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barrel-back chairs

I bought these chairs back in January from an estate furniture shop.  I loved the shape and, while the upholstery was done well, the fabric was not my thing.  I intended to upholster them myself, but once Ruthie came into my life all of that changed.  I turned over every upholstered piece I had in my queue, including this pair of barrel-back French chairs.

I painted the frames in ASCP Old White (unwaxed) and distressed it with a sanding sponge before putting them in Ruthie’s capable hands.  She found a super heavy duty fabric that looks like burlap, but feels nice and will wear much better.  It was also a nicer fabric for her to work with and it doesn’t stink or shed like burlap.



These chairs look classy, now.


I got so used to doing everything myself, that it’s still feels funny to turn a piece over to someone else.  It feels almost like cheating!  But, when I look at that perfect double-piping, I’m at peace with it.   I still do plenty.



Speaking of Ruthie, here’s a picture she sent me of the “grass sofa.”  She hauled away several heavy garbage bags of dried grass and reinforced the frame.  Ruthie rocks.


Hopefully it’s all covered in the gorgeous cotton hemp fabric I gave her, because she’s delivering it to me tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see it!  I’m headed down to Lucketts tomorrow to set up a tree in my space and put out the rest of my decorations.  And, as a little treat, two of my readers are coming to help, Kerry and Rachael.  It should be a blast…


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  1. GORGEOUS chairs Marian, Ruthie has skills! Is there a source for that great fabric? I cant wait to see the sofa. I still cant believe it was stuffed with grass…so funny.

  2. Please, please take lots of pictures of your room and post them all. :o)

  3. Chairs are beautiful! Great choice of fabric. BTW, I detoured to Lucketts on Sunday on my way down to Hilton Head from NJ. I absolutely love your space but I can’t imagine how crazy it must be to get furnitue up the stairs to the third floor!. I loved seeing the “Swiss Miss” in person and wish I had room in my trunk. I do now own however the sweet little birds nest that was in the center of the table.

  4. i am in LOVE, like SERIOUSLY, in LOOOOVE with those chairs…err…all your stuff! can’t wait to see the sofa!

  5. julie says:

    Please, please, please spill the source on that fabric!!! I love the look of burlap..but stinks and it sheds.

    I really love the chairs, someday, I am going to travel to the other side of the country to Lucketts!

  6. Susie Freeman says:

    Do you know the name of the fabric on the chairs? They are lovely, Ruthie is good!

    Regards, Susie

  7. I need Ruthie here near me and to be way inexpensive :) I have a chair exactly like this – did not know what it was called – but the fabric is probably original – it is that kind of polyester white on white pattern that was so popular whenever this chair was popular. I LOVE my chair – I have a sofa that matches except the upholstery is milk chocolate brown. However, neither of them are looking happy right now and I want to get them re-upholstered but cannot afford it right now. I might have to take an upholstery class since I don’t have a Ruthie :) Thanks for sharing these pics Marian!

  8. The chairs look wonderful.

    I’m hoping that you’ll share photos of your tree after it’s up and ready to go.

    I can’t wait to see your room all decked out for Christmas.

  9. Beautiful job to you and to Ruthie on the chair! Can’t wait to go to Lucketts with you and Kerry tomorrow!!!!

    :) Rachael

  10. Beautiful, will you share the name and source of the fabric, it looks wonderful. Good luck and have fun,

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t have the source for the fabric. Ruthie bought it for me off of another upholsterer and it was leftover, so I’m not sure we can get any more.

  11. The barrel chairs are absolutely stunning. I love the shape and the redo is fantastic. Gorgeous. Hugs, Marty

  12. Those barrel chairs are gorgeous. I have been on the hunt for a chair just like that to reupholster. I think it’s genius of you to send these out and do the part that you enjoy best.

  13. I hope you have a ball setting up your tree…AND you have helpers! Yeaaaa!!! I love the recovered chairs…wonderful! How lucky you are to have a Ruthie in your life! xo Diana

  14. That chair looks fabulous! I cannot wait to see what the grass filled sofa will look like, make sure you post a picture……meanwhile my grass filled footstill is still sitting in my office waiting to be re-done…..

