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It's All About the Process

When a client comes to me wanting an eclectic set of chairs, I get excited.  I have no idea how it’s going to turn out exactly, but I know the end result will be fabulous. That might sound scary to many of you. The problem solving that goes into decisions concerning fabric, paint, and chair frames is quite a challenge, but this type of work is right up my alley!
I long for that type of challenge because it’s the process that pushes me to be creative. I start with a some rules that are determined by the answers to a few questions. The answers my clients give me set the boundaries that I need to work within. One thing I discovered long ago is that creativity needs boundaries and restrictions to thrive. If everything is a possibility, then it’s too overwhelming. In those cases, decisions are too hard to make and nothing gets done as a result. 
Here are the questions I ask my clients:
1. What colors do you like, and what colors are off limits?
2. Are there any types of patterns you don’t like?
3. Are there any must-have fabrics?
4. What does the table and room look like?
My latest makeover order was all that I was hoping for. I had a client who completely trusted me. I was working on dining chairs. And, the fabrics she wanted were all fun, bright prints. A perfect combination! She selected 6 chairs—4 armless and 2 arm chairs.
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I started with the colors of orange, blue, green, pink, and yellow.  I found a few fabrics online, and then I went to my favorite boutique fabric store in the Austin area, Plush Fabrics. I typically take over one of their tables, trying out different fabric combinations as the gracious owner and other workers hunt down fabrics in the store. Here’s our brainstorming table of ideas. Notice how each little pile has three fabrics: one for the seat, one for the top, and one for the back. 
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Once the fabrics are selected and approved by the client, the work begins. At first, I thought the chairs would be painted grey. But as the fabric was applied, it didn’t look right. So I changed course and went with a creamy white, which gave the fabrics a nice backdrop. That’s another thing about the process of creating…sometimes you need to be open to changing course when the design isn’t right. Thank goodness for flexible and patient clients. It’s truly a process.
The fun part is watching the chairs come to life. Here’s the results.
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Which is your favorite? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

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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Styling Guide

Bring the Chair Whimsy aesthetic into your home with our styling guide!