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Velvet Chair Makeover | Vintage Chair Saved from a Trash Heap

The long-awaited velvet chair makeover is done – and it looks incredible!  We’ve been referring to it as “the garbage chair,” but that name no longer seems fitting (even if I did pluck it out of a trash heap on the way to a Weezer concert).

Garbage Chair Before:

Garbage Chair After:

I have tried my best, but I just cannot capture the richness and intensity – or even the accurate colour – of the velvet in photos. (UPDATE 2022: I have updated this post with new and better photos).  I love the shade of teal velvet so much – it will really pop against the crisp white walls and the soon-to-be charcoal grey fireplace (we successfully convinced Hubby to paint it!).

Where Did I Get it Upholstered?

Kessels Upholstering did a beautiful job re-upholstering it.  Every seam is perfectly placed and the removable seat cushion has velvet on both sides, and a zipper as well, just in case someone gestures a little too wildly with a glass of red wine.  This chair needed a professional makeover to look right – it required some repairs to the springs and, of course, all new foam.  We saved some money refinishing the arms and legs ourselves (and the chair itself, of course, was free).

More importantly, it was the style-savvy staff at Kessels who convinced me to consider velvet in the first place.  I have found their help to be absolutely key when it comes to tackling upholstery projects – they always, always help me find the perfect fabric.  They have just been my go-to for DIY upholstery and professional makeover projects for years.  The houndstooth fabric for the vintage teak kitchen chairs was from there, and I trusted them to tackle the the minty chair makeover, pictured below.

How Much Did Professional Upholstery Cost?

We paid just over $600 for the labour, and I think it was worth it.  Prices will vary based on where you live, and what kind of fabric you choose.

UPDATE 2022: I have owned this chair now for almost a decade and it was definitely worth the cost, to me.  I found this chair in the trash in the city where we were living when we had already decided to move.  So it always reminds me of that summer – it was like a parting gift from the city we loved so much.  Plus I was able to create something totally custom, so it has continued to live beautifully in my home all these years.  I’ve never tired of it and, as trends have come and gone, I’ve never once thought about getting rid of it.  The quality of vintage furniture is usually very solid, so this chair could probably be enjoyed for many more decades.

What is the Manufacturer of the Fabric?

The fabric I chose for this project is Elite Textile Renaissance, the colour is 760.  You can read more about the process of choosing the velvet here – and find my tips for choosing upholstery fabric here.

How Did I Restore the Arms & Legs?

You can read all about my experience refinishing the arms and legs in this post.

How Had the Chair Withstood Wear & Tear?

Here’s an update, from 2020: this chair still looks stunning!  It eventually migrated from the living room to the office, which it sees casual, but surprisingly regular, use.  It still looks brand new, although the legs could probably use a touch up – having been bashed a lot by various vacuum cleaners over the year, lol.

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

mid-century modern chair makeover

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40 Comments

  1. Amy
    September 30, 2013 / 1:58 pm

    Wahoo!! You convinced him!?!?And my jaw just fell on the floor from your amazing new chair. Now garbage chair can just be a cute nickname…

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 30, 2013 / 2:05 pm

      Haha, yep, he's convinced. He remembered the faux stone looking prettier than it is, plus I suggested we paint the whole exterior charcoal grey next summer and he went for it!!

  2. Shannon
    September 30, 2013 / 2:08 pm

    I loveeeeeee that color velevet! The chair is gorgeous!YAY for painting the fireplace! šŸ™‚

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:55 am

      Thanks!! Three cheers for the faux fireplace stone getting the boot!

  3. Kelly @ A Swell Place to Dwell
    September 30, 2013 / 2:11 pm

    WOW! I'd sit in that chair all day!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:56 am

      Except it's too beautiful for bums. It's just for looking, lol.

  4. Ashlee Sanders
    September 30, 2013 / 3:21 pm

    This looks soooo great! loving velvet right now. Great job Tanya!somethingus.blogspot.com

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:56 am

      I'm so happy with my choice. The velvet is gorgeous and this one is insanely durable too – more sore than sturdier looking tweeds we considered.

  5. EJ @ Not A House, But A Home
    September 30, 2013 / 3:55 pm

    Wow, the chair looks amazing! They did a very good job with the upholstery!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:57 am

      It's so perfect – ever seem is even and symmetrical. I'm still in awe of good upholsters. They work fast, too!

  6. Martina
    September 30, 2013 / 4:03 pm

    Oh my gosh that chair is divine! MCM goodness at its finest.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:57 am

      Thanks!! I could sit and ogle it all day.

  7. Lets just build a house!
    September 30, 2013 / 5:27 pm

    this chair is now a gem! it;s going to look so chic in the lakehouse! and WOOHOO for convincing hubs to paint that fireplace!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:57 am

      I'm so excited to see it in place. And to get that fireplace painted!!!

  8. Dana@Mid2Mod
    September 30, 2013 / 7:35 pm

    The chair is amazing!!! That was quite the find.I'm so glad you talked the hubby into painting the fireplace. I think he'll love it when he sees it done.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:58 am

      I was so excited for you to see the finished chair – I hoped you'd love it. Your opinion on anything mid-century means a lot to me, because I want to keep the feeling of the era.

