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  • Writer's pictureMehnaz Khan

VINTAGE CHAIR MAKEOVER - How To Give An Old Chair New Life

I have been on the hunt for the perfect vintage chair for my library for almost six months, but finding the right one seemed impossible.

That’s the charm of vintage and antique items; you can’t just walk into a store and purchase a piece. Instead, you’ve to manifest them into your life.

I’m a big proponent of incorporating vintage and antique pieces into your spaces, as they instantly create a ‘lived- in’ feeling which is very important to make a space comfortable.

One day, my husband and I just happened to pop into a local antique shop after a brunch date. Strolling around antiques warehouses and vintage shops is one of our favorite things to do together - perhaps the only favorite thing, lol.

That’s when I spotted this chair and instantly made my husband try it. I wanted to make sure that the chair was a comfortable fit for men of average size when used for a short period of time.

Note: If I wanted someone to sit in this chair for a prolonged period, I would have chosen a completely different piece. But the goal of this chair was to accommodate overflow guests.

Now, my husband did reject the idea of this chair because the fabric was very worn out, the seat cushion was hard, the chair smelled funky (all antique stores do), and one of the arms had a loose joint - but I could see beyond these flaws, recognizing the chair’s great bones, interesting shape, and unique carving.

Tired chair desperately in need of new upholstery

Reimagining and designing is where my passion and superpower lie. Transforming something bland into something exciting is my true calling. This chair was no exception. If you've been following my work, you know that my secret weapon for injecting personality into any space or piece of furniture is through color and pattern.

But before delving into the chair's design details, it needed stripping down to its frame.

Stripped down to the frame.

To be honest, this chair transformation took me longer than expected, mainly due to the extensive effort required to strip it. There was so much glue used to attach the gimp that each staple was buried in glue and I was struggling getting them out.

At one pointed I wanted to give up. It was a nightmare.

Now this is something to keep in mind, if you decide to explore the world of vintage/antique - You never really know what exactly you are getting into and how long it will take.

Stripping the chair off the old upholstery

Once the fabric, old yucky and yellow foam, and a thousand staples were removed, it was time to strip the chair of its old finish.

Stripping was another long and tedious step. First, I applied a chemical stripper to loosen the old finishes, then scrubbed it off, and finished by sanding the wood smooth.

Removing the old finish

So, keeping all these factors in mind, that’s how I ended up with the semi-gloss black finish.

Chair painted in semi-gloss finish and in the process of getting new upholstery

Building a new seat

Lots of cotton for lots of comfort

New upholstery fabrics

Being a lover of pattern play, I aimed for a bold statement by juxtaposing floral and plaid. Starting with a vibrant floral pattern, I paired it with a woven plaid for durability on the seat. The bold and bright fabrics, along with the contrast between floral and plaid, contributed to the chair's new personality.

The final reveal!!

Reviving a vintage chair is more than just upholstery. It is the process of designing, that breathes new life into a tired looking piece.

Look at that back!!

Didn't that flower on the arm turn out great!

Tell me in the comments if there is a vintage piece in your home that you would like to inject with new life.

For behind-the-scenes glimpses and more projects like this, connect with me on Instagram.


Jan 15

Wow ! What a transformation!!! Love it 🤩🤩🤩

Mehnaz Khan
Mehnaz Khan
Jan 23
Replying to

I'm so blown away how it turned out! Already craving to do another one

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