before & after: christine + kirsten’s chair revivals

sometimes i fall prey to narrow mindedness in my design sensibilities, which i feel is bound to happen occasionally when you look at so much cool stuff all day; your brain tends to filter stuff out in order to make it through sometimes. when i first saw this chair makeover from christine, i realized i have been in a bit of a modern, minimalist haze…where is the retro fun in my life? well here’s a healthy dose of it. this chair feels like it’s on a tropical vacation while the rest of the living room furniture trudges off to work. it’s fun color and brady-bunchy (new term! put it in the dictionary) pattern has totally made my day. you see more of christine’s reupholstery creations on her etsy shop. great work christine! -kate

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

i’m always super impressed with people who tackle patterns. it never ceases to amaze me when the right pattern manages to completely transform an object. kirsten saw potential in the shape of these chairs, which were sitting in her neighbor’s dumpster. her patterned leather fabric and simple color choice for the chair rescues it from its meager beginnings and turns it into a chic modern piece. great work, kirsten!


Wow. Love those chairs. I’m so impressed by people who turn junk into something amazing (which is why I pop over to design sponge regularly!)


um….that aqua/floral chair??? ah-mazing!!! Where did she get the fabric? is it vintage? So wonderful :)


Hmm, so, I don’t care for the first chair, but I actually think that’s more because of its surroundings in the photograph than the chair itself. I mean, no, I would never have chosen that pattern myself, BUT I think it could work and look rather neat in a starker, more contrast-y setting (like a white room, or a dark solid colored area). I do love how the paint color matches the flowers in the print!


These chairs have got me excited about redoing a chair I was handed down that was my grandmothers. I’m not sure how/where to get started though. So I have a question for those who have done such a great job redoing furniture, how do you know how much fabric you’ll need? Do you just used the old fabric as a pattern? Thanks for the help and great job!


Thanks Kacie! My chair was not at all as difficult to reupholster as Christine’s was. To reupholster a seat cushion, just make sure you have a few inches extra on all 4 sides to bring under the cushion.

second storie

WOW. That first chair not only looks amazing, but I admire the vision it took to see the potential under all that dirt grime! Amazing fabric!


Umm.. the seat on the second chair is on backward. cute though.


Thanks D S for including the chair and thanks everyone for the lovely comments. Kiki, yes the fabric is vintage – I guess I spend hours trawling places and the internet for the ‘right fabric’. Kacie, after you’ve done a few you kind of get a feel for how much fabric you need. Still get nervous when I have to start cuttting the fabric though!


Kacie, yes, I’d recommend carefully removing the existing fabric and using that as a pattern for your project.

I love the retro fabric on the turquoise chair! Any idea who makes it?

Also, Kirsten, did you have to acid-etch the chrome on your chairs, or how did you go about painting the frame?


No, I didnt need to. The chrome was in perfect condition so painting a clear coat of white went on smoothly, without bubbles.


@KIRSTEN – To reupholster did you cover the old fabric or remove and replace? Also, how did you get the gloss/painted on look of your fabric? Great job!


I love this!
I have some Djinn Sofas (Olivier Mourgue) that need re-upholstering.
Any suggestions?