Sunday, July 25, 2010

Duncan Phyfe makeover...

What do you see cluttering up the corner of my dining room?? Eight, yes eight antique mahogany "Duncan Phyfe" dining chairs! 

If you saw a post a few months ago, you will remember that Luis was planning to make some chairs for my dining table similar to ones we saw at World Market. In the meantime, I have four leather parsons chairs, and a bench with it. My plan was to add two more leather parsons chairs so I would have three on each side, then the new chairs at each end. Ok, that was months away from actually happening! I am planning a tea for some ladies at church, and thought they would not be very comfortable climbing on the bench, so I was looking around for some "extra" chairs that were not too large and really cheap. Amazingly, I found on Craig's List a Duncan Phyfe (style) double pedestal mahogany table with 8 chairs all for $125!! Yes, $125!! Do I need another table, no. But, I will use it somewhere! But just look at these chairs...

Just look at the lines on this chair...I LOVE this empire style. 

Here is a little background on Duncan Phyfe. He was born in 1768 in Scotland and died Aug. 16, 1854 in New York, N.Y. His family settled in Albany, N.Y.,  in 1784; there he became an apprentice cabinetmaker and eventually opened his own shop. In 1792 he moved to New York City, where he changed the spelling of his name and became so successful that he employed 100 carvers and cabinetmakers. He was one of the first Americans to use the factory method of manufacturing furniture successfully. Though he did not originate a new furniture style, he interpreted fashionable European styles— Sheraton, Regency, Directoire, Empire—with such grace that he became a major exponent of Neoclassicism. His furniture, decorated with typical period ornaments such as harps and acanthus leaves, was generally of high-quality mahogany.

His designs enjoyed popularity in American furniture factories early in the 19th century. These chairs were manufactured by Tomlinson of High Point, N.C., and were made in 1938.  Here are some more examples of his style: 

The chair on the right is an actual Phyfe chair. Most of the ones around now are copies from the early 20th century.

This lovely piece below sold for $42,000!

Now I'll show you the before and after. I sanded each chair, then stained with a rubbing stain and finish combination. I then reupholstered the seat bottoms, after my husband lovingly stripped them of the two layers of upholstery and lots of nails.

Ta da!!! We are in love with these chairs! I love dark, rich wood, and this mahogany makes my heart sing:-)

We will use the parsons chairs at each end and six of these...

 I added the single candleholders after I bought more candles:-)

This is what happens when you need new chairs! I love antiques, but what I love is restoring them to their original glory and giving them more life. I hope you are inspired to take something old and gently make it new again:-)

I will be linking up to Susan's Metamorphosis Monday over at "Between Naps on the Porch." I am also linking up for the first time to "Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays" at Coastal Charm, hosted by Linda, and Debbiedoos "Garage Salen partay!"  Looking forward to seeing more great transformations and thrifty finds!



  1. What a fabulous find. I absolutely love your chairs and I know the table is stunning too. You did such a great job of restoring them. They look fabulous with your table. Your centerpiece is stunning too. What a pretty room. Hugs, Marty

  2. you have captured the luxurious, vintage
    feel of great antiques. well done!

    i love the fabric, too!

  3. Anita, I love those chairs and y'all did a great job of restoring their beauty. Love the fabric you used, too.

  4. Gorgeous chairs and what a great price for a table and chairs!!

  5. Good for you scoring such fab chairs AND refinishing them- my craigslist chairs are still waiting to be revived- they keep being called into service though.

    Beautiful lines of the chair and I love that you save old pictures that inspire you.

  6. WOWZA Anita those are amazing! I love the way they look in your DR...and the fabric is gorgeous. Nice job...Nice find!

  7. Anita, those are stunning!!!! I know you are excited about them! You really did a beautiful job restoring them and I love the fabric! Gorgeous!

  8. The table and chairs is gorgeous! How lucky are you to find such a great deal! It looks amazing with the leather parsons chairs!

  9. absolutely beautiful! you really brought out the richness of the wood, and i love the fabric you chose. great job!

  10. Hi Before and After party is every other next week it will be on. See you then. Thanks for the comment on the guestroom....YES the curtain panels are so much better. Debbie

  11. Hi Anita!
    I just now posted about "Old and New" things...
    How wonderful it is to make something old new again...
    and how the reverse is wonderful when making friends... Making a new friend feel like an 'old friend.'
    These chairs, wowow... They are amazing, Anita!
    You have truly outdone yourself with this project!
    These chairs certainly went to the right person, who appreciates the workmanship and beauty of fine woodworking!
    So glad I stopped by!
    Enjoy your week and your old made new dining room!

  12. Those turned out beautiful!!!! I'm your newest follower!

  13. great job! You and the hubs worked hard and it shows. The chairs are beautiful.

