Project Elephant—Reupholstered Chairs + Family Gallery Wall

Well, I promised to keep the Project Elephant updates coming…

And then I had a weeklong relaunch celebration (which I totally should have put on my Project Elephant list so I could have crossed that off). And that threw me off my groove (again).

I’m so glad our Project Elephant motto is: it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

Because progress I have made, even if it wasn’t exactly the progress that I had in mind.

Here’s what my updated list looks like now:

project elephant checklist2

To be completely honest, the “gallery wall” that I finished wasn’t the one that I mentioned in that list. But I’ve been wanting to do it forever, so it will suffice. Want a look-see?

Okay, but let’s look at what this space looked like before:

living room old

I like it, minus the really bad lighting (hooray for better pictures now).

But it was time for something different, so I printed out some 11X14 black and white shots of our family, framed them in Dollar Store frames that I spray-painted white, and hung them in the place of the “love” letters (which I have a plan for).

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Of course, those pictures aren’t the only changes. If you recall from this living room tweaking session, I also changed out the curtains and rug and, many moons ago, kicked poor old Emmeline to the curb in favor of Frenchie, the yellow linen store-bought ottoman (oh, the shame).

What’s that you say? I missed a little detail?

OH! You must mean those gorgeous wingback chairs against the wall. Silly me. How could I forget?

The story: I’ve been hunting for cheap, good-sized wingback chairs in decent condition for reupholstering for…ages. But every time I would find something that looked like it would  work in my price range on craigslist, it either sold immediately  or was so far away that the cost of gas would negate the good deal.

Thank goodness for Mandy, who is the kind of friend who keeps an eye out for the things she knows you’re looking for. I had all but given up the hunt until one day, she emailed me a pic of two wingback chairs and asked if I’d found any yet.

They were in perfect condition and half-off at a local consignment sale, bringing them down to $40 each. STEAL!

I asked her to get them for me (she even hauled them to her house and didn’t say a word when I forgot to pay her for, oh, a good month at least).

I thought long and hard about recovering them myself, but I decided that, instead, I would cook for my family, do the laundry, and—oh yeah—keep my sanity.  So,  I took them to a great, super reasonably priced reupholsterer instead, knowing that the finished product would be more than I normally (read: ever) pay for chairs but still much much cheaper than anything I could hope to find in a store or even a consignment shop. Plus, I got to pick the colors/fabric myself. (In addition to a wannabe stylist, I think I’m also a wannabe furniture designer; remember Della’s chair? The same lady redid it).

I ordered this yellow outdoor/indoor Volary fabric and then chose a contrasting aqua linen (which I already had), and I absolutely adore the bright cheeriness of the color combo with the big graphic floral blooms and birds.

Ready for the money shot?
before and after chair pic

It’s hard to believe they’re the same chairs, isn’t it?

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Be still my fluttering heart.

Oh, and here’s a panned out shot of the wall with the bench included.

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I went more neutral with the wall decorations because of the bright pops from the chairs and ottoman, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that the chairs won’t be staying here, even as great as they look in this space. I always had them in mind for upstairs in our “big room,” and as much as I’d like to keep them here and design something else for upstairs, custom furniture—even when you score awesome deals on the chairs—ain’t exactly cheap.

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I eventually want to replace the frames for the black and white family photos with some thicker/prettier versions, but I couldn’t find anything I liked in the 11X14 size for less than $20 each. And I couldn’t exactly justify $80 worth of frames, when I could spend $4 and be happy enough until I find something perfect and budget-friendly.

Any suggestions for places to buy nice, big frames at a decent price?

Oh, and a thrifty tip for you: if you, like me have been known to stack frames in a closet, only to come back one day and discover the glass cracked (or maybe you find one at Goodwill without glass), there’s a quick/cheap fix. Head to your local dollar store (the kind where everything really is one dollar) and pick up a frame in the size that you need. You’ll have replacement glass for one measly buck. Holla!

