Welcome to My Projects Day!  Today I review one of my own design projects and show you how I subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) used a historic period style, motif or project as a reference.  Here a classic French armchair gets updated without losing its link to the past.

OK, so these chair frames are not antique, not even vintage.  They are maybe 15 years old.  However, they were well made and terribly comfortable and already belonged to my client.  So we kept them.  However, they desperately needed a refresh.

french armchairs before


The zebra was fun, but feeling a bit old lady, a bit 90s and most definitely faded and sad.  So, we found a new fabric.  The color scheme had to be fairly similar to work in with other elements in the space and also with the distinctive finish on the frame which had a matte silvery taupe tone to it, with fairly strong undercurrents of black and dark brown.

The client did not want anything too traditional to go along with the traditional style of the frame.  The frame is in fact a cabriolet, not a bergere.  Many refer to all French armchairs from the Rococo period as bergeres.  Bergeres, while quite similar, are only armchairs with closed, upholstered arm supports, not open arms.

cabriolet bergere


I felt that despite a turn towards a more modern, abstract look for the new fabric, it needed to relate to the frame that was so easily recognizable as a French classic.  Of course the Rococo style means movement, asymmetry and dynamism.  It also means femininity and florals and shells.  Before setting out to the fabric showroom, I reviewed some of my reference books to refresh my memory on some of the finer points of the decorative detailing.

design books

rococo designs rococo vase

As I searched through rows of neutral upholstery fabrics, I kept those images and descriptions at the front of my mind.  It did not take long to find something that just felt right.  Motion?  Yes.  Dynamism?  Yes.  Abstracted shell motif?  Yes.  And the colors were perfect.

jf clive fabric

I was confident the fabric, though drastically different from anything on such a chair in the mid-1700s, would feel at home on the frame.  And so it did!

french armchairs vintage neutral

french armchair detail  french armchair neutral colors
french cabriolet


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