a little chair makeover

If there is one gift that I am grateful for during this stay at home isolation, it is the gift of time. For someone like me, who doesn’t really know how to switch off, this gift is taking a bit of getting used to. I find it really hard to be still.

Time to potter, time to create. That’s what doing nothing looks like for me. A slower pace of life takes practice!

A neighbour gave me this old chair some years ago. I think her words at the time were along the lines of it being a bit churchy. I think she’s probably right, in that it did look quite earnest. Lovely woodwork, and quite elegant, but a very plain, ordinary brown leather seat cover. My 2 minute quick-fix at the time involved nothing more than painting a few stripes on the leather, and that was that. Since then it has largely been ignored, and has languished in our back living room.

Do not be deterred if something is not exactly right. Alter, upcycle, reinvent.

Time then, for a little creative makeover. I had a few small fabric remnants to work with. Beautiful fabrics, but only scrappy, random pieces. And no pieces of fabric remotely big enough on their own to recover the chair seat. But I decided that a patchwork seat cover could actually be the sort of frippery that this straight-laced little chair needed.

I laid out my remnants so that I could choose the pieces I was going to use. The key when mixing patterns is to reign in your colour palette so that common shades run through your colour scheme. Keep it simple – perhaps work with no more than three or four colours. As desperate as I was to use some designs, they weren’t all going to work with this small project.

Decisions made, the next step was to lay them out in a rough grid of how I saw the final patched fabric looking. The biggest remnant piece I had was approximately 15cm x 20cm, so I used this as my ‘template’ and sewed other smaller remnants into patches that were then also approximately this size. Real patchworkers, look away now because I didn’t actually measure anything other than by looking at it, as I’m sure you’ll know straight away. But each patch was then sewn to become a strip, and then each strip was sewn together to become a big enough piece to recover the seat of the chair.

Possibly the most tedious part of the project was getting the old leather cover off. I used it to work out some of the familial cabin fever that had been building up. Really good therapy I have to say. 5000 staples later and the old cover was finally off and the new cover on, and I was almost ready to talk to my husband again! (Almost.)

And literally, with a little scrappy ingenuity, my churchy little chair is born again.

Amanda xx

(photography and styling Amanda Holland for perfectly imperfect living)

Share this article
  • Ann Davis

    April 13, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Beautiful new old chair 🪑 and wonderful hearing about the process ..

    Ann xxx

    • Amanda

      April 13, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks so much Ann. A lovely project to complete while in lockdown. xx

  • Mo

    April 14, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Loving the mustard colours, one of my favourite colours xx

    • Amanda

      April 14, 2020 at 4:15 pm

      Me too. I was very pleased to see a little piece of that in my remnant bundle. 🙂

  • Heather Mackintosh

    April 17, 2020 at 8:45 am

    You are such an inspiration Amanda. Could you do some more and perhaps sell them in the shop?! For those who don’t have a creative bone in their body xx

    • Amanda

      April 30, 2020 at 10:39 pm

      Perhaps I’ll keep an eye out for some more lovely old chairs x

  • Heather Haines

    April 18, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Just gorgeous – I’m inspired to do the same with a jacobean chair I have – it’s got a tapestry on it. Some lovely colour would give it the oh-la-la factor. Do you sell the remants in store?

    • Amanda

      April 30, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      That sounds like a great project to play with Heather. We save the remnants up and sell them in bundles once or perhaps twice a year. Keep an eye on our store to grab them. They are always so popular!