Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fabric advice needed!

This past weekend, I stopped into my favorite local shop, Ms Pixies, and picked up this small gilt chair.
I believe the chair dates from the 1920s but the upholstery job is unfortunately brand new.Can I be honest? I'm really not feeling it. I'm generally not a fan of animal prints and besides, I feel the heft of the fabric and the double welting are a bit heavy for the small chair. I want to reupholster the chair (correction, I want to have the chair reupholstered, I'm not doing the hard work!). Details such as this are hidden by the heavy welt and the print is very distracting.However, I'm not TOTALLY boring and thought maybe I could use a pattern or contrasting fabric here on the back -what do you think?I actually have enough fabric left over from reupholstering my dining room chairs (Ralph Lauren cotton velvet in peacock blue) to reupholster the chair front AND back. I thought this way the chair could be pulled into service when needed at the table. Plus, being honest, I would like to not spend more money than I have to and I already have the fabric!I also have a few remnants that I thought MIGHT work for the back. Do you hear the hesitancy in my voice? Option one, which I'm thinking might not work, is a striped blue silk. I'm not sure the color is perfect with the velvet plus stripes with such a delicate carved chair?My 2nd option which I already have is this embroidered blue silk. I think this color works better and it definitely suits the chair. Is it a tad too feminine? I'm totally lost here and need your help and opinions! Should I upholster the back in the same velvet as the front or go with a contrasting fabric? Do either of my 2 remnants work or should I buy something new, a plain linen perhaps? Your comments are much appreciated!

47 comments:

Todd said...

I agree with you on all accounts. The animal print fabric has to go and that double welt was a horrible choice, a single welt is more than enough. I have to say (all money aside), using the existing cotton velvet makes the most sense if you want to have additional guests at your dining table. However, let me know if you want any samples sent from the showroom ;-)

Blue said...

If it were my chair, I would go to a showroom (Brunschwig at Lee Jofa is where I've got memos for curtains) and chose an 18th-century style brocade and make a feature out of the chair. Alternatively, a contemporary print could work. Look at Brooke Astor's bedroom in Parish Hadley book.

I agree with you about the double welting and the animal pattern - such a cliche - dominates the delicacy of the frame

A second, usually more utilitarian fabric on the back of these chairs goes back, I think, to the time when chairs were kept against the walls and only brought into the centre of a room when necessary - before being placed back against the walls after use. Again, if it were my chair, I would not do it, but I stress, that is a personal preference.

Kerry @ Design du Monde said...

This is just one opinion but I am not a huge fan of multi-fabric upholstery. I agree with you that the welt is too chunky for your chair. I would use the embroidered silk, if you have enough, for the whole chair. It would still be relevant to your color scheme without matching the dining set. Maybe add a very dainty round, button tufted pillow in the velvet.

Anonymous said...

Beige linen with the leopard on the back

Anonymous said...

Beige linen with the leopard left on the back

Mister T said...

SLIPCOVER it, in two pieces, in linen.

Daniel James Shigo said...

Yes- I agree with you:: the welting and print overwhelm the details. The blue velvet might be too heavy too, I think you may find.

One thing to consider is this; a lighter fabric in blue that compliments the blue velvet. That way, the chair will blend with the others. I like your linen idea. I think you are on to something there.

Whatever you do, find someone who can give you a single welt.

Anonymous said...

MY EYYYESSSSS!

Quick, go get your took kit and start taking that faux animal thing OFF that pretty chair so it can speak, knock down the noise so the frame can tell you what IT wants.

Once you get it naked [we hope there's a muslin layer underneath], let it sit there while you look around the room for light/dark, print/solid, matte/shine cues. Pour some wine.

Great idea saving the money by using your lovely RL velvet remnant, but that would force a visual relationship between two opposing chair styles, which might end up being a jarring note.

Do not rush it.

-Flo

Anonymous said...

p.s. Something, beyond the obvious, is bugging me about that double welting. It looks to be taking up some of the possibly-gilded seat apron. I'm not so sure they didn't rob some of the apron in their zeal to double welt. [Is that what you call it, the "apron"?] See the central medallion in the front apron, is it just an illusion that the top of it looks covered by the welt?

I'm about to grab my tool kit, get in my car and head north on I-95 just to pick that welting up and see what's underneath!

-Flo

Foodie said...

Can we have a bit more information and maybe a peek at the space where the chair will live?
It's difficult for me to make a suggestion without seeing the environment, other colors, fabrics etc....

It's a sweet little chair and perhaps wants some contrast...like grey flannel or a chalk stripe...

pve design said...

Personally, I love the idea of a linen or stripe if it is a stand alone chair.
pve

Toby Worthington said...

With all due respect, your fabric selections are far
too serious and staid! The animal print may indeed be
over the top, but it was a necessary step in the direction of not taking the chair too seriously. In
my estimation it's the steroidal double welt that
wrecks it.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone!
Toby, I'm an architect, I am serious and staid -haha.

I think the pattern overwhelms the delicate carving which I would like to highlight.

Paisley Curtain said...

