Before, During, & After - Vintage Mid-Century Modern Chair Makeover

Photos first. Story after the photos.


The light in these photos is off, but you get the idea. This vintage mid-century chair had good bones, but it needed a makeover. The project started 12/22/12 and was finished on 12/25/12.


You can see Mom removing old upholstery nails very carefully with needle nose pliers. Mom and I were careful to remove the fabric so that I could use the old fabric as a pattern to cut out the new fabric. To do this, I just used a ripper and disassembled the old cover and used the old pieces as the pattern. I then added about 1" extra to all sides, for a seam allowance and a little just in case. In retrospect, I should have added about 1.5" - 2", to give more room for stretching around the barrel part of the chair, but it worked with just 1" extra.

I kept the old cotton stuffing and just added a little extra batting on top of it and a 1/2" foam sheet under it that was cut to fit the chair bottom.


I chose this wild fabric for obvious reasons. It had a MCM vibe, it was nice and heavy so it could be stretched without tearing, and it just looks funky and groovy. I still love the choice all these years later. Good thing, because this stuff was NOT cheap. Luckily I didn't need a ton of it, because I want to say this stuff was $30 or $40 per yard. But it was worth every penny!

I obviously didn't stop to take enough pictures of the details as I worked. This was years before I wanted to show the world my DIY skills. But you can get the gist. If you need better detailed instructions, I can try to help. Contact me and I'll do my best!

As a side note....look how young Birdie is!! Yeah, I guess I was younger too, but I prefer to look at Birdie.

Vintage Mid-Century Modern chair makeover. Copyright 2012 Marla Baxter Sanderson -


One of the items I kept when Dorothy downsized was her bedroom chair. The nubby orange fabric upholstery was pretty worn, but the chair had really good bones. I saw it as an adventure in reupholstery.

Mom came to Nashville to celebrate the Christmas of 2012. It had been a really rough year. We lost my brother in July of that year and the family situation got pretty weird. This happens to many families when close relatives die. It disrupts the ecosystem and family dynamic. But I digress. Mom decided to come celebrate with us. Little did she know that she would embark on a project with me. Actually, I didn't know it when she arrived, but thought of it while she was here. I'm not sure it was her idea of a good time, but she was game.

I remember rushing all over town to gather the supplies we needed before the Christmas holiday was upon us and the stores would be closed. This project became more important with every passing errand. Really it was more important than was necessary, but that's my jam. I remember my determination was borderline obsessive. To those who know me in real life, I'm sure they find that a shock. I really wanted to accomplish this goal with Mom's participation. I guess the loss of my brother and the topsy-turvy nature of grief fueled my resolve to funnel some of the loss of control into a project that we could control. Maybe, just maybe, this would help us both get our minds off the day-to-day grief and feuding family for just a little while.

As the project progressed, I think we ran out of some item I needed. When one of the stores I called to locate the item (I can't remember specifically what it was I needed) they were going to close in just an hour. I HAD to get there. I HAD to collect the item. We were already elbow deep into the vintage chair makeover and Christmas was closing in. My God! The store will close in an hour and it won't open again...until AFTER Christmas!!!! What will I do??? I MUST GET THERE NOW!!! OH, THE HUMANITY!!!

Yeah, I gots me some issues.

When I returned victorious with my needed widgets in hand I remember announcing to Mom, "THEY WILL NOT DELAY MY PROJECT WITH MY MOTHER! THEY MUST, AND DID, FILL MY NEED OF WIDGETS! I WIN!!"

After my proclamation Mom just rolled her eyes. Yeah, she had met me before and knew me very well. My situational angst riddled determination was tolerated by her laid back,

easy-come-easy-go nature.

Dorothy's MCM bedroom chair seemed like an easy enough project. Easy is the wrong seemed like it was doable. And it was. It got did.

This has been a fun story to remember. I'm glad I shared it here. Mom's been gone since March 29, 2019. It's been almost a year ago now. I have so many stories like this that I want to record. So I shall.

That is all.

Carry on.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Drop Me a Line, Let Me Know What You Think

© 2020 by