Updating French Chairs

Updating French Chairs

I almost titled this post “focus on the joy”, because it’s much more fun to share a positive experience rather than a negative one. Last weekend, I went to Calico Corners needing serious help finding the right fabric to recover two antique French chairs. Lucky me, I met Angelina. After a few minutes of conversing, I could see she was genuinely just as excited as I was about my project.

Angelina carefully listened to my ideas, then sprang into action making fabric suggestions and found exactly what I had envisioned. Before I knew it, her infectious enthusiasm had me planning more projects than the French chairs. It’s so refreshing meeting someone who has turned a job into a passion, and I thought my little story was worth sharing with you.


Updating French Chairs


With Angelina’s help, I selected two linen blend fabrics. A classic solid color for the chair front and a stripe for the back. I ordered the fabrics and received them in less than a week, just in time for a weekend project.


Updating French Chairs


Supplies for this project

  • staple remover
  • pliers
  • staple gun
  • 1/4″ staples
  • glue gun
  • scissors
  • fabric
  • trim

I purchased a staple remover, (much better than a screwdriver), and a new staple gun at Home Depot. The staple remover worked great prying up the old staples. However many of the staples broke off due to the dense rosewood, and had to be removed with pliers.

With the old fabric pieces removed, I used them as a pattern, laying them on top of the linen fabric. I cut the linen a 1/2″ larger all the way around, so I would have enough fabric to grip and pull taut as I stapled it in place. When recovering a seat with four sides, it’s best to pull the fabric from front to back and side to side, stapling as you go. This will create a tight and smooth upholstery finish.



In a way, this project was like a mini archaeological adventure. Under the layer of brown fabric on the back section, I found the original cotton batting and horsehair padding. On the seat section protected by a layer of poly batting, I found the original gold-colored silk fabric looking very fragile. In some places it was still held in place with old tacks. I left the gold silk in place, covering it back up with the poly batting. It will be fun to rediscover it someday.



After the back panel was stapled into place, the cotton batting and horsehair was reused on the chair back.

Updating French Chairs



Once the new linen fabric was stapled into place, the excess fabric was carefully trimmed away with scissors.


Updating French Chairs


The last step was applying the trim. The wide woven trim was hot glued in place covering all the staples and the raw edges of the fabric.


Updating French Chairs


Updating French Chairs


Since the chairs are made of rosewood, I can’t quite bring myself to painting them. Instead, I gave the wood a light dusting of liming wax to soften the contrast between the light creamy fabric and the dark wood.


Updating French Chairs


The chair back may be my favorite feature. The fabric was cut with the stripes going horizontal instead of vertical. The horizontal stripes are unexpected and draws your eye to the curves of the chair back.


Updating French Chairs


I only finished one chair on Saturday. The other is sitting naked in the studio, which leaves me something to look forward to next weekend. I’m thinking about reversing the fabrics, using the solid on the back and stripes on the front. There’s no rule saying they have to match, is there? Ideas, suggestions or comments are welcome. 🙂

Thank you so much for stopping by and letting me share my project with you. Hope you have a great week ahead!



Linking up with Vintage Charm at Adirondack Girl @ HeartFeathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage, The Scoop at Stone Gable and The Inspiration Gallery at Craftberry Berry


© 2017 Updating French Chairs was first published on Thistle Key Lane™






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