A Ladies Chair


About twenty-five years ago, my grandparents inherited a house from one of the wealthiest women in their town. She had been widowed for nearly thirty years and had never had any children of her own. At the time of her death, her estate was quite large, and while she donated a large portion of her wealth to various charities and schools, her home and its eclectic collection of contents were given to my grandparents.

Among her many unique possessions was a petite set of Ladies Chairs. These occasional chairs sit very low to the ground and have a lovely fan-shaped back. These chairs have been apart of my family history for most of my life, and I just adore them. Originally these chairs were covered in a soft pink silk. Once my grandparents moved to Florida and my Gram’s color pallet changed, she had them reupholstered in a smart cream colored damask – impractical, but lovely. A few years ago Gram decided she wanted to get all new living room furniture and she was going to donate the chairs to a local charity. The thought of these two chairs being out of our family was just more than I could imagine, so I had my parents bring them to us while we were living in Kentucky.

Since I’ve had these chairs, they’ve been properly ‘loved’. They’ve traveled half way across the country with us, have been through five dogs, one cat, and three grandchildren! Needless to say, the integrity of the chairs remain, but their beauty has faded. Much to my chagrin, as a puppy, Guinness made it a point to use them as chew toys. Our cat decided the underside of the chairs made fun scratching posts. And our corgi, Iris, thought they were a perfect height for her to perch on – whether she was clean or not!

For the past several years I’ve been hoping to get the chairs recovered. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find an upholsterer these days? We’re talking about a lost trade, for sure. Everything is disposable now days – from diapers to furniture. When we moved to Georgia, I just couldn’t bear to put them in the living room in their current state of disrepair, but I couldn’t bear to part with them either so sadly they’ve become the bedroom catch-alls.

Yesterday, in a moment of boredom, I decided I was tired of my current living room arrangement. It had been a few months since I’d changed things up and I really haven’t been happy with the way things were. Everything was so…standard. The couch was on a wall, a chair was on the opposite wall, there was a coffee table in between them. Booorrriiinnnggg! Once I’d finished moving things around, I found I was left with a huge open wall of windows. I needed something small…….what could I use? One of the ladies chairs in my bedroom would be just perfect, if only it weren’t so shabby looking. I could just throw a sheet over it and use it, but that looks so tacky. And then an idea popped in my head – what about making a slip cover for it??? Hum, maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to do it.

I ran to the basement – in our storage room I had two brand new prefabbed sofa slipcovers I’d purchased on clearance at Big Lots and have had no use for them. I ran upstairs and grabbed my sewing machine and stick pins out of the closet. “How hard can this be? They do it on Trading Spaces all the time…” I thought to myself as I set to work. I pinned, and cut, and pinned and cut some more. Then I’d sew a bit and check to make sure it still fit. After a few more adjustments it was ready. I starched the hem and gave the cover a once-over with the iron, and I slipped the cover over the chair, praying I hadn’t sewn any of the seams too close together. To my amazement the darned thing fit perfectly. Not only did it fit, but it didn’t look like it was homemade! The chair fits comfortably in its new home; and I’m quite pleased with the re-introduction of this beloved piece of family history.

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One thought on “A Ladies Chair

  1. Michelle

    I also have an old piece of furniture, a four-seater couch of my great grandmother’s. I will also have to reupholster it someday, as she last decided to have it done in a lovely shade of… lime green.

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