October 31, 2012

cane chair makeover

Good gracious. I've been cussing more than usual and my hands look like I've been working on a barge. This can mean only one thing - I'm reupholstering again.

Remember these beauties?

Oy what a labor of love they became. They took far longer than I had planned. I'm distracted easily. But wahoo, they are finished. Now no sense in prolonging the reveal even longer, let's get to it.

First step was stripping both chairs, some very light sanding and then painting them black. For some reason I had always envisioned these painted white, but my mom suggested black and I think it was a rather smart choice. Good work Jan.

newly painted chairs against my newly painted walls
Now compared to the couch, this project was a dream. No guessing on what part of the furniture to start with or thinking ahead about how each section would relate to the other. Nope. There is a seat and there is a back. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

The outside back goes first. I made sure to rip off the old fabric pieces as much in tact as possible to use those pieces as templates for my new pieces.

The hubs helped me out on the inaugural cut.
These chairs have the same grooves as the couch did so following the staple line was really straight forward. After stapling the piece in place, I trimmed off the excess.

That band in the middle of the chair was there when I stripped the fabric. It is sturdy as can be and helps to keep the front cushion from pushing thru the back of the chair. If the first upholsterer was smart enough to put that in, who am I to argue? So back in it went.

With the outside back in place, next came the inside back... or the front back. The terminology on this chair got very confusing. Luckily the back cushions were in great shape, so I could reuse them. Score.

that's fabric. laying on top of a piece of foam. photographic genius.
After stapling and more stapling, I landed here. Staples showing but piping was in the works.

The base below the seat cushions were easy as well. Just a matter of covering the old base and stapling. Just like wrapping a present. Or riding a bike. Pick your analogy. And a cheat I made - you can see the rip in the fabric in the very back of the seat. I ran out of fabric. But a cushion is going over top of this so I didn't sweat it. If you come over and pull up your seat cushion to see the 'not all the way covered' base I'll be happy to pay for the extensive therapy you'll need to get over the horror. I'm a generous host.

Next up came the cushion. And as many of you know, I'm not sewing. I bought a sewing machine, but haven't yet taken it out of the box. Don't judge. There have been a lot of good Real Housewife franchises that require my attention. So, I sent them out to a local genius by the name of Catherine Healey (if you are local let me know and I'll give you her info). She made my cushion vision a reality.

I couldn't be happier with my little babies. Two words - contrast piping.

I also used some of the leftover piping for the back cushions. No more staples.

And with that, these chairs went from this

to this

Holla! Big difference.

A few things I learned this time around.

Although the couch was far more daunting in size, this project seemed to be harder because there are two. So everything I did, had to be done again. A big downer when you are on your third straight night of staple pulling and your hand is turning into a claw.

A chair like this, which doesn't have to be a 'central/big furniture' piece is the perfect opportunity to have some fun with fabric and patterns. For example, check out the fabulous junk in this chair's trunk.

This chair looks just as good from the back as it does from the front. And from their position in the living room they will be enjoyed from both directions. (more on that with the living room reveal)

And most importantly, embrace color. Live a little. It's good for the soul.

And now, just like with childbirth, I will promise that I will never again go thru the labor of reupholstering. Until this weekend when I see a sweet little chair in need of a little love.

And please keep your thoughts and prayers with everyone in the northeast who are dealing with the effects of Sandy.


  1. These are almost exactly like my cane chair! I can't imagine doing TWO! Mad props! :) I'm in love with the contrast piping!

  2. You've earned madd bragging rights on those chairs. Love the variety of fabrics and outrageous spunk factor. SUPER CUTE.

  3. Freaking adorable! Those barge hands were worth it! And os. Can you wait for RHOBH??

  4. They are beautiful - I love the combination of fabrics and the contrast piping! Gorgeous.

  5. WOW. i am speechless. awesome job, friend- the dots on the back are so fun!

  6. Aaghh! Love them Elizabeth! Love your fabric choices and the contrast piping! Gorgeous!

  7. What a beautiful job!!! They are fabulous....I promise I will never pick up the seat cushion!!! No one ever dare!!!
    I love the mix of fabrics and colors! And Mom was right.....Black ...!