There are endless possibilities if you want to spend a fortune fixing the chair. But if you do not want to spend a fortune, why not do the chair in the blue velvet (I guess you have enough fabric) and add a small loose pillow in the embroidered blue silk on the chair.

Stephilius said...

Definitely the embroidered silk. I think I'd do the whole chair in it, but the striped fabric for the back side would seem totally appropriate, as well. Sweet chair!

David said...

The RL velvet is lovely, will look terrific against the frame, and you already have it.

I understand the urge to do something extra but that chair has plenty going on. Velvet on the back too.

Anonymous said...

No contrasting back, too busy. To me, the dusty blue velvet would weight the chair down. I would upholster with an inexpensive muslin with a nice gimp welt. You could live with this awhile until you are sure of a long-term choice. Great chair. Good luck!

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

I think you want to avoid using a fabric that suggests that you believe the chair to be authentic. I would use a rough cotton or hemp in a neutral and natural color.

Diogenes said...

a solid black would make the frame stand out.

Anonymous said...

Where will this chair live most of the time and what surrounds it. Being practical - use the blue velvet both front and back. However, I do like the lighter blues with shine - this adds sparkle to the chair.

Windlost said...

What a wonderful chair Stefan. I also like your defending that you are staid and serious - too funny. I am the same. I love your classical and traditional taste - it is divine in my opinion. I don't really have a decorating funny/ironic bone in my body - the fustier the better.

Anyway, I do agree with a modern note just nothing that is trying too hard. I think the embroidered silk is too precious with the already-pretty lines of the chair. I never did care for stripes. I think the velvet yuo have will be exquisite on the chair, but I don't like the fact that it will match the other chairs. Can you change all the other chairs? Just kidding.

I would use the peacock velvet all over - it totally suits the chair and the lack of pattern prevents things from being busy. A solid with that detailing is plenty,I think. I just hope the velvet does not seem too "thick". It looks heavy. If you want to be crazy, I would look for a new fabric for the back - perhaps the same peacock blue with white, something graphic/modern maybe. Without knowing where it will sit, I have a hard time making a suggestion for the back fabric, what it needs to relate to, not clash with, etc.

Good luck. Great find. I do agree that this might require a glass of wine.

You must show more pictures around your place - you have lovely taste and I always feel like I am getting only a torturing glimpse...!

xo Terri

Windlost said...

I just realized you had a house tour on Apt Therapy - duh! - good thing I look at links. :)

I will go drool now.

Terri

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Terri, yes - that tour was a few years ago done by Leah Moss. Only a few small things have changed really but they've all made it onto the blog in one way or another, like when I had my chairs reupholstered.

ArchitectDesign™ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel said...

Feminine shmeminine. If you have enough fabric, I'd say do the entire thing in the brocade. If not, I think it still works better with the velvet, and I the brightness of that blue will make the chair stand out nicely.

Windlost said...

JMe again (sorry) - just did the house tour. I love your place. I love that it is not overdecorated but so many of the elements are lovely - your great wall of art is beautiful. I appreciate the decision also to go with a wall of shelves that are half-height. I never seem to have enough surfaces for vignettes, so that is clever indeed. I loved that framed print on the easel. You have so many lovely things. Logan Circle too - not bad! I would love to live there. :)

xo Terri

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks, Terri! Yes, I've lived in Logan now for 8 years and in my condo for just over 5. Great area.

I felt in such a small apartment that full height shelves would overwhelm it. I've SADLY had to let go of a number of books because of that but c'est la vie: small apartment living. Keep only what you love!

home before dark said...

Dang. I can't give my usual advice: turn the living room into the kitchen! I think the brocade is more Versailles than a condo in DC! Being a skin girl myself, I'd go leopard with more in scale trim. But then I think leopard is a neutral. Can't wait to see what you do!

Anonymous said...

http://www.ralphlaurenhome.com/products/fabric/item.aspx?haid=64&collId=&shaid=&sort=&itemId=28945&phaid=

Max DuPont said...

I would go with the embroided silk as its more refined and would probably make your chair shine with the delicacy of the wood carvings.

Toby Worthington said...

Okay, let's put it this way then:
If it gets covered in embroidered blue brocade then it
belongs in Jayne Wrightsman's apartment, not yours.

I agree with Gervase. Do not treat the chair as a museum piece! And whatever happens, avoid a self-piping, which conjures up, as EEE's blog tells us,
JC Penney's. The simplest covering can be given great
chic by the use of braids or gimps.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Hi, Stefan —

You've received a lot of great advice. I'll just second the idea of removing the current fabric and spending some time with the frame — don't rush it.

Also, I think the trend of two fabrics is just that, an awful trend which I hope will pass.

Simply Grand said...

Well, the upholstery can't stay as it is, not because it's too heavy, but because with the double-welts it's too heavy-handed. Double welts are for hotel lobbies.

