before & after: janis + kristen’s chair makeovers

Maybe it’s the influence of the wintery weather, but I can’t get enough gray in my life right now. I’ve purchased a new sweater, a pair of throw pillows and some fabric for an upholstery project recently, all in shades of gray. I can’t quite articulate what draws me to the understated hue, so I’ll just say that this lovely chair makeover from Janis displays all the qualities I love about gray.

The abstract floral fabric (which Janis scored from the personal stash of Little Green Notebook’s Jenny Komenda) matches up perfectly with the chair’s curved shape, which seems much better suited to crisp white and silvery tones than to the mahogany-and-mauve combination from before. Click here to read more about Janis’s transformation of this chair from dark and dingy to airy and elegant. Great job, Janis! — 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.)

Every once in a while, a Before & After project will come along where I have a hard time stating a preference between the object’s two different states. I do very much love the amazingly crisp and smart pattern on these reupholstered chairs; I think the contrast of the patterns in the room is spot on, and the refinished wood looks incredible. I just want to say that I would take the before chairs without hesitation, as well, which is perhaps a comment on the sad state of the furniture in my own home.

Kristen has definitely done an outstanding job on these chairs, however, and the more I look at the gorgeous op-art fabric she’s chosen, the more convinced I become that she’s made absolutely the right choice for these beauties. They’re modern, fresh and admittedly far more fun than their former selves. They certainly make a much bolder statement and look far more luxurious than their $10 consignment price would have you believe. Okay, consider me fully converted :) Great work, Kristen!


i love that first fabric (grey) she re-upholstered with! both projects look FANTASTIC and beautiful!


I love these barrel chairs! I had one with blue velvet in college – wish I could find them again. Great B&A!

jaclyn @ thelateafternoon

these are both great – love the fabrics and the design of each of the chairs! i recently reupholstered my first chair and now want to find more chairs (like these!) to re-do!


Just lovely! I’ve been wanting to learn upholstery for some time now and this gave me some extra incentive!


I’d love to get started on doing my own re-upholstery. Do you have any suggestions for the best way to learn? Are there any good books or tutorials you’d recommend?


Thank you so much for featuring my chair today! I’m so honored! And thank you for all of the wonderful comments! Bekah, if you visit my blog post I have a list of resources at the bottom of the page. I especially recommend DIY Upholstery’s You Tube Videos.


**JAW DROPPING** does anyone know who makes that grey floral trellis fabric !? to die for really. this one chair just made my day :)


the light palette on the barrel chair is so clean and fresh.
and in the second b&a, i adore the combination of the blue fabric on the warm, orangey tone of the wood frame!


love all the chair re-upholstery!!! great fabric choices!

does anyone know the source for the gray/white rug in the second before+after???


Holy moly, I have the exact same chair as in the first B&A, except the upholstery is blue! I got it at a yard sale with the intent to reuphoster… 6 years ago. Whoops! The After is so pretty, I’m re-inspired to get on that project!!


Vanessa, i think It was pottery barn’s moorish trellis tile rug which came out several years ago. also saw west elm do a similar look.

Kristen Hess

I have to say I second the love of gray right now. i can’t get enough of it. Especially when it’s sharing the stage with yellow and white. Just makes me happy. :)


These are outstanding! I wish Kristen would chime in as well–I am redoing similar dining chairs right now, and while the seat is a cinch, I am really struggling with the upper back portion of the chairs.


Grey, but not blah at all! These before and afters have my gears turning for an upholstery job I have in mind for my dining room. My lab pup chewed my dining table ages ago and it is dying to be refinished and the current upholstery is a mess and outdated. Besides time, the only thing holding me back is how to blend a painted table with a Tuscan, distressed buffet and have the room be cohesive. hmm…


Anyone know what the blue and white fabric on the second set of chairs is? Thanks!


My grandmother had two chairs like the top one that my parents inherited. I’m going to encourage them to do something like this – that chair looks amazing (maybe I can convince them to give them to me – haha)


OMG- I absolutely love this! I’m curious to know where you got this amazing chair and how much you paid for it and how much it cost to transform? I have been desperately looking to do the same thing for the corner area of my bedroom.

THanks for sharing!


I was actually wondering about the coffee table…looking for a reasonably priced marble one myself…thoughts???


Bravo to Janis’ chair makeover!

However, I think I like the green pair’s “before” look better… the crisp blue and white is lovely, but it just isn’t as opulent as the rich, velvety sateen of the green! I also like the color pairing of the pear green chartreuse with the warm wood tone much better than the cool blue and warm wood.


Hi Andrea, I got the chair off craigslist for $50 and if you visit my blog post, I give a cost breakdown. It wasn’t exactly cheap but in the end I got exactly what I wanted and I now have the equipment and supplies to do more projects!


I’m so excited you guys like my chairs! The fabric was from Forsyth Fabric in Atlanta. It’s Annie Selke Home. I bought the rug a couple of years ago from West Elm. The coffee table is also West Elm.

Oliver @ Sabi Style

It lifts my heart when I see beautiful things given a new lease on life and not left to rot in a forgotten corner or worse still tossed on the scap heap!

Just quietly how cool do the second set of chairs look along side the rug. Beautifully put together!


Wow, didn’t know the barrel chair could look so good! Fab makeovers.


paulina, thank you so much… i think i just founf my lamp shade textile!


I am so completely obsessed with chair reupholstery. I think my husband might go nuts if I bring home another one:)

Laurie Severn

TGIF – I love receiving the before and after on Friday morning in Europe! Makes my Friday go by even quicker. Love the chairs.


does anyone know where the fabric for the two chairs came from??
it’s really superb! love it


Ojcp the fabric is Annie Selke Home. Thank you, I love them too. : )

Hannah Baker

I LOVE the first chair. I love that shade of gray. Does anyone have any good resources for inexpensive reupholstering services in the DC metro area?


Wow, the pair of chairs is awesome! Love the choice of fabric, compliments the chairs and goes with the rug.


I love these and I never get sick of seeing the before and afters particularly on chairs.


Wow, both chairs look fantastic. I would be hard pressed to know that the gray chair was the same one from the before pic! That is a fantastic “redoux”!


Amazing how splashing white paint over any currently out of favor wood is considered ‘home improvement’. If you prefer white, go to Ikea and buy junk ‘wood’ but leave that vintage wood intact.
20 years from now your children will thank you!