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Dottie’s Design Dilemma:: Dining Room Chair Recover

Folks, I need your help.

A looong time ago (OK–six years ago) Eric and I moved from our charming but tiny apartment in the city to stick our toe into the mellow world of SF burbs and living in a house.  All of a sudden we had all of these mysterious things that amazed and frightened us.  A front porch! Counter space! A back yard! A weird box in the kitchen that magically cleaned our dishes!

And a dining room, which led us to buy a charming Duncan Phyfe dining room set off of Craig’s List for pocket change. I swore that I would totally recover the chairs and blah blah blah blah. And, oh hello six years later! And boy am I tired of that blasted maroon fabric.

Inspired by the wonders of Apartment Therapy and the idea of using burlap to add texture and character to the room I thought it would be cool to take vintage burlap coffee bags to reupholster the chairs. Very French flea market chic, no?

So, I bought one–washed the burlap (which was a major mistake since that crap sheds worse than any cat in heat) and redid one of the chairs to see if we liked it.

But then, I came up with another idea.  You know how gaga I am of Bargello needlepoint, right?  I had often tossed around the idea of needlepoint dining room chair seats, but the ones that came to mind were all very staid–floral wreaths that would TOTALLY take forever to finish.

This past weekend, I went to an estate sale whose past owner was one crafty lady with a serious needlepoint addiction. I bought a fabulous needlepoint bag and a slew of amazing Bargello pattern books.  Then in the garage I spied a Bargello pattern on a dining room chair and FELL IN LOVE. I bought the chair and the needlepoint cover for $1 since the chair was broken, took it home, ripped off the seat, pried off the needlepoint and slapped it on my dining room chair quicker than you can say crazy-craft-lady.

I gotta say, I love the look.  I love needlepoint and to do all six years would probably take a year at least. And if I do–should I used the same colors but different patterns?  Am I signing for too much craftiness? But doing those pillows was so relaxing…  Or should I just stick with the burlap, which is very charming.  Is the Bargello too much?  I think they would actually go much faster than the little ones I made using embroidery floss.

What should I do? Thoughts? Are you Team Burlap or Team Bargello? I’m Team drink, because I need one to help me make this decision. Because all good decisions are made when tipsy, right?  RIGHT?


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Posted in Real Life : Dottie.

24 Responses

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  1. Fuzzymama says

    LOVE the needlepoint—I think it really compliments the beautiful wood of the chairs. Sounds like you got quite a score!

  2. Jill Browning says

    Bargello all the way. 🙂

  3. Lindsey says

    Team Bargello

  4. abode says

    Hi doll – I love burlap but I think it is too informal for the style of these chairs . . . just my thought

  5. Andrea says

    I think you should do them all differently!

  6. OliversForest says

    i actually love the burlap but looks like i’m in the minority!

    • Dottie says

      You are not in the minority in my mind. I’m still totallly digging the burlap.

  7. Juli says

    Needlepoint-different colors, just to be eclectic.

  8. Sarah says

    Team Bargello! Love that look!

  9. gabrielle says

    why not have both, cover the burgandy in Burlap while you make the Bargello covers, best of both worlds

  10. berry says

    NEEDLEPOINT please…

  11. Maren says

    I agree with the others so far that the needlepoint looks better on this style of chair. Good luck!

  12. Jody says

    If I had to pick, Bargello. But I don’t think you have to pick. Do two solids, two burlaps, and two Bargellos. I always love mix-and-match–I always feel like once I match three things, I’m forced to do a full theme!

    • Dottie says

      It so true, Jody–what is it about the power of three when collecting? Hmm…

  13. 3 ring circus • heather says

    team bargello!!!!

  14. Alix says


    The burlap looks like it might end up scratchy and that bargello is sooooo awesome, funky and YOU! But you could totally mix it up with a solid too. Like do three needlpoint and three solid colors until you have time to finish em all! (then you only need to do two more!)

    • Dottie says

      I think you bring a very good point about the scratch factor, Alix…


  15. Alice Jonsson says


  16. jungle dream pagoda says

    I’m team mix n match!!!!
    They both look great together!

  17. Thalita Dol says

    mix and match team!
    but if I had to choose just one, I’d go with Bargello.

    hugs from Brazil!

  18. Marlena says

    I’m team Bargello. I think the burlap would be scratchy, too, and seems like it would “age” more than the needlepoint.

  19. Crystal says

    Team Bargello! The Burlap is lovely but as others have said it looks like it might be a bit scratchy and possibly shed on black pants? Plus the style of the chair, in my mind is begging for the Bargello. I like the idea of mixing it with solids and it gives you more time to finish them up. 🙂

  20. stefanie renee says

    I’m late to the game but this is awesome – team bargello all the way! you so rock!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. And I Said to Myself, What a Wonderful Year! Part 1 – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on January 11, 2012

    […] when she couldn’t decided on a fabric for recovering her vintage chairs, you guys weighed in and helped her make the […]

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