|One of the chairs reupholstered in haircloth
and trimmed with brass nailheads
Well, as you can see from the photograph shown here, the chairs have now returned to Darlington House in their new slate colored haircloth (a term for material made with a horsehair weft through a cotton warp) upholstery, with the nailhead decoration restored to the original design.
Boy had the chairs reupholstered at Baron, a to-the-trade upholsterer he uses in his interior decorating business. Baron did a superb, museum-quality job, and I am absolutely thrilled with how the chairs now look. They are marvelous in our drawing room, too, where they fit in as if they have always been there—the hallmark of a truly successful addition to a room, in my view.
Reggie is an advocate of using period-appropriate techniques and standards when reupholstering antique seating furniture, as we did with these chairs. That includes using horsehair stuffing and cotton batting for filling, rather than foam rubber or polyester, and attaching the materials to the frame with tacks instead of staples. While it is challenging to find upholsterers who are well versed in the correct proportions of period upholstery—much less willing to use the techniques and materials employed of old—it is most satisfying and pleasing when one does. Not only is the end product a thing of lasting beauty, but also it looks "right" and is respectful of the original intentions of the furniture's maker.
And, in the case of these chairs, well worth the wait, too.
Photographs by Boy Fenwick