No doubt it’s lovely to buy something new for your house, but it can also be fun when furniture you have had for a long time takes on new forms and uses.
Hubby and I first bought these chairs from Ikea thirteen years ago when we were living on the other side of the continent. There were four of them in birch with white seats around a small matching kitchen table in our apartment. Over the years, we accumulated more from Ikea and then through Craigslist, when Ikea stopped making them. Our collection of twelve chairs has moved across the country and through several houses with us. They’ve held up wonderfully as our everyday dining chairs for thirteen years!
I can’t dig up a good picture of the way the set originally looked, but I’ll keep an eye out for it. Meanwhile, I found this old stock photo on the internet.
The cute birch table with a glass top met an untimely end (long story), and we replaced it with an Arts and Crafts/ Craftsman/ Mission style cherry wood table. At that time, I put slipcovers in the chairs, since they didn’t match.
Arts and Crafts Makeover:
Three or four years ago, I was shopping for chairs to go with the Arts and Crafts style dining table, when I realized the solution was right beneath my nose! I still liked the elegant geometric lines of the Ikea chairs, which I think are reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most well known architect of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was just the light color of the wood that didn’t work. Staining the chairs would have involved stripping the finish and trying to match the color. Even if i had been able to do that perfectly – and that is not likely – the grain of the woods would still not have matched.
In any case, it really isn’t necessary to have chairs that match your table – nor nightstands that match your bed. It actually looks so much more interesting to mix and match. The chairs at the head of our dining table are not the same as the side chairs, either, and I feel it all works together.
So, our chairs that started as Scandinavian modern evolved to Arts and Crafts with new black paint (tips on painting in an earlier post) and tan microfiber suede seats. Microfiber suede, also called faux suede or ultrasuede, has a nice soft texture but is extremely durable and washable – I have scrubbed these seats with a soapy kitchen sponge on more than one occasion, and they end up looking as good as new. There are microsuedes intended specifically for upholstery that have a backing to give this soft material a lot more structure. If you can find this, it’s highly recommended! Four of the chairs with the tan seats are at our games table, which is our original cherry dining table, in the family room.
We move way too often, but I do like the opportunity to change the design of our rooms. We still have some great Arts and Crafts furniture, but I wanted to brighten up our home and incorporate more contemporary and Asian elements. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m trying to develop a bit of a Hollywood Regency/ Chinoiserie feel in our new living-dining room, and I love that these familiar old chairs have been able to come along for the ride.
So, in our current home, I’ve changed the seats of majority of the chairs to a whimsical Chinoiserie print in blue and cream: Robert Allen Lake Paradise in spa, an outdoor fabric that’s durable and wipeable. These are chairs that are used daily – including by the kids – and I just didn’t think that ordinary fabric would hold up. The polyester is not as soft as a nice upholstery cotton, but our bottoms haven’t minded. I showed how to upholster the seats in earlier post. Start looking around, and you’ll find that outdoor fabrics now come in almost any color, pattern, or texture. Many great fabric designers have beautiful prints meant to stand up to the outdoors, often including some of the same patterns they have in their indoor collections and more!
The dining room is starting to come together. I do like how the Imperial Trellis silver wallpaper looks inside the bookcase. Now that I look at the collection of plates again, I think I could use a couple more. I also want to make over or replace the sideboard. My fantasy is to find an old Thomasville or Henry Link Bali Hai dresser with faux bamboo accents to repaint for that area. And most of all, I would love to change the fireplace mantel. It is plaster with a cheesy faux marble finish, and there are two disembodied heads that stare out at you! Part of me wants to take the whole thing out, but since it’s historical, I might keep it and try to remove the heads and repaint it. I’d also like to do a few small projects like recover or replace the cushions on the head chairs, sew a runner for the sideboard, work on accessories, etc.. Well, one thing at a time. I’m having fun every step of the way!