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


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


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

Raphaelle Marmier

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!

Michele R

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!


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


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!


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!

Emily Lindberg

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.


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


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


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?

Ashley @

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. :)


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 :)

tracy ashley

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…


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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