Transforming A Vintage French Chair

I don't remember exactly how long ago I found this chair and I'm pretty sure it wasn't in quite this bad condition, but from the start, the plan was to rework the chair. I found it at an antique market and paid next to nothing for it. It had lovely lines and I knew instinctively the best way to attain the look that I wanted at the price I was willing to pay was by transforming a vintage French chair.
It sat in a corner of my den for way longer than I ever intended, with a soft throw covering the offending bits. But the chair was by the window and my dog loved to perch himself on it to look outside, and while he was there, he would pull at the innards until it really was in shreds. The thing was, I couldn't decide what fabric I wanted to cover it with since I wasn't sure where I wanted to keep it.
As with many things like that, I managed to ignore it despite the fact that it was the only thing in the room that wasn't finished. When we moved into our new house a few months back, I finally decided it was time to address the chair. I decided to go neutral for maximum flexibility and chose a tonal jacquard from Ralph Lauren.
Then I packed up my sad looking chair and took it to a local re-upholsterer. When I dropped it off by his 'seen-better-days' garage, it looked like that was exactly where it belonged.
So imagine my delight when I picked up my chair! I had worried that the light fabric might not work with the dark wood, and then worried more than it wasn't light enough. In the end it was exactly what I was hoping for.
I considered painting the dark wood a lighter tone (and may yet still do that in the future), but the chair was going into a bedroom that my son uses when he stays with us and the dark wood helped keep it looking a little less feminine.
The chair has really beautiful detail with curves and carvings and nailhead trim. The lines would work wonderfully with an antiqued paint treatment, but I plan to live with it a while before making that decision.
The wall hangings in this room add interest to it and are a bit more complex than a simple piece of art. I went with a chippy painted shelf beneath a small bold mirror with mercury glass bottles featuring distressed labeling.
My intention to go neutral kept in mind the patterns that could be added to merge the chair into the decor of the room. Here I've draped a skin print throw with an uber-soft feel, but it could also be done with a tweed pillow. The room revolves around a khaki palette and includes pieces with an aged look.

So what do you think about painting the chair? I know people have very strong opinions about painting wood. Where do you stand on that and do you think it would work well for this particular piece? I've been looking for a project to begin refinishing furniture. Is this the one?

To see the rest of the styling of the shelf and the beginnings of the room design, please visit the link below. Then give me your vote for to paint or not to paint...
Lory @ Designthusiasm
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
Join the conversation
3 of 11 comments