before and after

before & after: chairs from spruce + mod green pod

by Kate Pruitt

When Mod Green Pod founder Nancy Mims sent along this email about a recent upholstery workshop held at Spruce Upholstery in Austin, I was tempted to get on a plane to Texas and take the next available class. I certainly do love a good upholstery job, especially when there’s a great selection of patterned fabric from which to choose.

The ladies at Spruce showed six students how to transform their old chairs with green upholstery techniques, including using non-toxic wood gloss and organic batting, and Nancy provided a selection of Mod Green Pod’s lovely organic cotton fabrics. The results are pretty amazing, and I love to see such varied chairs and prints together. Thanks for sharing, Nancy! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

CLICK HERE to see the rest of the chair makeovers (5 in total) after the jump!

Images above: The “Elizabeth” Chair

Images above: The “Ophelia” Chair

Images above: The “Raspberry” Chair

Images above: The “Marie” Chair

Images above: The “Ansel” Chair

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  • Oh… these chairs are kinda hard to mess up. Congrats to Spruce for making these god-awful prints that got that challenge down pat!

  • I just wanted to add that the COLORS on most of the fabrics were chosen by the clever students themselves, using Mod Green Pod’s custom capabilities. We can print ANY color on any of our prints with only a one yard minimum. It was so thrilling to see what everyone came up with! The chairs are a zillion times more beautiful in person!

  • The first chair transformation is tragic, imo. The second one I love. The rest are great, although I do not think the pink fabric works with the dark wood. I will say that overall I am a fan of Spruce and am in awe of their upholstery skills.

  • I agree with all the comments. Wow! That first chair really caught my eye with it’s “off the shoulder” shape. Very unexpected and inspiring!

  • Personally, I think they are all amazing. For those who think putting a modern print on a classic is “tragic” or “tacky”, lighten up. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there’s no reason to be mean. You can make your own chairs as classic as you’d like.

  • I ADORED that first chair – such beautiful lines, delightfully and unexpectedly asymmetrical – but honestly, I cringed when I saw the after. Such class mixed with such a cutesycutesy print! ugh. I still want it though….

  • Hmmm…. Why constrain yourself to others’ opinions if you are the one looking at it everyday?
    I don’t like daisies, but I LOVE the first chair, because it obviously works beautifully for someone in the world. Way to go Mod Green Pod and Spruce for encouraging such individuality!

  • You could cover anything in MGP fabric, and it would be fabulous! Fresh, new, flawless design, always, and sustainable production too. Yay Mod Green Pod!, and yay Spruce! for showing what a difference beautiful fabric makes!

  • Mod Green Pod’s fabrics are exquisite. What fun to see these before and after shots. Yo BETTY- to call something “tacky” is unnecessary and unkind. Someone put a lot of work into that.
    Lovely before and afters – thank you designsponge.

  • great transformations! even though i may not necessarily choose the same fabrics, i can see how in the right context all of the chairs will shine!

  • I have my own chair in desperate need of re-upholstering, and a date with destiny (class in January!!). I don’t think I’ll be as brave as these chair-owners were, but I hope to get a little brave by the time I pick fabric :)

  • I love it that each chair maker really went for it. I’m sure they will love looking at these chairs in their homes. I’d much rather see some risky choices in the fabric and I’d take any of these chairs into my home. I live in Austin, so I’m chair hunting for the next go around.

  • For any years (maybe 40), the local vocational school/community college help upholstery classes. My mother and I have taken at last a half dozen over the years. Now all the teachers have gone away (I think they’ve died out) and there’s no more classes. So I’m envious of those who live near these craftspeople. Good job!

  • calling one print tacky isn’t hating on all things modern. It’s a mismatch and cheapens a beautiful piece of artisan wood. :P

  • Betty, I thought you–and everyone else–might enjoy the story of this specific chair.

    The creator salvaged it–literally saved it from the trash–after it had lost a piece of the decorative wood at the top. Even though it was broken, she still loved the shape and especially its diminutive size for her 10-year-old daughter’s room. She chose the bright happy green and blue because they weren’t TOO girlie for her modern ‘tween, and she picked a fun print that would be a clever contrast to the details on the wood.

    When she took the dusty, damaged old upholstery off the chair (which took HOURS), the top of the wood frame crumbled and the Spruce team lovingly helped reassemble it, the best they could, with wood glue. Most people probably would have just thrown the chair away at that point, but the team saved it and helped turn it into such a cheerful chair and one so fit for a fun 10-year-old girl that we agreed with her mom that the perfect name for the chair was “Happy.” After two days of hard work, Happy, in its glorious, finished state, made its creator, its recipient, all who were in the workshop and many new online fans very HAPPY.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I think it’s important to remember that in our generic, IKEA world, that when PEOPLE and their stories are behind something innovative and creative–even if it’s not our taste–we should be respectful of their hard work and HAPPINESS.

  • If you new the creator of the first chair you would be taken back by her serious personality. I am sure that choice in fabric was a little on the “bright” side for her. But just as an article of clothing looks differant on the hanger than it does worn, we have to get outside our own boxes and explore the world around us. KUDO’s to all the efforts from all the students and the art that you created!

  • These are SO fun! I’m inspired. How did the Spruce girls learn their craft? I have searched and searched for upholstery classes as it’s something I’d love to get into but it seems they’re impossible to find. Very sad that in many areas this seems to be a dying art. Makes it even cooler to see that the Sprucettes (great video btw!) are sharin’ the love. If I were less than a plane ride away I’d be signed up for every class!!

    • hi jessica!

      upholstery actually seems to be picking up across the country, so the good news is that classes are showing up online and in person in a lot of cities. where are you located? i can see if i can find anything near you :)


  • Right now I’m living in Danville, VA. There isn’t much right here, but I’m just a couple of hours from Raleigh and Roanoke.
    Thanks Grace!

  • No way! That is crazy! Most people have no idea where Danville is or if they have, think it’s an awful place. It’s actually a really nice place to live! I grew up in Blacksburg. Small world!

  • I think these are amazing. Before and afters are my favorite features of the week and these are some of the best yet! They’re going straight to my inspiration folder.

    My local community college offers upholstery classes as well, and I’m hoping to take one come January. I’d like to know, where did the students find such lovely base chairs for restoration? Anyone get a particularly good deal?

  • Shayna: I believe that most of the students found their chairs in antique/vintage shops, garage sales or Craigslist. I’ve had quite a few chairs reupholstered for my house and have had fantastic luck finding really good deals at local vintage shops and garage/estate sales. I’ve even found wonderful frames on the side of the road! As long as it has good, strong bones, and you can see past the tattered upholstery, you can usually turn it into something unique and great.

  • I once owned a used furniture shop and found many of my chairs at auctions. If you go to smaller towns the auction prices are much better than a auction in a larger community. I taught myself by first watching a few videos on ehow and utube then just jumped in. On your first project start with a inexpensive piece of material or sheet. Start with a chair that you pick up for a few bucks. Pay attention when you tear it apart, take notes or even pictures if you need too. then just reverse the process. if you are careful you can even savage the old material for a pattern and saves remeasuring. Keep a open mind though when taking it a part and putting it back together. many times I find much simpler ways to reconstruct it then the original upholster used.

  • There’s nothing i love more than a great upholstery makeover. I started with one myself recently and have found it addictive to say the least. Some women may have a shoe addiction, for me its facelifts for fleamarket finds! Thanks for all the great before & afters.

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