Posted by: highmountainmuse | May 20, 2009

New life to still new chairs

The chairs with their lovely new look, passes the approval of the cat.

The chairs with their lovely new look, gets the approval of the cat.

Last year for Christmas, we bought ourselves the present of a set of chairs for our big kitchen table.  For the first time in my adult life, I had a matching set.  I felt very grown up. At 42, you may say it’s about time… but I’m in no rush.


Well, we bought the chairs pretty cheap, from a company I “met” on line.  Nice folks.  (Why do business with folks who are not nice?)  However, since it was middle of winter, of course the delivery truck could not come into the ranch.  Bob met the driver down the mountain, and ended up hauling in this big box behind the snowmobile.


So, there we had these simple, lovely, rustic chairs… with white seat cushions.  As you can imagine, anything white in our household does not remain so for long.  Within months, the seats looked pretty shabby.


It took but using them for a year and a half before they needed to be re-upholstered.  With a spring visit from my parents coming up (and my mom having much more experience in things like house decorating, and even re-upholstering) I asked her to pick out a fabric to match my home, and my lifestyle.  Good mom that she is, I didn’t have to go into details about avoiding light colors…


She found the fabric on sale.  The three yards came to only $17.  And as I figured, I couldn’t have done better (or even as well) picking out the color and pattern.


Now it was time to learn to re-upholster the chairs. Oh, Forrest and I were so proud of ourselves.  They looked good!  And who would have guessed it was so easy?

Re-upholstering in the works...

Re-upholstering in the works...

To start with, the first neighbors who came back up the mountain for the season.  The mom and daughter had just finished doing the same to their kitchen table chairs.  So maybe it’s not that hard… and maybe we’re not that clever…


But the good news is, it is that easy.  If you haven’t done this but are thinking about it, give it a try.  It’s so rewarding, like having a whole new set of chairs for cheap. 


All you do is unscrew the seat of the chair, wrap the new fabric around the old, and use a staple gun to neatly and smoothly tack down the new fabric the same way the old was tacked on.  It really helps to have two people working together on this.  I’d pull the fabric taught while Forrest would tack it down, first with the staple gun, then a light tap with the hammer (yes, he used that pink hammer…). Corners are a little more tricky, but we just folded them in nice and neat like a bed sheet and they came out pretty well. The corners and parts that fit back into the chair back just sort of smooth themselves out when you screw the seat cushion back on to the chair.

With the remaining material, we couldn’t help ourselves and re-finished all the kitchen stools.

Bonus:  the extra fabric used to re-upholster anything else we could find.

Bonus: the extra fabric used to re-upholster anything else we could find.

OK, now for a side note here:  living at a guest ranch as we do, and enjoying sharing our table with many a guest, I learned long ago how important it is to keep the place of your own family first and foremost, to not lose site of the importance of your loved ones and your responsibility to them.  Some things you don’t compromise on, and part of giving to your guests is also knowing when to say “enough.”  Family still must come first. Well, for years, folks would sit in Forrest’s place, the seat just to the right of Bob and directly in front of me, and Forrest would find himself on the other side of the table away from his mom and dad, often with a bunch of strangers in between us. Although he’s not so little now, he was once, and that’s kind of a bum deal for a little fellow.


Well, it was a guest at a Dude Ranch I worked at briefly many years ago who reminded me how important family is and how right it is to respect the place of your family, even above your guests.  She had sent the very young Forrest a care package with his own placemat and special silver ware.  About that time too, my mom sent him his own cup and bowl.  I would set his special place every meal time, and I saw how simple it was – I was offending no one, but still respecting and caring for my child.


So, when the set of matching chairs came, the three special ones that were to belong to Forrest, Bob and myself, I carved out each of our names in a fancy scroll on the front and back of our respective chairs.  (Sorry, Don and Ron, I cheated and used a Dremil tool to carve).  Now Forrest always has his special place.  Figuratively, of course, at the table.  But also, in the big picture, I hope he’ll never question how important he is to Bob and me, a part of this table, and a part of this team.


  1. I love that, Gin. Kids (little or big) should be able to have their “spot” and not pushed aside. Funny how grown-ups can be so apt to not consider them… Good families ARE teams and I’m sure Forrest appreciates always being included.

    Very nice job on the seat cushions! Things like that can make a huge difference, thank you for the instruction!

  2. you did a good job the matching stools was a good touch.having a place of your own even at the table is a good thing .its your place next to your family .years ago i ordered a table and chairs .when the were delivered the boxs were only 6 in tall .it give me something to do for about a month .that was 15 years ago .other than some dents in the table they are still in good shape .a good finish will last a lifetime .your home looks cozy and like a good place to be .just like people saw mine .people say it makes them feel good and at home . what else needs to say about your home .you are just good people living a good life .

  3. Hope Forrest was sitting in his chair for the interview with Western Horseman magazine.
    Found the June issue on the shelf yesterday in our local Tractor Supply store when we went in for, well, supplies. BEAUTIFUL JOB Forrest. Can also be found on line soon (May issue still up) at Western

  4. Great job Gin and family! I love the fabric your mom picked out, too! You know how I love warm, rich colors!

    And Cyndee, thanks for letting us know you found the magazine. We’ll check again in our area. Can’t wait to see it!

  5. Yippee!!! I just got a new Floyd Story out on the horse blog – it’s a great one – and he found some wonderful old photos I can scan and use now. I think you’ll love it.

  6. I love this… it reminds my why I’ve always hated the idea of a “kids” table, when extended families gather together. The implication is that children are unimportant members of the family, instead of the cherished ones that they are… ack! Glad Forrest has a special place!

    The chairs look great – I’ve got a couple that need to be done & you motivate me to get them started!

  7. Hi Gin,

    Thank you for letting us know there was a new “Floyd Story” I love reading them…I was sad, though, when the horse teams were replaced by tractors. What became of the horses? Animals like that love their work.

  8. Matching chairs…how wonderful! I can relate!!! Such wisdom there in making the place of importance clear… thanks for sharing. Hmmm..maybe I can reupholster something with this inspiration!! Just bought some fabric!

  9. Karen, I wasn’t sure how else to put the news out there, but figured you’d want to see that story. I too was saddened by the end of the era. I’ll ask him what happend next… I know he’s getting a lot of good stories together, I can’t wait for more.

  10. That’s a nice piece of work on the chairs. I know from running a riding operation for nearly ten years that maintaining personal space, even just a place to sit, is so important. Most of the time one’s life is not fully one’s own, but somewhere a line has to be drawn. Now, thanks to the political situaton where I was working, I’m not running a ranch any more. But it’s good to read about your life and the beautiful place where you live and work.

  11. Beautiful. I love the idea of the carved chairs for each person. Feels to me like it holds the family, but also gives the guests the family as a gift…a brief moment in time to have time in your life.

    Living at a ranch I also worked at proved difficult in the maintaining personal space department, as WHP said. Delicate balance.

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