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Why Whimsical Fabrics are the Perfect Antidote for Antique Chairs

Deciding on what fabrics to use on a chair makeover can be a really hard decision, especially if the chair is an old fuddy-duddy antique chair. Don’t get me wrong, I love these antique chairs. They have so much potential.  This chair was one of those chairs. 

There are some purists among us who enjoy restoring these chairs back to the original glory using period fabrics. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, I prefer to give these chairs a fun twist by using whimsical fabrics. It’s still tricky, though. Not every fabric looks good on these chairs. The key is to find whimsical fabrics that are still grown up enough for our living spaces.
I had a pillow from the room where this chair would go to help guide me with the color scheme. I found plenty of great options for this little chair. I had narrowed it down to four finalists. One was a multicolored check. Another one was a raspberry and cream check.  The third was a stripe.  And the fourth fabric was a chenille dot on a neutral linen from Kate Spade. 

It took me about a week of looking at these options on the chair to make up my mind…it would be the Kate Spade dot fabric. It was the chenille dot on the linen that looked upscale while bringing in a bit of whimsy.  Have I mentioned before how much I love Kate Spade fabrics? Amazing quality and oh so much fun!

After stripping off the old fabric, I applied wood stripper to the legs and arms. Then I sanded, cleaned, and waxed the wood to give it an update. 

Once the fabric started going on, I just fell in love with it. The dots brought out the cute curve at the front of the chair seat. 

Whimsical fabric was just the thing to bring this chair back to life and give it another 30 more years. And when I looked at the entire chair redone with the pillow that will go back in the room, I knew I had made the right choice. 

Even the backside looked adorable! The dots played nicely with the rounded back. 

I had fun styling this chair around my own house, but I can’t wait to see pictures of it in its new home. 

The next time you go looking for ideas to update an antique chair, think outside the box and consider some whimsical fabrics.  Combining something unexpected on these so-called predictable chairs can make a huge impact. Have you recovered an antique chair and love it’s look? I would love to hear about it in the comments section!

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!