How This Family Heirloom Became a Contemporary Treasure

Guest post from our friends at Laurel & Wolf - the online professional interior design marketplace that makes it easy, affordable and fun to create your perfect space.

all photos by dustin walker

all photos by dustin walker

We’ve all inherited family heirlooms that don’t quite fit with our tastes. But how can you get rid of your great grandfather’s grandfather clock or a 19th-century sofa that traveled across the ocean with your ancestors? Giving up a piece of furniture with family history is basically taboo, but it’s hard to live with something you don’t love, even if it has sentimental value.

Enter Revitaliste. The hot new startup helps people transform their old furniture. Whether your hand-me-down needs to be refinished or restored, painted or reupholstered, Revitaliste works with a network of professional artisans to make the process simple. Laurel & Wolf Director of Partnerships Julie Geer called on them to transform her grandma’s Louis XV-style armchair.

Antique chair before reupholstery

“As my grandma grew into her 90s and we moved her into an assisted living community, she naturally wasn’t able to bring all of her furniture with her. To me, this chair was so beautiful,” Julie says. “Despite the fabric not being my particular taste, it seemed such a shame to not find a place for it. I intended to reupholster it for years, and just never got around to it.”

With its strong shape and intricate detailing, the chair was an amazing piece to have at home, but the original upholstery felt dated. By working with Amy from Revitaliste, reupholstering the old chair didn’t feel like such a chore. “Amy was a pro, had great creative ideas and feedback, and was patient with my slow decision-making,” Julie remarks.

before and after upholstery project with laurel & wolf and revitaliste

The main challenge? Julie wanted to update the chair’s style while maintaining its vintage charm, which felt linked to memories of her grandmother’s elegant home and taste.

“I have vivid memories of the places my grandmother lived growing up. She was always a very put together woman — her nails were always painted and she’d have on earrings and a necklace. Her homes were no different, accessorized with pieces she’d picked up throughout her worldly travels.

reupholstered antique chair in holly hunt palm upholstery fabric

Not one to shy away from mixing patterns and styles, Julie’s chosen fabric — a tropical philodendron leaf print — reflects a number of things. Despite its trendiness in decor today, the pattern is a classic nod to the sophisticated glamour of the Beverly Hills Hotel and of her grandmother’s own style. As an LA transplant originally from NYC, Julie also wanted the chair to reflect certain parts of her own life.

“There’s something so LA about the big tropical leaf print that feels very West Coast to me. It’s like a perfect combination of the memories of my grandmother and my life right now.”

The bold fabric may not be the choice everyone would make in conserving the original charm of the piece, but for Julie, it was the ideal mix of contemporary style and sentimental value.

before and after upholstery project with laurel & wolf and revitaliste

“I think there’s something kind of regal about the chair, and I feel that way about my grandmother,” Julie says. “She would wear these winter coats with big fur collars and was just such a classy lady. To me it’s like the big back of this chair mirrors this big fur collar that would envelope her!”

The chair’s vintage silhouette combined with a bit of Cali-chic flair mixes both generations’ tastes and allows Julie to hold on to a piece of her family history.

“It’s a fantastic way to have a part my grandma in my home. I wear a lot of my grandmother’s jewelry and have some of her art, and this is just another piece of her that I get to have with me.”

Ready to revitalize an heirloom of your own? We’d be delighted to help you modernize it. Get the process started with a design consultation or a price quote