Retro Reclamation – From Trash to Treasure

DSC_5843My latest project involved the up-cycling of my late gran’s pair of mid-century utility dining chairs.  They were not in a good state when I got them, and the leatherette plastic coverings were all torn and worn, and the paintwork flaked miserably with age.  


These chairs were produced by a London firm called H.Lait & Sons Ltd, and match the sideboard that I also inherited.  DSC_5857DSC_5864When I finally managed to purchase some gorgeous atomic print upholstery fabric from the States, I knew that I had to get them finished.

Step 1 – Strip & Varnish

To start, we had to remove what was left of the original paint. This was a laborious task (for James, that is, not me!), but was well worth his effort when the smooth finish made the varnishing exercise (for me!) a breeze. I used a teak-coloured varnish to matched the top of the sideboard.


Step 2 – Re-Upholstery

Not having the confidence, nor in fact, the skill, to cover the chairs myself, I engaged a small firm called Cliff Amey & Son in Cardiff to do this for me.  The fabric is a re-printed vintage design by Charles and Ray Eames, and has been produced by the New York textile company, Maharam, and the quality of this fabric is just divine.  This design was created for a 1947 textile competition at the Museum of Modern Art.  The pattern is known as the small dot pattern, and this colour is the “Document Reverse” in black with cream.  This design forms part of Maharam’s “Textiles of the 20th Century” range.


Step 3 – Re-assembly

DSC_5877DSC_5869I absolutely love these chairs, and think they are actually far nicer than they ever were, even when new, and the abstract atomic design complements our mid-century themed study perfectly. And most importantly, it has meant that I have been able to transform two items that would otherwise have been destined for the rubbish tip into elegant and iconic pieces of furniture that I am sure I will treasure and admire for many years to come.


If it’s the right chair, it doesn’t take too long to get comfortable in it.Robert De Niro

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s