the vision to turn it into a beautiful sink. she picked up the dresser for $30 and with a little ingenuity and elbow grease- they created a new sink from their found piece. carrie and her husband completely remodeled their home by themselves and this piece is a great example of what you can do with your own two hands and a little creativity. great work, carrie!


this next before & after comes from d*s reader sarah in branson, missouri. she transformed her husband’s grandmother’s chairs with a little love and a bold (affordable) fabric from ikea. well done, sarah!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your images!]


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  • Wow, these are both incredible transformations! The “before” shots really look like, why in the world would you bother? The “after” photos are just stunning. I’m thoroughly impressed!

  • My mother has a dozen of those chairs – what exactly did Sarah use for the seat? Is there any chance of a tutorial? The result is just awesome.

  • I too am wondering about the chair transformation–how is the seat affixed to the base and what’s the foundation of the seat? Thanks!

  • Wow, that vanity is incredible! I wish I had the kind of vision to foresee that potential in the ‘before’.

    I agree, with the questions on the chairs. My mom kept a ton of chairs like that after my grandmother passed and they all sit in a storage locker unusable. What was used as support for the seat?

  • +1 on the chair tutorial request. I have 6 chairs whose wicker seats have been torn apart by my former roommate’s kitty. This b+a gives me hope I can save them, but I need help!

  • I have a set of 6 of those chairs, 2 with arms, and I think i am going to go this direction with them. the rush seat is terribly uncomfortable and a real seat sounds so much better! Oh, and these are beautiful!

  • Wow…what an awesome way to re-use an old dress!! Fantastic idea!! People go out and spend so much on a new one to have that look! If they only knew…haha

  • Thanks for all the great feedback. We love our bathroom. Oh, and Jen, the sink was purchased at lowes. It’s just a regular ol’ basin style sink.

  • Thank you for the links, grace! My questions are the same as Heather and Ann K’s above though- what exactly did Sarah use for the seat and how is the seat affixed to the base? I’m confident I could get rid of the rush seat, but I’m not sure what to replace it with and how to affix it.

    • ah! i can’t speak to what sarah did, but i did this on an old chair years ago:

      1. cut sturdy plywood base to fit the dimensions of the seat (if the legs come up a bit to form a lip of sorts, make sure your plywood is thinner than the top of the lip, so you have room for the cushion)

      2. i consulted my friend who made chairs in college and we basically drilled the plywood into the chair frame to attach the seat to the frame. i was working with a sturdy wicker chair, but if you have an older one- be careful- this may not be enough to keep it in place.

      3. cut foam to size, cover with fabric of choice and pull taught around frame. staple gun in place.

      this is a quick and dirty method. i’ll see if i can find a better tutorial online.

  • So, it looks like I’m alone on this one… but it seems to me that every week, the “before and after” post is exactly the same. Every single week. It’s always a beat up old antique piece that gets re-painted in either white or black and gets re-upholstered with a bright, modern, busy (and sometimes kitschy) marrimekko inspired fabric. I mean, I’m not against the concept of the “before and after,” but they have become so formulaic and unexciting. I know I’m being really critical, but for an established blog like this that is dedicated to good design, I yearn for a more aesthetic and experimental approach.

  • The hardest part about the chair is getting the caning off the chair!
    1st, I made a template for the seat with paper, my chair’s legs came a little above the seat, so I had to make sure to make notches for the legs.
    2nd, I used a thin plywood and cut out the seats from the template with a jigsaw.
    3rd, I hot glued foam that was cut to size, then covered it with batting and stapled that.
    4th, I used some thin muslin and stapled it to the bottom of the seat to make it tight. Then stapled the fabric.
    5th, I covered the bottom with some felt, so that it looked finished.
    6th, I used a straight bracket that was about 3-4 inches long and screwed to to the base of the chair and the new seat. I did this in 2 places, one on each side.

  • Thanks, Sarah! I can’t wait to do my own on a $0.50 garage sale find! I LOVE the fabric, and never would have guessed ikea!

  • Awesome. I used the same IKEA fabric for a thrift-store stool. And also used the same fabric to make a beach bag! It’s a great design…much like other IKEA fabrics.

  • WOW! I love that vanity! I’m in the process of planning something similar, and was wondering what type of paint Carrie used to get such a great finish?

  • Clever idea to change the bottoms of these chairs! I’m going to change mine….I can’t believe it never occurred to me! Thank you!

  • omyword I have that same dresser, I picked it up in a thrift store, needs magor repair to the drawers. I love the wavy fronts! love this blog!!!

  • I love this chair. I have for almost identical chair that I have despised until now. The fabric is perfect. Unfortunately, IKEA doesn’t sell their fabric online and the closest store is about 6 hours away. And Sarah, thanks for sharing your instructions here in the comments.

  • Sarah, I have three dining chairs with broken caning like yours. What did you use for the seat structure? I can’t figure out how to fix mine and they have TONS of potential!

  • Yeah my mom and I are trying to find an antique dresser to do this very thing to and I agree with one of the posters who said “why bother” when I saw one of the pictures of the dresser. Ugh. Where do you find these treasures? I live in a small town in Central Texas and it’s pretty void of good antiques – mostly junk that people wish were antiques! If you have a decent resource for quality antiques, I’m all ears.

  • I follow all your instructions UNTIL I get to the last step. #6. I am a bit confused about the brackets. Can you help me to understand? Not quite sure how you are attaching the seat to the chair frame.

  • I have four ladder back chairs and the rush has fallen apart. Just received a quote on replacing the rush and because of the cost I looked online to replace the seats with wood and came across Sarah’s idea of upholstering. Great idea and much more pretty than rush. I found on another website how to go about upholstering and its quite easy. Can’t wait to start this project and I will be saving quite a bit of money not doing the rush.

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