Finally Deciding on Living Room Chairs

I had been struggling for two years to find the right living room chairs. I put hours into testing seats, photoshopping mock-ups, and browsing styles online, and I even tried a few in the room before returning them. I was dealing with clashing elements in the space that kept dictating what kinds of chairs would be a good fit.

How to pick living room chairs

This post is in partnership with Article!

The blue velvet couch that now lives in the den was previously in the living room. The bright color, the velvet fabric, and the tufting steered me away from any other seating that had those elements. I just didn't want a room full of tufted upholstery or oodles of color. The living room's woodwork has orange tones that kept me from any of the camel colored hues or natural wood hues. Even though I wanted a chair like this, it simply would have been too much.

Living Room Before

We lived with that super clashy teal chair and the wooden dining chair for a couple of years while I hunted for the right ones. These two were leftovers from our old house and they were probably the worst chairs for the space - oy.

I was on the lookout for neutral colors, with simple lines, that were neither bold nor boring. It was a tricky thing to do! I was looking at traditional designs, modern wingbacks, casual cushionsswiveling bases, and so so so many more.

But then, the blue couch and the existing teal chair moved to the den when I transformed that space for the One Room Challenge earlier this year. And my world opened up! I moved the grey sofa into the living room and it instantly neutralized the space. I still plan to replace it with another piece without tufting and a lighter color, but I'm happy to have it for now as it lets the chairs be the center of attention rather than the big couch.

Through the swapping of furniture, I learned that I prefer a simple couch to ground the space, with accent chairs to add the personality. I also came to the realization that I wanted to find ways to make the living room feel more casual. The traditional woodwork, my affinity for velvet (more on that later), and the fact that the space is free of a TV, makes the room feel quite formal. An easy way to make a space feel less formal is to not go super matchy matchy. Some may disagree, but I decided I'd get two accent chairs that didn't match. 

So, I started my search over from scratch and this time I could source pieces that had color, texture, tufting, and leg designs that would complement a future couch. I could also pick two favorites instead of narrowing it down to one!

I'll quit my ramblings and just show you which beauties I picked out from one of my favorite online retailers, Article.

Blue velvet living room chair

Aren't they the bee's knees? 

Blue velvet Matrix chair from Article

Surprise surprise, I got another blue velvet piece! I just love the texture, and so does the cat! We've learned that velvet is the best material for avoiding cat scratches. Mabel does her fair share of scratching on rugs and furniture around the house (and I follow right behind her with a spray bottle attempting to dissuade the behavior). It's super frustrating and I've tried all the tricks to get her to stop, but velvet is by far the best material for holding up to the cat's natural tendencies.

That texture is simply irresistible to me and the cat. She spends HOURS lounging on this chair, it's her new favorite spot.

Blue velvet Matrix Article chair

I fell for the Matrix's color and fabric, but its scale fits the room just as nicely. In my heart of hearts I wanted a big wingback that I could curl up in while wearing a smoking jacket and plaid house shoes as I peruse my collection of leather bound books that are so aplenty that they are only accessible from a library ladder. But, literally none of that applies to my daily life, so I'll have to save that scenario for my dreams. This real life room needed something smaller scale to maintain sight lines to the adjoining dining room, and narrow enough that the walkway wasn't blocked. Matrix is a perfect fit with it's compact size.

Forma chair from Article

Now the Forma chair. What a beaut! The fabric texture adds just the right amount of detail without distracting from the pretty shape. With all of the chunky woodwork in the room, I wanted something that had soft curves and sleek legs that added visual lightness and this chair fit the bill.

Forma Article living room chair with gold detail

Check out the back detail! Since the chairs float between two rooms, the backsides are just as important.

How to pick chairs for living room

Ordering chairs online can be worrisome if you don't have the chance to try them out beforehand. Our home's chair critic (Ross) was wary, but he absolutely adores the comfort factor. He's the kind of seating judge that if he says "it's fine" then you're winning. It's a multi-layered evaluation that I don't fully understand myself. But after I found him quietly sitting in the Forma chair for ten minutes, I asked his opinion and without skipping a beat he said, "I love it." Victory! He had the same feelings about Matrix, but he had to wait until the cat got out of that seat before he could indulge.

