Saturday, November 8, 2014

Recycling a chair for the Take a Seat charity auction

Have your ever heard of Fabcycling?  That's where you take something that has seen better days and turn it into something fabulousl..David Bromstad spoke about it once in an article I read.  It was very timely because I had just registered to design a chair for a charity auction called Take a Seat.  Sponsored by IFDA (International Furniture and Design Association) as a fundraiser to benetfit veterans through Habitat for Humanity, designers and artists are challenged to turn old chairs or salvaged material into works of art.

So what was I going to do?  We had this old office chair at home.  It truly had been well used.  Could this be my candidate?

What could I do with this?

One day my design partner Ellie and I were packing up a condo for a client.  She was going to renovate and asked us to donate everything.  I spotted the draperies blowing in the breeze.  The white cotton duck fabric was like a blank canvas.   Could I paint on them and use the fabric to cover the chair?

I was inspired by my love for Flow Blue China.  Should I paint a pretty blue design on these panels like the pattern on this plate?

It was clear.  I needed HELP!  I shared my idea with Ellie.  Right away she said, "Oh, I can embellish your design with beads."  Excellent idea, or so I thought.  As we started to forage for beads in our box of remnants we could not find any color beads we could use.  But we did find an old belt that was made from strands of beads.  The only thing was, they were black!.

So out went the first idea and now we decided to design a black and white chair. This would be a work in progress....create as we go.

I draped the fabric over the chair this way and that.

Hmmm, this is a pretty detail.  We could add buttons or tassels.  The wheels were begining to turn.
Upholstering would be a challenge.  How could I make this work? What about a slipcover?
We should make a pattern but this is not going to be as easy as I thought.
 Upholstering was a challenge but a slipcover sounded doable and Ellie could do the sewing!

So Ellie began to work her magic exploring different ideas.

What could we do with the top part?
Something like this could work, but what should we do about the chrome base and black casters?  Could they painted white?
The back was puzzling.  What should we do with all that bunched up fabric?  We decided to consult our drapery lady who promptly trimmed it out.  
As we went along there were little challenges but finally it all came together.

We added cording along the top and around the seat, draped the belt across the inside of the back, added buttons on the ends from an old coat and used 2 small old buttons with velcro to secure the top part to the seat.
We hot-glued a black band around the skirt and decided and embellished it with beads from a craft store.
We placed a tassel that resembled the belt on the back of the chair at the top of the train.
Since we had a few beads left over we though they would add a finishing touch to the bottom of the train.
Here it is.  But what about the wrinkles?  Could we actually iron it? Yes but it was tricky.  It's good we designed this slipcover in two parts.
Ta Da!
All the chairs for the auction were put on display at a local art gallery and a lighting showroom.  It was exciting to see what the other chair designers had done.  (Future post.)


Here we are with our chair.  In handling it did get a bit messed up but then it's a slipcover!
The excitement was building for the Gala Live Auction.  The setting was perfect.  All the chairs were delivered and placed among the sculpture in the garden.
 Our chair went to the live auction and took it's place  in the sculpture garden of  The Boca Museum along with all the other wonderful creative chairs.
This was a labor of love.  In the beginning we didn't really know what we wanted to do or how we were going to do it but we knew if we kept going and trying different things somehow it would work out.  Every time we had a challenge we figured out a solution.

All the chairs sold, even ours.  At first we thought the person who bid on it bought it to donate back to charity, but when we spoke with him later he said no.  His sister saw it on the IFDA Florida website and asked him to bid on it for her!  She wants to use it as her vanity chair.  It is fun to know our chair has a new home and a new life.  Now that is Fabcyling!

Have you ever made something new out of something old?  Have you repuposed something for a totally new use?  I always love watching Flea Market Flip on TV and there are so many many clever ideas on Pinterest showing how people have turned things like an old chest of drawers into kitchen island or a bench into a coffee table or a coffee table into an ottoman .....the creativity of people astounds me.  What inspires you to get creative with something that is ready to be retired?

As always I invite you to share your experiences and ideas in the comment box.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Decorating!

If you would like assistance with an interior decorating/design project please contact me at


  1. Jo Ann wrote,
    I JUST LOVE THE CHAIR. What a great look, innovative and most of all a labor of love for the ‘design world.
    You are truly design divas!
    You gals are so special and talented.

  2. Thanks Jo Ann, Your are right it was a labor of love and we had such fun doing it.