Widdicomb Dining Chairs: Traditionally Upholstered Bohemian Delights


Here’s a very satisfying “before and after.” These chairs arrived in my workroom in a well-loved condition. The consignment shop where I found them had slit the webbing to remove the nasty, crumbling, petrified foam that was sprinkling out everywhere. Since they were such a fine quality, there were no repairs to be made, but they needed to be sanded and painted because of 70 years of (surprisingly little) wear: dings, nicks, scratches. The before:


Although these had foam over the webbing, I replaced it with coil springs and horsehair because such nice chairs deserved the finer traditional upholstery treatment. Here’s the progression:

Painted, webbed, with coil springs tied eight ways: should last another 50 years!
Burlap + edge roll + lots of fluffy horsehair bridled in!
Scrim applied over horsehair: compressed and comfy.

I chose a fine velvet from GPJ Baker called Barcelona in the Indigo colorway. It has a large repeat, which allowed me to use a different part of the fabric on each of the chairs. The fabric is vivid and bohemian in nature, with parts of it quite irridescent. I always find the finer fabrics to be lovely to work with, and this one was no exception. It went on beautifully over the scrim, or calico, (as they say in the U.K.) layer.

Done! The four of these, with their bohemian fabric, make a lovely statement.

These turned out so well, and happened to sell right away, so I’m going to be looking out for more to transform!



Abandoned to Ahhhmazing: The 1965 Henredon Sofa

Oh, oh, oh. Something catches my eye. In the sea of lumpy, ugly sofas, she stood out: demure, refined, faded. There she was, in a thrift shop, abandoned by her former owner.

I can imagine the relatives, carting out Great Grandma’s sofa, the one she sat on only on Sundays, when they came to visit. No one else must have been allowed to sit on her. The kids might get their sticky, grubby hands on her icy blue crushed velvet.

Great Grandma must have loved that sofa, the one she bought in 1965, in the expensive furniture store, because it was in the very best condition that a 48-year old sofa could be.

A few nicks and dents scarred the wood, where pearl-wearing GG might have crossed her stilletto-clad heels against the base as she clutched her cocktail and laughed at Great Grandfather’s jokes. She must have religiously vacuumed the cushions with her new Electrolux and its upholstery attachment. Over the years, the sun faded and discolored the gorgeous velvet, but not one stain marred her pristine appearance.

Oh, Henredon! A toast to you, and your effortless, timeless style! Because when I found her, I knew right away she was quality, and when I lifted the seat cushion, there was the label. My heart leaped! A vintage Henredon sofa, in a thrift store!

I tried to convince myself to walk away from her. I didn’t need her. I even went home and tried to forget. But the next morning, I panicked and called the store. They said she was still there. Of course, I went back. She was now mine:

Henredon Sofa Before

I debated whether I should change her outfit, but my very stylish hair stylist insisted that she really wanted a new dress. And, I did want to keep her, because, well, how often does something like this come along? I mean, when your good friend suggests that you should name a child Henry because of your vintage Henredon obsession, you don’t pass such a treasure on, even for money.

It took several months to find the perfect fabric and the perfect upholsterer. I painted the base a semi-gloss white for a much more glamorous look. Now she is stunning. See for yourself!

1965 Henredon Sofa 2

1965 Henredon Sofa 4

1965 Henredon Sofa 3

She’s going in my “sitting room,” where no one but me will be allowed to sit on her, and only on Sundays. Mr. City Girl, would you please be a love and bring me a cocktail? Thanks so much!

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The Perfect Upholsterer: Ken Chambers, Suncoast Upholstery
I can say only amazing things about his skill. If you are even remotely near St. Petersburg, please call him.


Little Black Dress(er): Worn With Pearls

Black is the new black; it’s always classic. Everyone looks good in it, including furniture. This dresser had such a good figure that black would only complement it further, so black she became. Here’s how she started:

Little Black Dresser Before

Simple, elegant, great bones. Solid maple, no veneer. In her ’50s, I would guess. Unattractive hardware, even worse color. All characteristics that make it perfect for a new outfit. So, I put her in black, but every little black dress needs the proper accessories. And what goes best with a little black dress? A necklace of pearls–large, shimmery, white pearls.

Little Black Dresser with Pearls4

Now this cute little dresser looks elegant, sharp, and finished. The hardware has touches of gold, and the pearls have subtle hues of green, pink and shadow grey. Not too fussy, and with a sense of humor!

Little Black Dresser with Pearls2

Little Black Dresser with Pearls3

Original Painting by L. Howard, “Mountain Lake”.
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Diamond Dresser Redo Part II: Striking Strikes Again

Remember this guy? Remember he has a brother?