Styling living room chairs

It's so great to walk into the house with these chairs on the welcoming committee. Now, I need to get a new side table and a new couch to really let these beauties shine.

Be sure to check out the other beautiful chairs from Article, including this perfect caramel wingback, and this one that looks great in blue velvet, too. They also carry lots of other modern furniture pieces, all for a flat shipping fee of $49. Plus, the Article team is just so darn nice!

I wasn't kidding when I said that Mabel loves the Matrix chair. I tried to remove her for the sake of these photos, but she kept jumping back into her spot.

blue velvet living room chair

Tell me, am I pushing it with the blue velvet furniture in my house? Would you do non-matching chairs? Which cat scratching remedies are effective for you? Who is the biggest chair critic in your family? Which Article chairs do you fancy? Share away!

One Room Challenge Week 5 - Giving a Chair a Facelift

There's only one week left in the One Room Challenge! Over the past five weeks, this room has completely transformed. I'll share more before and afters next week, but let's get into this week's project.

I bought a chair off Craigslist years ago during my mid-century modern phase. However, I wasn't in love. The upholstery color didn't work in any room of the house, the webbing was totally stretched out, the frame was separating, and the finish was chipped. It was originally from Urban Outfitters, so it's not a vintage heirloom and thus I have no problem messing with it. Note that I do not condone painting 60-year-old furniture just because you're bored of it.

The Gold Hive How to Update a Chair
The Gold Hive How To Update A Chair

The chair sat in the living room for two years and every time I saw it, I thought about how I wanted to get rid of it. With a chair that needed some love, and an excuse to give it new life (thanks One Room Challenge!) I decided that the chair could stay a little longer - with a refresh and in a new room.

The first step was to update the frame. Since there was no gorgeous wood grain to reveal under the existing finish, painting was the only option. Considering I paint things pretty much only black or white (or Salamander!) the choice was easy. Black!

The Gold Hive How to refinish a chair

First, I disassembled the frame and removed the webbing. I later found out that a big reason the webbing sagged and the frame was coming apart was the previous owner had assembled the seat upside down. The puzzle didn't fit together so it was putting pressure in all the wrong spots, and the poor chair couldn't hold up.

The Gold Hive How to refinish a chair

I then gave the frame a light sanding to rough up the surface for paint and to smooth out the chipped spots before dusting each piece with a coat of primer. There's really no reason to skip this part. I'm a big fan of primer and always recommend tossing it on because your paint will adhere so much better - even if you're using a paint and primer in one.

The Gold Hive How to refinish a chair

I used a satin finish paint because flat would look well, flat and a little too, "hey look, I spray painted this chair" while a glossy finish would be like "woah, you spray painted that chair." Catch my drift? Satin has just the right amount of sheen.

The Gold Hive How to refinish a chair

After a few light coats of paint, I worked on re-webbing the seat.

The Gold Hive How To Repair Webbing on Chair

First, I stapled one end of the webbing to the frame. Then, I use this webbing stretcher (torture device) with the rubber end on the frame, and the spikes in the fabric to create tension on the strip by pushing the tool down to stretch the fabric.

The Gold Hive How To Repair Webbing on Chair

Once it's as taught as a drum, I stapled the fabric into the other end of the frame. You may think that pulling on the fabric by hand would be enough, but that torture device, I mean webbing stretcher, does the job so much better. Trust me.

The Gold Hive How To Repair Webbing on Chair
The Gold Hive How To Repair Webbing on Chair
The Gold Hive How To Repair Webbing on Chair

Once a few staples have secured the fabric, I cut the it with enough overhang to fold it back over the staples and staple again. I used this gal, but this pneumatic staple gun would be so dreamy. After all of the webbing strips are complete, I reassembled the chair (not upside down!).

