Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Upholstered Rattan Chair and Side Table

I love being able to take a discarded (but sturdy) chair and a little table and turn them into pieces that will be loved and useful again.  There is a lot to be said for the power of paint and its ability to refresh and renew. Add in some beautiful fabric and a gazillion staples and you've got yourself an upholstered bridge chair ready for a new home.

Lilyfield Life Rattan Chair

I bought the chair very cheaply as no one wanted it in its previous state - the red velvet seat had definitely see better days and the timber needed refinishing. I forgot to take a before photo of the side table but my neighbour was sorting through a huge amount of stuff that her family was getting rid of and she knew I could do something with it so gave it to me. I thought with the similar rattan, they would make a good pair.


I painted the chair and table in a custom mix of ASCP French Linen and Paris Grey then used Porters' Paints Liming Wax to bring out the details and give a beautiful patina to the paint. It's is such lovely wax to use and gives a beautiful sheen and finish.  The day I wanted to upholster this chair I was short on time to buy fabric, so I popped up to my friends Arif and Lisa at Shady Designs and asked for some remnant fabric. Arif was very kind and gave me these two pieces. 

Lilyfield Life Rattan Chair

While I adore the fabric on the right, I felt that it overpowered the rattan and detail of the chair so I used the stripes.  I love the duck egg blue stripe. The colours go perfectly with the paint.

Lilyfield Life Rattan Chair

Lilyfield Life Rattan Chair

I have had a lot of people asking me lately about upholstery and restoring old chairs. 



My best advice is when thinking about buying old chairs is 
  • Only select chairs that are in good order as unless you are a carpenter, fixing chairs is a nightmare.
  • Check for wobbly loose joints, broken spindles and missing struts
  • Smell the upholstery - stale smoke and cat's wee smells are not something you want to bring home!
  • Check that the foam in the cushions is in good order. Foam can be expensive to replace. If you can reuse the existing cushions then that will save you money.
  • Know the re-upholstery costs before you buy. Upholstery is expensive. Even if you do it yourself you will need to pay for fabric and braid. It's way more expensive to pay someone else to do it for you. Calculate the cost of doing up the chair before you go shopping so you know what you can afford to spend on the chair.
  • Look at the lines of the piece. Look past the red velvet or fraying fabric. This can be replaced.
  • Sit in the chair - is it comfortable? 
  • Learn to do basic upholstery to save yourself the cost of paying someone else to do this. 
  • Buy yourself a good staple gun and you will easily be able to recover simple chairs. 
  • When removing the old fabric try not to rip it so you can use it as a template for the new fabric.
  • Once the old fabric is removed, check the batting, foam and springs, repair as necassary. 
  • When the chair is stripped, paint or refinish the frame as desired. Unless you are very neat, I wouldn't recommend painting the frame while it's still upholstered.

Lilyfield Life Rattan Chair

I hope those hints help - or if you live in Sydney, you can always hire me for your projects!  The chair and table are available for sale. Please email me (see comments below)

What do you think, do you like the stripes on the chair? Did I make the right choice?




13 comments:

  1. You definitely made the right choice - never doubt your instincts, Fiona :)
    Thank you for those excellent tips! I'm chair shopping myself at the moment. I'm hopong to find something old, beautiful and comfortable. I'm worried about upholstery costs, though. Have no intention of setting foot in Ikea!

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    1. thanks so much Zelda, yes I have to do things that look right to me! Good luck with your chair shopping, lots of fun.xx

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  2. I agree that it was the right choice. So stately looking. You have such talent! Wish you lived closer!!

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    1. thank you Rose! much appreciated. where do you live?

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  3. Classy Fiona and Zelda, Ikea have a good quality range of fabrics and compare very well with the LAura Ashley or Biggie Best fabrics of 20 years ago. I have a lounge slip covered and it wears and washes really well. Dont give up :)

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    1. thanks Patricia for your lovely comments always. I agree, IKEA fabrics are very good quality. (perhaps not their furniture though...!)

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    2. Thanks for the tip,Patricia - I'll definitely check out Ikea for fabric. It was their furniture I was referring to in my earlier comment :)

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  4. The fabric goes beautifully with the chair, very classy. I love it. I did an upholstery course about 30 years ago and haven't used it lately but hope to soon.

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    1. i would love to do an upholstery course sometime Roberta but really google is just incredible. although saying that i have no idea about retufting etc. I would love to practice that sometime. hope you are well
      Fiona x

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  5. I love the stripes Fiona! I do love the other, but agree it might over power that particular chair.

    And I agree - fixing chairs can be a nightmare! I have two in the garage at the moment that I'm almost tempted to give away because they're probably more work that I had initially realised :)

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    1. yep, give them away Catherine and move onto an easier project i reckon. I had 11 french chairs once - i did up 1 and then sold the rest at a great profit to various people untouched. actually 6 of them got bought by a guy who was going to cover them in different animal hides (of animals he had killed himself - a giraffe, zebra etc) i nearly vomited haha. not an after photo i wanted to see.

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  6. absolutely the right choice! I even have a mental block against stripes and plaid, but anyone can see your choice made for a very serene design! The figurative nature of he other fabric panel not only overwhelned the caning but also totally negated the carving on the piece.

    Well Done!

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    1. Thanks , I agree the other fabric was too overwhelming. Hope you are well
      Fiona xx

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! (Sorry if you have trouble commenting, I'm trying to sort it out)