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another pair of frenchies


There are some things that I hold onto for years.  They survive the purges and my “selling moods”.  I just know I will have the perfect use for them some day.

Well, some day finally came for these linen grain sacks that I’ve been holding onto for years.  A reader, who lived in Europe, found them for me and sold me a few for a great price.  They were something like $5.00/each.  I think she was able to get them for $1.00/each out of an old factory.  I used a couple of them on a chair a few years ago, but have been saving the rest for just the right project.

These chairs were that project…


I got the chairs last Wednesday when another reader was delivering all of those ironstone bowls to me.


She brought along some other things she thought I would be interested in, including this pair of cane-backed French chairs.


I’ve given many sets of French twins makeovers and I was excited to get my hands on these.

They were already off to a good start.  The frames were painted in layers of blue, which was pretty, but I pictured them in white.  Katie and I painted the frames in two coats of MMS Milk Paint Farmhouse White.  Once they were dry, I distressed them with 100 grit sand paper and decided to leave them raw, just buffing them with a clean cloth.

For a tutorial on distressing milk paint, click HERE.

I then upholstered them in the nubby linen sacks.  The texture on that fabric is just to die for!


If you have a chair similar to this that you would like to upholster, you can check out my six part video tutorial series on upholstery HERE.

Honestly, the chairs chipped more than I expected, but I just went with it and am happy with where they ended up.  I’ve learned that I need to let the furniture participate in the makeover process.  It’s almost always ends up being better than I originally imagined for the piece.



I trimmed them out in the same braided jute trim I used for the tufted sofa.  I wasn’t able to find where I bought it initially, but that’s because I bought it from a wholesale company I’ve ordered from in the past!  I was looking at my usual retail spots.  Anyway, I found it again and ordered more and I’m going to list some in my online shop, soon.




I just finished another chair makeover today and started stripping one more.  I am on a mission to finish all of the pieces and odds & ends that have been hanging out in the “to-do stash” for way too long.  A stash can be a good thing when it comes to props, fabric, trims and cabinet hardware, but it’s not a good thing when it’s stuff you’re ignoring.  Stuff that has earning potential that is just taking up space.  It’s time to get some things done.

I’m working through the stash, so I can justify buying more things to work on!

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  1. Sarah says:

    They are beautiful! Something about how you styled them really speaks to me! I’m so sad I can’t go to Lucketts this year. I’d like to buy your whole booth.

  2. karen says:

    Those chairs sat in my basement for over 2 years…waiting for you. Absolutely beautiful!

  3. Swooning! I just love everything about these. They are gorgeous.

  4. Simply fabulous! Love the character of those grain sacks <3

  5. I don’t know how you can crank out so much beauty so fast. Everything is just gorgeous! You have such a gift and are so blessed with talent.

  6. Laurie says:

    More gorgeousness! Marian, I was wondering if you might be able to make a suggestion for me. I upholstered my French caned chairs two times in the last 5 years. I’ve had to because the drop cloth I used became stained from the dye on blue jeans (these are the chairs we use for dining). I want to protect the color of the upholstery. Should I use another fabric such as linen? Or, will I still have issues with the blue dye from jeans?

    • marian says:

      Other people have mentioned that, but I haven’t had a problem with it in my home! Maybe when my boys are teenagers that will be more of an issue.

      I would suggest a tie-on washable and bleach-able slipcover, so you can remove them, wash them, and put them back on.

  7. The chairs turned out beautifully. I wondered, though, did you strip them of the blue paint before painting them with the white milk paint?

    • marian says:

      No, I painted straight over it. When the milk paint chipped, it took all layers of paint with it. It doesn’t always do that, but these were those speckled 1970’s finish that paints have a hard time sticking to.

  8. DeAnna says:

    Love those chairs! I wish I didn’t live so far away as I’d be at the Lucketts show looking for your booth. Have a great day!

  9. Emily says:

    So so pretty. Love everything about them.

  10. You’re an inspiration guru — “A stash can be a good thing but not when it’s stuff you’re ignoring. Stuff that has potential is just taking up space” if you never get around to it

    Thanks for my new life motto

  11. I just love them!

  12. Those chairs are gorgeous! They would SO fit my living room. Actually, I have a Victorian armchair that needs reupholstering (tufted back), and I thought it was too pretty for me to try to “mess” with it, so I was waiting to find a professional who can upholster it properly for me. Now, after seeing your tufted sofa makeover and these two chairs, I might just try doing it myself. I have “faux grain sack” fabric in my stash, now just to get my hands on some of that braided jute trim when it shows up in your shop…

    • Alicia says:

      Really. Try your hand at it after watching Marian’s tutorials. I watched her original tutorials, with the kid’s noise in the background, poor lighting and all and I was able to make slip covers for both a living room sofa and love seat – with piping!!!!! You work it girlfriend!

