Nathaniel Ross

Designers Breathe New Life Into Old Chairs at 'Chairs for Charity'

by , 11/11/11

furniture design, reusing, reclaimed materials, vintage chairs, chairs for charity, better homes and garden, green charity events, green design events, recycled furniture

Before you throw away that wobbly old stool, or that faded easy chair with Aunt Maggie’s favorite pattern on it, consider giving it a second chance at life with a good sanding, some new screws, and dazzling new fabric! We recently visited Chicago Home + Garden‘s inspiring annual event, Chairs for Charity, where 15 top designers transformed the old into something breathtakingly new.


Last month a packed house at Chicago Art Source mingled among the designers and bid on their chairs, all to raise proceeds and awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Inspiring, indeed! The event strongly reaffirmed the old saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

Seen above is a piece by Karen Kalmek, green design beacon and founder of Green Home Chicago. Her submission, Barrow, was made from a piece found in disrepair outside a store in rural Michigan. Karen, along with her tinkering husband, rescued the wooden chair on wheels and stabilized it with new bolts and screws, made a seat cushion with a graphically clever, vintage fabric, and left the original paint to show its weathered history.

furniture design, reusing, reclaimed materials, vintage chairs, chairs for charity, better homes and garden, green charity events, green design events, recycled furniture

Annika Christensen of Midnight Sun, Ltd., an importer of Swedish home goods, created “Sour,” said the Fox… from a bergère chair found in storage. She named it after the gorgeous, contemporary Swedish cotton fabric she adorned it with.

furniture design, reusing, reclaimed materials, vintage chairs, chairs for charity, better homes and garden, green charity events, green design events, recycled furniture

This pouf with cabriole legs was Guerrilla Truck Show founder and champion of local design Morlen Sinoway‘s submission. It was made from wooden legs of an antique chair that had seen better days, tiered cushions topped with pleather upholstery and a leather trimmed back. The chair is aptly titled, It’s a Pill, Too?

furniture design, reusing, reclaimed materials, vintage chairs, chairs for charity, better homes and garden, green charity events, green design events, recycled furniture

Frank Sinatra could have very well sat on this chair by Summer Thornton as it was culled from the legendary Chicago restaurant and Ol’ Blue Eyes haunt, The Pump Room, before undergoing renovation. Summer transformed Pump Room Redux with luxurious and colorful fabrics with geometric asymmetry cool enough for any member of the new Brat Pack to sit on.

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