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I smile every time I look at this wall now. Speaking of things that make me smile…

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Remember this $7 8-foot-tall (slight exaggeration) Goodwill lamp? I’m still loving it with its black and white, floral Target shade, although I did banish it to the corner when I added my glass, bubble lamps to the sofa table.

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Just in case you were wondering (because I get asked this every time I do a living room post), the color on the walls is Sherwin Williams Sea Salt. It may be my favorite gray/blue/green neutral.

And because I haven’t bombarded you with enough pictures yet:

room reveals

I found spot for my painted pumpculents, and I’m still more than a little enamored with Geoffrey, the giraffe.

But it’s the bottom left picture that I really want to talk about. Here’s the deal: the chair legs are a bit beaten up, but I really don’t mind too much and would totally keep them this color if these chairs were to stay downstairs, since the color matches the floors, and the nicks can definitely be passed off as “character.”

However, the wood will clash with something I have in mind when they migrate upstairs, so I want to change them. And I’d love it if you’d help me decide.

So, here’s a little poll for you. What color do you think I should paint the chair legs?

chair poll

C’mon! Help a sister out!

Oh! And don’t forget to brag about your own Project Elephant updates here in the comments (you can attach pictures or leave me links to blog posts) or on social media with the hashtag #projectelephant

P.S. Our Pleated Poppy, Jo Totes AND Jones Design Mombassadors giveaways all end tonight! Don’t forget to enter! I’ll announce the winners to all of the giveaways tomorrow.

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14 thoughts on “Project Elephant—Reupholstered Chairs + Family Gallery Wall

  1. I’m going to echo the “paint the legs gray” comment. You have a fun style, Abbie, butyou and I are on opposite sides of the decorating universe; I’m squarely rooted in “less is more, tone on tone, balance without symetry…” You get the picture. So, given that, gray would help balance and tone down a bit, but is still unexpected. Aqua could look a little too matchy-matchy and cutesy given the aqua piping and I think may be something you tire of quickly. I like the legs the wood-stained color as well, but sounds like that won’t work when you relocate the chairs. Love the fabric you chose for the chairs.

  2. I would go with White legs, although Aqua is a color you love, it is also a color that could become tiresome. White is so classic. Maybe antique them or distress them a little and add a little flare =]

  3. Love the chairs!! I think painting the legs gray would be nice since you plan to put them in another room. Otherwise, keep as is. Just curious- How much does it run to reupholster a chair? I always see chairs that I love at thrift stores but do not like the current fabric they have. Plus, like you I need cook, clean, etc… Also, love the giraffe. Was it a Goodwill find?

  4. NO Painiting, especially with the darker furniture in the room (TV stand). You need to tie in those peices and the legs will help balance. Leave as is, or paint black.

  5. You should paint the legs black. The legs on your ottoman are black as well as other furniture in the room. It will flow with those pieces.

  6. Here’s my 2 cents Miss Abbie… I vote you keep them stained brown, just touch them up a bit to remove the scuff marks. The wood looks great with your room and grounds the chairs.

  7. Woo, another vote for grey here! Why, you ask?

    Well, the first reason is that I love the combination of aqua, yellow and grey, ha ha.
    The second reason is that I think white would be, well, too white and pure for this combination! Plus, it would show dirt.
    The third reason is that if you paint the legs aqua, the aqua linen in the chair wouldn’t pop as much as it does now! And that would be a real shame.

    Or another solution is that you could just give the chairs to me, and don’t have to decide on a color! :) They are GORGEOUS.

  8. I have found some great frames at Hobby Lobby. Sometimes they are strange measurements (probably custom frames that fell through) and sometimes they don’t have glass and/or backing but they are great for making fabric art or canvas art without the glass. I am getting ready to make my own advent calendar out of one!

    Also – I think you should paint the legs grey – I think it would compliment the coloring – but I am definitely biased towards all things grey! Maybe the tone of your “e-mail” button perhaps?

  9. I LOVE those chairs!! I think I would paint the legs white if they were mine but that’s just my opinion :-) I’m slowly working on collecting frames for a gallery wall but most of them need painting and I’m not too good at getting projects done!

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