Armed with gold and cherry-red spray paints, Hendrickson coated the retro chair with fresh color. At one point, she wondered if her chair was a genuine Eames and was worried that repainting it may be the wrong thing to do. Her concern was fleeting, and soon enough, the gross, unused chair became a lively new perch.
Fausnacht paints from his own photographs, culling a rich inventory from his backyard farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After at least three layers of paint to prep (and conceal) the original fabric and primer, the resulting chair is as much a work of American art as it is a comfortable spot to nest.
When illustrator and all-around crafty gal Tammy Smith planned a studio renovation, a pair of vintage Hollywood Regency chairs were part of her vision. Though the crushed velvet looked fine to the eye, the cushioning was crunchy to the touch. Smith says, “It felt like it had rice inside, because all the foam had disintegrated.”
To start, Smith tore off every last bit of fabric and padding, and sanded down the exposed wood. The luxe finish on the frame is the result of many thin coats of spray enamel, sanded in between applications and finally buffed with paste wax. The neat array of 58 tufts is testament to Smith’s sheer patience and—to her surprise—the enjoyment she found in drilling each one out.
All dressed up and fighting the urge to stop at a roadside heap, diehard upcycler Kathy Cruz, who co-runs The Salvaged Boutique with her sister, Karen, finally succumbed. “I am so glad my fear of being spotted by someone I know didn’t stop me,” she says of the vintage vanity chair—her favorite garbage pick to date.
Lanne’s multistep process includes distressing and waxing the canvas to create an original work of art intentionally aged to look centuries old. Waxing also makes the canvas more durable and pliable, which enhances the canvas's ability to function as upholstery. For the seats, Lanne divvied up a crewelwork coverlet, added fluffy batting underneath, and secured the fabric with a staple gun.
From top to bottom, these vintage barrel-shaped swivel chairs, with their poufy channelled backs, read like blue blobs. Though descended from a classic design, the tired, faded chairs didn’t turn many heads. The gals from Chairloom, however, in conjunction with Coldren Design, came up with a plan.
Custom chrome veneer applied to each chair's circular base gave the pair an instant glamour lift, while Madeline Weinrib's lyrical Ivy Blockprint fabric, handmade in India, lent an artisanal quality to the chairs and added to the overall beautification. “This is one of the transformations we live for!” the Chairloom gals say.
At Knack Studios in Greenville, South Carolina, Barb Blair exercises a no-fuss approach to making over furniture. Her first book, Furniture Makeovers, captures a sampling of Blair’s crafty industriousness. This boxy wood chair, coveted for its shapely frame and folklike character, was one of Blair’s lucky victims.
Courtesy Furniture Makeovers / Chronicle Books
Blair used brown wax to both tone down and warm up her chosen paint—a playful turquoise. “Wax is my finish of choice when I want to add natural age and depth to a piece without adding a lot of shine,” Blair says. She then transformed the solid drab seat into a Bavarian beauty. So as not to detract from the vivacious print, she painted the upholstery tacks to blend with the wood.
Courtesy Furniture Makeovers / Courtesy Chronicle Books
Marian Parsons, the DIY decorating dynamo, author, and retailer also known as Miss Mustard Seed, will not sell any furniture that she wouldn’t want to use in her own home. She therefore felt compelled to update these Craigslist French tapestry chairs that were in decent enough shape but not good enough style.
Once the decorative tacks were removed, the fabric stripped, and the foam exposed, Parsons could begin anew. After adding extra batting for increased comfort, she fit antique linen grain sacks on the fronts, chose a new fruity indigo print for the backs, and trimmed them out with ivory gimp that she simply hot-glued into position. The original wood frame, aged to a warm patina, was left alone.
Fine-art photographer Cheryl Maeder of Gardenhouse, who also delights in remaking furniture, saw the potential in this old and ornate aluminum outdoor bench when she first set eyes on it. “While its very shabby-chic appearance may have been fine during the '90s, I wanted to update it with a fresh ‘vintage-gone-modern’ look,” Maeder says.
Respectful of the piece’s Victorian roots and Art Nouveau ornamentation, Maeder went for a main fabric whose pattern hewed to the era but whose crisp chroma was bold and contemporary. The silver powder-coated finish protects the seat and also emphasizes its texture. Maeder says, “For me, re-creating furniture is a lot like making a work of art.”
For more decorating transformations, consider:
Megan Tucker from Estuary Designs
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