  15. Wow she is awesome !!! I just love how that chair came out and can’t wait to see the grass piece!

  16. Both you and Ruthie have great skills! Those chairs are amazing!


    ps I found some fabric that looks similar online, a swatch can be ordered for $1…I saw where someone was asking:

  17. hubba hubba! that is one sweet chair!! I too have given up on the DIY- reupholstering. I once took a piece that I “attempted” to reupholster to my upholster-er and he said “who in the world did this to this poor chair” I totally lied and said “I dunno, I bought it that way”.

  18. Ohhh I loooovee those chairs!!! I want them!! You (& Ruthie) do amazing work I love your eye for things.

    For some reason I never realized that Lucketts was anywhere near me, (2 hours) I am so so excited to make a trip there!!

  19. Ok.. you said it and I love you for it… You said that Burlap stinks.. and it does… which is why I totally don’t get people making pillows and drapes and table runners out of it.. that stuff smells!!!.. ok.. got that off my chest :)


    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      LOL…yeah, I’m with you. I like burlap used in moderation, but not for pillows.

    • Dayshel says:

      I don’t understand the use of burlap. Not only does it stink, it’s scratchy and uncomfortable. I don’t care how much you wash it, it never softens.

  20. Classy, indeed. Love them! Ruthie has a great gift! Hope all goes well for you tomorrow as you put out the finishing touches.

  21. Very nice. I think I need to steal the old chair out of the work room at our church and do somehting like this to it. Of course, to steal from the church would be a double whammy! lol Really, though, I love the chair.

  22. I absolutely adore the chair! What a transformation : ) Would love to know the source for the fabric as well.

  23. I love that old white color! I painted the top of my hutch today that color! Love it :) Ummmm, do you think you could send Miss Ruthie to New England ? Love the upholstery!

  24. Tracy says:

    Beautiful! Elegant yet cozy looking.

  25. So love the chairs…..know I will be in love with the sofa too….can’t wait!

  26. What a super makeover!! That chair is fab now!

  27. That chair looks amazing! So nice that you found someone so talented who you can work with for these kinds of projects. I can’t wait to see everything in your room at the store! So excited! I know you’ve been hard at work for the past few weeks… :)

  28. Okay, So when I saw that first pic I though “there is no way I’m going to like this chair…no matter what she’s done to it, it is UGLY” But I was wrong. It’s fabulous. You have an amazing ability to see paste what things are to see what they CAN BE. I wish I had that skill. Beautiful work :)

  29. Can’t wait to see the couch!!! Just curious is Ruthie not going to reuse the stuffing? I know it may seem a bit foolish but when I had my chairs redone my upholstery queen (aka Bonnie) insisted that it be redone as close to original as possible. Of course I agreed without hesitation and now when I sit on one of the chairs I think about how “resourceful” people were years ago.

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      She had to totally rebuild the sofa to make it practical and comfortable. There were a lot of issues with it.

  30. oooo, I cannot wait to see how that settee turns out. This was one funny story. I thought I had seen some gross things stuffed into furniture, (mostly just the things my kids stuff in our own furniture). This took the cake, or should I say someone’s lawn…..

  31. I love the chair Marion!! Looks great…and I love the double piping that Ruthie does too….she really does a great job!!
    Question, if I wanted to paint or restain a chair and then hand it over to an upholsterer to be redone too, would I need to first pry off all the old fabric or do they need the fabric on there to use as a pattern? I’ve heard that before. Any help would be great! I’m sure you’ve covered this before but I can’t remember…


    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      You should talk to the upholsterer you’d work with to see what their preferences are. Ruthie wanted all of the pieces of fabric.

