Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Surreal Reupholstry

So today's adventure? Dropping off Nanny's chair to be reupholstered -- something my Mom and I have been talking about for nearly a decade. The adventure part? The reupholstry place is at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and is a part of the inmate rehabilitation program.

So we loaded Nanny's chair into the back of the Envoy and off I went this morning. After two wrong turns in the parking lot, I eventually had a guard escort me around the back of the prison to the shady shed behind the area where they train the K9 unit. No worries, I was never near inmates (much to the relief of my Mom).

It was there in the shed behind the prison that I spent a lovely morning with a few gentlemen and about 100 fabric booklets. The surreal part was that my new friends were big, burly, muscle-bound, tattooed, slightly rough-around-the-edges type guys named Mr. Lee, Warren, and "Beef." Each of them had their own well-informed opinion on the merits of which fabric and stain was best suited for my project. They even helped me take some "before" pictures so we can see the difference after their handiwork.

Here's the way that I've always known Nanny's chair. I had no idea that the purple paisley was actually a slip cover because since long before my time, it's been covered. I actually remember this chair at Mom-Mom Nagle's house because Brandon and I used to play on it. Oh, and the stool with it has nothing to do with the chair originally...we're just having it finished to match.

Lo and behold when I was taking pictures of the claw feet (a beautiful detail) I saw the edge of the slipcover, and I decided to take it off to see what the chair might have looked like in it's youth. Interestingly enough, on the seat of the chair under where the cushion fits in, the original label is still intact. I would love to find out more about this company, but a simple Google search didn't yield any great results. I'd especially love to know how old the chair is (and consequently if I'm destroying it's value by having it reupholstered). Chances are since it's my great-grandmother's chair, it's probably got some history in addition to the sentimental value.

It turns out the chair was in fact a bright, burgundy color in its heyday, and the original fabric is a sort of bristly velvet. Under the slipcovers, we found an interesting studded ribbon detail. The only thing that appears to be missing from the original chair is the seat cushion. The paisley cover on that was covering a piece of foam rather than the original cushion.

I decided to go with an ivory color for the new fabric. It's a pretty plain pattern of flowers that's all the same color but with a lovely texture. I wish I could remember the name of the fabric company so I could post a swatch. To compliment the light ivory color, I asked them to refinish the wood elements in a rich, warm, brazilnut color. Now all I have to do is wait and see what Vaughn's best have in store for an old family heirloom.


  1. I came across this, perhaps that will help you some:

  2. Thanks Bill! When are you home next? You have to come see the new digs!

  3. A few weeks I think. Either the last or second to last week of April. I need to buy a ticket soon.