Drab to Fab: 1930s Arm Chair

Reupholstered chair

So what do you think of the FAB part of the re-upholstered chair? This was a 1930-1940’s armchair we picked up from a neighbor’s estate sale.  The lines of the chair were just too classic to pass up, plus it had a down filled seat cushion so it was dreamy to sit in! The downside was obviously the worn out fabric that looked like it was 70 years old, but at least the green was a livable color for a while.

So, it sat in our bedroom for a couple of years until we finally decided it needed a facelift and we had the money to do it. Let me be the first to say this was not a DIY job entirely! There are many things I will try but here’s what put it on my “need help from pro”…

1. Lots of sewing required to re-upholster this piece (to me this sounded extra tricky)

2. Lots of piping! Having had the experience of sewing piping on my dining room chairs I wasn’t anxious to repeat on this size of a project.

3. Lots of cutout areas around the wood arms and legs…yikes!

4. Time!!!!! Since I had never attempted to re-upholster anything this big or complex, all I could see was months of my time sewing, ripping out, sewing again, and calling my mom in tears begging her to fly out and vacation to fix it all (p.s. she does awesome upholstery work but doubt it would be the vacation of her dreams!)

1930s upholstered chair

So this chair was my first piece of furniture to be professionally re-upholstered and I would totally do it again!  I thought professional re-upholsterly was only for the rich and famous, which I’m not, but it was completely doable and here’s my experience…

1. Find a good upholstery shop. I didn’t know one but Yelp app came in handy. Great list of shops with reviews – yea!

2. Get an idea of price.  Two things affect price, your fabric choice and the amount of work. I did all the pricing estimates by email. The shop asked for a photo of the chair and returned an estimate which included upholstery ($600), refinishing the wood ($200) and re-stuffing the cushion.

p.s. I also asked for an estimate to make a slipcover for a coordinating ottoman. The price of the slipcover was as much as buying a new one so I skipped it!

3. Since I’m completely ok with refinishing wood and there was so little wood, I decided for DIY refinishing. Took only about an hour plus dry time between top coats.

4. Delivered the chair to the upholstery shop and he asked me a bunch of questions about fabric ideas to steer me in the right direction. If you’ve never been in an upholstery shop (which I hadn’t) this is the overwhelming part and part eye candy!  There are literally a jillion fabric swatches everywhere and a million more books of fabric swatches. You really want to look at them all but DON’T do it – you will go insane!  The shop owner steered me to a small set of books to look through that were in the fabric price range and type of fabric I described (4 books of swatches so plenty of choices!)  Pick one and off you go.  Yes you can check out the books and take them home too.

(Tip: If your fabric has a pattern your cost may go up slightly since they will need extra fabric to match the pattern as they put it together)

Luckily, the shop offered to include re-stuffing the cushions with fresh down so my cost was just the re-upholstery!

Re-upholstery took about 3 weeks.  When it returned to our bedroom I did add the DIY Ikat pattern pillow.  Just the right accessory to pull in other colors of the bedroom!

Refinished armchair

 

So don’t be scared off by calling in the upholstery pros when you have a piece you really luv!

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