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My husband, Eric, inherited this antique chair from his Grandmother.

Despite our penchant for minimalist/modern design, we have a soft spot for vintage pieces. Especially family heirlooms.

Incorporating inherited furniture into your home is an economical and environmentally-friendly way to add character. Bonus if the piece reminds you of a dear, departed relative!

Unfortunately, not everything you get second hand will mesh well with your existing decor. Somethings need a little tweak.

To better incorporate these pieces, we try to revamp them with a modern twist. You may remember our mid-century modern dining chair re-upholster.

midcentury modern dining  chair reupholster

I'd be straight up lying if I said we hit it out of the park with each DIY. As you may recall from my DIY half-painted wall shenanigans, I have a little problem with impulsivity and an inability to visualize the finished product. (I redid this wall three times!)

color block wall headboard

The same caprice befell this chair:

Yes, I painted the fabric. But, let me explain!

I thought that maybe reupholstering the chair in a solid color, like black, might modernize it. So, naturally, an inexpensive way to test this theory was to paint the existing fabric black. I know, draping a black shirt over the chair might've been less destructive! Hindsight's 20/20. Also, that leftover black paint from the half wall fiasco was calling my name!

Turns out black made the chair look quite drab. So, then I thought, "well, I have some of that gorgeous Farrow & Ball 'light blue' paint left over, too...".

I know. I just can't help myself...

It didn't take long to realize this colour wasn't going to work either, and I stopped short of repainting the entire seat.

So, here's where we were at before I got around to actually reupholstering the chair.

Eric's grandmother's probably rolling over in her grave.

If there's such thing as re-incarnation as an inanimate object, you'd have had to have been a very bad hombre in your past life to end up a piece of furniture in our home!

At the very least, what came of this little experiment was the realization that reupholstery in a solid colour wasn't the way to go.

Armed with this knowledge, I went to Fabricland and scoured their aisles for something that might work.


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I spotted this fabric and was immediately drawn to it.

It's kind of reminiscent of mud cloth, which I've always had a thing for... Or, maybe it's the fact that it looks like it's been painted...


Now, to prep the chair for the reupholster.

I started by removing the trim with a pair of pliers. This was pretty easy, since it was just glued on.

Underneath the trim were fabric nails and a cardboard strip, which fastened the fabric to the wooden base.

These were easily removed with the pliers, as well.

Once the trim was gone, I took a peek under the fabric and decided this project would be a lot simpler if I just upholstered over the existing fabric, instead of removing it all then having to deal with unleashing the hot mess beneath.

You can always count on me to find the laziest, least professional way to do a DIY!

I draped the new fabric over the seat and cut it to size, leaving generous margins.

I repeated this with the backrest.

I'd initially planned to use a staple gun to fasten the new fabric, but this proved extremely difficult given the sturdy, antique wood. Instead, I re-used the original fabric nails, thereby making this an almost zero waste project (the cardboard strips went into the recycling and the scraps of leftover material were the only things that went in the trash)!


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Once I finished nailing down the periphery (making sure to apply even traction all along), I trimmed back the fabric.

I tucked the excess material in the gap between the seat and the backrest.

Originally, my intention was to apply fabric trim over the edges, but I've been having a hard time finding a trim that would work well.

I'm kind of digging the unfinished, bohemian look; I like it's juxtaposition with the formal, antique wood. So, I may leave it like this. For now.

Until my OCPD eats away at me...

The exposed fabric nails remind me a bit of Restoration Hardware's deconstructed chair collection!


Here she is in our family room. I'll share more of this room with you in April, when we take part in the One Room Challenge!


There you have it! My serendipitously-nearly-zero-waste vintage chair boho makeover! You can breathe new life into any old chair with a bit of new fabric. If you try this at home, let me know how it turns out!

Keep an eye out for my future posts: Small Mudroom Design Ideas, Easy DIY Wood Panelling & Our Teeny-Tiny Powder Room Facelift.

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