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Janet was one of my very first students. In fact, I’m not sure I would have gotten this gig off the ground without her. She had a curiosity about upholstery that made me want to share more.

Her first project was a modern metal side chair. Even though I had reupholstered hundreds of chairs, I had never upholstered a metal framed chair. We muddled through the journey together with lots of discussion about how to attach cloth fabric to metal cleats on the metal frame.

Fast forward to a year or so later. Janet brought Maxine to class. Maxine wasn’t Janet’s buddy, it was a wing chair that belonged to Janet’s mom, Maxine. I was up for a little experimentation so we got to work stripping Maxine down to her traditional wing frame and going to work redesigning those soft curves. I forgot to tell you that Janet keeps a detailed file of magazine photos of furniture, colors and styles she loves. That made it easy to see that she was adoring modern wing chairs, ones with crazy, modern wings.

Here’s Maxine before she underwent her extreme makeover, pretty basic.

After removing the old fabric and padding, we were ready to redesign.


Janet is an artist and a maker. She enjoys figuring out how things go together and how to create patterns that will change the lines of pieces. After we had our rough plan, we fired up the jigsaw and started cutting on those old-fashioned arms and wings.

We sliced off the rounded wings and squared off the arms. You can see one of the old arms and the new, sleeker shape here:

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Here, Janet taped a piece of paper on the trimmed wing and traced the new shape she had in mind.

Next, she traced that shape onto a nice, chunky piece of wood and then cut it out with a jigsaw.

Positioned and glued in place, the new wing lines take shape.

Even though the braces are a little cattywompus, the wings are in place and not going anywhere.

Finally, Janet carefully repadded the entire chair. She wasn’t thrilled about all the sewing that was required to make the new, modern covering.

For the first attempt at major restyling, she hit a homer. And for the last bit of luxury, she sanded, painted and primed the old legs and gave them a matching coat of gray paint to go with her gray velvet fabric. Sharp, modern, repurposed and redesigned cleverness. How could you not love this chair and this girl?