French Chair Repair and Makeover

I came across this french chair at a thrift store a couple years ago and it was marked down because the seat springs were loose! Lucky for me, I was feeling adventurous and fell in love with the curves of the frame, so I scooped it up. It would take awhile, but I knew the potential of the chair out-weighed the work that would take to repair the spring, reupholster the fabric and update the frame.
This is what the chair looked like before. If you look carefully, you can see the indent on the seat where the spring were loose. The fabric isn't stained horribly in the picture, but it was stained all along the trim and needed a french update.
After removing all the batting carefully so that I could salvage them for reuse (they were in good shape), those loose springs popped up!
Using the 8-way-tie method, I secured all the springs back down securely. This was a tedious process but so necessary and I noticed that previously they were only tied down using the 4-way-tie method, so this would last a lot longer!
I added back all the batting and because I wanted the carved details of the wood frame to stand out more I used a white wash method to paint the frame, then dry rubbed the white wash off, to make the wood still visible. This basically let the white wash just remain in the recessed parts of the frame.
After that I carefully measured, cut and stapled down new upholstery fabric, which I chose to be a grain sack-inspired fabric. In this light it make the frame look almost bluish, but in natural light I captured the true-to-life effect that the white wash had (pictured below).
Finally I added some white gimp trim to the edges and it was done!
I love how the details just pop now! I know not everyone would white wash the frame, but because this chair was not a true antique, but a reproduction, and I wanted to make those carved details stand out more, I felt this finish would achieve that without completely covering up the natural wood.
This chair is one of my favorite furniture transformations ever and taught me so much!
The result is a beautiful french Rococo chair that is completely repaired and functional now with new upholstery a finish that makes the details stand out.
If you would like to see the tutorials for every step of the process including:
How to Strip a Chair
How to Repair Chair Springs
How to White Wash the Frame & Reupholster a Chair
BE SURE TO VISIT MY BLOG POST BELOW, where you will find all the links to this french chair transformation!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Sue Sanders
    on Feb 24, 2016

    The white wash really gave it the antique look. Did you seal it with a flat varnish or something else? I too have an old but interesting chair to redo as soon as items stored in my garage are reclaimed by the owners. Need the garage space to redo some chairs. Will consider doing the white wash on one of the chairs to accent the carvings..

  • Duv310660
    on Feb 26, 2016

    Am very curious about what you used for the white wash, specifics like: chalk paint? Dilute or full strength? Additives like glazing medium, etc? What did you use to 'rub back': clean rag, sponge or scrubbing pad? I am almost done repairing the drawers to a carved dresser, and would love to do this over the dark wood!

    • Dlagardens
      on Feb 11, 2018

      Flat white paint (water based)1/2 & 1/2 or more with water - depending on how transparent you want it. Paint on with a small brush and rub off with a soft cloth until you get the look you want.
  • Jane R.
    on Feb 26, 2016

    What is gimp trim, where do you get it and how did you attach it to the fabric?

    • Dlagardens
      on Feb 11, 2018

      You can buy the trim at most large cloth stores, like JoAnn's or apolstry shops. I just used a glue gun for my trim

Join the conversation

2 of 81 comments
  • Taylor.kimberly001
    on Feb 14, 2018

    Greetings!! Love it!! Thanks for sharing. Have a good D.I.YING day.
  • Susan
    on Feb 24, 2018

    Exceptional outcome! I have a similar chair and you have provided motivation and good ideas for my project. Thanks.
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