Dining chairs re-do

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Here’s our dining room with newly upholstered side chairs.

This dining table has been in my family since the early 80s. I spent years eating family dinners around this table. Regardless of swim practice, school activities and socializing with friends we ate dinner as a family every weeknight and chatted about our day, batted around news, politics, family gossip and friendly banter. My parents had a rule that the dinner table was not a time for lectures, the airing of grievances or criticisms. The dinner table was a place to commune freely, not to be trapped for a “talking to”. The dinner table was a free space, therefore, we always loved dinner time.

These black dining chairs were my parents when they first got married. They were originally brown and had bamboo caning in the backs. I’ve seen them brown, painted white and then black. They’ve been reupholstered a million times.

About fifteen years ago my mom got some new furniture and I inherited the dining table and chairs. I love ’em. I immediately upholstered them in a blue toile. I love toile.

But the chairs have taken a beating over the years. Of the six chairs that we have (originally there were eight) two are badly damaged and Jack’s saving one of them in hopes of someday repairing it. The remaining four needed to be reupholstered and the joints glued and screwed because they were getting really wobbly. We can’t have wobbly or we might lose more chairs. Plus the padding on the seat was getting so thin that the upholstery screws were starting to stick through and poke you in the bum. I didn’t want to have folks over dinner and then have to rush them to the hospital for a tetanus shot. Makes for a memorable dinner party but it really screws the mood. No pun intended.

Here’s the before. My mom upholstered these for me several years ago when the blue toile finally gave up the ghost. She had this great bolt of leftover fabric that matched my stuff at the time. I loved it. Still do.

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But I really needed to fix the chairs and I couldn’t match the fabric, so it forced me to grab my coupons and go looking for a new fabric. To make it more of a pain-in-the-butt, I needed to find a fabric that would match the two end armchairs. (These actually aren’t dining chairs, but a couple years ago out of improvisation for a dinner party I used these in the dining room, loved it, and they’ve been there ever since.)

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Originally I thought I might go with a grey, taupe or even ivory. I wanted to keep it neutral and these are a few of the accent colors that are in the dining room rug, which is mainly red and black. But like a moth to flame I’m drawn to that red/yellow combo. I love red. I can’t help it. It’s all over the house. Our couch is red. The accents in the guest room and bathroom are all red. Even in our entry way …

I’m a sucker. A dozen years ago I picked up this old classroom teaching map in Europe and its hung in my house or office (which had red/yellow walls) ever since. Right now it’s in our entry.

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Of all the jillions of fabrics I looked at and loved (and believe me, I wanted to bring taupe or BLUE home so badly!), here’s the fabric that I ended up with. Red and yellow. I’M A SUCKER!

But it was on clearance. And I had a coupon. And it’s a pretty good match for the armchairs. I couldn’t get away from it. Sigh.

Sucker, sucker, sucker.

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Here are the new chairs. I added the much needed padding to the seats.

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I had to take the backs off and reinforce the frames.

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I added quite a bit of padding to the backs before replacing them.

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And my mom had finished the backs with a nice trim, which I was able to salvage for some future project.

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I think the new two-toned trim works pretty well and it helped me hide my finishing nails.

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Ta Da! Four new chairs.

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(For those of you interior design experts, yes, I know that my dining rug is technically too small, but my brother brought me that rug from Saudi Arabia as a gift. He hauled it 5,000 miles on an airplane. It’s a rug packed with love and good karma.)

Anyway, I think the chairs turned out alright. For just over $40 I got four new chairs with lots of extra padding and had enough material left over for a table runner and a couple of pillows that I’ve placed in the adjoining living room in order to spread the coloring and pattern throughout the space.

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Jack’s verdict? “They look great and screws don’t stick into your butt!”

Excellent. Exactly what I was going for.

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5 responses »

  1. WOW…they are stunning!!!. Were the backs cane over wood or just cane? My dining room chairs have open, cane backs that are shredding and pretty much useless on two chairs, plus the darn dog chewed on the legs of another. I’d love to resurrect them, but am thinking I just have to buy new.

    Your house is always like Barbie’s Dream house to me, you have such excellent taste….

    • Hey Trudy! The backs were just cane … like a tennis racket. Yeah, these were pretty shredded too. My mom cut a thin piece of luan to cover each of the holes and basically upholstered them and then nailed it in place with finishing nails. Works great!

      Ever since you mentioned redesigning your living room I’ve been dying to know what you’ve done. SEND PICS and I’ll post them!!

  2. I love the simplicity of the decor- that doesnt mean it’s sterile–rather, the straight lines & dark woods of the tables, chairs, and built-in chest contrasts beautifully with the curves and colors of the fabrics, and the buddha. Very, very sophisticated and international taste. A calming yet exciting interior. well done!.

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