  9. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper
    September 30, 2013 / 8:26 pm

    oh shazam! it's awesome!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:58 am

      Shazam – I love it.

  10. emily @ go haus go
    September 30, 2013 / 9:51 pm

    This is so, so good Tanya. Simply gorgeous. So worth the money and the effort. You will have this chair forever!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 2:59 am

      Thanks Emily! Sometimes it pays to have something done right. My other chair I had done there still looks brand new and it is still one of my favorite furniture pieces because it's exactly what I wanted.

  11. brismod
    September 30, 2013 / 10:20 pm

    Love that colour. Such a great chair – can't believe it was rubbish find! x

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 3:00 am

      I can't believe I found it in the trash, either!! It was a little gross, yes, but how did no one else scoop it up? I am never that lucky . . .

  12. Janelle @ Two Cups Of Happy
    September 30, 2013 / 11:47 pm

    It is absolutely beautiful. I can picture the colour you say it is. More of a greeney turquoise. I love it!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 3:00 am

      Thanks! I'm glad between the text and photos I can convey it's real colour. Maybe if I do a video tour I can capture it . . .

  13. Oona
    October 1, 2013 / 2:29 am

    I've just finished the perfect afghan to go with the chair… why don't you send it to me to make sure it's a good match??? Haha… Love the whole project, and that you're getting to explore the gray fireplace idea. Can't wait to see the pictures.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 3:01 am

      Ooo, maybe you should send me the afghan, lol. Actually, I'd love to see photos!! Did you knit or crochet it? I'm so jealous of either talent.

    • Oona
      October 4, 2013 / 2:38 am

      I don't like fussy afghans, so this one is just nice wide strips of a bulky yarn knitted in garter stitch and joined in a kind of invented grafting. That means you don't have to sew the pieces together – which I hate. Let me see if I can get a decent shot of it. Not satisfied with the edging yet, but love the alternating colors (among which a lightish teal features prominently). If you can do the embroidery you've shown us, you can certainly knit. Plus an afghan on the needles is a great excuse to dream on the couch on a snowy day with the half-finished project across your lap while you twiddle a few rows together…

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 4, 2013 / 2:04 pm

      It sounds GORGEOUS!! I've tried to both knit and crochet, unsuccessfully. I think my left-handedness complicates things as my teachers (both grandmas) are right-handed. Maybe if I found a left-handed knitter to show me I could, but somehow it just hasn't "clicked" for me before. If you get a photo you don't mind me taking a peek at: [email protected].

  14. cred
    October 1, 2013 / 6:02 pm

    Wow, love how well the chair came out. I'm so glad the hubby came around on painting the fireplace- I look forward to seeing how it looks. But I am so excited about the plan to paint the exterior charcoal grey. It will look fantastic on that style of house. Full of win!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 3:02 am

      I am just all over dark grey right now. If I ever decide I'm over it, I'll have a lot to paint out, lol.

  15. Ria Kessels
    October 1, 2013 / 8:13 pm

    Hello Tanya…Thank you so much for such a glowing review of our work! It is always a joy to have clients who appreciate good work and beautiful fabrics.All your friends at Kessels wish you much happiness in your new home and hope to see you again sometime for another fun project.Best wishes,Ria šŸ™‚

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 2, 2013 / 3:04 am

      I am consistently impressed with the work you do and, again, picking out fabric is always a fun and relaxing experience at Kessels. Thanks so much for directing me toward velvet – it was an amazing choice and I could not be happier with the chair. I will definitely make the journey back to Ottawa, even if it's exclusively to pick out some fabric with you!!Thanks so much!

  16. Ginger - Just One of the Boys
    April 30, 2014 / 6:28 pm

    HI there! I found your lovely blog through Better After. What a fabulous chair! It looks so elegant and cool at the same time! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 1, 2014 / 2:08 am

      Hi, welcome!! Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you came by šŸ™‚

  17. Marty
    April 30, 2014 / 11:39 pm

    Speechless! This is exquisite!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 1, 2014 / 2:10 am

      Awww, thanks Marty! I don't think I've had anyone use the words "exquisite". I'm so flattered you think so. I owe it to the gals at Kessels for pushing me toward velvet – I never would have thought to use velvet without their recommendation. Sometimes it pays to ask the pros!

  18. shakti
    June 19, 2014 / 9:16 pm

    BAM! Love it! Have you had any problems with the velvet "crushing?" I had velvet backed pillows for a while but they started to get weird spots where the velvet laid down and wouldn't spring back up. http://shaktidove.blogspot.com/

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 19, 2014 / 11:14 pm

      I have been wondering if I will have that issue, but so far I haven't. The velvet I chose had a really high double rub rating and I was told it's among the most durable velvets. Having said that, it's an occasional use chair and not one I lounge on daily. I promise to report back on any issues if they arise, but so far so good!

  19. Beth@Makemeprettyagain
    July 29, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    Hi Tanya. I had to come over and visit after seeing you comment on my herringbone ceiling with the same color ottoman! I love what you did with the chair. Isn't that color in velvet to die for?! Ok. I'm off to see what else you do. Love your projects. Going to try the mirror antiquing thing.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      July 31, 2016 / 5:32 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, Beth!

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