Before and After: Journey to the Bottom of the Seams

When I bought the chairs in today’s Before and After, I expected this post to have a much different ending. I fully expected this to be a “look what I found under this ugly 80s fabric!” post and I was going to title it “White Lies Beneath” and that was going to be clever and everyone was going to be all like, “Wow! Holy crap! I can’t believe that was under there!” And really, it was so, so close to being that kind of post. So close.


Last fall I purchased a pair of 1950s loose cushion chairs. They were in great condition, but had been reupholstered in sadness in the late 80s. A nursing home in hell is missing four cushions. I planned to reupholster, but I soon discovered that behind the zipper lay another cushion cover. Into this magical fabric Narnia I gladly went.


Ok. Less of a bummer. Actually in person the little blue, pink and yellow threads were pretty cool. I could live with this. But…there was another layer of fabric underneath. Could this be the original fabric? Pristine and preserved through the ages by layers of ghastly mauve swaddling? With great anticipation I peeled back the layers to reveal…


This kind of terrible and definitely worn out barkcloth fabric with a greasy head stain on the back. Awesome. Jackpot. Fail. But hey, at least I could retreat to the white covers, right? All I needed to do was wash them up and put new foam in. Easy peasy. Unless, of course, the aged latex backing on the fabric disintegrates in the washing machine leaving a thick orange sludge and unreinforced fabric with the tensile strength of a paper towel. Which is exactly what happened. Sigh. Off to the upholsterer!


Other than the unexpected expense of the upholstery, I have to say these look much better than they would have with any of the old covers. Converting the back cushions to box cushions and adding the button detailing gives them a much more tailored look. For the fabric I chose Hourglass from Knoll Textiles in the Aegean colorway. It complements the lighter wood nicely.


So I guess I can’t be too mad at these chairs. They turned out nicely, even if they were a big tease. And no, this doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Every time I see a great piece of furniture doused in pastel Southwestern fabric or floral tapestry, I’m still going to take a peek underneath. And someday I am going to find the original fabric. And someday it isn’t going to look or smell like a man made of cabbage died on it. Someday.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 13, 2016 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    I’ve just found your blog in the downward spiral of my furniture project obsession and I am enjoying every word. That second to last sentence made me spit out my water. I love your writing voice and your wonderful projects!

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