As far as the pattern itself goes, the fact that the same short-attention-span crowd that turned leopard into a trendy cliche is over it already is actually a mark in its favor, not against it: that is, if something isn't in style, it can't go out of style. Better than being in or out leoprad--as home before dark points out--become a neutral. Some poeple consider it a classic. If Carmen Soprano doesn't conjure up "classic" in your mind, think Elsie de Wolfe. Same picture, different frame.

Paul Gervais de Bedee is also right when he warns that you don't want to treat this flirty little chair with too much reverence--by, say, upholstering it dainty, lady-in-waiting brocade, the kind of thing such a piece might have worn, when new, in the 1770s. That would be putting on airs. Then again, you don't want to go all strumpety & Moll Flanders with a coarse-looking linen, either. That's not going to do it any favors. And like Reggie says, the last thing you want is something staid & humorless, like that rich-but-sober dark velvet. That stuff has Puritan stamped all over it, and this chair wants to be charming.

And the less said about the bland color & generic feel of that satin stripe, the better. It has nothing to do with anything: not your chair, not your room, not you. That fabric is like the boring guy at the party that nobody remembers inviting. Don't even let him in the door.

So what's left? Well, since the existing leopard, per se, isn't really the problem, you might see if the upholsterer can just pull out that dorky welt & replace it with a single (and ideally, smaller) welt in a contrasting texture & a color that relates to the another other color in the room. Maybe it's black leather. Maybe it's Hermes orange. Maybe it's the white of the spots. maybe it's something else. The point is that it be narrow, and being narrom, that it be more supple, the better to show off your chairs's voluptuous curves. You say they're really not all that voluptouous? OK, maybe so, but, placed correctly, such contrasting welting--or gimp, or rope--can make it seem as though your chairs have curves in all the right places.

A CRITIC'S EYE said...

Choose a plain fabric so that the handsome frame could speak. Color of light steel with a wide stripe ( 1/3 of the width) of another color (black or perhaps your tone of blue) to run center vertically, the entire chair, back and seat. The contrast of detailed woodwork with bold modern stripe would be stunning. I would not use a fabric simply because you already have it, wait till you can afford to do it right. You will have to look at it for a long time.

Anonymous said...

TAKE OFF THE DOUBLE WELTING... AND REPLACE IT WITH A VERY SMALL PLAIN DARK CHOCOLATE BROWN TAPE WITH TINY NAIL HEADS. THE OTHER FABRICS ARE NOT GOOD AT ALL, BUT THE LEOPARD ( ALTHOUGH NOT THE BEST QUALITY ) IS MUCH MORE STYLISH AND INTERESTING THAN WHAT YOU HAVE.

Anonymous said...

Cannot WAIT to hear your thoughts and your decision!

-Flo

home before dark said...

Came back to say if leopard (not what you have now), then black leather would look stunning in a handsome Ralph Lauren understated way. The lucky part is that this chair will not require yards and yards!

sowhatelse said...

I'm sorry, but using your existing fabrics or a plain linen would be very boring. Why not just have some fun with it? Go to a fabric store and pick out something like a lively contemporary print. It needn't cost a fortune. It's an accent chair, so it should have some oomph.

Anonymous said...

I think Paul Gervais de Bédée has the right idea.You could also consider adding a flat cotton trim or tape in a slightly darker hue than the rough cotton, hemp or even nubby linen. I agree with you that the double welt is too much. Let us us know what you decide!

Anonymous said...

I sure hope all these opinions aren't confusing you, Stefan. I hope you'll stay true to your own vision. And for God's sake I hope you don't start believing some of the opinions here that assign a negative, or positive, value judgement to certain colors or tones on the color wheel. I love neutrals and grays and tans and dusty tones like your blue, but that doesn't mean I "don't know how to live" or that I'm "uninteresting or boring or staid."

I think there's more carved frame for you to expose/enjoy under those double cords.

-Flo

Daniel James Shigo said...

Thought of you when i read this this morning....

http://decoration-ancientandmodern.com/post/19031473735/gimp-and-cord-i-sing-your-praises#.T1tTK0M96v8.facebook

Julio Muao said...

I personally love the chair in this leopard fabric. I understand the heavy welt concern and agree that can go. It works well in front of the bookcases in your photo. Why not just live with it for awhile. Maybe it will grow on you or at least it will give you some time explore more fabrics eventually coming in contact with a choice that you undoubtedly love and know will work. Congratulations on the great find.

Anonymous said...

I just don't see the major objection to the animal print. The blue is pretty, but I think it would be dull dull dull on that chair. If you want to go period, fine, but don't be dull. The carving is just not that much to write home about and doesn't need to be played up. It's the shape that stands out on that piece.

akissfromthepast said...

i love this chair! its edgy :) i love the blue silk, but- this animal print is wonderful :)
u got nice blog!!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Stefan,
I know I'm late to the party, but what about a dark blue velvet? Would still work with the peacock. It also seems a rust-orange velvet would be a great complement to what you have going on in the dining room?

La Petite Gallery said...

I like it the way it is.
A shocking little thing.

yvonne

Anonymous said...

definitely remove the double welt-
but live with the leopard for a while-
minus thedouble welt with the tacks showing-

john in nc