I’m gonna let you in on a little secret – Interior Designers like me shop at thrift stores all of the time. One of my favorite things to do is look for chairs that can be recovered or reupholstered while saving up to half of the cost of new pieces. I love searching the aisles and finding pieces often shoved in a corner that no one notices. I choose chairs because they are easy to customize, require less fabric and the labor can be done at a reasonable price. Also, they are easy to fit into my car!
Take a look at the chairs above. A client of mine actually spotted these chairs first. We were looking for French Berger Chairs for some time but when she noticed these at a thrift store. The dated red/orange upholstery was not good but the design style and the carved wood details were perfect. The chairs were easy to sit in and the proportions were perfect. I chose a rich, dark olive green velvet for the color and the soft feel of the fabric. Velvet is also very forgiving fabric and easier to keep clean. I had the chairs recovered with the new fabric which resulted in updated chairs that captured my clients traditional design style with updated colors.
A few months later, I had a project with a tight budget. I scoured thrift stores all over the area of Chapel Hill and found these two peach wing back chairs at a Thrift Store for $100 each. These chairs had excellent hardwood frames with dowels so they were very sturdy. Inexpensive furniture uses engineered wood, is held together with staples and is rarely suitable for re-upholstery. Though the frames were good, the chairs needed new webbing and cushions which cost about $75 each. I was able to find discounted designer fabric in a textured blue and white material. My upholsterer renewed these chairs and best of all; they did not end up in a landfill.
My last example is of two renewed family heirlooms. These chairs were a favorite of my client but the wood finishes were each a 1980’s red mahogany and the fabrics reflected the same time. My client asked me to add some fun animal prints into one of her room designs. Luckily, I found a luxurious platinum gray zebra print material by Thibault at a showroom for her guestroom and this lovey textured blue/brown for the other. I loved reusing these pieces because it enabled us to choose more expensive fabrics while still saving money. A single new chair with one of these custom fabrics would have cost my client over $2750. I also had the wood finishes changed from red to a warm brown with a satin finish to coordinate with the great fabrics.
Remember thrift stores or your attic is great places to find affordable interior design pieces with lots of style. Check the frame quality, webbing, cushion and sit in it to test the comfort level. Choose wonderful fabrics and a good upholstery company to save money on your budget. For more inspiration on purchasing furniture, check out some of my earlier blogs here.
First Impressions by Julie Wagner, LLC
Chapel Hill, NC