makeover of the paisley chairs

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Before and Afters, Decorating, Furniture Makeovers, Kitchen, My House, Tutorials, upholstery, upholstery makeovers78 Comments

I know some of you really loved the red paisley chairs as they were and, I agree, they were pretty.  I’m sure they were beautiful for the first few decades they spent on this earth, but now they were only pretty if you didn’t look too closely at them.  They were stained, watermarked, smelled a little musty from years of accumulated dust.  It was time.

And, well, the red just wasn’t working for me in this space.  I wanted to stick with my cool blue, white and green color palette, with warmth coming from the wood finishes.  Whenever I looked around this room, these chairs stood out as unfinished and not-quite-right.  I think that’s mostly because I always envisioned them in a different fabric in my mind’s eye.

So, I finally took the time to remove those thousands of nails and even more staples and then reupholstered them in this yummy woven buffalo check fabric.  It’s called Check Please by P Kaufmann in the color Lakeland.  (It comes in other colors, too, including a black and cream.)  I’ve admired this fabric for years, so I was excited to finally use it in my home and I love it on these chairs…

Again, they didn’t look ugly or dated or bad to begin with.  They just didn’t work for me.  Now, in my opinion, they flow with the rest of the space so much better.

I am particularly pleased with how the fabric and the wood frame on the chair play against the blue in the plates and the wood-tone of the vintage French kitchen clock.  (My grandparents bought that clock in France when we lived in Germany and I was so happy to be able to get it from them when they passed away.)

I covered the full down cushion in an envelope-closure slipcover.  I considered dismantling the existing cushion covers to use as a template and make the new covers with a zipper closure, but I just didn’t want to spend that much time on something that no one sees!  An envelope cushion cover will work just fine for occasional chairs like these.

I finished the edges with custom-made double-welting trim.

It might sound odd, but this corner is one of my favorites in the house.  I love the “back staircase” and the chair tucked in the corner under the clock.  To me, it looks homey and the reupholstered chair completes it.

Next up for this area is to rip out the old, beige carpeting on those stairs!  Oh, I can’t wait to kick it to the curb and give these pretty staircases a makeover.

For those who want to upholster a chair like this, here are links to the tutorials that will show you exactly what to do…

makeover of the paisley chairs

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78 Comments on “makeover of the paisley chairs”

  1. I, too, liked the red; but, the blue buffalo check is much better! I am also re-covering some chairs and just want to do the “easy” project of envelope covers. How serendipitous that you have a tutorial for me;)

  2. I’ve taken your envelope closure technique to the extreme, Marian! I didn’t know how to sew (except putting on a button) and in 2008, I wanted to make slipcovers for my eight foot conversation couch, I needed to rely on simple. So I watched all of your tutorials and went to town! Ta-da! Slipcover made and no zippers a’tall! Two years ago, I made slipcovers for the most comfortable chair we own. I have to confess, the envelope closure for large pieces has its limits, so I’m going to have to tackle “the zipper”! Scary!

    1. yeah, sometimes you do need that zipper to keep the cushion cover in place, but for side chairs or occasional chairs, the envelope closure is fast and effective!

    2. Terri, Velcro works too and is more forgiving. I put in zippers for years with success, but this is my go to closure.

  3. Ever since you first moved here, this has been my favorite corner of your home. I have anxiously been waiting to see those chairs finished, and they are now so perfect!! I can’t tell you how much I love the butler’s pantry with this little corner.

  4. This makeover is so pretty! I love the fabric you chose and how warm and inviting everything looks. This whole area feels really cozy. Hugs, CoCo

  5. I love the chair redo, they are perfect where they are. I would also love to see them in the dining room!

  6. So I will be curious to see under the carpet on the stairs. We have a 20 year old house and my husband insists I cant just tear out the carpet. He says the stairs weren’t built to be exposed. Scrap wood and could be pieced, or have gaps etc. If I want to paint them they will have to be rebuilt.

    1. Jane: our last house had white carpet on the staircase. We took off the carpet and were left with MDF. Home Depot sells oak staircase treads. We cut out the MDF and the oak treads were cut to fit. Gorgeous!!!!

  7. Thought I loved the red & white but that blue check is perfect! Think that corner is so yummy, especially when the Boxwood butler is in view too!

  8. You’re absolutely right in all your comments on how it looks—just perfect! It is so homey, warm and inviting! It also looks very interesting beside the back staircase, utilizing that space for a chair that will be needed when you have lots of people over. And I’d use it to hold things that I was planning on taking upstairs with me, like I used to use a basket by our stairs when our kids were little and I’d “collect” things (like toys) to take back upstairs where they were stored. Very nice and well done, Marian.

