before and after

before & after: reupholstered wingback chairs

by Kate Pruitt

This is a great project to open with today; the loveliness of these chairs can inspire you to tackle your own re-upholstery projects, and this afternoon’s Upholstery Basics post on coiled seats can show you how to get started! After snagging these chairs for only $8 (!), Heather made a brilliant upholstery decision by pairing a bold lime zigzag fabric with a softer neutral pattern. I love the explosion of print that peeks out from behind this chair — more chairs should contain surprises like that, don’t you think? Great job, Heather! — 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.)

See more of Heather’s zigzag upholstered chairs after the jump!

Time: 2 weeks

Cost: $500 for the pair

Basic Steps: A friend spotted these wingback beauties at a garage sale for only $8 a piece! She called and told me that I needed them, and she was right. They had belonged to one family since the 1930s and were in great shape structurally, but the upholstery had yellowed and was in dire need of replacing. I saw the citrine-colored chevron at a local discount fabric store and fell in love. It took me a couple more visits to settle on the wood grain/paisley pattern for the front. I second guessed my choices about 20 times after purchasing the fabric but decided to stick with it.

I’ve reupholstered smaller chairs myself but knew that this job required an expert. I found a small family-run upholstery shop about 20 miles outside of town that was much cheaper than those in town. The drive was worth it. They recovered both chairs and restuffed the down pillows all for $410. Aside from being so well preserved, these chairs are very comfortable and are a great place to plop down after a long day. My style of decorating tends to merge traditional elements with modern pieces. I love that the lines of the chairs are so traditional, but the fabric is playful and keeps our formal living room from feeling too stuffy.

If you’re wanting to recover a piece of furniture, whether it’s something you’ve had for years or found recently at a flea market, make sure it is structurally sound before you invest the time and money to reupholster. Call around to find the best deal on upholstery. In my experience, it can range anywhere from $30 to $60 a yard, depending on the shop. If you’re leery of picking a bold fabric, try using it for the back of the piece where it’s not as visible. You could also have custom pillows made in a bold fabric and use a more neutral fabric choice for the piece itself. — Heather

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