I have this friend who is ridiculously talented…..

We all have them.  Friends and family in our lives who put us to shame with how creative they are and with all of their creative endeavors.  The items they produce are amazing.  I generally have great ideas but I don’t necessary have the skills to implement most of them.  Well, if I am being honest, I don’t have the patience for it either.  I can admit, I like instant gratification and being creative takes some hard work, patience and perseverance.

My friend Karen is one of these ridiculously talented people.  I met her at work and couldn’t believe at how “hands on” she was with projects in her home.  Now, I am not just talking about small creative projects like knitting, I am talking about redoing whole rooms in a house.  She and her husband are a talented duo.  I guess that is what happens when you move around a lot which they did with the military.

Karen was born in Dallas, Texas in 1970.  She spent most of her childhood in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.  The towns she grew up in made my hometown of Hickory look like a metropolitan area.  The one thing that stands out about her tales of childhood is how many of them revolved around finding a way to create whatever it is that she or her family needed.  Clearly, money was tight and her family had to rely on their hands and minds to make what they needed and wanted.

I admire that more than she can ever know.  That is a skill set I have long been envious of and I honestly wish I had half her skills.  She always tells me that I am more than capable but maybe in my current life state (two small boys in the house), it isn’t the best time to push into taking on new DIY endeavors.  So with that being said, I come up with ideas and Karen is my hands.  She has time and she doesn’t like to be idle.  Her daughter is grown and she is always looking for projects, like this one.

My dining room chairs needed a refresh.  They were cream.  Yuck and not so good for lil’ ones.  Our dining room was drab and hadn’t been touched.  We ignored it because of all of our other remodeling projects in our house.  Once I picked out fabric, Karen started taking the chairs apart one at a time.  City living doesn’t allow for me to unload all 8 chairs at her house.  We went one by one!

Here are some before shots of the chairs from our dining room.

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 Step 1: To start the recovering process Karen had to take the old fabric off.  Karen pulled the piping out which was hot glued, and used needle nose pliers to remove the glue that remained on the chair frame being very careful to not mare the wood.


Step 2: Under the glue are scads of staples holding the back fabric in place.  Karen removed these with an upholstery staple remover and pliers (which took forever and being careful not to mare the wood).


Step 3:  After pulling all the staples, the back fabric and the foam can be removed. Karen saved the back fabric to use as a pattern and reused the foam.

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Step 4:  Karen removed the plethora of staples holding the exterior back fabric.  Yes more staples and still being careful not to mare the wood.  She also saved this fabric and used it as a pattern.


Step 5:  Karen turned over the chair and removed the 4 screws that hold the seat cushion on.  Finally, all the fabric was gone.  Phew!!!!


Step 6:  Karen always tries to do a rough fit of the new fabric before stapling.


Step 7: This is the piping before Karen sewed or glued it in.


Step 8:  Karen stapled the seat fabric on the bottom and replaced the screws.  Karen stapled the exterior back fabric (navy print), replaced the foam and stapled the back fabric (oatmeal linen).


Step 9:  Karen cut 1 1/2 inch strips of the navy print fabric and sewed it around cording to make the piping.  Then, Karen hot glued the piping between the back fabric and the wood frame to cover the staples.


The final product was amazing!

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I am really pleased with the finished product.  I can say with all honesty that I don’t love my dining room set but it is what it is, right?!  John and I purchased it right after buying the house from JC Penney’s (yep, strange I know) and it was a good deal and we were looking for seating and storage.  It is definitely not my style now but what I can say for it, it is practical and I don’t give two hoots if the kids kick it, bump it or scratch it!  We didn’t spend a lot on it and it has really been used.

Karen’s upholstery update helped tremendously!  For those of you haven’t visited us, row house living is long and narrow and you have to walk through our dining room a million times a day because the kitchen is behind it.  The new fabrics are more durable, easier to clean and definitely a bit more modern than the old fabric!

So here are some before and afters.  Excuse my camera skills, I am clearly in need of some lessons!

This pic was taken when John was touring the house and thinking about buying.


This pic was taken after we bought the dining room set but didn’t want to really do anything else to the room.  In the background, the kitchen remodel was finished and that was a huge undertaking.


This is our current dining room.  Yep, we painted and went lighter.  We don’t get a whole lot of light in our row house so French Linen by Benjamin Moore is our new color throughout our entire main living floor.  Also, you may notice in the kitchen that we are missing window treatments.  Karen is working on roman shades for those windows and I will be posting her DIY for that project as well.


Karen also made us a lovely runner out of the leftover material!  Isn’t she so useful!  Man, I am glad she is my friend!

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Yep, she made the curtains too!  Ignore the terrible picture.  Seriously, I need some lessons.  Anyone, Anyone?! These curtains are lovely, fun and vibrant.


Yep, I love Karen and not just for her mad skills.  She is a good friend.  She listens.  We laugh.  We talk endlessly.  And we just get each other.  I hope you all have a Karen in your life.  Everyone needs one!

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