Before and After: New Life for a Vintage Chair

Here’s how to take a timeless perch from rags to royalty.

Open the windows, shake off the dust, and breathe some new life into your home because spring truly arrives.

An easy way to refresh your space is by upcyling a vintage find. The chair pictured at left was bought at a relatively new boutique on Mass Ave, Boomerang BTQ, for just $15. Store owner Felicia Kiesel packs her shop with new and vintage items that come chock full of unique style. This chair may not have looked like much in the beginning, but it had great bones.

With the use of a Philips-head screwdriver, I removed the four screws holding the seat in place, then took it outside to apply a can of spray paint (bought at Fusek’s True Value for $6.99). Purple, commonly associated with royalty—and, I’ll be honest, Wendy Williams—was chosen to complement the throne-like shape of the chair’s back. Pro tip: Be sure to spray-paint outside, or in another well ventilated area.

Then I paid a visit to Indy’s quilting hotspot, Crimson Tate, which is actually next door to Boomerang. David Barnhouse and Heather Givans, the store’s owner, wisely directed me toward a fabric with the thickness of canvas, sure to hold up to the wear and tear of any seated royalty. The Ellen Luckett Baker “Critter” fabric ($22/yard) pictured at right was the winner, as the gray complemented the purple, and the whimsical print played well off of the detail of the chair back.

Finally, I removed the old fabric from the seat, and was pleased to find the padding in good shape. (Should you need to replace seat padding, you can visit any local craft shop.) Then I turned the seat over so the padding was against the back side of the fabric, with enough border available to wrap around, hide the ends, and staple. I recommend using a staple gun to secure the center point of each side of the seat, thus ensuring the fabric is pulled taut after each staple. Then work your way around, continuing to pull tight and stapling down the remainder of the fabric on the seat’s underside.

For less than $50, and with a little springtime creativity, you can create a brand-new chair fit for a king or queen.