before & after: pilar’s vintage suzani chair

today’s final before & after comes from photographer pilar valtierra in los angeles. with help from ames ingham and some vintage suzanis from distant LA, pilar transformed these $40 craigslist chairs into something spectacular. i would feel like a queen in these chairs- they are just too gorgeous for words. great job, pilar!



awesome juxtaposition – victorian chair + slavic brocade(guessing from the letters). Makes me wonder what some african or chinese textile would look like on a nice victorian settee.

emily kate

I completely love them! What beautiful fabric, and your use of it is just perfect. I want to be sitting in one right now!


Those are so cool! They would become my favourite chairs in the house. Definitely inspired… Might have to make some pillows along those lines.


I agree with Carlina, I have two chairs just like this that desperately need to be reupholstered. Would love to learn how to do it myself. Thank you for the inspiration.


I’m normally not a fan of these chair makeovers (since they all seem to look the same after a while), but finally someone has found just the right fabric for this style. AMAZING. :)


I agree with Lisa that after a while the chair makeovers all begin to look the same, which is why I really liked this one – it is unique, contemporary and stylish, while not being trendy.


This transformation is really special. I’m especially taken with how the suzani patterns are so carefully aligned with the lines of the chairs. Absolutely lovely lovely job.


Love the fabric and concept. I too have re-purposed old furniture and given it a second life. Does anyone know where to get cute fabric like this in the San Diego area?


Oooooh, those are pwetty!

Now how about a step-by-step tutorial on how to upholster that style of chair?
I could really do with that.


hi guys

this sort of upholstery is pretty involved so i’m not sure i can do a diy on this one. but we are planning a series of upholstery diys for slightly simpler pieces of furniture. along with an interview with upholsterers on what to expect to pay, etc when using a pro.



Grace-that is exactly what I was about to say-it would be great for people to say how much they spend reupholstering so we could know what to expect before going on craigslist with a dream in mind.


Hands down the nicest before and after I’ve seen on here! Awesome job.


omg! Just lovely. And the dark floors with white walls really work, as well…


What an amazing transformation. I did a diy upholstery job on a chair in our master bedroom. I love the way it turned out and I got to save a lot of money by doing it myself. It was a lot of work, 8hrs to be exact however completely worth it.


Wow! It’s quite striking! I have a wingback chair that I’d love to re-do…this is inspiring!


I actually just said “whoa” under my breath at work. Those are GORGEOUS.


Those chairs are amazing. I’m blown away. The coolest chair makeover I’ve seen in a while.

Karen Templer

These are really beautiful. Love the contrast with the black outer fabric. And I’d love to hear the story of the little hanging tab on the front.

For those wondering about DIY, I took an upholstery class in a continuing ed program earlier this year, after having done simple stuff like dining chair seats, etc., in the past. A chair like this is not rocket science, though not a beginner project either. But if you’re inclined to take it on, look for a workshop class in your area and sign up. Expect to work your way up to this and for it to take you some time, but you’ll save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself and gain a lot of appreciation for what goes into it. It’s a fun skill to learn, and I only scratched the surface.


WOW!!! Totally _not_ grandma-ish, in my opinion. At least not any grandma I’ve known…


What a great chair,I have a wonderful old chair I found at a yardsale and this one inspires me to cover it in the same way.I also have stacks of beautiful fabric.


Ok WHERE DID YOU FIND THIS FABRIC?!?! it is absolutely gorgeous!!!!


caitlin (and everyone who emailed about the fabric sourcing)- the fabric source is listed above (it’s a shop in LA)- the link is provided in the post.



The fabric choice is unfortunate. I have nothing against suzani-style patterns, but this does little to flatter the shape of the chair.


this is the best DIY project i have ever seen on d*s. as a broke person, i can safely say that i’d pay a lot of money for those chairs. makes me want to return to turkey and buy up all the bedspreads there, bring it back and just upholster everything within sight.

Jeff Flemings

you can also find suzanis on ebay

love this idea, great job!


I agree with everyone who thinks this takes the chair makeover genre to another level. Vintage suzanis are gorgeous and generally v expensive but this would be a superlative way of using a damaged one. Yum


i feel a little redundant after all of the other posts, but these are AMAZING!


Wow! These are fantastic. What a great idea that I haven’t seen before. What’s next for the suzani?


just wanted to join in on the chorus of amazing. not normally a fan of painted wood on old chairs, but this is an A+.


Suzanis are typically from Uzbekistan and they are the Central Asian version of the American quilt. Each suzani is comprised of several long strips of fabric which are hand embroidered by separate people (typically women in the same family) and then pieced together, resulting in slight discrepancies in color and matching that make them so special!


Those are the most beautiful chairs i have ever seein in my life…they are a piece of art….
i would love to know if u were interested in doing my chairs.. ;)


I am absolutely blown away by these chairs!I must admit I am not always keen on the modern upholstery makeovers as I find them lacking warmth,but the suzanni fabric gives such a rich gypsie look,stunning choice!


I think they must have the before and after photos switched.

Yuck! I don’t like the Suzanni fabric at all! I think Salvador Dali would be at home in those chairs…


Very beautiful fabric! And what a pity that words on it don’t mean anything… could be so great to have some real words.


I have my grandma’s chair from England. I have been struggling about what I will recover them in(they need some nip and tucking) This is a great idea, it might do the trick.


gorgeous job, as so many have already said. My question: how sturdy is suzani fabric, and how much abuse can it take? Love the look, but am wondering how practical it is.


this fabric has to be backed. the seat cushion is plain on the underside for everyday use. real suzani works best for occasional chairs/furniture and you have to be willing to love every new broken thread…

Annette Kuzmiak

My husband are going to build a little Russian dacha and I would love to redo my two tired looking Ethan Allen wingback chairs in this beautiful fabric. They would be the centerpiece of our cozy little home! Where can I get the fabric? I can’t find the link. :(

Annette Kuzmiak

My husband and I are going to build a little Russian dacha and I would love to redo my two tired looking Ethan Allen wingback chairs in this beautiful fabric.They would be the centerpiece of our cozy little home! Where can I get the fabric? I can’t seem to find the link. :(


I love suzanis on chairs, very nice job.
Re: the diy instructions, the Sunset series of books is pretty good. Tho, take it from the voice of experience, you do NOT want to start your upholstery habit on a wing chair!


how many suzani’s did you use to cover your chair? What was the size of the suzani? I found some at my local flea market for $100 (4×6′ size i believe)…is that the “Norm”?
It IS Gorgeous!!!!!!