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DIY Dining Chair Re-Do

DIY Dining Chair Before and After | Covet Living

Kar Bear and I hit the Rose Bowl Flea Market one steamy, swassy Sunday in November on the hunt for some vintage dining chairs to revamp for her sweet little Santa Monica breakfast nook.  We came home with these!

Rose Bowl Flea Market | Covet Living

These started out being priced with an enormous, matchy-matchy dining table that we did not need – I think it was $600 for the entire set.  We were prepared to pay for the whole set ($150 per chair), and just leave the table, but then we stepped up to the plate for a little haggling:  I told Mr. Dealer-man in the kindest and most charming way possible that this wasn’t Rooms-to-Go, and that people didn’t always want to buy matching sets anymore…  they wanted to cherry pick and make things their own.  Plus it was right before Thanksgiving, so we knew he’d have no trouble selling the table since people are always scrambling for them right around that time. We finally got him to split up the set and give us the chairs for $300 or $400 bucks (which, when you consider that flimsy plastic dining chairs from big box stores can run $100 each, that was a BIG score).  We loaded up these tragic-but-had-great-bones guys into my hooptie and headed back to the homestead.   Check ’em out, in all their butterscotch glory.  (“Buzz yer GIRL-friend…  WUF!“)

Dining Chairs, Before | Covet Living

We discussed painting them, but decided to leave the finish as is…  it’s in great shape.  That Werther’s Original fabric, on the other hand, had to go.  We knew we wanted to recover them in something colorful and fun, and while our styles are much different, the one thing we do agree on is the entire beachy, casual, cheerful vibe of the California Dreamin’ Pinterest board.  In the end, we decided that a vintage Bolivian blanket would be a perfect upholstery fabric.  Comme ça:

Bolivian Blankets, Solo | Covet Living

There happens to be a sweet joint in San Diego – er, on Cedros in the design district – called Solo… the same joint I purchased my vintage kantha that I made Euro shams for my bed out of…  Solo is also across from the Mothership, aka Bixby & Ball… never a bad street to ping-pong around if you’re down there.  So, I strolled into Solo post-dog beach one day to scout rugs/fabrics for Karrie’s chairs…  Gus helped.  That’s Ruby, the sweet lady who handpicks all the blankets & kanthas they carry in the shop.


Then we had to Face Time Karrie, so she could weigh-in on which rug she wanted. This is how she answered the phone… from the shower.  Sweet Jesus.

Face time shower time decisions

We figured this one was a keeper.

That one!  | Covet Living #bolivianblanket

Yep.  Not ugly.

Bolivian Blanket | Covet Living

Fast forward 2 months, and I rolled up to Santa Monica this past weekend with my tool kit and that rug/blanket in hand.  Ready to take on these suckers.

Before Chairs | Covet Living

Here’s why just about anyone can do this DIY… because with these types of chairs, fabric is just wrapped around and stapled or nailed into the back of the seat cushions, which then screw into the chair frames.  So you just need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove them…  once they’re off, it’s just a matter of stripping that old nasty a$$ Werther’s Original bouclé (probably embedded with some kid’s boogers and old peoples’ toenail clippings) then recovering and stapling the new fabric in place, and screwing the seat cushions back to the frame to secure them.  BANG. (Keep this in mind next time you’re at an Estate Sale, or Goodwill, or a Consignment Shop.  Flip ’em over and see how they’re made, so you know if they’ll be easy to recover or not.)

Steph's DIY Dining Chairs | Covet Living

Before Chairs | Covet Living

So first…  while my favorite helper Karrie went shopping and my other favorite helper Teem cozily read a book with Dateline on in the background, I laid the seat cushions out on the blanket/rug/thing to make sure they’d fit.  Yep – plenty of room.

DIY Dining Chair Redo | Covet Living

Then I took a pair of scissors to that glorious blanket… and this is honestly how Gus looked at me.  I know…  it hurt me to cut it up, too.

Bolivian Blanket | Covet Living

Gussie | Covet Living

And now.  We wrap, we pull taut, and we STAPLE in place with a staple gun.  This part looks easy but it’s a smidge tricky…. cuz that “fabric” is actually a thin rug, so oragami-folding and wrestling the corners so they’ll lay down flattish – flat enough that you can still screw the seat cushion back into the chair frame – is a feat.