  9. Marian, you have become the queen of slipcovers! You do such nice work, and the fabric is really perfect for your home. Can’t wait to see the area without the carpet!

  10. I love that part of your house, too—especially the ancestor wall!! What are your plans for the stairs?

  11. Your upholstery work is so impressive, Marian! The chair looks fabulous – I’m a sucker for buffalo check, so the new look gets a high five from me. 😉

  12. I am looking forward to your next project! I am assuming there is not hardwood underneath the stairs?

  13. Just lovely. I wish I could sew and upholster! And I have 1980 stairs that are definitely not hardwood underneath the ratty carpet, and I just hate them. I’m selfishly hoping yours are not hardwood and we’ll get to see you work some magic on them!

  14. just beautiful. I love the green and blue together and the fabric you used is perfection. I didn’t see if you listed the fabric source….did I miss it? I really enjoy seeing your home….it has been so inspiring to see it’s transformation even though it was lovely when you moved there. Thank you for sharing!!!!!

  15. I have to admit that this little corner of yours has been my favorite for a while, and I tried to think why, and you hit it on the head…those back stairs, I have always wanted a set of back stairs that went to the kitchen, old houses I have loved always had a set of back stairs, most going right down into the kitchen. I like these chairs better after, and I’m a red person, but in your house, they looked like a new piece of furniture waiting for a redo. I could sit in that chair a lot.

  16. A lot of people want Chip and Joanna to come and redo their home but I am ready to fly you to my neck of the woods! Just love this chair and everything else in this corner photo. Beautiful.

  17. This Buffalo Check is awesome and is perfect for your chair. Your walls in the DR are beautiful and the green you painted on your hutch is “icing on the cake” – it all flows so beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Love love the buffalo check and the “homey” corner – we just ripped up carpeted stairs – got the most wonderful wood from a local architectural salvage place for our treads – and used chippy green beadboard to cut our risers – the finished product felt very “Miiss Mustard Seed” – makes me smile every time I climb those wonderful “old” stairs

    Thanks for always inspiring us –

  19. Love that blue against the wood of that chair. I much prefer your chairs in the big blue check… had her day ;-))

  20. Marian, I love that chair!! I liked the red, but this works much better in your new home! I am so fond of buffalo check and have had it in all of my homes as well! I have my old chair done in the gold and cream colors!

    I agree you do a fabulous job with decor!

  21. Awhh..the loveliness of those chairs and how your blues n greens ,blend and play together…so exquisite!!

  22. I’m so glad you were able to use that long-loved fabric, and the chairs were the perfect place for that fabric to shine. I’m in love with the green addition to your blue and white palate, and I love how the wood is an accent that truly adds warmth and texture. I’ve taught sewing in hs for many years, so I am going to attempt an upholstery project myself with the boost to my confidence coming from your excellent directions that you are so thoughtful to create for us. I’m looking forward to your stairs makeover, and anything else you do!

  23. The chair is absolutely lovely! I agree the check plays nicely with the plates and also with the other chairs in the room. I love little unexpected corners and nooks, I think they are what makes a home extra cosy 🙂

  24. I love the chair. It is just the encouragement I need to try to reupholster a chair I inherited from my Daddy. Can I just say that none of us ever need to apologize for painting a piece of furniture or changing the fabric on a chair or paying more than we wanted to for a (fill in the blank). Unless we are painting someone else’s furniture without their permission, we are good. It isn’t a crime to change the things we own. It’s called creativity.

  25. Oh, yeah! Definitely better with the blue buffalo check! Perfect for your decor. It’s as if they were brought from the past into the present!! Love them! I wish I could find chairs in that style. I just never see them at prices I can afford and not at all in the thrift shops around here.

    I have a rocking chair that I’ve been planning to re-cover. It only has upholstery on the seat and back so I think using one of your tutorials I could manage it! We’ll see. By the way, thanks for all those tutorials!

  26. I think I commented that I loved the red on your pretty chairs but you called my bluff and used my favorite color,blue so the chairs have reached the apex of pretty,graceful form and best color in the world. When my Husband still worked ,one of his colleagues actually inquired if it was John or me who bought all the blue shirts and ties. Boy was I embarrassed and quickly switched to any color but-right you are-no more blue!

  27. LOVE the buffalo check….. it is one of my favorite patterns!! i am having a chair recovered in 3 fabrics….. “taupey” buffalo check, toile, and pinstripe…… i can’t wait… now that i have seen your chair…… thanks for the nudge to bite the financial bullet and take it to my upholsterer!!!!!!!

