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Velvet Volition: Choosing Velvet for My MCM Chair

Hubs and I went to our favorite upholsterer on Monday (the same folks who recovered the gorgeous mint chairKessels, for Ottawa readers) and short-listed some fabrics for the mid-century chair we found curbside.  Here’s a reminder of the “before”:

We debated about investing the money into this trash find, but we finally decided to go for it for four simple reasons:

  1. It has such a sweet and funny memory attached to it.
  2. It will look beautiful in our new lakehouse living room (details Friday)!
  3. It was free!  We’re already ahead of the game cost-wise.
  4. Hubs and I both love the lines of the piece.

At first, I was adamant that I wanted a turquoise tweed, like the turquoise Papa I mooned over.  I brought in a snippet of the turquoise and mint fabric from our other mid-century chair as a guide for the shade of aqua tweed I was after.

Turquoise and mint green upholstery fabric

Together with the folks at Kessels, we rounded up a healthy selection of tweeds – but also a few velvets.  I never would have considered velvet on my own, because I thought it was too traditional and hard to care for.  Turns out some velvet can be 100,000+ Wyzenbeek double rubs and lots of upholstery fabric is only 15,000-20,000 (the higher the number, the more durable the fabric).  As soon as we got home with the samples I axed quite a few for being far too blue, too blah, too bold, to printy.

Choosing aqua upholstery fabric

In the end, one tweed remained but because it was shot with navy, it was a smidge too blue for me.

Teal tweed

The velvets won our hearts!  Surprise, surprise.  I just love the sheen, the way the fabric catches the light, and the gloriously saturated hues of my two favorites.  We’re still going to sleep on it some more, but it looks like I might be adding a little velvet to my lakehouse design plans.  Unfortunately, my favorite pick is impossible to photograph.  Can you believe the two photos below are of the same fabric?!? And neither is accurate!  The velvet I chose looks more like this chair.

teal velvet

What was the velvet runner up you ask?  In the store I fell in love with a pale turquoise, almost robin’s egg blue, but once home it really dominated the space and made our artwork look dull!  It’s also a lot bluer than the turquoise art and accessories we have, and so it draws focus a bit too much.  It also has such a crazy sheen that it almost looks bridal.  It photographs really nicely though.  I kind of want it more as I type this . . .

UPDATE: See the finished velvet chair makeover by clicking here!



  1. Shannon
    July 31, 2013 / 1:24 pm

    HUGE velvet fan here!! Especially on a MCM piece! That chair is going to look amazing!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 31, 2013 / 3:05 pm

      When I went searching for inspiration, I realized a ton of MCM chairs ans sofas have velvet – even in their original state! I've always associated it with more traditional pieces but boy, was I wrong!!

  2. Kelly @ A Swell Place to Dwell
    July 31, 2013 / 2:04 pm

    Oh it's going to look fantastic! I am obsessed with velvet right now and really want a velvet couch. I see that Ikea has an emerald one coming out for 2014, so I am seriously hoping that it's in our price range.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 31, 2013 / 3:34 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement! I spotted the green velvet Ikea sofa on some preview and thought, "that is a sexy sofa!". There were some more subdued velvet samples we pondered and I kept thinking they'd be nice on a sofa but then Hubby said maybe I'm going a bit overboard.

  3. Lauren Monique
    July 31, 2013 / 2:20 pm

    How lucky is that? I love the lines if your chair and I'm looking forward to seeing how the velvet turns out. Could add a lovely texture that I never considered before either!{}

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 31, 2013 / 3:35 pm

      I think the chair is my best score yet! Because I'm going for more watery hues in the lakehouse, I think this texture will look so perfect. Then maybe a couple velvet and silk pillows for our leather sofa?? Ooo lala!

  4. grtescp
    July 31, 2013 / 3:33 pm

    velvet is gorgeous, but be warned, sitting on it may "draw pictures" in the nap – nothing that can't be rubbed out, but I remember a friend's reaction when I got up from her just covered green velvet sofa and I had left an imprint of all the stitching on my jeans on the seat!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 31, 2013 / 9:07 pm

      That is good to know!! We noticed the other velvet samples could be "brushed" a certain way so the fibres were smooth or ruffled. I wondered if people leave butt-prints in those. The one we picked doesn't do that, it's fibres seem to be denser and more upright. Hopefully it will stay smoother. At the very least, it's industrial strength durable, so I know it will wear well. Once it's upholstered, I'll definitely do a review of the fabric and share my experiences.

  5. Ana Maria
    July 31, 2013 / 4:38 pm

    I still can't get past the fact that you found that chair discarded on the curb. Such a great find and it will look amazing after it's makeover!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 31, 2013 / 9:05 pm

      I got it in the nick of time, too! Another woman wanted it but she didn't have a car so she had left to find someone to help. When she got back I was loading it into my car, but she wished me well. She said she didn't have room for it anyway, she just couldn't bear the thought of it being thrown away! Sometimes Hubby terrorizes me by hypothesizing there was actually a pair, but someone nabbed one already. Lol.

  6. Lets just build a house!
    July 31, 2013 / 8:17 pm

    um yes, I will take a free chair like that any day! I've never had one prof reupholstered, although I have one I always sayyy I'm going to take in. I should get on that already!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 31, 2013 / 9:04 pm

      It's so worth it! I was hesitant at first, with the mint chair, because of the cost. But in the end it's still my favorite piece of furniture because it's exactly how I wanted it. In fact, I'm now designing the new living room around it! I hope yours turns out beautifully.

  7. Dora
    July 31, 2013 / 9:36 pm

    I can't wait to see how it turns out!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 1, 2013 / 4:46 am

      There's some gratifying about an avid DIYers having professionals do something – it's a surprise for me too!! I have to order the fabric first so it might take a few weeks but hopefully I'll be able to show it off before we move.

  8. Storypiece
    August 1, 2013 / 5:08 am

    LOVE the velvet! I'm not sure I would've looked at it in the beginning, but after seeing your examples, I'm all over it. Can't wait to see the finished chair.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 1, 2013 / 4:41 pm

      Isn't that funny how something that isn't even on a person's radar one minute can cause a total obsession the next? I am spotting velvet everywhere now!!

  9. MJ
    August 1, 2013 / 3:24 pm

    We had a 1930s couch professionally upholstered in pinkish/terra cotta-ish velvet (hey, it was the 1980s). It held up well to daily use, including kids clambering on it to look out the window. We did brush the nap back and forth on the cushions. I confess that it's now hiding under a simple ivory afghan, awaiting a new look…and we've been thinking green velvet. Must be in the air.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 1, 2013 / 4:42 pm

      Pink velvet is still cute! I've seen it mixed with modern black and white graphic prints for a fun, contrasting look. It's nice to hear that you are still in love with velvet and that it wore well. Happy to hear!

  10. Ria Kessels
    August 1, 2013 / 4:18 pm

    Hello Tanya…It was great fun seeing you both again and helping look for fabrics for your latest project.I love helping people that love fabrics as much as I do.So is the black and white chair the one you want a price on?If so we can get back to you right away. Can we list you on our website your site is wonderful? :)Ria

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 1, 2013 / 4:44 pm

      Hi Ria! I don't know what I would do without your help!! You always find me the perfect fabric that I never would have found on my own. This is the chair I need a quote for, I'll email a photo and the other details (like what needs repairs) right now.I'd be flattered if you'd link to me! Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂

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