DIY WATERCOLOR ACCENT ARMCHAIR

Oh gosh.  Where to even begin with this project.  

When the HUBS and I moved into our new home, I had this *wonderful* idea of designing watercolor accent armchairs that would serve as one focal piece in our living room.  I had all this gumption, knew exactly what I was going to do, read HOURS worth of reupholstering posts online.  Even had two amazing antique Louis armchairs that my dad bought without my mom's approval and consequently mom was "donating" to our furnishing project.  Little did I know this was going to be a behemoth of a project.  

First of all the antique Louis armchairs were a no go because we would have to figure out how to ship them to our new place, and all the small details of the chairs would make an already long project even longer.  So we decided to scour the inter webs for used armchairs that we could give some love.  

After months of searching and nothing quite in our price range or desired shape, we turned to simply buying two new semi-affordable armchairs.  We had saved on all our other furnishings, so we had a little more to designate towards this project.  After lots of searching, we came across these armchairs that had excellent reviews and were known to be cushiony and comfortable.  Nothing is worse than buying furniture online, only to find out its stiff as a board.   

Armchair Charisma Shah

During the shipment process one of the two chairs was damaged, so we got another replacement chair immediately (great customer service BTW!).  This ended up providing to be quite useful since we could strip the damaged chair for practice.  While I was taking apart the broken chair, I realized that there was really no way that I would be able to put the pieces back together regardless of how many notes or pictures I took.  So I decided instead to create a fitted slipcover for both chairs.

With a little bit of crude photoshop, I designed a handful of fabrics + designs so I could imagine the chairs as a finished product with the patterns I had developed before selecting the final fabric. 

I immediately fell in love the one on the farthest right.  The small pops of orange seemed so fun.  Plus I really loved the idea of two mirrored asymmetrical chairs.  So I started designing the fabric for printing.  Many of you know that I really love using Spoonflower for my design needs.  I can create custom prints with the versatility of several fabric options.  I have used them previously to create these placemats.  In this case, I used Spoonflower to create this lovely watercolor canvas print.  

watercolor DIY accent armchair charisma shah

If you do choose to go this path, make sure that your fabric pattern is true to size.  This means you will need to take into account the chair dimensions and where you want the pattern to be placed before creating your fabric for Spoonflower.  This will ensure that your pattern lies as you envision it.  That being said, I took the measurements of the chair, approximated how large I wanted the watercolor motif to be, and then created the fabric print to size in Photoshop before uploading it on Spoonflower.  

After designing my fabric, I took apart the fabric of the broken chair and segregated the pieces into the front and the back.  I made notes on how the pieces were attached together and then started tracing and cutting the pieces out on my fabric based on how I wanted the pattern to lay.  I labeled each piece on the back of its position on the chair.  I then sewed the inner arm pieces to the inner back piece.  I repeated this step with the outer arm and back piece as well.  I then attached these two together (the front piece to the back piece).  This didn't work too well so I had to sew on these pieces by hand to the chair which took forever.  I was just about to give up, but then my HUB's mom offered some much needed encouragement.  

So like 3 days later....Voila!

DIY watercolor accent armchair tutorial charisma shah
DIY watercolor accent armchair tutorial charisma shah

If anyone else is thinking about reupholstering please consider these before committing:

  • Local reupholsterers can be quite affordable.  This might be worth the money since it will free up your time.  Some quotes that I received were for $200-300/chair with a two week lead time.
  • This project was an abbreviated reupholstery and still took several days (if not a week) to complete.  If you completely reupholster, please be aware there are several tools, like 1000+ staples involved, and much much much more time.
  • The benefit to DIY with this project is being able to place the printed fabric the way you want it.  Thats how I was able to get this asymmetrical unique motif for my chairs.
  • Yes these chairs are beautiful and I love them, but I am still not sure if it was worth the frustration, exasperation and time.  Just be prepared to be incredibly patient.

For those that would rather purchase a beautiful and unique chair this is a much more time effective AND cost effective route.  I would consider some of these:

As you can see, Spoonflower & Roostery work with artists and designers like myself to create truly unique pieces.  These are some that I have designed including one that is the exact same print as my chair but on a more versatile style chair.  I hope you guys enjoy!