  28. Thomas Jefferson has buffalo check in his Virginia home and it was considered a
    formal design in those days.

  29. I love that sweet little corner. It’s so welcoming! I Iove the blue and green color scheme too. I did my 4 season porch in blue and green a few years ago and I absolutely love sitting in here with the sun streaming in. It’s a color pallet that doesn’t get old. I really enjoy watching your house being transformed into such a lovely home!

  30. The chair looks great….only the cushion is a bit saggy….not firm. Can tell its been well used. I love your back stair rails just as they are. Are you changing that??

    1. The cushions are stuffed with down, so they aren’t firm foam cushions and will always look a little slack unless fluffed.

      No, I’m going to keep the railing, just work on the steps.

  31. You really ought to have kept the red. It’s beginning to be a bit “overkill” with all the blue. IMHO

    1. That’s okay. I know a lot of people liked the contrast of the red and I understand that. I just like a more analogous color palette, but it’s completely personal taste.

  32. At first, I was sad at the thought of the loss of the red. Then, I see the chair and I fell in love all over again! The fabric is perfect for the chair and for the space. I am now wandering round the house looking for a place where I could use that fabric!

  33. I found the link to the small scissors you use to trim fabric and the staple gun, but would you mind sharing the link to your fabric cutting scissors? Did I miss that somewhere? You have inspired me to finally finish some chairs and not be so stressed about it! Thank you

    1. Good for you! The scissors I use for upholstery are the Fiskars Amplify Razor Edge Fabric Shears. They are meant for heavier fabrics, so they work well on wovens (like this check) and grain sacks, which I use a lot.

  34. I think the fabric of your chair goes perfectly with the curtains. I searched in prior posts to find the reference for the curtains, but couldn’t find it. I have a chair exactly like yours, which I painted old white, and I am thinking of copying you with the chair fabric and curtains. I have a few things in my home which are inspired by you (including the Eulalie cow), and have always been satisfied with the results. I love the way you recuperate things instead of always buying new. Thank you for the inspiration.

  35. I loved your red chairs! I love both paisley and Buffalo checks BUT I couldn’t see the stains or watermarks or smell the smell. You did a fabulous job recovering this chair and it looks really great in this space and works really well with everything else in your home. BTW, what are checks called when they are way bigger than buffalo checks?

  36. Your home and chairs are lovely. Can you tell me how many yards of fabric it takes to upholster a chair this size?

  37. Marion

    I’ve been following you for several years now and know how many pieces of furniture you’ve covered. You are quite the professional now. My favorite is the cane back sofa. . I’m moving soon to a house built in 1968 and I’ll only be the second owner. Your kitchen is my design inspiration.

  38. While I agree the red was pretty, the blue stole my heart! My living room is already blue and white so that chair would fit right in perfectly! Love it! You did a fantastic job reupholstering it. I am not sure mine would look as good but I would try.

  39. Absolutely perfect! I liked the red fabric too, but this is waaay better. The big fat gingham checks are so homey and charming and totally flow with everything in the house. Such a weak spot for gingham here. I can’t wait for you to tackle those stairs too. I was just giving the honey colored hand rail the total skank eye haha.


  40. I cannot find the color of your P.Kaufman “Check Please” Lakeland. I found #437 which is beige & blue but I desperately want the one you used! Would so appreciate knowing the fabric # of your exact one

  41. How do I find the tutorial for the envelope closure cushion cover? The link isn’t taking me there. I found the zippered cushion cover but would like to try one without a zipper. I’m doing something wrong. Thank you!

  42. Thank you. The link isn’t working for me for some reason. It takes me to part 5 of slipcovering a chair and textile sale. Maybe I will be forced to use a zipper(I I can get to that tutorial)!!

  43. Finally realized them cushion cover is in the Part 5 slipcover tutorial! Thank you for responding- sorry!!

  44. Hi Marian
    Your chairs are so beautiful with the new fabric. Are you going to make a tutorial video of how you did?
    I love your tutorials! They’ve helped me a lot.

  45. So glad to see you getting back to
    what you started out doing in this blog. A lovely job and I agree , move over Joanna and

  46. Greetings froms Spain!

    I love it and I have a similar chair at home. I would like to do it but I can’t find the fabric in Madrid. Do you know an online store where I could buy it?

    Thank you so much!

  47. Pingback: makeover of the paisley chairs - Miss Mustard Seed | Dadne

  48. Love your decorating style. The chair is SO MUCH better. Can you tell me the paint color you used on your walls, I love it! I signed up for your blog, looking forward to see what else you have done.

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