  8. Holy crap!!!! Those look AMAZING! I love the contrast piping - and mixing it up with the front and back fabrics. Such an amazing job all around!

  9. OMG OMG OMG. That Wonderland Pearl fabric has been a long time favorite of mine! I can't believe these chairs. I want to steal them. Would you do a piping tutorial one day? I'd love to make some of my own.
    AMAZING job.

  10. Whoa. The chair looks BEAUTIFUL, Elizabeth!! I love the way you upholstered it. And the black was perfect!

  11. Oh my goodness, they are FABULOUS!!! So worth all the cussing and beating up your hands. I freaking love that fabric!! You did an AMAZING job!!!

  12. Superfab, Elizabeth. I love them and all their patterned goodness. Great work!

  13. FABULOUS CHAIRS! I love the lines of them. The black looks amazing. The contrast piping is tres chic. Love that the front and back are different. Great job, great patience. Time for a mani and let the tech message your claws before carpel tunnel attacks.

  14. Simply gorgeous darling!! I have pillows in the same fabric! It's so cheery and fun!

  15. adore how it turned out! I never would have thought about using that pattern, but it looks amazing


  16. Wow. These look so great. I wasn't sure that these chairs had any promise, but you did them good :)

    Brie @ Breezy Pink Daisies

  17. holy crap, how do you know how to do this? you're legit! these look great!

  18. Oh my goodness. I can see why you are cussing more... that is one HELL of a project! Those chairs are absolutely amazing!!! Great work!

  19. What fun fabrics. Just finishing up a cane chair makeover myself. Hope to post next week. And yes, it can be a treacherous job!


  20. the chairs look fabulous! can you please tell me the name/maker of that amazing fabric?

  21. I have an idea. Since you are quickly becoming the maestro of all things upholstery, why don't you and your family move on out here. We'll set up shop and kick butt.

    Rockin' chairs, and great photo styling. (Love that little stack of books.)

    It's decorative gourd season...

  22. Love them! I have to help my sister make over her cane chairs! thanks for the tips!

  23. I got stuck on the cursing like a sailor part and the claw-hands. I now have to get into the caning and upholstering part of my chairs, this provided some much needed inspiration.

    I love that floral fabric with the dots.

  24. wow these chairs are gorgeous!! what a great job you did on the make-over seriously love the variety of fabric prints you used. wonderful job

  25. Ohhhh I die! Your fabric choices were given to you by the gods, no? Because that chinoiserie print is divine!! I love the piping. I love the black. I love the junk in de trunk.

    I honestly can't wait to see your living room. Friggin awesomeness. I bow down to your upholstery genius.


  26. This is freakin amazing!!! The contrast piping is incredible and the fabric... wow. I'm inspired now for the chair makeover I have been avoiding like the plague all year.... :)

  27. You did such a great job! It looks so good!

  28. Wow Elizabeth! Those look fantastic! That fabric is gorgeous and I love the contrasting piping. Way to go! I cannot believe your mad upholstery skills. I am seriously impressed.

  29. Holy greatness. I miss a lot. You rocked this bad boy. I love it....well done.

  30. These are the shiz of reupholstering - fantastic job! Love the fabric choices and the black is a great choice. Wow.

  31. WOW!! Those look fantastic! I found your blog on Effortless Style...I'll keep checking back :)

  32. Hi Elizabeth, what a fabulous job. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  33. Hi Elizabeth,
    First time here via Better After! Just subscribed, as your tutorial on how to do the backs on the cane chair(s) really helped me. I inherited my mom's cane chair-almost identical to yours, down to the gold tufted velvet. The cane was damaged, so I removed it, which seemed like either a very good idea, or I could hear the angels crying...but it did give it an updated look. Now, I need to tackle the back, and thank you for giving me the courage. And I also have a machine, but it's old (no auto bobbin winding), so it will prompt me to cuss (then say I'm sorry).
    Happy Holidays!

  34. You are a balla! They are gorg! What patience & perseverance. Love the humor in your writing too.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. wow beautiful I have the same chair out in the garage not for long cant wait to redo mine and thanks

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