before & after: reupholstered chair

I took a beginner’s upholstery class last fall, where my fellow students and I were cautioned against choosing an intricately patterned fabric to work with on our first attempt. Stupidly, I ignored my teacher’s advice and chose a plaid — not a great idea. I simply could not get the pattern to align properly and was thoroughly befuddled, which is probably why I love Susie’s reupholstered chair in all its patterned glory. I actually adore how the center folds all have the same repeat happening; it’s unexpected and a bit surreal, exactly how I would describe the awesome Josef Frank fabric she used. Great work, Susie! — Kate

Time: 1.5 weeks

Cost: $200 (not including fabric)

Basic Steps: First, I definitely wanted to change the finish of the chair to give it a more modern, updated look. The original orange-y finish tends to look a little grandma-ish, which isn’t necessarily bad but wasn’t the look I was going for. I think the dark espresso glossy finish gives the chair a more polished look. I then replaced the old tapestry fabric with a fresher, cheerier print, which really makes the chair pop. I’m super happy with how the chair turned out!

I rescued this chair from a garage sale, so take the time to go treasure hunting if you’re looking for a good deal. When shopping for vintage furniture that needs to be re-loved, make sure the frame is in decent shape. I usually note the lines and shape of the chair, and that helps me decide what kind of fabric I’ll put on the piece. Don’t be afraid of color or pattern! I think every room can use an unexpected piece of furniture. — Susie

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.)


I have a grotty old chair that I really want to upholster. I’ve got to say though, it does not look easy…


Man that chair just lost 20 years of age ! Not sure if that’s good or not, but looks cool. Cheers!

Sarah E.

I live close to NYC and I’ve been desperate to find a beginner’s upholstery class. Does anyone know where I could take one? Thanks, and GORGEOUS chair!


Oh wow! Love the print and the colors on the “new” chair. What a difference!!!


I second wondering the source on the fabric. Love it!


My favorite, favorite Josef Frank Print. Well done!


I made a wall of curtains as a room divider with this fabric! Love it on the chair! I admire your resolve to use such a bold print for your first upholstery job- it couldn’t have been easy (and looks great!)
The fabric is by Brunschwig & Fils and is called “La Plata” designed by Josef Frank (in the 1950’s i believe). I have several yards leftover from my project if anyone is interested in purchasing them from me.


beautiful! I had my doubts when I saw the before image, but it totally rocks in the new combination – excellent job!


This chair is gorgeous… My parents actually picked up a tattered chair just like that one at an auction for me and I was wondering how hard it would be to reupholster it. This gives me some motivation!

Naturally Handy

I have had a vintage chair sitting in my garage waiting for me to reupholster it for months. This may just be the motivation/inspiration I need to get going on it. Stunning!


that’s one of the best re-upholstery jobs I’ve ever seen on here. could you give more details about refinishing the frame??? I think the darker color is fantastic!


i have a chair in the garage that i have not had the time or the nerve to reupholster, it has pleats just like that on the back rest… they’ve made me hesitant… any suggestions?


This after is fabulous! I just bought this exact same chair from Two Women and a Warehouse in Savannah, GA for only $50. I plan to paint it white a reupholster it using a hobnail fabric. Maybe I can finish it soon and submit a pic!


Oh wow! I thought the first chair was pretty, but the refurbished one is so pretty! The black and blue look so good together as well.


Do you reupholster your furniture yourself or did you send it to someone. $200 to do a new finish and upholster sounds like a bargain to me! Got any websites/companies i should check out to do some reupholstering for me?


@Sarah E: the previous January I took an upholstery class at The Furniture Joint. We made an ottoman (square) from the frame up. Hand-tied coil springs and all. It was good fun.

This B&A will go in my like photo file!


Love…. fantastic job. The after is 20 times more elegant. I like how the fabric reminds me of vintage Chinese pottery.


The shape of the chair with the new upholstery makes me think of antique china porcelain. This is seriously gorgeous!


The after image looks fresh and simple.. but it emphasize the shape of the chair that brings more attraction in the eyes.


Love the chair! Great job! I’ve always been an admirer of white and blue patterns (being Dutch..) and I’m happy to see that it’s ‘in’ again!
@ Amy, I would be very interested in purchasing your left-over fabric..


I just love the blue fabric chair. It reminds me of Chinese antique vases, beautiful.


That is such a fantastic transformation. Love seeing a really ugly chair made into something so fun and cheery. Thanks for sharing.

Voncelle Volté

Can you experience love at first sight with a chair? If so, I’m may be in a little deep. That blue is so royal, and the espresso sparkles like a gem. Indeed, I’d rather gaze lovingly at it than sit on it.


That is incredible! What a fantastic job. I took an upholstery class and it is not easy. Well done.


Beautiful work!
Amy if you do have some of this fabric, I would be very interested in purchasing for a similar project. Thanks!


I chair is beautiful – I love it! What kind of finish and what shade did you use? I have an antique rocking chair that I want to refinish and I would love to do the same color.


Great transformation but from my teaching experience, you’d want to have a few classes (as in sessions of classes) under your belt before tackling this channel back chair. People sometimes think this would be an easy beginner project. My advice, start simple and work up. You’ll gain skills and the confidence to try more detailed pieces. You could also fill in the channels and upholster the chair with a smooth back, maybe add a few covered buttons.

cee robin

It’s really very nice!…but if the fabric was in good condition…you could’ve either taken the stain off and restained it something with a washed out tan finish…just sayin…


Amy – my daughter BEGGED me to find her some of this fabric. I am very interested in purchasing what you have!! Please.


@ Rosan & @ CSIMS Sorry to delay in replying. Was on vacation. Please email me at amy [at] amhdesignonline dot com and I will get my ruler out tonight to see how much fabric is left on the bolt.


Gorgeous! I love the combo of blue & white with the espresso frame – a real statement piece!


Just found this site(thanks to Nate show). Just how much fabric did it take to redo this chair? I have one almost exactly like it in my attic and just need to buy fabric. BTW, gorgeous chair and great job!

Andew Nielsen

Hey, that is about the best before and after chair photos I have ever seen. Well done.


Is this possible to do without keeping the old fabric as a guide? I have a very similar chair and the old fabric smells horrid so I don’t want to keep it around any longer than I have to.


This chair restoration is STUNNING! Very beautiful Is there any fabric left – I would love to buy it? You posted the designer, but is it easy to find and econmical? I have a chair similar to yours, so I took a class and reupholstered it, a solid fabric, it took 6 yards of fabric. Now I am reupholstering it again to modernize the room and your picture is my inspiration! Thank You for posting it.

Julie Speed

This is superb – This repro chair now has the level of style and elegance it was attempting to emulate when made – I could quite happily live a lifetime with this :)