before and after

before & after: courtney’s chairs + hampton’s dresser

by Kate Pruitt

i pass by chairs like these so often at thrift stores and yard sales. i consider myself to be someone with a good amount of creative vision, but when my brain takes in the wrinkly leather and the overly varnished wood it says, i give up. i have to commend courtney, not only for braving the removal of such well maintained upholstery, but for choosing such an unexpected fabric for the shape of the chair. the result is eclectic and actually looks quite comfortable for lounging. the cozy and textured bolivian blankets complement the thick wood arms far better than the black leather did, in my opinion. she also showed brilliant restraint in keeping the bold pattern limited to the front of the chair; the cream fabric on the back and sides is the perfect touch. you can purchase these chairs and see more of her custom upholstery work in her online shop. great job, courtney! –kate

{NOTE: sorry, everyone! i neglected to mention that the “before” chairs are not the same chairs as those shown in the “after” image. according to courtney, they are a similar set that she has also renovated, as she could not find an image of the chairs below prior to being upholstered.}

[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)]

CLICK HERE for hampton’s wedding dresser after the jump!

i know many of you will look at this before picture and say, don’t you dare…but i think when you read the details of this story you will accept the transformation. hampton was searching for a dresser to provide the backdrop for his wedding ceremony after finding an inspirational project online at green wedding shoes. he picked this dresser up on craigslist to discover it was pretty banged up and had a thick layer of ugly white formica on top. after hours of toil (you know it’s bad if you hear the buzzing sound of a sander in your sleep) he produced this gorgeously vivid and elegant dresser. i love the stamped initialing detail, and i would be so excited to wed in front of such a lovely vignette. the fond memories are undoubtedly another element that make this dresser a treasured piece. great work, hampton!

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  • Uh, I don’t know about that first before & after. The ‘after’ chairs are beautiful, does anyone else notice that the ‘before’ chairs are clearly not the same as the ‘after’ chairs? They have a totally different shape and base.

  • i like the fabric on the after chairs….
    but the chairs in the before photo aren’t the same as the one in the after (note the curves of the arms and the different legs)

  • I don’t think those are the same chairs in the before and after photos. I have to say, i don’t really love it when you feature items that are for sale. Kinda kills the diy vibe.

    • Hey guys

      I’ll check on these chairs- maybe we mixed up a pic when uploading.

      As for the for-sale aspect- I don’t see how the availability negates the process. DIY means do it yourself- not do it for yourself ;)


  • I keep seeing that dresser and the other pieces in that bedroom set everywhere. I had them when I was growing up, it’s the JCPenney little girls collection (or so my parents tell me). They aren’t junk, but they aren’t amazingly crafted pieces of furniture that one should not paint. In fact most of the re-dos I see of them look great! This one especially!

  • Your before & after series are so inspirational!

    Those chairs would work great in jazzing up a dull office space and the dresser looks spectacular! I am loving the aged window hanging in the background!

  • Those chairs are FABULOUS! And I couldn’t care less if the before image is different, the learning curve is the same. I pass those outdated office chairs at thrift stores all the time and never, in a million years, would I have the creativity and forethought to recover them in a funky old blanket. What a great idea! I just love projects where two unlikely items dance together so happily. Like pretzels and ice cream :)

    Also had that furniture set in my room as a kid…came with a vanity and tall skinny jewelry bureau…now I could just kick myself for getting rid of it! Nice work.

  • hey all!

    sorry about the chair mix-up. you are all correct that they are not the same set of chairs. they are similar to what the “after” set looked like in their “before” state, and i wanted to show these because i found the results so inspiring.
    i’ve added a note to the post above stating the case. thank you for keeping me on my toes! -kate

  • I would love to know more about how Hampton got rid of that “thick layer of ugly white formica on top.” I bought two bedside tables that appear to be from this furniture set for cheap on Craigslist a while back, and I love them as is…well, except for the formica. Is wielding a sander really my only option?

  • Is it just me or does it seem weird to get married in front of a vignette like that? I apparently don’t get it….seems fake, like a stage set. I’d rather get married in front of a tree or the fireplace in my living room.

  • I have been searching every thrift store in town for south-american blankets to use in sewing projects – the colours are so amazing! Hadn’t thought of them for upholstery, fantastic job!

  • I don’t think it matters if they are not exactly the same chairs in the ‘before’ as the ‘after’ – they look fantastic and you would get similar great results with the first set of chairs.

  • Elizabeth: I too have one of those formica topped lovelies. I gave it a light sanding on the formica, and followed with a few coats of Behr’s premium plus primer. While it’s probably not the highest of durability, I’ve not had any problems so far with scratching or nicking of this paint. I suspect that a light sand and some spray paint would yield decent results as well. My paint was apple red! Looks great now…

  • The chairs are not the same the original the foot is in wood the redone one is in metal the first one the wood is square edge the second one is rounded…..the idea and realization is great that is really all that counts !

  • Tara before trashing another person’s wedding perhaps you should go onto the inspiration site and actually see how beautiful it looks!

  • I don’t care if before and after chairs don’t match but I totally dislike the after chairs. I think the original style was so much better. most of the times with before and after here I have to say I dislike the after because there’s always to much colour added to previously beautiful 50s or 60s furniture…

  • @Elizabeth – I used a belt sander, staging the process using 80 grit and finished by hand sanding with 220 grit. It was a lot of work removing that top, however I was unable to get paint to stick, including a primer coat. I am not certain, but I believe I went through five 80 grit belts.

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