Chrome-base Club Chair Restoration
From the desk of Amy Frederickson - vintage enthusiast, revitalization fanatic and Revitaliste founder
When we moved to San Francisco from New York City, our furniture underwent something of an Alice in Wonderland transformation: the pieces that we’d crammed into our Manhattan apartment now filled only a fraction of the rooms in our new home. Equally excited and overwhelmed by the idea of furnishing a new home, I took the task as an opportunity to familiarize myself with my new city's bevy of vintage and antique shops.
One of my first discoveries was De Angelis, a store in the MIssion district that specializes in mid-century pieces. After speaking to the store owner about my strong preference to buy pieces that had not yet been revitalized, he kindly offered to show me his storage area, which contained a treasure trove of diamond in the rough pieces.
I was immediately drawn to an intriguing pair of club chairs. They were upholstered in a dreadful ‘80s mauve-meets-taupe geometric pattern and the cushions had an awkward welt (piping) and pleating. But the lines of the chairs were superb: clean, angular lines with stunning chrome bases. In their previous life, these chairs had graced the waiting room of an executive suite. They were begging to be transformed into something more sophisticated and current. Eager to honor the chairs’ great bones, I set out to revitalize them.
Fabric: Reupholster - obviously!
Cushion inserts: Replace - the mauve fabric suggests these chairs hadn’t been reupholstered since the ‘80s which meant it was time for new cushions
Cushion style: Remake the cushions without the welt or the pleats
Chrome bases: Flawless
Structural integrity: Sturdy
Given the awesome angularity of the chairs, I wanted a pattern that would accentuate their lines. Stripes seemed the obvious design direction and as luck would have it, I stumbled into a men’s clothing boutique and saw this amazing fabric by Paul Smith for Maharam. Leave it to Paul Smith to design the perfect sophisticated stripe upholstery fabric.
The cushion design had a rounded welt edge with a few small pleats which made me think of a rather bleak period in my fashion history - shoulder pads and pleated high-waisted pants from the '80s (shudder). The curve of the cushions’ edges and the pleats diluted the clean angularity of the chairs, so I had the new cushions made with a straight "knife-edge" seam.
For the new cushion inserts, selecting foam and Dacron (Polyester batting) was the clear choice. Any kind of down/feather in the cushions would make the seats and backs look sloppy.
Getting the stripes aligned would be essential for these chairs to look properly tailored--otherwise they’d look oddly zig-zaggy. We chose to keep the stripe running vertically along each side of the chair.
I’m superbly happy with this pair! They add a sophisticated masculinity to the room while maintaining an inviting place to sip a cocktail. Not to mention the fact that they’re a great conversation starter!