The trickiest part of the whole process was the fabric. I fell for this Painted Check fabric by Robert Allen from Dwell Studios because it was a modern take on plaid and it was in my favorite color palette, black and white. The pattern choice is sure pleasing to look at, but boy was it tough to work with. Had I chosen a solid color or a busy pattern, I could have just cut the pieces and sewn them together. But no, I had to pick a fabric with a bold, high-contrast, large-scale, stripe - and a wiggly stripe to boot. I needed the pattern to give the illusion of wrapping around the sides of the cushion, so matching each piece of fabric to its four adjoining edges was critical. This is probably easy peasy for a professional, but I am not. Here's how I did it.

The Gold Hive How To Rehupolster a Chair

First, I deconstructed the existing cushion and used the pieces as a template to create a new pattern. It's important to note that fabrics can stretch over time, so duplicating the exact pattern may not be the best idea. My fabric was stretched, so I slimmed down my new cuts just a hair.

The Gold Hive How To Reupholster a Chair

I started with the top piece (where you put your tukhes) and matched everything to it. I cut each piece in the order of how visible it is. This way, if things got misaligned towards the end, the issue would only be spotted in the back.

To form each of the side panels, I layered the primary piece atop the roll of fabric and lined it up to its exact same pattern. I did this to create a guide so I could visualize where the cuts would need to be based on the half inch seams I'd sew later.

The Gold Hive How To Reupholster a Chair

Here, the primary piece is on the right, layered on top of the roll. The teal piece is the template of the new side panel that I need to cut. I folded back a half an inch of the cut piece and pinned it back with the purple pin to show how much fabric will be hidden with the seam. The teal piece already has folds from the original seams so I butted them up. This shows me exactly where the side panel needs to be in relation to the pattern in order to match the main piece. I then pinned the teal piece down and traced the outline onto the roll of fabric, then cut it out.

Once I figured out the method that worked best for me, I found an easier solution that uses the same principle.

The Gold Hive How To Reupholster a Chair

Instead of using the teal fabric template and visualize the multiple seams, I nixed the template altogether and just used its measurements. I layered the fabric on top of its matching pattern, then slid a ruler an inch under the fabric, then marked the width that I needed the finished piece to be. It's the same idea, just with fewer steps.

The Gold Hive How To Reupholster a Chair

Once I cut out the pieces, I used colored pins to mark corresponding edges.

The Gold HIve refreshing a chair fabric-0051.jpg

For the back panel with the zipper, I did the same process, but with two pieces and a zipper sandwiched between. For the cushion's bottom piece, I modeled it off of the front panel the way I modeled the front panel off of the top piece. This was to ensure that the lines matched on the cushion edge that was most visible.

The Gold Hive How To Reupholster a Chair

Finally, all of the pieces were sewn together and stuffed with the existing cushion. Then, I did it all over again for the second cushion.

Now that it's completed, I'm super pleased with how well the squares line up on each of the seams, as well as in the transition from the bottom cushion to the back cushion. The back panels of each piece don't match up because it is physically impossible, but I'm a-okay with that. Please feel free to weigh in on more efficient upholstering techniques, I'm sure there are great options out there!

The Gold Hive refreshing a chair
The Gold Hive How To Refinish a Chair

Doesn't she look pretty with this pillow?

If you're here because of the One Room Challenge, I hope you'll subscribe to the blog to get future blog posts in your email! Be sure to follow along on Instagram, too!

One Room Challenge progress:
Week 1 - the before, the inspiration, and the plan
Week 2 - paint, paint, paint
Week 3 - how to install picture rail molding
Week 4 - sourcing the artwork
Week 5 - refreshing a chair
Week 6 - the reveal!


Don't forget to admire the other spaces that are a week away from their grand reveal! Check out both the featured and guest bloggers.

Want remember how to refresh a chair for your next project? Pin this image below. While you're at it, follow me on Pinterest!

How to refresh a chair - The Gold Hive