How to Create Eclectic Chairs

There are tons of great fabrics out there; some are what we normally purchase by the yard and others are unique one-of-a-kind textiles like blankets, rugs, pillows, and runners. You’ll see all of these on my chairs from time to time. But most of my unique chair designs start with an authentic textile. This latest set showcases one of those.

I started with 4 runners that had intricate beading and embroidery that my client loved on Ebay. (Ebay has tons of textiles if you want to create eclectic sets of chairs, by the way.)

I had to measure to make sure they fit…and they barely did! I had just enough from each runner to cover the front and the back of a chair.

Each design was unique and had interesting embroidery, stitching, and beads of various types.

The color combos were unique within each runner. The one above has lavender with mint green and red as well as other colors. The one below has a bright yellow with teal, turquoise, and other colors.

There’s something about that little yellow and blue flower on the textile below. Each one was so interesting in its own right.

My client picked those four runners and then we proceeded to figure out the color scheme for each chair; exemplified by the velvet for the seats. You can see my initial ideas below. We could have gone with any of these and it would still be amazing and yet very different than what we ended up with.

Once I finished the top, I took another look at our decision for the seat fabric. Here you can see the vision before it’s complete.

As usual, the seat fabric color was pulled from a color found in the top of the textile. That’s typically how I do it. As you saw above with the various choices, we could have gone many different directions.

I didn’t have much choice when it came to fabric placement. There was no extra fabric to move around, so I had to just make them fit. But honestly it turned out perfect. The random look of the designs on each runner gives these chairs such an interesting flair and the seat fabric only makes it look better.

It’s always hard to pick a favorite but I am partial to this red one below. I just love the tiny rose flowers and that rosy red velvet just pulls it out nicely.

For the finish of these vintage chairs, my client wanted an aged look. Luckily, the chairs already had a crackle gold finish, which I did sand down quite a bit so it wouldn’t be so prominent. Then, I applied a light coat of taupe/grey paint over the top.

By the way, this is all done by experimenting. I knew if I didn’t like it, I could sand it down and start over with another color. By going with this neutral paint, the eclectic fabrics were allowed to shine.

The finish touch was the welt cord on top. I didn’t have enough of the runner left over for the trim, so I went with the seat velvet.

When designing eclectic chairs like this, first select the textiles that speak to you. Then, brainstorm the colors for the seats and pick your favorite. (Remember, your emotions never lie!) Finally, go with a finish that works in your space while also allowing the fabrics to be the star. You’ll end up with an eclectic set of chairs that no one else will have and that you will love too!


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!

Check out my online courses to spark your creativity and upgrade your joy, starting today!

10 Best Statement-Making Fabrics from Spoonflower

10 Best Statement-Making Fabrics from Spoonflower

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