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Once upon a time…

November 6, 2014

There was a chair.  It was a lovely, shabby, comfortable and familiar chair which I was given by my Aunt Ginnie when she sold her family home in 1982 (?).  It was in my room, known as the blue room, when I lived there with her, my Grandfather and my two cousins back when I was 13, so she felt I might like to have it.  It was a gesture typical of Ginnie, repeated many times over the years as she divested herself of other bits and pieces of family treasure to all her many relations.  Her last and most incredible gesture was to leave us all some money when she died, and it was then I decided to turn that shabby little chair into a jewel-like, slightly bonkers, for-for-a-princess chair, in remembrance of her and my time in that lovely house.

I signed up for a course in upholstering with the fabulous and appropriately jewel-like Leigh-Anne Treadwell.  I chose come fabrics.  I took a deep breath and ripped away some history.

Here’s how it went.

Shabby chic or just plain shabby grubby?

Shabby chic or just plain shabby grubby?

March 2014



it begins

it begins



old lining

old lining

making buttons 1.

making buttons 1.

making buttons 2.

making buttons 2.

deep buttoning - best bit, using a really, really long needle

deep buttoning



April 2014

unfinished, at home

unfinished, at home

It all stops…  I missed the last two classes due to snivelling cold and general harrassedness  and my project ground to a halt.  I took the incomplete chair home with an envelope full of upholstery tacks, some good intentions and a slight doubt that I could actually finish this on my own.

Upholstery is not for the tired, weak-willed or faint hearted.  It is incredibly satisfying to do, very physical work which give almost instant results, but sometimes they are not the results you want, hence a pleating effect at the base of the seat was unwelcome and very hard to get rid of.  I gave up and called Leigh-Anne, who like the jewel that she is cam e and took away the chair which she said she would finish for me, in between running her courses, finishing her course at The School for Social Entrepreneurs, move house, live her life etc.

In the meantime I catered four weddings, was a guest at lovely niece Olivia’s wedding, saw beloved son off to the USA, visited the USA to see beloved son and see the wilderness, and Canada to visit beloved friend Jaqua and see log flumes; went to Paris with beloved husband and saw PARIS; I made cakes and granola, visited family in London, family in Yorkshire, grew tomatoes semi-successfully and beans unsuccessfully, shared meals with friends, ran my business, rented out a spare room, watched the complete series of Breaking Bad and Deadwood, witnessed the transformation of my garden from jungle to open space by the ever fragrant Maire, son Jack and beloved husband (mine, not theirs), catered Triodos Bank’s AGM for 500 people, had my thyroid removed, started therapy, carried on spasmodically with yoga and promised myself I would start pilates.

Then Leigh-Anne brought the chair back.

October 2014


beautiful chair

photos can't capture the colour

photos can’t capture the colour

I have a trial session of pilates this afternoon.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. ben permalink
    November 6, 2014 11:35 am

    i can say that were i once to sit in your chair i would never leave it….i’d be like a cat with the cream and the dog with bone the tree with its earth…oh enough but you know what i mean…how wonderful though…xx ben

    • November 6, 2014 3:45 pm

      Isn’t it pretty! Do you remember it from Heath Farm? I think it was in Grandmama’s room way back…

  2. November 8, 2014 2:05 pm

    Beeeeeautiful! Chair and story. Well done on your incredibly productive year Lizzie. You have certainly earned a royal sit down. Xxxxxx

  3. November 8, 2014 9:19 pm

    Lizzie, this is wonderful writing. You should know that you have a serious gift in writing. I seem to not get these until just today and what a treat. The humour, detail, observations and feeling you put into it are great. Love to hat man. x

  4. November 12, 2014 9:31 am

    thank you Andrew, that’s a lovely thing to say – I love doing it, just wish there was a living to made with it. x

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