To Save a Chair

Last winter my friend Kitty and I used to walk every Sunday. We live in a beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood and strolling along, commenting on this house or that, provided us endless entertainment.

A seashell pink fabric
inscribed in French gave this
discarded heirloom new life.

 As we approached a particularly well kept house one day, I noticed a complete table and chair set in the driveway–marked as a giveaway. While the chair seat pads were dated and worn, the table and chairs were in beautiful condition. The wood gleamed, the legs curved sweetly, and it was clear that this was a handmade set that had been much loved over the years. As if to put a point on that love, each chair had a set of hearts carved out of its back.

A light rain was starting to fall, and I panicked that it would shortly be ruined. I could not understand why someone would put such a lovely set, clearly a kind of family heirloom,  out in the rain, but I could see that the sparkling and modern home had no place for sentimental pieces.

We practically ran home to get my car and drove back, hoping fervently that they would still be there. I needed just such a set for my place in Boston. And I had the perfect fabric to cover those worn seats. Some time back, my mother had given me several rolls of decorator fabric and one of them was delightful seashell pink inscribed with French seaside words.

My husband just rolled his eyes as we pulled into the driveway, but he helped unload the chairs and table and immediately set to work helping me to recover the seats. It turned out that he was quite handy with the staple gun and in no time, the chair pads were every bit as pretty as the rest of the set.

These days the set sits in the Stitch offices, known as "The Sewing Café", and it's always available for an impromptu tête a tête. I still wonder about the history of the set, but I am so glad that just a little imagination and some pretty fabric gave it a second life.

There are many kinds of heirlooms worth saving and making. To create some beautiful future heirlooms of your own (in the form of sweetly smocked and embroidered little girls' dresses), check out Sew Beautiful magazine.

Do you have a family heirloom that you gave new life? I would love to hear about it!

Happy stitching!

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For the Home

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

5 thoughts on “To Save a Chair

  1. How does one reply to this blog, you say you would like to hear about other furniture that has been made over, but I can’t find how to send a photo as well

  2. Well, on an interesting note, I am in college and in one of my art classes, we have an assignment to take an old chair, found either at a thrift store, a garage sale, or on the corner, and make it into a self portrait. Considering that everyone in my class (about 18 people) found a chair (some even found 2!) in a fairly small college town. It is easier than you think to find a chair and with a little creativity, it can become a beautiful addition to one’s home.

  3. hallo and thanks for sending me down memory lane, I need to go there often 😉
    I have saved a lot of my old furniture and did not drag too many off the street YET.. but that might change… my favourite fix up was my old baby chair the I decopaged and in general turned from sad into WOW… as far as fabric goes I did re-upholster the seats of my grandma’s oak dining room chairs and they are lovely to sit on… my hubby is a patient man and live with my shenanigans.. and actually if he has to truly fess up, he loves it!!

  4. In 1975 I inherited my grandma’s lovely old mission oak dining room table and 6 chairs. My dad recovered the seats for me so I saw how easy that was. He added a plastic cover to the one our daughter (then 2) would be sitting on. I later removed the plastic and the chair was as clean as the others.
    When we moved into this house 19 years ago, I recovered the chairs. As I did, it reminded me of the lesson I learned at Dad’s side. It makes me smile now to think about that special connection.
    An aside, Dad contracted polio as a young boy and it was on this same dining room table that Grandma placed him to stretch his legs. He recovered with no limp and only a slightly thinner left leg.