  32. LOVE the chairs….please let us know what the fabric is though!

  33. Laura says:

    Just a test to see if I can post a comment. Just entered the blog world (as a reader only) and am following yours. I couldn’t figure out how to post a comment on the other blog. I had to be a member of google or something and I just didn’t get it. If this works then I’ll be so happy you moved to WordPress! I have an antique setee that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. I wanted to have it reupholstered and got one estimate. Over $1000! Just wondering if that seems high. The setee was only for two people, it needs some frame work and is part of a set that includes chairs. Not sure of how old it is.

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      That’s probably about right. Reupholstery is expensive, espeically if it involved rebuilding the inside of the settee.

  34. Laura says:

    yippee! It worked! :-)

  35. it had to happen… you needed a mini mustard seed and now a ruthie. how swell that your freakish gifts are being translated by your burgeoning staff. i can’t wait to see your luckett’s holiday displays.
    it can only serve to inspire your fans futher, me in particular.
    {i am planning on getting some nice tablecloths done for holiday shows and after that use your upholstering videos to re-do my sofa. so overdue … someday i will link up on a friday..}
    thanks… w.

  36. The chair is fabulous! Ruthie did a wonderful job! Can’t wait to see the sofa!
    I need a “Ruthie” in my life!!

  37. Anne Boykin (bloominganne) says:

    Love the chairs!! Ruthie does great work – please let her know that she has fans on your blog too. That fabric is gorgeous. What fabric have you picked out for the grass sofa?

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Yes, I just sent her an e-mail letting her know people are leaving her nice comments over here. I’m a big fan of Ruthie as well. :) Yes, I bought a hemp canvas fabric for it and it’s yummy. Ruthie said it looks fabulous.

  38. Love those chairs!!! They look amazing now! Thumbs up to you and Ruthie! (would she like to travel to Paris and reupholster a very old french settee and 2 matching chairs for me?…….. 😉 )
    have a nice day! can’t wait to see the sofa reupholstered!

  39. I wish I had a Ruthie that would help with the upholstery, this chair is now to die for beautiful.

  40. Coreen @ 58 Vintage Faire says:

    Wonderful (as always), and no doubt “you do plenty”! Ruthie you rock too!…I’d like to know more about that fabric, it looks fantastic!

  41. MARY EGUIA says:

    I told a friend I want to go on vacation ,to Miss mustard Seeds.Ha. Wish I could come to the open house.Can’t wait to see pics.

  42. Tricia says:

    Omgosh! I love that chair!!!! I was hoping someone would ask this, but looks like I’ll have to:-)……

    What should I expect to pay o have a chair re-done in this fashion! I have the perfect chair, great bones, just needs fabric. I love the burlappy fabric Ruthie used on this.

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Well, it just depends on the upholsterer and the fabric and materials used. I think somewhere around $150-300 for a chair is a good range.

  43. Heidi says:

    Just love those chairs, but also hate the smell and feel of burlap. I’ve found some great heavy linen weave material that looks like burlap but is much easier to work with. This might work for those interested.

  44. The chairs are indeed lovely! I wish I had Ruthie’s skills or a Ruthie near me. Love the fabric!

  45. Love it! I wish I had a “Ruthie” in Nashville! I’ll have to check out Craigslist to see if there’s one listed. What is the “sanding sponge”? Can’t wait to see the couch!

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Oooo…a sanding sponge is your friend. You can find them in the sand paper aisle and they come in different grits (not the cereal.) Imagine a dense sponge with sand paper on the outside of it. It is great for getting a soft, distressed look.

  46. Oh man — I ADORE these chairs. They are stunning.

  47. Janet Lawson says:

    Amazing..You do such an awesome job transforming furniture and Ruthie’s does such beautiful work herself..Wishing I lived closer..(Depressed in Western Pennsylvania)..

  48. I’ve been searching for the fabric online and didn’t want to post it until I got an OK from Marian…..but if its fine with her I’d be happy to share! I found something very similar!

  49. Nancy erickson says:

    Where can I buy fabric like that near Savannah? Just scored 4 fantabulous chairs that need new “dresses”. Love your stuff!

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  1. […] also picked up this sweet French chair.  I’m bringing the two barrel back French chairs tomorrow to sell at Lucketts, so this one will take a spot in my office until I do something with […]

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