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Fabric Picking + Chair Rescuing


Soon after sharing our pairs of chairs, I began the process of ordering a handful of fabric swatches for our recent estate sale find. There was some definite push back on keeping them as-is (even having family give us a ring and claim that they loved them, just the way they were!), but! Allow us to explain? We’ve nothing against the mustard color, say, in our living room of yore, but for our living room of right now, it felt too much like all the colors! Blue, red and yellow together has been a bit much, even now as the chairs harmlessly sit in place and wait for their makeover. The fabric is nubby and somewhat scratchy, not to mention, there’s the unmistakable scent of old perfume and 50 years of dust. They’ve been loved once, and that’s half the charm of a good furniture upcycle! (We love imagining a great back story.)

In their new life, however, we’re going the mellow route. Their mid century shape has our hearts, but we wanted a fabric that wouldn’t compete with our loud-mouthed rug and sofa. And although our walls are a soft gray – sometimes warm, but mostly cool – we opted to choose a handful of swatches in a similar color family to keep the room feeling lighter overall. We’ll break up the monotony of gray with a pillow (or two) and a throw (or two), but we’ll allow the velvet couch to remain the seating star.


We shopped for swatches through our usual haunts –, West Elm and House Fabric – and with a 4 pet household, our main focus was durability! We narrowed our choices down to a couple of favorites, then we gave them a literal scratch test with a push pin. Anything with too loose of a weave was out (sorry, linens!), but we immediately honed in on two Sunbrella samples: Frequency Ash and Canvas Granite. Although they’re both outdoor fabrics, they were super soft to the touch, but most importantly, no matter how hard Scott ripped the pin across the fabric, they would not tear, pull or give in the least. In other words? Kitty safe!


In the end, we chose Sunbrella Frequency Ash (above), for the slight slub texture that was reminiscent of linen without the too-open weave, and it has enough interest to be a step above solid gray. After receiving a 7-yard estimate per chair from our favorite upholsterers (who will also be taking on the job), we made the purchase! While it wasn’t the least expensive option, we feel good knowing that Sunbrella is tough enough for the long haul, and in the end, the cost of upholstery + fabric + the chair price is still lower than a high quality, store-bought arm chair. Not to mention, they don’t make them like they used to! And of course we love a good rescue; no one else will have ’em.

And now? We wait. We wait for the fabric to get here, and we wait for the upholstery team to work their magic. Waiting; the hardest part, they say!

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  • Jyll8.14.14 - 7:42 AM

    I just received my fabric swatches from for a couple chairs I’m recovering and I swear we picked all the same swatches! Unfortunately the sunbrella ones are out of our price range but I still want to find something on the lighter side with darker grey variations!

    My issue is I keep seeing the exact fabric I want on couches and chairs but never at the fabric store … Guess I’ll have to keep looking!

    Can’t wait to see your chairs finished!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.14.14 - 7:48 AM

      Jyll, depending on where you see the chairs you like, most stores will sell their upholstery fabric by the yard! Worth a shot to ask. Also, definitely check out House Fabric – they have the Sunbrella Canvas Graphite for way less than!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square8.14.14 - 8:50 AM

    I’m a big fan of gray anyway, but I like the texture of this fabric as well. The chairs will recede into the background of the room somewhat, but still have a bit of personality.ReplyCancel

  • Heather8.14.14 - 8:59 AM

    Great choice. Did you hit up House Fabric again?ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.14.14 - 9:10 AM

      We did! We found a few Sunbrella choices we liked there, but they didn’t have Frequency Ash. So, won out!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine8.14.14 - 9:18 AM

    Excellent choice. Whilst I love the look of the yellow I totally understand getting them redone. Especially when they have an old scent. Yuk. Can’t wait to see them! They will look amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Julie8.14.14 - 11:35 AM

    Thanks SO MUCH for sharing the name of your upholsterers!!! I have so many older pieces that I love but every estimate I have gotten for recovering has just left me hanging onto the old fabrics (yuck).

    Can’t wait to see the chairs with their new lookReplyCancel

  • David Vargo8.14.14 - 12:52 PM

    Good bye smelly, itchy chairs. We tried to talk K&S into keeping you around. The new look will be awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Cara@theprojectaddict8.14.14 - 4:54 PM

    Can’t wait to see the chairs. I love your couch! I’m looking for fabric for some dining chairs and that granite sumbrella may be perfect. I love fabric.comReplyCancel

  • Trude8.15.14 - 12:20 PM

    Comfort is such a priority for me that it would have made this choice easy for me too. They lived a good long life with that old fabric, time to be reborn! ;) Besides, fabric is the easy part, it’s the good bones that are important!ReplyCancel

  • laura8.15.14 - 4:15 PM

    I have to say I love the original fabric on those yellow chairs. I even love them with the busy rug since the walls are white.
    But I’m sure they will come out amazing.
    Covers Unlimited are the best!!! can’t wait to see the after.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy8.21.14 - 9:33 AM

    I’m not sure if this has been asked before, but did you have that sofa reupholstered? If so, what fabric did you use? I have a chair that I want to have done, and what is on your sofa is exactly what I am looking for.


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