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How I Plan Eclectic Chair Sets

I often have clients who ask for eclectic sets of chairs. Most of them have an interesting dining space with bursts of color, so the chairs tend to fit right in if we are careful about our color schemes. And here’s the latest adventure in planning a set of eclectic chairs!

The first thing we always do is select the chair frames from what I’ve got in stock. My client already had two end chairs in royal blue velvet, so the goal was to fill the space down both sides of the table with 6 chairs. She chose these chairs. Never mind the cane, I easily removed it and got the chairs ready for upholstery.

My client wanted each chair to have a unique ethnic textile, so the hunt began to work within her color scheme of pinks, yellows, blues, greens, and oranges. To do that, I planned for each chair to have a unique color scheme. I found all kinds of textiles by searching online. These types of searches take hours and hours. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t duplicate the same color more than once since we only had 6 chairs.

Many ethnic textiles are hand embroidered and come from overseas. So the wait began to get all of these here. It took months before I had them all in hand. Then, I began figuring out what velvets worked best for each textile, while also paying attention to how the chairs would all go together. And of course, I didn’t want to repeat the same color more than once.

I decide which velvets we should use based on the colors in the textiles. I always draw from a color I see there. That’s the only way to get consistency.

I narrow down the choices so my clients won’t feel overwhelmed while selecting the best choices to present to them. These chairs were painted dark blue so they would connect with her blue end chairs she already had at her table. Then, I began to play! I suggested that we swap the double welt cord trim so add a little bit of fun on the chairs.

The chairs came out spectacular! Each one has a unique color scheme while also working with the other ones in the group.

I’ve learned that you can typically get away with mixing bright colors if you have the same chair frames and the same paint. In this case the blue paint serves as the neutral because it allows the colors to take the stage.

Notice there’s no navy blue velvet seat because the chairs were painted blue and it would compete with the two end chairs she already had. The set wouldn’t look balanced.

Getting the very best fabric placement is the most important thing. I played around a lot to get these looks.

Going step by step through the process I described above is how I achieve the final product. I never quite know how it will turn out, but I’m always thrilled with the result.

Wendy Conklin

I'm Wendy Conklin, The Chair Stylist.

What brings me joy is helping others live more creatively. I design antique-inspired, boutique chairs, and I teach others how to do what I do. Check out my shop, services, and courses to bring more whimsy into your home and life!


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