Tips on Reupholstering French Provincial Chairs


Chairs and furniture pieces made in the French Provincial style reflect the simple, rustic elegance of French country regions such as the Loire Valley, Lyon, Blois and Orléans. The style emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries as an elegant, affordable alternative to the furniture of Paris aristocrats. Whether you have a vintage chair or a modern replica made in this style, there are a few tips that will help you reupholster it to give it an authentic "French Provincial" look.

Work Bit-by-Bit

  • Remove the old fabric from your French Provincial-style chair bit-by-bit, as this will help prevent damaging the furniture piece. French Provincial chairs, particularly vintage pieces, often have detailed legs, arms and backs that require delicate handling. Work frame-by-frame, just a little at a time, whether you are removing fabric, sanding down the frame or reupholstering the cushions. If you are successful in removing the old fabric in whole pieces, you can use them as templates.

Remove Hazards

  • Before applying new stain, paint or upholstery to your French Provincial-style chair, take some time to remove potential hazards. Use needle-nose pliers to remove staples, tacks or nails left over from the old fabric, and coarse sandpaper to rub down splintered wood. If the cushion is worn, replace the batting to create a more comfortable, plush seat.

Authentic Fabrics

  • Reupholster your French Provincial-style chair with fabrics that depict flowers, vines, birds, ribbons, sea shells, farm yards or other scenes to create an authentic, vintage look. Jean-Christophe Burckhardt of Master Artisan Online Magazine notes that fabrics used for French Provincial pieces were inspired by a myriad of international influences, including India, Italy, China and Islamic Moors of Spain. French Provincial fabrics, like the famous Toile de Jouy, feature bold colors and borders, and geometric patterns, as well.

Complement the Frame

  • Choose a fabric style that complements the frame of your French Provincial chair, and not one that overpowers it or looks out of place on the furniture piece. Draw inspiration from existing carvings, curved or woven panels and other details of the chair's frame to choose complementary fabrics. Take the shape and color of your chair into consideration when choosing a fabric, although you can always alter the color of the frame with wood stain or paint to better suit your fabric of choice.

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