before & after: chair redo with screen-printed fabric

It’s so fun to see where people go hunting for furniture — thrift stores, yard sales, the bizarre junk shop you can barely walk around in. There’s treasure to be found everywhere! Wippowillow founder Kate Troyer decided to combine her modern textile designs with a more traditional chair shape. Her friend and colleague Shannon found this gem hiding among the junk, and snagged the piece for only $40. After creating a custom screen-printed fabric and re-upholstering the piece, Shannon and Kate now have a truly gorgeous chair to last them a lifetime. Kate’s pattern is beautiful, and I love the contrast of the bright orange against the dark, classic wood. Beautifully done, ladies! — Kate

If you like the fabric on the chair below, click here to see the full Wippowillow collection including wallpaper, textiles, lighting and pillows.

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 2 days to screen-print and heat-set the fabric, and 7 evenings to complete the upholstery (approximately 18 hours, but many of those hours were spent socializing in class and checking out all the other upholstery projects!)

Cost: Chair: $40; Wippowillow hand-printed fabric: $150; Upholstery instruction class: $175 for a 10-week class. This cost included tools, instruction, studio space and access to upholstery supplies such as foam, cotton, tack strips, etc.

Basic Steps: We decided to maintain the character and patina of an older piece of furniture and pair it with a striking and unexpected fabric, which we found to be a visually stunning dichotomy. After we reupholstered the chair to the point of the muslin layer, we spent time draping Wippowillow fabrics over the chair to find a color and pattern that “popped” next to the dark wood of the chair. The pattern for the “Swoon” fabric was hand-drawn and then hand-silkscreened in Tangerine onto a pearl gray cotton velveteen fabric using eco-friendly water-based pigments. The fabric was then heat set.

Advice: Each piece of furniture is different, and there can be unique issues to resolve with each project. It is helpful to take photographs at each stage as you begin disassembling your furniture piece because you will generally rebuild it in the same order as it was originally upholstered. You may need to take it down to its bare frame in order to determine if you need to replace distressed webbing or retie springs, which will form the basis and structure for your new upholstery! Seek out an upholstery class in your community, so you can work under a master’s guidance. Doing so will also allow you access to space, tools and materials. I worked under the guidance of Master Upholsterer Scott Smith through Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. — Shannon

If you are printing your own fabric, consider burning a smaller silkscreen or hand-block printing your design. These processes will allow you to print smaller amounts of yardage in your home or studio. I recommend stretching canvas over a thick industrial felt on top of a sturdy piece of wood. This surface can then be used to stretch and pin your fabric down for hand printing. Also, be sure to test different pigment brands. Some textile pigments have an undesirable texture to them, and you want to be sure you are sitting in comfort when the project is finished! — Kate

  1. Tara says:

    Reupholstering an old chair really gives you a deeper respect for craftsmanship. I reupholstered a hand-me-down dining chair that was made in 1937(!), was hand numbered and signed by the craftsman and made within and hour of my home town. It wasn’t an exceptionally precious piece, it was the common way people did business – locally.

  2. So gorgeous! This fabric is brilliant!

  3. Ok this is EXTRA awesome with screen printed fabric!!

  4. Michelle says:

    Oooh, that looks gorgeous! I love the fabric choice and this looks exceptionally well done. I’m jealous you were able to take an upholstery course. I’ve been looking in my city and no one seems to offer one.

  5. VisualJill says:

    Wow. This is pretty unbelievable. I would walk by that chair and think “Who would every buy that old piece of junk?” Now it’s probably one of the cutest chairs I’ve ever seen. Great job!

  6. Katie says:

    The print is beautiful, the upholstery work very well done, and I appreciate that the wood was left alone and not painted over. The contrast between the modern/bright print and the traditional chair/wood finish is stunning. I usually hand-paint onto fabric, but would love to give silk-screening a try. Thanks for the tips!

  7. R.Amblin says:

    Brilliant! Brilliant! I love that you left the wood rather than paint. I’m inspired.

  8. Kristan says:

    It’s hard to believe that’s the same chair! What a transformation.

  9. Stunning. Great tips for reupholstering, too. Extremely helpful.

  10. SmithRatliff says:

    This is stunning! We’ve been toying with buying an old chair to reupholster and this just might be the push I needed.

  11. Katie says:

    The end result for this one turned out extremely beautiful! I’m mid-upholstery at home, so this is definitely giving me the motivation to stop putting off the finish! I’m so close too: did a ton of work on Tuesday.

    Overall, this turned out so nicely! The original fabric is such an inspiration!

  12. if only i had the time and patience to learn how to reupholster. i love when people can transform a piece of furniture from junk to a favorite piece in the home!

  13. wendy baker says:

    have you considered linking this project to the friday link party at, it would bring down the house. the results of your experimentation, keen visual eye and elegant craftsmanship are outstanding. thank you for sharing this.

  14. Cara says:


  15. Hannah says:

    I love seeing these transformations where you have a piece of furniture that looks like it is ready for the dump and then it is turned into something exquisite. I really like the fabric that has been used against the dark wood.

  16. Zelda says:

    I thought for a moment the end look was going to be Shabby Chic but I was pleasantly surprised to see an elegant outcome. You are truely gifted.

  17. Jan says:

    Love it! I took Scott’s Tuesday class this past fall (plus others in the past). Your chair looks fantastic!

  18. Jen says:

    It says read the full post “after the jump”. What does that mean?? I can’t find the full post about how they did this chair redo. lol

  19. eleni says:

    there was a full post before! where is it now? can you put it back pleaseeee? :(

  20. Niki says:

    I love it. How and where were you able to find an upholstering class? It seems impossible to find one here in denver…I am absolutely stunned with the outcome and really want to do something like this myself! You are so talented!

  21. PRE_G says:

    This is AMAZING! Love it!

  22. Jo Kin says:

    Good Job, perfect in fact!

  23. D says:

    Wow! Amazing result!
    What fabric did you use to reupholster & of course print this gorgeous print on?
    Marvellous, keep it up!



  25. This is one of the best “before and after’s” that I have ever seen. Your chair is simply divine.

  26. Julie Speed says:

    stunning – the bright modern fabric is gorgeous and is one of the best marriages I’ve ever seen. I too was expecting another shabby chic painted affair but was so pleasantly surprised – the wood looks beautiful and this would look amazing in such an array of decors – fantastic work :)

  27. onkarabile says:

    wow you have really transformed the chair much respect, its lovely.


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