Craigslist French Chairs

French chairs before


I have been searching awhile for French-style chairs. Though I probably should clarify that I mean chairs I could afford, because I know that Ballard Designs sells these similar French chairs on sale for $449.00. {cough}

So of course I turned to Craigslist. Only to discover that the used French-style furniture that seems so prevalent on East coast blogs like Miss Mustard Seed (chair for $10! dresser for $40!) must not have made it all the way over here to the West coast back in the 60’s and 70’s when it was popular. When I did see something, it was usually bedroom sets – for little girls.

The few chairs I did find had already been re-done and the seller (actually a boutique advertising on Craig) was asking $250. Or more.

Lest you think I exaggerate, I looked for more than 6 months without finding anything to look at. So when I saw these chairs listed as “Frenchy chairs” one night and found out they were still available, you can believe I had Brian hooking up the trailer first thing the next morning (thank goodness it was a Saturday!).

And driving 45 minutes.

With the gas-guzzling car towing the trailer.

And a grumbling husband who couldn’t understand why I would need to take the trailer when I didn’t even know what condition the chairs would be in.

Condition? They’d have to be pretty bad for me not to want them, ’cause these chairs were selling for $25.00 each.

And they were pretty hideous, but I wanted to paint the frames and reupholster anyway. However, every one of the arms were wobbly. Like, they-are-going-to-break-any-minute wobbly.

Hmmm…did I mention they were $25? And that I had been looking for 6 months? And that similar new chairs like this were $500?


The first order of business was to stablize the arms so they didn’t actually fall off. Our solution was to hide little “L” brackets at the front inside of the arms where they attach to the bottom. This will be totally covered by batting and fabric.

And if you are at all versed in furniture restoration and are horrified we did that (because we are flying by the seat of our pants), you’ll want to skip the next section.

They still didn’t feel solid, so Brian decided to sink a screw into each arm through the back, which you can see in this picture about mid-way up on both sides. Since my plan is to paint, I’ll just fill these holes before painting.

Between these two fixes, the arms are now very solid.

I guess that means I’m free to finish tearing off the old fabric, painting the frame, and attempting my first reupholstery job (I usually slipcover things).

Hmmm…wanna know how long these have been in our garage waiting for me to do my part?

On second thought, I don’t think I want that written down in black and white. {smile}

Finishing these chairs definitely have been added to our “unfinished project list” and they are haunting me. I love the curvy shape, the detail of the legs. And I can totally envision them in our living room.

Ugh. These are moving to the top of the list.

Right after I finish the school year (my last year teaching preschool!)…and get the beans and corn planted…and the beds mulched before it gets too hot…and finish painting the gazebo.


What are the top projects you’re working on (or want to work on)?


  1. says

    What a great find! I’ll be looking forward to seeing how they turn out (and am oh-so-curious as to how long you’ve had them…only ’cause it makes me feel not-so-bad about my own collection of unfinished projects). :)

    My unfinished projects? Oh, the list is too long to put into black and white. 😉

  2. Anonymous says

    A very good find. I can only hope the finish, both
    upholestry and the wood areas are done per the
    period of time. These little gems deserve it. This
    cottage look, has long since sailed, too much of that
    has destroyed what once was. Please, research these
    areas, and good luck………:)
    “Watching from the Crows Nest”

    • says

      Well, these are from the 1970’s, so I’m not sure I want to finish them in harvest gold or avocado green. :-) But I know what you mean – I’m planning a soft white finish with a simple linen-type upholstery.

    • Anonymous says

      yes, unless you are an afficionado for 70’s look,
      then no….Linen not bad idea, though there are
      some great fabrics out there that have the 70’look
      and updated as well…

      Wood Wise;
      So many ideas for this other then what you mention..
      Check out the sites for this and of course have fun, keep it simple….:) It will be interesting how you
      combine and respect these chairs…..”Crow”

  3. says

    Those chairs are or rather “will” be fabulous by the time you have finished them. In New Zealand a new chair like these would not cost less than $1200 and buying old ones would still be around $400. Sometimes I wish I lived in the USA, everything is so much cheaper over your way.

    I’m not sure I would be brave enough to tackle such a job myself, can’t wait to see them finished.

    Lee ☺

    • says

      Goodness, Lee- really? I didn’t know it was so much more expensive there! I’m sure there are other wonderful things about Australia, though – my husband lived there for a year and has great memories. :-)

  4. says

    Just came across your blog from a friend I love those catalogs for ideas so when things come up on craigslist or on the curb how can you pass it up. It’s all about the vision of what they will be and where they will go in the home.

  5. says

    What project am I planning to work on? Same as you…well, similar. I was gifted and c.1930’s French Settee and matching chair …I’ll say it… 2 years ago on Mother’s day from my grown kids. I had seen it and really wanted it, the youngest daughter got everyone’s money together and she and the hubby and her brother went to get them. Her hubby, my SIL…talked ’em down and got $100 off! I want to take him shopping with me all the time,now~

    Hopefully, I’ll get to them this summer.

    good luck with yours. I say– do them the way that pleases you. Doesn’t matter what others prefer. they are going in your home!


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