Faux Bamboo Chippendale Chair Makeover

Something slip-covered, something leather or something with loose cushions.

Something timeless, something with a little pop and something kinda statement-y.

This was my loose criteria when deciding on a new chair for our home office space.

You see, our home office space is just that; a space. It’s in a prominent and highly trafficked area just off our kitchen, which means any residing furniture is; 1) at extreme risk of grubby-fingered attacks, and 2) seen by pretty much everyone who visits. Hence my desire for a chair that was both practical (easy to clean and comfy to sit in) and pretty (not overly office-like and totally fabtabulous to gaze upon!).

I must admit, I sorta agonised over choosing just the right chair for waaaay too long before finally realising I was being more unnecessarily indecisive than usual and concluding that what I knew I always wanted was a bamboo Chippendale era armchair (with an easy to re-upholster drop-in seat). The problem with my conclusion however was the reality of actually finding one for less than one zillion dollars!

I knew from previous experience that simply stumbling upon an affordable second-hand Chippendale-style armchair was RARE (even on eBay they usually sell for over $500 each) so I set about hunting down the most affordable brand new option I could.
Enter…one of my slightly obsessive, ridiculously exhaustive, though sometimes surprisingly fruitful, internet quests!

After dismissing a few over-priced (to me) designer-y options I finally came across a manufacturer (amazingly based in my own home city!) who actually hand-produced the chairs from scratch out of solid mahogany and was willing to sell me a raw, un-upholstered frame at a discounted price – awesome! By buying the chair, not only was I able to help support locally made though it was of fab quality and the price was totally do-able (not overly cheap, though definitely justifiable).

Bamboo Chippendale Armchairs

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For my Aussie-based readers: as stated and linked-to above, the chair I bought is from Mahogany By Hand and can be purchased and collected from their Moorabbin showroom (south-east of Melbourne). They also ship nationally though in my experience the cost of freight usually negates any initial monetary saving unfortunately.
Complete Pad also sell these chairs (in raw, un-upholstered form) for $325 each through their website here. My understanding is that their supplier is Sydney-based and free collection can be arranged directly from the manufacturer. They also offer nation-wide shipping, though again, freight charges may be cost prohibitive.

Deciding on a colour for the frame and type of fabric for the seat took me almost as long as settling on the style of chair to begin with! I know current reincarnations of Chippendale chairs are generally quite bold though I wanted something reasonably subtle with a gentle colour hit so eventually opted for a muted green for the frame and textured canvas (drop cloth) for the seat.

Faux Bamboo Chippendale Chair Makeover

Gotta love having a semi-obedient pet who’s willing to sit in the foreground of your photo to help balance the composition :-)
I just had to take my shots quickly whilst he wasn’t chasing flies, making his ‘extra-sad, extra-droopy’ face or barking at the school kids walking past!

Given the frame was already raw I simply sanded it lightly with some fine grit paper to smooth any roughness then applied two coats of paint by hand using a brush (the colour is ‘Field Maple’ by Dulux). The amount of detail in the frame meant hand painting was a little fiddly and time-consuming (spraying would have been easier and faster) though for whatever reason I had my patient hat on that day. To finish the frame I applied two coats of spray sealer (I used Cabots Cabothane Clear Oil Based in Gloss).

Green Bamboo Chippendale Armchair

If you missed my previous post about upholstering the seat from scratch you can check it out here.

Chippendale Chair with Drop Cloth Fabric Seat

It’s a pretty in-depth tutorial which clearly covers each stage of the process, including how to tackle those pesky corners…

How To Upholster Chair Corners

I contemplated painting grain sack stripes on my seat though decided instead to make a graphic grain sack style lumber pillow using some fabric I already had (the tutorial for that is coming up soon too – promise!).

Grain Sack Lumbar Pillow

All up my chair ended up costing around $260 total – not too bad, especially when considering the prices of the comparable chairs I found. I love that the drop-in seat can be easily re-covered when needed/wanted. And, having a removable seat also makes re-painting the frame heaps easier too!

Now we finally have a proper chair nestled beneath our computer desk the home office is pretty much complete (it’s only taken me ten months, give or take)!

Impending baby permitting, with any luck I’ll be able to share it in a week or so.

Chippendale Armchair Before and After