'If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.' Marjorie Garber

Friday, 1 July 2011

Brenda's Chair Revisited

Some of you may remember one of my posts from last year when I revealed my latest creative venture / adventure - upholstery. Well the love affair is still going strong and I am on my fourth project, but I realised the other day when I was merrily stripping, (a chair, not me), that I never gave an update on Brenda's chair. So this is what it used to look like:

Brenda was a very close family friend of my Brother-in-Law's, and when she passed away last year, he, together with her son and my Sister had the task of clearing her home of all her worldly possessions; a sad  and depressing task for anyone. They very kindly gave me this chair, and another later chair, to reupholster. I say they gave it to me but it has such history that I feel more like a custodian than the owner! But I was very excited about the prospect of rejuvenating this piece. So I took it along to the workshop.
And this is what it looked like half way through:

The chair caused much excitement amongst my fellow upholsterers because it was a genuine 'Utility' chair. Utility furniture was produced during and just after the Second World War when materials were scarce. The furniture was supplied under strict rationing to newly-weds or those people whose homes had been destroyed by the bombings. Many of the styles were Arts and Crafts inspired, which was what attracted me to this chair - the lovely lines of the arms, without getting too technical or arty, they are almost organic! So, as you can imagine, I had second thoughts about interfering with this little bit of history, but the original fabric was very poor. I tried to retain as many of the interior bits as possible but a few things were beyond repair after seventy years of wear and tear.  I had to replace the cushion completely because it  had lost all its bounce, but the main body of the chair was in fairly good condition. I used a lovely natural linen mix fabric from Laura Ashley  called Lilacs for my top covering, and natural calico underneath.

Anyway, I am very pleased with the finished product. After the initial embarrassment of my 1970s bedroom stool, Brenda's chair was a triumph!

This is the replacement cushion, complete with piping which I made myself.

And this is Brenda's Chair now...

My Cat, Mowgli, loves it and I think Brenda would approve too.


  1. That's just beautiful. Well done.

    I have a chair - a lovely old thing n a Queen Anne style - that belonged to a very grand old lady who lived in a retirement home in London (which my husband's aunt worked at as a sort of manager - and she was given the chair when the lady died and then she gave it to my husband - yes long story).

    Anyway I love the chair so very much. It is covered in a embossed sea green satin - must have been wonderful when it was new. It needs recovering but I am reluctant to do it as I am scared I will ruin it. But maybe one day - perhaps I might summon the courage.

  2. It does look amazing too!
    Aaah, that chair ... it was on it's way to the Tip, so it truly is brilliant that it's been saved and you've given it a whole new life. There's got to be another 50 years worth of sitting still in that chair!

  3. Oh well done! Your reupholstered chair looks wonderful. I have a friend is working on a similar project so I can appreciate the hard work you did to restore such a lovely piece of furniture. Thank you for sharing.
    Anne xx

  4. wow, looks great! Love Helen, Darcy and Bingley xxx