I've written about these chairs before, and some of you who have followed me for a while may remember reading about them. Because there are a lot of new faces here and because my previous blog is no longer available, I thought I'd start from the beginning...
My grandmother was the epitome of a Southern lady. She had style, class, hospitality, and she cooked some of the finest food you've ever tasted. My grandfather was the sweetest, gentlest soul. He had a servant's heart, and he loved our family and especially my grandmother so well. (Speaking of my grandfather, yesterday was his birthday. He would have been 100 years old. My family and I miss him every day.)
I spent many weekends and summers as a child at their yellow house on Allenwood Drive in Carthage, Mississippi. We would play dominos... drink Pepsi on the back porch... play golf (or, well, I drove the golf cart!)… stay up late watching Jay Leno... eat cinnamon toast for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, the best fried chicken for supper, and LuVel Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert (with LOTS of chocolate syrup)... play in the large magnolia trees in their front yard... ride our bikes down the large hill in their back yard... and the list goes on and on...
My grandmother was a fine hostess, and we celebrated many holidays and family reunions at my grandparents' house. The largest room in their house was called the "no-no" room. You can probably guess, but the "no-no" room had lots of breakable things inside. Children were not allowed to enter unsupervised! The "no-no" room housed a large dining room table and a smaller kids' dining table on one side. The other side was a large sitting area with a faux fireplace and large hearth, plenty of seating, and the prettiest Bergere chairs tucked in the corner.
The view looking into the "no-no" room towards the dining area:
These chairs watched over every Christmas Eve family gathering where we would all sit and open Christmas presents. They watched over every Easter gathering where we would eat a fine, home cooked meal and then hide Easter eggs around the house. They watched over entire generations of family grow up and have families of their own but still return to visit and celebrate any occasion.
When my grandfather had to move to a nursing home, my grandmother moved into an assisted living facility nearby. Selling their home and leaving Carthage was one of the hardest things they did. She took a few pieces including the Bergere chairs with her to her new apartment, but even with memories of Carthage throughout, she never felt like her apartment was home. I don't blame her.
At the time of her passing, the Bergere chairs were very worn. I have no idea when they were originally purchased, but I imagine they had been around for at least 30 years. The fabric was dated, the armrests were torn, but goodness, these chairs were reminders of some of my favorite memories. I took them home with me in hopes of restoring them some day and probably not fully realizing the undertaking this would be!
In early 2018, I purchased the required tools - an air compressor, a staple gun, staples - and researched "how-to" videos on YouTube as well as read multiple blogs online with very descriptive instructions. For the cushions and the front of the chairs, I used a neutral fabric I already had just "lyin' around the house." For the opening in the back of the chairs, I used a beautiful, colorful floral fabric I purchased online. For the most part, I thought the chairs turned out pretty well!
They certainly weren't perfect, but I was still proud of the outcome. A few things I llearned from the first round:
- use fine wire (22g) staples, not 18g
- use fabric meant for upholstery
- choose fabrics that you'll like for more than 2 years and that will coordinate with multiple décor changes
In the last year, I have come across so many designer fabrics and beautiful textures that I so desperately have wanted to use in my own home. The fabric I used for the first restoration was still a little too dark for my taste, and the fabric was very inexpensive and not meant for upholstery... meaning it probably wouldn't last for 30+ years like the original fabric did.
This second-go-round, my sweet sister came home to help me recover the chairs. (We had also planned to recover dining chairs from the kids' table she had inherited... but in the chaos of trying to pack for herself and three kids and be at the school for my nephew's award ceremony before heading to Jackson, she forgot the chairs... so that project will happen later...) We spent the entire Saturday working on these chairs, and we still didn't complete them! When I originally did the chairs on my own, it took me over 6 weeks, though, so having her help certainly sped up the process!
I chose a cream performance fabric (upholstery grade) from Kravet for the cushions. If you haven't noticed by now, I like white. Many people are so fearful of using white fabrics, but I have a secret... performance fabrics and bleach! I completely understand having kids and pets makes having nice things difficult, but performance fabrics are just as soft and luxurious as other upholstery fabrics but are incredibly easy to clean! For the back, I chose an ivory embroidered floral pattern from Schumacher. I still wouldn't call my work perfect, but goodness, I love these chairs so much more now. They no longer clash with my décor, and I'm thrilled to say they didn't cost me a fortune either!
I still won't be offering my upholstery services any time, but here are a few links to other blogs and YouTube videos if you're interested in doing your own project!
I will cherish the memories of my sweet grandparents forever. They were some of the kindest and most loving people I will ever know. Both are a huge part of who I am today, and I couldn't be more fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful family.