Salvage and Restoration

When I returned from London at the end of 2011, I really just wanted to nest in my house…work on new furniture projects, hang art, etc.  So, I went shopping in the basement of a friend’s antique store. I purchased more windows, a screen door and a few dining chairs.
Then my second to last semester started and my house turned into a storage/work space that I never had time to work on. Fast forward to graduation — still unfinished. Since then, I have had a few months without school or work, so, I finally started knocking out projects and creating more.  Changed out lighting fixtures, hung a lot of photos from travels and stained, refinished and recovered one of the dining room chairs in a French ticking blue pattern.


The other chair took a bit more time as it was in pretty rough shape – a bad stain job, horrible paint on a particleboard inset and just super dusty.



DSC02645I recovered the seat cushion in the same French ticking fabric, then stripped and sanded the chair. Unfortunately, I could not remove the paint from the particleboard – and then it split, urgh!  Then I took a break from the chair to decide how to fix it. The best option was to create an upholstered back to the chair – but the inset made that difficult. So, I sawed it in half and removed it.

I still had the French fabric, but I’ve been very attracted to the deconstructed furniture look (among others) that Restoration Hardware is showing this season, but I wasn’t will to pay $700.00 for a dining room chair and I had my own to repair. Some of the deconstructed looks are a little too messy for me – this one is what I prefer…

Restoration Hardware Couch

Restoration Hardware Couch

So, I made my own, cleaner version with a combination of the French fabric, burlap, nail head trim and gimp trim.

I started by stapling the burlap on the back of the chair. If you have never worked with burlap before, I do not recommend it for your first upholstery job. It is difficult to work with, the edges unravel and it sheds – but it is worth the aggravation.

I added the batting, and then stapled the French fabric onto the front side of the chair.


Nail heads and gimp are great ways to cover staples, nails or mistakes.

Next – I added the nail head detail to the back of the chair.


For the front I used gimp, but I did not want a fancy frilly one – I chose a cotton-braided version that is more similar to using rope or twine. Voilà

Pre-Gimp trim

Pre-Gimp trim




6 thoughts on “Salvage and Restoration

  1. WOW – serious skills.  I remember Mom had some dining room chairs that had that nail head finish… it really is pretty. Great work Sis.  I am seriously impressed, glad you got time to work on your projects!

  2. Lori,
    Where and when did you learn how to do all this? I have a couple of antique chairs in the garage that need reupholstering and repairing so my first thought would be to take them to a specialty shop. Now my first thought is to have you do it!!! You have never failed to amaze me.
    Uncle Ken

    • Dad just had someone look at some of their stuff to reupholster also, and he jokingly said I should come to CA to work on some furniture and pay off some student loans, haha. I like refinishing and repurposing furniture. I built a coffee table out of a vintage window and there are more projects on the horizon. Glad you liked the work. If your chairs are dining room chairs and you just need to redo the cushion, you could probably do them yourself.:)

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