Midnight Diamond Tall Dresser Front

Well, a customer fell in love with him and requested that I paint his brother to match so she could take them both home! I was delighted to oblige because I was having trouble thinking about how to paint the low one. This gorgeous mineral color just really seemed to suit the solid cast brass hardware, but I couldn’t decide–just like any other mother of twins–should I dress my babies alike, or differently? I put off the decision until this special order came in, and I’m so glad because he is just as much of a jewel now as his tall brother. Take a look:

Midnight Diamond Low Dresser

Midnight Diamond Low Dresser Tambour

Midnight Diamond Low Dresser drawers

And now the twins can live happily ever after, dressed identically, together! Striking, isn’t he?

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Antique Black and White Striped Bookcase: Bun-Footed Bounty

I have this thing for bun feet. Just like curvy table legs, they tend to attract my attention. Sometimes almost single-mindedly so. I recently bought a disaster of a dresser just because it had great feet. I assumed the rest would be just as great, but I didn’t really notice the rotten construction until I got it home. I’m going to have to save the drawers and hardware and junk the body. But that’s another post. Back to the feet that drew me to this piece:bun footed bookcase before

Look at them! Adorable and round; they have such presence, and promise. My dubious husband looked at them and noted, “They’re cracked!” And I said, “Yeah, isn’t that cool?” Really, you can’t ask for a cooler antique feature than cracks in the feet. Of the furniture, of course. But, further, the other elements of the antique piece worked so well with the feet: the drawer, hardware, scrolling, and wood–worn, dinged, scratched, and perfect for paint!

bun feet

Now look at them! Polished, distressed, and really, really, cute. Along with the rest of the bookcase. By the way, the shelves are cracked, too. Bonus!

bun footed bookcase front

bun footed bookcase stripes

bookcase pull

Can you imagine this warm, witty piece in your study or den?

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Faux Bamboo China Cabinet: Ick to Idyllic

I always wanted a piece of furniture in faux bamboo. Hollywood Regency, it’s called, and can look very glamorous in the right setting. So I have kept my eye out in my thrifting adventures for just the right piece. So, imagine how fun it was to find, in a yard sale, a very simple, almost completely perfect, although very dirty, faux bamboo china cabinet. When I walked up to look at it, the old guy immediately slashed the price on it in half. I took that as a yes!

bamboo china cabinet before

Everything was original to the 1960’s piece. All three glass shelves had the plate groove. All the pulls, lights, drawers, hinges, everything, worked great. Nothing to replace or repair, except the electrical cord for the lights inside. Ripe for paint! Of course, I thought, it has to be black, to me the most elegant of Hollywood Regency colors. So that’s what I did.

bamboo china cabinet front

It took forever, but I made believers out of my husband and several friends who were more than a little dubious. I could used my spray gun to get the smooth sides, but there were so many touch ups because of the textures. When the hardware got clean, it had a warm, copper tone to it, so I chose copper for all the hand-painted bamboo joints. Light glints off them in a wonderful way, giving the cabinet lots of interest.


bamboo china cabinet top

Check it out in my Etsy shop. (SOLD)


Diamond Dresser Redo: Soulless to Striking

I spied him from a little ways away. I approached. My heart started beating a little faster. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed his brother lurking in the corner, and my blood pounded in my ears. They did not notice me. In fact, the taller one seemed to be soaking in some attention from an older woman poking and prodding him. “Get away from him,” I thought. “He’s mine. So is his brother.” She left abruptly, so I hurried over to check him out. He looked so fine, even if he had a yellowish aged pallor! Tall, well-built, and nicely cut, he and his shorter, wider brother came from a fine house: Fancher Furniture. And they were waiting for me at the thrift shop! I was giddy with visions.

dressermergeI took their tags over to the counter and paid. These boys were mine! Perfect specimens for remaking! Scratched and dinged, bland coloring, fine bones. I would take their soulless bodies and make them sing! Well, one of them, anyway. The other one is still waiting for his makeover.

Here is the tall one. He has such striking brass hardware all polished up that I needed to paint him a color that would highlight those handles. I named him Midnight Diamond Tall Dresser, and he is really fantastic in person. You should meet him!

Midnight Diamond Tall Dresser Front

Midnight Diamond Tall Dresser drawer pullMidnight Diamond Tall Dresser InsideMidnight Diamond Tall Dresser ring pullMidnight Diamond Tall Dresser SideI think he’ll get along great with so many people. What do you think?