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Ten Ways to make a “Granny Chair” Look Hip

I was at a client’s home last week and she had a very “granny looking” victorian chair,  a family heirloom, that she wished to update.  Her home is an old world Italianesque home with lovely antiques and furnishings. She surprised me by choosing this fun tangerine very now looking trellis pattern for the chair.  She asked me what I thought and I said absolutely! That chair covered in a heavy fabric of the period would look dated and uninteresting. When I received notice from Fabricut of a new line by World-renowned Belgian artist and sculptor, Isabelle de Borchgrave , it got me thinking about statement chairs.
IdB Fabrics
Using these types of fabrics can bring new life to an antique chair.  It is similar to going gray. You need to dress a little more fashionably (maybe even a little edgy).  If you have bleached blond hair,  too much plastic surgery and wear a motorcycle jacket you look hard.  If your hair is gray, you still have your figure, and wear a motorcycle jacket you look hip.
edgy this is the exact haircut and color that i have wanted for years. i want IT NOW!
Here are some examples of how a granny chair can look FABULOUS!!
Vintage corner chair via One Kings Lane upholstered in Peter Dunham’s Kashmir Paisley (one of my all time favs)
interesting chair in one of my favorite fabrics from Peter DunhamImagine this lovely chair with a simple period fabric…not nearly as fun!

French Chair Painted Distressed Green: The lightweight linen and subtle tonal shifts of Delave make a bold statement when offset by 9" wide cream stripes
via twill textiles

The combination of floral and stripes on this chair make it anything but granny
I adore the bright, graphic nature of this upholstery. A perfect update to an antique chair.

A little more time but just as much fun…

Reupholstered chair with European Licence Plates Tapestry- i would love to make a version of this for my boys' room.
via chairybombs on etsy

This chair at a desk in a teenage girls room would be fabulous.

new twist on an antique chair...Big Pink Polka Dots

This would make a fun office chair in an otherwise tame environ

Yellow And Charcoal Chevron French Provincial Side Chair By Upcycled Home - eclectic - chairs - Etsy

via etsy

Chairs recovered in John Robshaw textiles

What could be better than a group of chairs recovered in a John Robshaw fabric? Do you love his fabrics as much as I?
My client had this little french style chair upholstered in a drab fabric (sorry no before photos).  I suggested a gray wash to lighten it up and my client did it herself.  We had it upholstered it in Tanzania  from Fabricut (no longer available).


Here is a company called chairloom that takes Ebay & Craiglist finds and turns them into FABULOUS!!

Our client purchased this fantastic mid-century bergere armchair from our furniture inventory and selected Maxwell Fabrics's Gig Harbour in Oyster and Charcoal for the redo. We sanded the frame down to the natural wood and finished it with linseed oil.
via chairloom
I have seen chairs similar to this in second hand stores and I always imagine them in a haunted house.  This animal skin takes it from goth to fun love the combination of hide & dark wood
via 1st dibs

Do you have a vintage chair in your home that you have refurbished in a unique way? I would love to hear about them.

Reader Interactions


  1. miss b says

    I love vintage chairs and we have one which a local company recovered for us in a striped neutral fabric. In fact this is the second time we have changed the fabric and each time it's as if we have bought a new chair! The granny chairs you featured are wonderful and there are so many fabulous fabrics. I esecially like the mix of florals and stripes. Great post!

  2. Debra Phillips says

    bravo cindy, now i want to go on a granny chair hunt!

    and m a y b e let my hair go gray……have to lose a few pounds first 🙂 now i am off to visit the textile firm you mentioned

  3. Amy H. says

    Love these! I'm working on my first reupholstery piece right now – an antique chair for my living room! Got all the old fabric off and have ordered my new fabric (black and white morrocan/lattice print) and will be painting the wood a yellowish/gold. I'm so excited to get to the finished product.

  4. Renée Finberg says

    i adore this idea. many moons ago in nyc, when i was still with fs schumacher…
    we did an entire brownstone (show house) on east 72 and madison.
    it was to feature a new line of contemporary fabrics.
    we upholstered all the antique furniture in these new hip fabrics,
    and well, the results were fabulous….
    just as you have shown here.

  5. Vel Criste says

    Oh yes Cindy! I have a pair now in my guest room and in the basement!!!! Love all the examples and your absolutely right, taking out a chair from it's granny phase needs more oomph and pizzaz!!! Can't wait to see what the chair will look like with that fabric! And thanks for the info on chairloom, will be checking it out for sure!

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