Makeover — Eastlake Parlor Chair
by Diana Durkes
Wahoo! It’s time again for chair sorcery from our furniture and accessories makeover specialist, Contributor Diana Durkes. Diana gives “New Life to the Tossed and Found” at her blog, Fine Diving in Chicago.
What to do with a challenging, homely chair?
Years ago, this one may have occupied pride of place in the parlor. It emulates the Eastlake style, a late 1800’s cousin to the Victorian period, one that simplified high-relief ornamentation with geometric shapes.
This quirky chair also appears to be home-crafted. The mismatched wood pieces, the sharp corners and the glued on appliqué provide the clues.
The chair sat in the entry of a friend’s apartment until she vanquished it to storage last fall. At one time, I’d volunteered to help her make this family relic into something that didn’t so thoroughly stick out from her Metropolitan Home style. Instead, she called and offered the chair to me.
The good news, and for the sake of friendship: I said yes, I’d take on the chair as a makeover project. The bad news: there are two of them.
Step 1: When in Doubt, Go White
When I brought the chair to my workspace, I mentally tried on a buttery yellow to cover the chair’s mismatched woodwork. But if I were going color, why not turquoise or magenta, something vibrant to romance the eye away from the chair’s homespun detail?
In the end, I kept it simple with a white gloss paint. I stripped the chair’s red velvet upholstery and double cording, then hand sanded the original finish to take off the shine, and brushed on primer and top coat.
Step 2: Distract with Pattern
From a local fabric chain store, I chose a cotton canvas to reupholster the chair. My thinking was to find a breezy print or textured fabric to juxtapose the period style rather than attempt to complement it, which to me sounded like a dull proposition—or a prop for a stage play.
I measured and cut pieces for the seat and backs. With a manual stapler, I attached the pieces to the chair’s frame, quite a challenge since the upholstery channels were narrow. Last, I sewed cording by machine, then adhered it to the chair with fabric glue. The print has a 60’s vibe—a good foil or a mixed metaphor?
I’d love to get your thoughts on this makeover.
Is there a similar chair lurking somewhere in your basement or garage? How would you make it over?