Last week, Doug ran the Chicago marathon and then 22 miles as part of a 12-person relay from Louisville to Lexington, Ky.

(Yes. In a week. He’s mostly amazing and a bit crazy.)

I was on fall break, but wasn’t able to join him. A lot of the projects in the bedroom restoration are two-person projects, so I tackled some other things on my own, like the mirror I posted about a few days ago. I am putting some seating into the bedroom, which of course, would horrify Victorians who felt that each room should serve just one purpose. MY purpose is going to be having many pretty places to perch. Or sit. Or read. Even though this will eventually be a guest room, I don’t plan on it sitting empty when we don’t have visitors. It has a turret in it! I plan on reading and lounging and napping in this space, as well.

I found a chair at an estate sale online, and loved it so much that I needed it for this room.

I mean :

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It’s a red velvet Eastlake chair. I think people are crazy when they think Victorian furniture is stuffy and formal. It is shapely and dynamic and interesting and FUN. This is a fun chair, and I LOVE IT.

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Seriously. It just makes me smile.

Okay, ALMOST everything made me smile. The back and seat, while loved, are in great shape, which is amazing, because I am not ready to do tufting yet. When I do, that’ll probably be a hilarious post. But the arms were worn out, more so than I would like. Faded and the velvet was really running thin.

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I had four options that I could think of.

  1. Live with it and love it.
  2. Try to find velvet that matched the rest of the chair (which I thought, given the age of the piece, would be hard).
  3. Re-upholster the entire chair in a NEW red velvet (which wasn’t in the budget and would make me sad to lose original fabric).
  4. Re-upholster the arms only in a contrasting fabric.

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I went with option four. Why try to match and have it JUST not work, when I could make the arms a pop of something different?

It’s like I’m making this the chair version of the classic tweed jacket with elbow patch. Really, it’s the same idea – protecting the part that gets the most wear and tear. Only, my chair will be less woodsy and hunter-like.

I took the trim off first, and let the dust settle. I cleaned the chair as much as possible, but I probably need to keep going. If you’re like me, you probably don’t know how to clean velvet, but the INTERNET DOES. So I’m saving this tutorial for later.

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Here’s my fabric! Remember, the rug will be in the red family, and the walls and ceiling are black and white. This fabric looks GREAT in person and up close, and kind of looks gray in pictures. Come over and see it, because it’s fantastic.

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Also, it adds just a pop of modern to such a traditional chair, and I’m okay with that.

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Test fit. SEE? It looks gray.

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VOCABULARY LESSON!

“Antimacassar”

Noun, historical : a piece of cloth put over the back of a chair to protect it from grease and dirt or as an ornament.

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Thanks to a friend on Instagram, who said this reminded her of an Antimacassar, I now know a big word that I didn’t know before. And she’s RIGHT – it’s the same idea, really.

I wrapped the fabric around, and stapled it on. Easy. Also, I should mention that I left the original fabric on the arms. There was no reason to take it off, and maybe someday, someone will be glad to have that original fabric intact.

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Once stapled on, I trimmed the excess fabric.

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Arm two!

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Both arms complete.

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For trim, I bought both red and black, because I wasn’t sure. But I loved the red so much, so red it is! Also, trimming this fabric created SO MUCH flotsam and jetsam.

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I also have this cute little ottoman that I’ve had for years, and I had enough of the black and white fabric and trim left over, so,why not?

Before:

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After:

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Are you smiling? I hope so.

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Super easy and practical and fun! And maybe a bit regal, which is not a bad thing.

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So, since I was already stapling, I wanted to do another quick upholstery job on this chair. I bought this chair for $5 in 1998 at a Goodwill in Akron, Ohio, for my first apartment my senior year of college. Talk about earning your keep.

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At some point, I put this cream and gold satin fabric on it? No clue why. But it’s held up well! Or, it did, until I didn’t care about it anymore and did paint projects using it and spilled black paint on the seat. But it has nice gams.

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I’m imagining a small desk in the space, and thought this would be a great (and free) little chair that can easily be moved around the room. But first, new fabric.

Seriously. 1998. What was I thinking?

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I had some fabric leftover from the drapery accent pattern, and decided to use that.

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Darling. And so cure against the black wall. Not bad for free!

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Your task for the day – either use “antimacassar” in a sentence, or find someone who knows what it is! Also, tell me in the comments other fun words we should all know (related to the Victorian Era, Restoration, or Home Decor). Seriously. I’m starting a list on here.

13 comments

  1. I learned what antimacassar is during a vocabulary lesson. (We used to require students to do vocabulary work one day per week during the IRP block.)

    1. I, too, wish to know whether this is just another vocabulary word we should be using (i.e. “My Grade 1 class left me particularly VEXED today.”) or if your mad upholstery skills have truly VEXED this reader.

  2. I thought the arms were great when I saw your work on IG, but the footstool treatment is a stroke of genius. Clever, clever you.

  3. The Biltmore House in Asheville was opened in 1895, after a substantial construction time, and only God (now) knows just how long Mr. Vanderbilt had been acquiring furnishings for it. There were seating areas in both Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedrooms. So now you can say, “There!” to the naysayers should any dare to say nay to you.

  4. Actually, your house is much more livable, comfortable and inviting than the Biltmore. I meant only to show you that there is precedent for sitting areas in Victorian bedchambers, although I’m sure yours will be more comfortable than those I saw when I toured the Biltmore in 1992.

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