Empire Strikes Back

While everyone is happy about the new Star Wars movie, I on the other hand, am excited about the makeover of my empire chair.  If you recall, I had a long time friend in the antiques business who stored several hundreds of chairs, all of which needed refinishing, refurbishing and restoring.  But when you have so many, it’s hard to concentrate on all of them.  This is one of the chairs I rescued from the pile and it’s been stored away for years (again).   In total it’s been at least 30 years in a storage unit, badly needing love and affection.   I recently decided to pull it out and dedicate some interest in it.  I have admitted that I do have a chair fettish and I try hard to curtail that desire, but since I had the vintage chippendale leopard chair reupholstered, I’ve pondered another chair for my hubby to have.  Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love the leopard chair, but having a down cushion can be a bit nerve wrecking, because it needs fluffing on a daily basis (unless I want to look at a flat seat – insert nerve wrecking moment) – ain’t she pretty …lol…

Since the hubs don’t seem pay my instructions any mind, I decided to go to the storage unit and get the empire chair and have it reupholstered.  After all that sitting, the chair is still standing in good condition.  Mind you the chair is from the early 1900’s

The empire chair has a strong history which dates back to an early-nineteenth-century design movement in architecturefurniture, other decorative and visual arts, representing the second phase of Romanticism.  It flourished between 1800 and 1815 during the Consulate and the First French Empire periods, although its life span lasted until the late 1820s (or more in some countries).  From France it spread into much of Europe and the United States.  The style originated in and takes its name from the rule of the Emperor Napoleon I in the First French Empire, when it was intended to idealize Napoleon’s leadership and the French state. The style corresponds in that intent to the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States, and the Regency style in Britain. The previous style in France was called Louis XVI style  (history via wikipedia).

Luckily, the empire chair has retained a steady market value over the years, making it well worth the investment.  Picking the best fabric for an antique is not always easy.  Trying to find the right color, style, and design to blend with your decor and yet maintain the integrity is very tricky.  I finally decided on a mint green and cream chenille blend animal print.  Instead of gimp for trimming, I chose to have upholstery tacks.  We chose a darker walnut stain for the wood and painted the arms metallic gold to accent the hand carved medallions on the lower arm base (which were original to the piece).   Here’s the new look of my chair.

I was happy to have it back to life and welcome it home.

The guild medallions almost resembles a fish’s head and scales

The carvings are also at the base of the arm

Unfortunately one arm was damaged through the years, and the upholsterer used wood putty to fill it.  Trying to re-carve it was a bit impossible, but she did her best.  The gold paint covered the flaw and for it to be a century old chair, I think it’s entitled to a flaw.  (side note: If you’re in my area and would like assistance restoring a piece, let me know)

It was originally slated for the bedroom, but because of the fabric I chose, I changed my mind.  My husband is a mechanic and his daily use would damage the fabric.  I really love this fabric for the chair.

So, for now, it sits in my foyer.  I’m planning a makeover of my sons’ room, so I think it’ll go in there.

A good way to start the new year is with a new makeover and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Tell me, what do you think about the Empire striking back with a new look?  Perhaps in your travels you may find your diamond in the rough to make over while thrifting your house into a home. After all, it’s how we enjoy living the lifestyle of the “thrift and famous”.








10 thoughts on “Empire Strikes Back

  1. A beautiful history and update on your chair, it was great choice. The leopard upholstered chair is a true beauty also, love your vintage finds!!

  2. What a great look! The empire chair has new life and I love the details carved on the chair. I have one vintage Queen Anne hand carved arm chair that I inherited and re-upholstered. I must say it brings me joy whenever I walk by it too!

    • That’s fantastic to hear. I thank you for seeing the value and beauty in appreciating antiques as valued pieces to restore. I’m sure yours is equally gorgeous

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