Many moons ago, before either of my shops, and way before I even dreamed of being an interior designer, I went to college to learn upholstery. I remember at the time wanting to take an old-fashioned craft and funk it up a bit, and after trolling through the college list, I landed on upholstery. I did it part time for about 3 or 4 years I think, my memory’s quite hazy, but I soon realised that I didn’t actually enjoy the practical upholstery work, which was about 90% of the labour, I just liked putting the pretty top fabric on, with pretty trims! So I gave up doing the actual work, choosing instead to take my stuff to a far more qualified upholsterer, and continued to indulge my passion for revamping antiques by simply designing their new covers. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to design all sorts of chairs, either for client’s schemes, or to sell in my shop; and today I thought I’d share with you my top ten favourites:
1 – Amazingly shaped wing chair. I found this on eBay for a client, and it’s one of those purchases that I so wish I’d kept for myself! It’s gone to live in Ibiza, and my client wanted something a bit ethnic-ey and a colour palette of greens and turquoises. This Manuel Canovas Boheme fabric fitted the bill perfectly, and we trimmed the bottom with a fluffy lime green braid. I apologise for the photograph, but as of yet, I haven’t photographed the chair myself and this was just a snapshot my upholsterer sent to me, before we shipped the chair off to my client.
2 – Another fantastically shaped armchair, this time a 1950’s number. Like the first one, it’s gone to live in sunnier climes, and my client fell in love with this Boeme Cayos tropical velvet, which I teamed up with a contrasting blue velvet. A fabulous splash of colour against the white washed walls of her villa.
3 – I purchased this pair of green velvet Victorian chairs way back in 2010 when I first opened my Knutsford shop, but it took a few years to find them their perfect owner. Last year, when I was designing an ethnic influenced living room for my client, I knew they’d be perfect. And luckily she agreed. I had a lot of fun designing these! The main body of the chair is covered in the amazing Elasona fabric from Romo’s Black Edition, I used a textured orange linen for the border, and a pin-striped denim type fabric for the sides. This was all topped off by some fabulous orange dangles (what I call dangly trim – I know I sound like Miranda’s mum).
4 – This gorgeous French chair has been upholstered in Liberty’s Ianthe Flower. Sadly the room hasn’t been finished so I haven’t been able to take a photo of it in situ, so again you’re seeing a snapshot from the upholsterer. But below are images of other fabrics I’ve used in this room, which might give you more of an idea on how absolutely pretty it looks in real life.
5 – A Victorian conversation seat. This has gone into a client’s large hallway, where we’ve teamed it with an antique rug of similar shades. The fabrics I used were green crocodile effect velvet, black silk damask and red satin as a contrast. This is one of my favourite pieces of all time, I love it.
6 – This gorgeously shaped antique French armchair was recovered in two Andrew Martin fabrics, an ethnic design on the front, with a pinstripe on the sides and back. I designed this chair to be displayed in the shop, and after a little while near my desk, and then a little while in the window, it eventually got bought by a wonderfully discerning (she was!) woman who gave it its forever home.
7 – A little French fauteuil in a very drab fabric, got a revamp in brightly coloured Designers Guild silk, for my shop window. I love the juxtaposition of a pretty antique chair against the dramatic backdrop of Cole and Son’s Circus wallpaper. Sadly you can only see a snippet of the wallpaper, so I’ve included a photo below of the full pattern.
8 – When I saw a pair of blue leatherette fluted 50’s armchairs on eBay, I got completely giddy and just had to have them. They were a good price too. I upholstered one to be used as display in my shop, in a pinky violet leatherette from Designers Guild, and I saved the other one. These are forever pieces which I’ll never part with, and since closing the shop, they now reside in our garage patiently awaiting their next incarnation. They live with the palm tree lamp pictured below, who has also been forced into the garage due to our rental’s ceilings being too low. So many goodies in the garage!
9 – This curvy chaise longue was one of the pieces that I found during the first year of having Aunty Mabel’s Seat (thats what my shop was called), and it sold within a day. I have bitterly regretted selling it ever since. It haunts me in my sleep. I want to beg the lady from six years ago to sell it back to me. She can’t possibly love it as much as me! And to rub salt in the wound, I recovered it in my favourite colour. *SOB*
10 – A little antique piano stool. Purchased purely for it’s lovely shape and it’s interesting upholstery possibilities. Fabrics from Designers Guild’s Royal Collection were used to recover it, and although for sale, this little chair never found a buyer so sadly (!!) it had to come and live with us when I closed the shop. It keeps the fluted 50’s chairs and palm tree lamp company!
11 – Ok, I know I said top ten. But I’m cheating and adding a little Brucey-bonus! This splendid chair, with all its original paintwork and gilding, was in a terrible state when I got her. But we soon dressed her up with some exquisite fabrics. She was known as The Duchess at the shop, and when people asked me how much she was, I became very vague about whether she was for sale or not! I was terrible at selling stuff!
So I hope you’ve enjoyed my top ten favourite chair makeovers, as much I loved designing them. There are others to share, which I’ll do in the future, and I definitely need to pull my finger out and get some in situ photographs taken. But I’ll keep you posted as and when I have new images, and hopefully it will give you lots of reasons to keep coming back to visit!
© Carnival Of Colour 2020