Steph's DIY Dining Chair Redo | Covet Living

And if you can’t get the corners to lay flat enough, then the seat cushion is going to sit up too tall on the frame and you won’t be able to screw it in without a go-go-gadget, daddy long leg screw.

wrap the bolivian | covet living

Bang bang bang!!  My work here is done complete.

diy redone dining chairs | covet living

Karrie’s little nook is still in progress – we still have to: refinish the little pedestal table in that room, which is currently the color of Tang… give the walls a fresh coat of paint… and pick out a fabric for the valances.  We’re leaning towards something in this vain – it’s another vintage textile, but we need something like this with a smaller, neutral print, because the chairs are so loud that they need to be the superstars in that space.  This bad boy is a great supporting cast – it complements the chairs but doesn’t compete with them.

Textile | Covet Living

We also recently hung THIS Jamie Young Lotus pendant that Karrie’s been coveting since this 2012 Nursery post, which looks amazing:

Glorious Nursery | Covet Living

We’ll let you know how it turns out!  Also, if someone could bring Karrie a Mai Tai and maybe give her a foot rub while she supervises me refinishing the table in a few weeks, that’d be great.  (Just kidding y’old skank!  Love you.)

PS: Etsy & eBay are great sources for vintage textiles like these.  If you like that same global/ethnic feel, try using search terms like: vintage hmong, batik, bolivian, kantha, suzani.  A few of my favorite Etsy shops are here and here.


Steph's Scanned Signature

DIY Kantha Pillows

Steph's Bedroom | DIY Kantha Pillows | Covet Living

See dems Euro Shams on my bed?  They started out as this quilt…

Kantha from Solo on Cedros | Covet Living

Or kantha quilt.  Most kanthas are about 60″ x 90″ in size, and are handstitched ditties made from old saris.  I see a LOT of ’em around, but it’s a crapshoot – the good ones are hard to find.  Then, I saw THIS bad boy at Solo on Cedros… (a glorious haven we’ve rapped about many-a-times that has – among other things – the most beautiful kanthas and Bolivian blankets/rugs, ever – thanks to Ruby, who handpicks each one.  And who Gus accosted last time we were there).

Ruby from Cedros | Covet Living

Anyhoo.  As soon as I saw this one, I (literally) hurled my whole self on top of it to call dibs.  THIS kantha – in all its lilac, coral and perfectly faded charcoal glory – was a diamond in the rough.  So I snagged it…  I think for about $100 bones.


Though the thought of taking a pair of sharps to that gorgeous thing made me wince, I knew I wanted to make euro shams out of it – either for the sofa, or for my bedroom.  I wanted my new place in Cali to have a kind of an effortless, beachy Bohemian feel, and this was a good place to start.  Plus they would be so cozy as pillows (!!!) and just get softer and more lovingly worn with time.  So first, I laid the kantha out on the kitchen floor to see if I could get 3 big sections of the prettiest part for the face (front) of each sham.  And I used a super scientific measuring technique called “trace around the sham you already have.”  I definitely wanted to use more of the lilac parts than the orange:

DIY Kantha Pillows | Covet Living

PS, the opposite side of my kantha looked like this… yeah – like Woodstock. Probably best left in the 70’s and therefore best suited for the inside of the shams:

DIY Kantha Pillows | Covet Living

I wanted to make 3 Euro shams, so once the 6 sections were cut, I pinned ’em (faces together) and started sewing.  There’s a much better sewing tutorial than I could muster here.  The only thing I’ll tell you is that I ALWAYS double-stitch the seams, and always double stitch at the zipper.  Also – I would use a zipper that’s just a few inches shy of the pillow width (Euros are 26″ x 26″, so try a 22″ zipper if you can). Cuz you don’t wanna be fighting the sham every time you wash it and then try to shove the insert in there, like you’re trying to shove a hot air balloon through something the size of a lemon.  OMG, that sounds like child birth. #passthedrugs #cantwait

DIY Kantha Pillows | Covet Living

And there you have it!  Speaking of wee ones, I think a few of these could also be precious in a nursery or a kids room.  You could also reupholster a bench or ottoman in them… whatever tickles your pickle.  Check out my Etsy faves to see some of the ones I picked out to use for projects like this.  I probably spent about $60 on each pillow – including the insert – which is a STEAL if you’re willing to get crafty.  Otherwise, you can hit the el-easy button and shop over at Chairish this Sunday from 9am-11am EST!

Chairish Co Kantha Pillows | Covet Living


Steph's Scanned Signature