“This is a fabulous chair. Yes, it’s seen better days. It’s obviously well-loved, and she’s had it for over 40 years, but I still think there’s a lot of years left in it.” – Jacqui Joseph
This week my latest Money For Nothing project aired on the BBC. This project was from June last year, and it’s fantastic to watch the episode and see everyone’s reaction, including the original owner and the new owner who bought the chair for her shop in Cornwall.
If you’re not familiar with the programme, the presenters save items from a local recycling centre that would otherwise go to landfill. They pass them to professionals like me, and we reinvent them to be sold on, and the owners receive the profit.
When Jacqui walked into my workshop with this beautiful pink velvet fringed chair, I lit up. You don’t see many of these nursing chairs around anymore because so many have been discarded, but they are ideal bedroom chairs.
It was clear it had been well-loved and used throughout its 40-year life. The fringe trim and detailing made the chair look dated, and the existing velvet fabric was tired, worn and in need of replacing. No doubt this was a challenge, but it didn’t faze me at all.
Reinventing a 40-year-old velvet fringed chair
“Nice shape, still sturdy; it just needs a little bit of TLC.” – Jacqui Joseph
The velvet-type fabric was still soft to the touch, and I wanted the new fabric to feel the same. But rather than plain, this time around, I thought the chair should have a vibrant print.
I chose a fabric from Stella Alexander called Rockpooling. The pink colourway is a nod to what was there before. The print is bright and bold to transform the quaint fringed chair into a modern statement piece.
We set the budget at £450.
Luckily, when I stripped the chair down and removed the old fabric, there were no surprises!
I replaced the original foam seat pad and hessian base to ensure it was supportive and comfortable for its new owner. I used jute webbing for the job; it’s strong, sturdy and long-lasting.
“That’s what I love about upholstery: you’re doing exactly what they’ve been doing for 100’s of years. There are some modern materials, but the practice of you putting them onto the chair is exactly the same.”
I also added polyester wadding to smooth the back of the chair and create a barrier to protect the fabric and foam.
The finer details
While I didn’t like the original fringe, the chair needed some detailing to give it that extra special touch, so I created three secret buttons. You’ll know they’re there, but they are pattern matched against the print, so they blend seamlessly.
I also added pink piping to the back to accentuate the chair’s natural curves. I love the pop of bold colour!
Finally, to give the original legs their shine back, I used an oil and wax to clean and polish them up.
A new life for the petite seat
“OMG! I barely recognise it! I didn’t imagine this. It looks more sumptuous and bigger. The buttons are so subtle; it’s unreal. And the legs, they’ve come up really nice as well. Honestly, it looks wicked!”– Jacqui Joseph.
The chair was sold to a luxury lifestyle boutique in Cornwall, Jenny Aves At Home. Owner Jenny loved it as much as we did and bought it for customers to use in the store. I’m particularly happy that this vintage chair has a new home with someone that shares the same ethos and passion for sustainability as I do.
Better still, the original owner, Mary-Christine and her friend Michela (who passed on the chair to Jackie at the recycling centre), made a nice £65 profit which they are donating to an animal rescue charity. I have two rescue dogs, so when I watched this, I cried! 🥲
You can read the fringed chair’s origin story here.
Watch the episode for yourself on iPlayer – Series 14, episode 10.
If you have a piece you’d like to transform from ordinary to one-of-a-kind, get in touch.