before & after: reupholstered chair

I know I shouldn’t anthropomorphize furniture, but I have to admit that it saddens me to see decrepit, neglected furniture. This chair was in serious need of love and attention — a very sad specimen indeed. Irina has done a wonderful job bringing it back to life and making it stand out with the custom embroidery and fabric collage she’s added to the upholstery. I love that the pattern travels from the seat to the back cushion, and the button flower is an adorable little detail (More images after the jump!). Happily, this chair’s best days are clearly yet to come. Great work, Irina! 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.)

Time: One month (spread out over time)

Cost: $100

Basic Steps: First I put the chair into pieces in order to take out the old finish and to repair the joints. The wood was intact, but the joints broken, so the chair didn’t have stability anymore. I reinforced the joints, took out the old lack from the wood and redid the base of the upholstery. This was the hard-work part. While working on it, I already started to build a concept about the final look and to sketch the design for the fabric. Once the fabric arrived (ordered from a supplier in Italy), I applied the design on it using fabric collage and hand sewing. Finally, when everything was ready, I reupholstered the chair with the new fabric, put back the wooden legs and got a brand new chair straight from the fifties! — Irina

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Well isn’t that just a wonderful redo. The best kind, takes a cute chair and makes it perfect.

  2. Christine says:

    I love this mid century chair redo. Came out great!!

  3. lauren says:

    put a bird on it

  4. Teresa says:

    Love it!

  5. Kristan says:

    Love it! The After chair has a sort of Charley Harper feel that is adorable and attractive.

  6. Very cute! Love that chalkboard wall too!

  7. Michelle says:

    I love the stitching! Great idea! Thanks for sharing/inspiring!

  8. Oh, I love it. I share your feelings Kate when you say it saddens you to see a piece of furniture in need of love. But at the same time, it’s really exciting to think about the possibilities and bring it back to life!

  9. Michele R says:

    How great! I’m looking for a chair to put in my guest room, will have to keep in mind the hand embroidery,,,(not that I’m much good at that!). Adds an expensive look!

  10. Mariela says:

    Beautiful, well done!, love the bird and the chalkboard.

  11. SVEIKA says:

    It’s so rare to see upholstery that is customized to the piece of furniture. Thanks for sharing this!

  12. Kim says:

    i love before-and-after projects, and this one is superb! the fabric design is so beautifully integrated with the chair itself… a work of art!

  13. Jolene says:

    I love that the wood stayed clean and didn’t get painted! It is so beautiful! This is one of my favorite before and after’s yet!

  14. You did a really great job on this chair, I love everything about it! I would have liked to see more of the steps for the re-upholstery part though. I assume that the insides had to be replaced and would have liked to see what that looked like too.

  15. whislerpotpie says:

    WOW! Amazing. Excellent. Me likey. Me want!

  16. Lauren says:

    Wow! Great job! I love it!

  17. cyn says:

    Love this! An amazing job and love love love the bird.

  18. IRINA says:

    Thanks for all nice feedbacks! I really loved working on this chair. It’s for sale now, available on my etsy shop, On my facebook you can see more of this kind of projects, done for private clients
    thanks again, DesignSponge, for posting my chair, happy to see that my work is appreciated.

  19. Samantha says:

    this chair is gorgeous! i would love to do something like this, but i’m nervous about things like bedbugs when i pick up a used chair. any tips for being thrifty and avoiding the pesky buggers?

  20. that chair looks absolutely amazing! I LOVE bird decor and would totally rock this chair in our home! NICELY DONE! One of the most creative chair-redos I’ve seen. :)

  21. IRINA says:

    most of the old furniture risk having bugs, specially if it was stored outside, like also this chair. when you take out the upholstery be sure you do it outside or in a dedicated space, not in your home. once the upholstery is out, you can wash and treat the wood, and then is save. but yeah, this is the ugly part of the whole process :)

  22. great change into the modern world

  23. The illustration makes this project sing!! Love it! Great job!

  24. eileen says:

    Ah, they put a bird on it.

  25. Trude says:

    Whoa, can’t believe that’s the same chair! Looks gorgeous!

  26. tracy ashley says:

    i’m a little obsessed with embroidered goodness lately. a chair like this has got to find its way into my house! absolutely love it! thanks for sharing…

  27. Maggie says:

    Love it! I’ve never seen embroidery/hand sewing on furniture before, what a great idea, perfectly executed!

  28. Joan says:


  29. ksi says:

    looking at this I so wish I had such embroidery skills… Absolutely. Gorgeous.

  30. moz says:

    Inspirational. The before was pretty cool, but needed help… the after blew me away.

  31. Anthea says:

    I love Chair redo photos, gives one heart while staple pulling and sanding. But this redo even more inspired. Love the neutrals with the hit of orange, A perfect match to the new Design*sponge colours.

  32. Shelley says:

    looks awesome. great job. wish i could do that.

  33. Jilli says:

    Very cute! And yes (as others have said) put a bird on it. Possibly the cutest little embroidered bird ever!

  34. Beautiful transformations! I love the little bird on the linen! You’ve got some awesome skills in here!

  35. c says:

    we put birds on things!

  36. Lynnette A. says:

    That is awesome! I love the bird fabric!

  37. Lindsay says:

    I’m really trying to find an inexpensive solution like this for some seating in my home office. I love the design on the fabric she used.

  38. Guido says:

    How did you reinforce the joints? Did you replace the screw somehow? Which Italian company did you order the fabric from?


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