  14. Wow, what a great deal on those chairs! They are beautiful. What happened to the table? What did it look like?

    Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog!

  15. Wish I could be one of the ladies to come enjoy time with you and sit on one of your nicely finished chairs. Thanks for sharing. ♥♫

  16. What great chairs and you did a wonderful job of restoring them! I love that fabric on the seats also.

  17. Anita,
    Welcome to NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAYS...hope you are having a FUN time! Those chairs look the fabric that you used...great colors!


  18. Wow, you got an amazing deal and did an excellent job of restoring those gorgeous chairs.


  19. What a beautiful table and chairs~they absolutley glow! I'm glad to have found another lover of rich, dark wood. So glad you brought out the beauty of the wood and didn't paint them white!

  20. Anita- You did a great job and what a wonderful find!
    I am a Duncan Phyfe fan-
    I never turn down a chance to have another table and chairs - even if I don't have room!

    Enjoyed visiting- I linked to the same party.

    White Spray Paint

  21. They look fantastic!
    Beautiful room,

  22. I love the chairs! Such beautiful lines....and what a gerat price too! I love the new upholstery. Great job restoring!

  23. What an awesome find! Great job restoring them.

  24. I stumbled across your blog today and I was very impressed with your refinish job on the Duncan Phyfe chairs. I also appreciated you showed the product you used.
    Please ramble over to Applejack Lane sometime and see what is happening there.

  25. Boy you really got a bargain on Craigslist! Those chairs are beautiful!

  26. I love your dining room! Those chairs are spectacular - such beautiful lines. I really like the leather parson's chairs mixed with the Duncan Phyfe chairs.


  27. What an absolutely wonderful find. You have a lot of options with these classical chairs. Lucky you!

  28. Absolutely beautiful! I am so regretting selling our DF table and chairs that we purchased at an auction for about the same price as your set (though we did make a profit;).

    I came to your blog via the Met Monday links. Your blog name grabbed my attention, so I came here first. So glad I did -- lots of lovely inspiration. I'll be back!


  29. This is great Anita! Thanks so much for participating...I hope you enjoy a few of the other gals...they will be sure to visit you back. These chairs are awesome...I am envious of how good they look too! Have a great weekend....Debbie

  30. Hi Anita,
    I just had to comment on your dining room set. It is just gorgeous...I love, love, love, your new fabric. Everything looks so warm and inviting. I think you did a great job from your inspiration photo! Gorgeous!

  31. These are gorgeous. Truly regret selling our DF dining table and chairs as I've never liked anything we've had as much as that original set. You did a fabulous job; I am in awe. Will definitely be back to see more. Peggy

  32. What a great deal! The chairs are spectacular and look great with your dining room table. You did a great job restoring and recovering them.

    ~ Tracy

  33. Great find, my gosh you should have paid double that for one chair! Great job on the restore! I am visiting from Debbiedoos


  34. Your Duncan Phyfe chairs turned out beautifully. Our DF chairs and table belonged to my mother-in-love. She gave them to us in 1971, and I like them just as much today as I did 39 years ago. Wow! I can't believe we've had them for that many years. I enjoyed your post and the information. Thanks for putting it together. Cherry Kay

  35. What gorgeous pieces of furniture. I too love anything antique. We had a Duncan Phyfe dining room set...hutch and everything. But it wasn't big enough as our family grew, so we gave it to my BIL who loves's happy in it's new home, but I think missing me more LOL.

  36. iam in love with your chair find i love restoring old vintage pieces.You did great finding them love the style and detail.Love the fabric you chose .they look like they where ment to be in your charmig home where they are loved.I always think of the story that must be behind something old and who sat on them what kind of family .And now they will have a new story to tell if they could only talk:)

  37. I know I am a little late for the party but I love the Duncan Phyfe chairs. I would love to see the table.

    I will be inheriting from my daddy's older sister, her DF dining set as well as living room furniture. Trust me, I do not want my aunt to pass on ANYTIME soon...but I can't wait to get all that DF.

  38. Love what you did as well. I have my Grandmother's Duncan Phyfe table and 6 chairs, one being the only armchair. She passed away 2 years ago but gave me the table several years before her death. She said I could have the china cabinet once she died. Which I was not looking forward to getting for that reason, but do have now. Incase you were not aware the reason for there only being 1 armchair is because it was the "man's" chair. My chairs are the exact ones you have. My husband did refinish the table and it is beautiful! So glad my grandmother was able to see it and will always remember her sweet voice the first time she saw it in my dining room, so was so pleased with how it looked! I love what you have done and I too am going to add a few different chairs as you did. Looks great!

  39. Your chairs were my inspiration! I found six Duncan Phyfe rose back chairs on Craig's List for $125. After a little refinishing and recovering the seats, they look beautiful with my Duncan Phyfe dining room table.