And after 1986 what else could be new…*

*Lyrics from Modern Woman by Billy Joel. I know this song from Ruthless People, one of the funniest movies of my childhood (and to be honest, it still holds up today – if you haven’t watched it, or even haven’t seen it in a while, DO, you won’t regret it). Anyway, I had a note to myself that this song should be used for the blog, and I couldn’t think of a better moment to use it than now. Plus, I’m in a total nostalgia place these days, so a bit of youthful indulgence in 80s song fare can’t be bad, right? Besides, the video I found is pretty amusing. Completely the opposite of modern in every way. 

BEFORE: The chairs were upholstered in some sort of silk-ish chantung fabric in a 70s chartreuse. In other words, disgusting.

So, do you recall that a short time ago I said that I had to let go of fixing up my mom’s condo? I had been slowly purchasing her things that I thought she would like, and that I liked, so that she could have her dream home. But, a few weeks ago I discovered that the two tufted, swivel barrel chairs that I bought (pounced on, I think is a more accurate term) for her from craigslist were not holding up so well. A combination of an unsupervised child and a pair of apathetic adults led to one of the chairs being cut into, with scissors, ON PURPOSE, for experimental amusement. Needless to say I was not amused.

Now, naturally I had to admit that if I gave these chairs to my mother, despite the fact that we had talked over plans to have them reupholstered at some point, I should have just shrugged and said, ‘too bad for you!’ But, because I had a vision, and I couldn’t let it go (this happened before I declared my intention to stop with my good intentions), I reclaimed the chairs as my own, and took them to the upholsterer. After a huge argument (sorry, again, mom!), and subsequent discussions of boundaries, we all agreed that I should keep the chairs, and that I should back away slowly from the condo. Better for everyone, I think. (But, I did manage to get those sweet chairs.)

And, well, those sweet chairs were just too much furniture for our big move to our little place in the city. We are already at capacity there (I know I owe you photos, but seriously, I think I’ve spent 10 days there since March), so the husband and I discussed the notion of using them at his office space in Brooklyn. We needed to check with his designer business partner (who is waaaaay more particular than I am, but in a good way), and after a few discussions we arrived at a plan. Reupholster them, use them at the office until such time as we have a bigger place, or we want them back, or if they are no longer useful at the office. Nebulous, but a plan, nevertheless.

A few days spent pouring over fabric options with Jeff from PVU and we arrived at a material – A4217 in Raven by Greenhouse Fabrics – that would retain the chairs’ elegance, but increase the masculinity. When I had first purchased them for my mom I had imagined them being the French part of her Fremoco Noorish (French country + Danish Modern + North African Moorish), and had wanted that femininity to balance out some of the more streamlined pieces. That, and they were petite, like my mom, so I thought they’d be comfy for her. At any rate, for this application, for this new imagining of them in a male office space, we needed to boost the boy, and look at the classic, mid-century feeling of the chairs.

Raven = nearly black background with little white stitches throughout. It's a motif that Jeff continually gravitates toward in his own clothing, so I know it's a fabric selection that we'll both appreciate for years to come.

We considered removing the skirt, another effort to streamline and masculinize them, but because they swivel, and because of the way the legs were attached to the frame, we decided that we should just go with the original chair design. We estimate that they were made in the late 60s or early 70s, so why not just embrace the vintage? Long story short (ok, not short at all) we dropped them off, and within weeks has these glorious babies to look at. Not too shabby, eh?

AFTER: Handsome charcoal affect achieved with a raven and white micro-patterned fabric that looks shiny in the light, but is matte, and almost woolen to the touch.

You see, with a little patience, an a little skill (and a lot of money to pay for said skill) you can revitalize old furniture and use it again. We estimate that these chairs lived with their first set of upholstery for at least 40 years, and, if the fates are kind, they will live with their new skin long into our future. Hello, heirloom furniture that I scored for $25/chair on craigslist. Why don’t you come sit awhile?

More pictures. Enjoy! xoxo


    1. So Happy Home Post author

      No, not bad at all! I actually like them better now, too, even if I did initially intend them to be more feminine. Plus, they’re incredibly comfy. I sort of can’t wait for the day that we have a new apartment that I can design our living room around. With a kick-ass fireplace, naturally.

    1. So Happy Home Post author

      Thanks, Hollie! When they first got listed the were marked as $25 for the pair. The seller re-listed them at his intended price (still a crazy bargain!) and I think I brought them within two hours. I’m no fool. 😉

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