  13. HeidiCT says:

    Love these. My dining set of 6 is from restoration hardware, all armchairs, almost exactly like yours but in sand Belgian linen. Would love to add those two to keep it from being too matchy matchy. I have one armchair that isn’t upholstered but has a cane back to add some variety. eventually want 12 chairs, promised myself that the next 5 would be a mix.

  14. Alicia says:

    Can you imagine, back in the day, someone using LINEN as grain sacks. Wow! It’s like these days 100% cotton sheets are sold at a premium when back in the day (I grew up in the 50’s) cotton was the “cheap” material, even 100% cotton. Correct me if I’m off the mark on this one.

    Your pictures are so magazine worthy!!!! MMS has matured but you remain humble. Thank God!

  15. sandra says:

    Love the blue peeking through on the chairs….don’t like the black numbers though.

  16. Did you remove the blue
    Or just paint over it ?

  17. jackie pankuck says:

    Just bought VIP tickets to Lucketts for my best friend and I!!! I am so excited. Can you give me some tips? What time should we get there? I need strategies!!! :)

  18. Susan M says:

    I can’t make Lucketts but will be hitting Round Top and Marburger Farms at the end of the month. I will be looking for a pair or two of Frenchies. What do you think is a fair price for a pair (non-antique) similar to yours?

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  19. MaryS says:

    I LOVE those chairs!! Would look so good in my house!! Beautiful work.

  20. Chelsea says:

    So, we will be hopefully buying an old farmhouse in the next 4/5 months and I need some awesome living room furniture to fit it! Any chance you could put a couch and two larger comfy chairs together? I wanted to buy several of your pieces at the chapel market, but by time I got there you had already sold them:( one day!

  21. Naomi S. says:

    Love those chairs! Why oh WHY can’t I find any French chairs in Michigan! I must live in the wrong county! Guess I better look a little further a-field.

    Yes, the texture of those feed sacks is phenomenal. I am going to keep watch for them in your shop. I have a little stool that I would like to upholster the top of and I think that material would be perfect. But I am so drooling over those French chairs!

  22. Dianne says:

    Everyday I get so excited at 2pm because I know your blog is in my email. Thank you for being so inspiring and encouraging. Your work is comparable to no others. I love love love your style.

  23. Krista says:

    Those are beautiful! Love the texture of the fabric!

  24. Love love love! I’m in the middle of a total remodel in my kitchen and living room….those chairs are exactly the style I’m looking for to go next to my fireplace sitting area. I found two similar style chairs and have been holding on to them to either be brave and redo myself or have someone do them for me. I love your pieces and your style decor. Can’t wait to start putting it all together. Thanks for sharing all your “stuff” with us.

  25. Those chairs are to die for! So AWESOME!

  26. Marian, I LOVE the way this pair of frenchies turned out! Simply gorgeous, as always.

    I love the braided jute trim. I would be VERY interested in buying some when put it up for sale. I am taking apart a settee right now and reupholstering it in an oatmeal linen. I’ve been dreading making yards and yards and yards of double welting, but I think this could be a very helpful shortcut indeed! I looked online for other braided jute trim, and of course didn’t find any that compared to this. :) What can I say, you have great taste!

    Blessings, and have a great weekend!

  27. Isabella says:

    Pretty chairs but milk paint is a bit too unreliable for me and I have given it up. I want to have more control over the finished product. I believe that the extra chipping one wants can be achieved with sanding and distressing. I notice that Laurie at “White Flower Farmhouse” uses Ben Moore paints on her furniture, so I’m leaning more toward that now.

    • marian says:

      Yep, it’s totally a personal preference and there are advantages and disadvantages to all types and kinds of paints and finishes. You just have to find what works for you. :)

  28. These chairs are lovely. I think the combination of Farmhouse White with the linen seats is just perfect.

  29. Mrs. Mindieta says:

    I would like to buy this trim. Do you have an idea when it will be available in the online shop? I’m working on my first chair and love your idea of jute as a trim.

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