Before & After: Mid-Century Armchair Gets a Facelift

My mother is an amazing seamstress.  While I was growing up, she was the costume designer for the drama department at the local high school.  I can still remember the rhythm of her sewing machine, punctuated now and then when she changed directions or cut a thread.  She created every Halloween costume my sisters and I wore, from Marie Antoinette to Scarlett O’Hara (even back then, I had a thing for history!).

I, however, have not used a sewing machine since my 6th grade Home Ec class when we made the requisite patchwork pillows.  When I purchased this chair off of Craigslist a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at reupholstering it.  And although I managed to do the top and bottom by hand, when it came time to do the cushion I broke down and bought my very first sewing machine!  (More on that later.)

Never having upholstered anything before, I scoured the blogosphere for tutorials beforehand and ended up with Jenny Komenda’s tutorial on Little Green Notebook (I highly recommend it if you’re a first-timer, as she is very thorough).  BOY was this a lot more time-consuming than I realized! I don’t even know how many hours I put into this chair–not to mention the definite blood, sweat, and even a few tears.  But now that it’s finished I can bask in all its mid-century glory…

Here is the transformation!


Kid's Room Conundrums //





More progress has been made in Clinton’s room; I painted the book ledges white, painted his bed nook a yellow-green color (California Dreaming by Behr), hung some white Ikea curtains, and made a quick & easy felt garland to go over his dresser.  Here is a photo I snapped of his book shelves, with more to come in the next post.


Happy decorating, everyone!

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Comments (18 )
  • Teresa
    | 26 August 2014

    I used that tutorial to reupholster my first chair too! You’re looks AMAZING! Super great job on the piping!

    • annabode
      | 29 August 2014

      Thanks Teresa! I used a sewing machine for the piping on the seat, but I made the piping on the back and bottom with just a glue-gun. It worked surprisingly well!

  • Donna Brewster
    | 26 August 2014

    Nice work, especially for a beginner!

    • annabode
      | 29 August 2014

      Thank you Donna!

  • amy
    | 10 September 2014

    I absolutely love the fabric you used!

    • annabode
      | 10 September 2014

      Thank you! It’s from Joann’s, but unfortunately I can’t find it online. They have some really great options though–lots of fun prints!

  • Erin@liveprettyonapenny
    | 11 September 2014

    Love your makeover. Despite the many hours you probably had to put in, the chair looks beautiful so totally worth it.

    • annabode
      | 11 September 2014

      Thanks so much Erin!

  • gwen
    | 6 October 2014

    Never-Dull is just the thing you need to polish the brass feet.

    • annabode
      | 6 October 2014

      Thanks Gwen–I’ll give it a try!

  • Maggie
    | 6 October 2014

    Try Brasso metal polish for the brass.

    • annabode
      | 6 October 2014

      Thanks for the suggestion, Maggie!

  • Lauren
    | 6 October 2014

    Beautiful job!! Curious what sewing machine you went with? I’m thinking of tackling a similar upholstery project and looking at a few sewing machines online, and like you I haven’t touched one since HomeEc 🙂 Any advice is appreciated.

    • annabode
      | 6 October 2014

      Thank you, Lauren! I did some research and it seemed to me that Singer was a no-go, but Brother was a good brand. I bought the Brother LS2125i which is supposed to be an easy, “everyday” machine and was pretty affordable (find it on Amazon here). It took a little while to get myself oriented, as you really have to read through the instruction manual, but after that it was a breeze! Good luck on your project, I’d love to see a photo when you’ve finished!

  • Tijuana
    | 6 October 2014

    Great job. You can also use Barkeeper’s Friend for the copper as well as many other things (not just metals).

    • annabode
      | 6 October 2014

      Thanks Tijuana!

  • Karisa
    | 7 December 2014

    It’s beautiful! I love your cushion edges (#nothetechnicalterm…) We upholstered an Ikea chair once.. Actually allow me to rephrase that. I cut out the pattern for the chair and my sweet husband sewed it all together! I’m amazed at my lack of spacial abilities when it comes to sewing, but I’m practicing! Can’t wait to see what else you venture to do with your new machine!
    Happy Sunday 🙂

    • annabode
      | 10 December 2014

      Thanks Karisa! I’m definitely no seamstress, so this was a challenge. The piping was actually the easiest part–just some nylon cord and hot glue! Awesome that your hubby can sew…jealous! Love your new site btw 🙂

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