When I showed my newly renovated library a while ago, I hinted that there was something else involving Ballard Designs that was going into the space.
Here’s a picture of the space, with two painted Swedish chairs and a pair of demilune tables, along with a window seat.
And in another view.
A few months ago, Ballard Designs contacted me and four other bloggers and invited us to enter the Louis Chair Challenge. Ballard would provide their Louis Chair and we were to decorate it in our own style, any way we wanted to. Ballard would paint the chair and upholster it with either their fabric, or our own fabric. I had just started on the library, so I was thrilled to be a part of the contest – knowing exactly where I would put the Ballard Louis chair! We had a choice of the Louis XVI oval back or Louis XVI square back:
The side chairs retail for $349 + depending on the fabric chosen. .
And they come in four finishes – walnut, black, off-white, and linen. These chairs are also available with arms and with nailheads in pewter or aged brass.
Ballard asked that we decorate the chair to fit our own style. And they asked that when we received the finished chairs, we take a picture of it and write a small story for their blog, Style Studio, explaining to their readers why we chose to do what we did with the Louis chair. Simple enough!
Of course I chose the oval back chair because I love curves in furniture. And of course, I chose to slipcover the chair, because that reflects my own personal style. But, after seeing all the other bloggers’ choices – I felt like I didn’t branch out enough and get creative enough!!! Always Monday morning quarterbacking!
My reasoning to slipcover the chair: I already had two very similar chairs in the room that were slipped in the checked fabric, so I chose to slip the chair in the silk taffeta that was on the windowshade so that the three chairs would blend together. I had Ballard paint the chair in the same gray that the room was painted in – but in a glossy finish. I asked them to upholster it in muslin and I would have the slipcover made by Hien Lam, as usual. My instructions to Hien Lam were to make as feminine a slipcover as they could, with a double ruffle on the seat, and ballet ties on the legs. Once the chair was finished, I snapped a few pictures of it and wrote a short paragraph for their blog! And, a few weeks ago, Ballard Designs showed all the bloggers’ chairs, along with their stories, which I would like to share with you today!!
It’s amazing how one simple chair can look so totally different with fabric and paint. I was in awe of the bloggers chairs. They showed a real talent for design – and they truly reflected each other’s individual styles.
Here’s how my Louis chair came from Ballard. Painted in the same glossy gray as my walls and upholstered in plain cotton.
And afterwards, it wears a two piece slipcover with a double ruffle short skirt and ballet ties. I can keep it either here, by the window seat.
Or, I can pull it up to the table, if need be. Right now, I’ve been keeping it by the window seat.
I like it here – and I recently added a small pillow made exactly like the ones on the window seat with the gold trim. Here’s the paragraph I wrote for the Ballard Design blog:
My style is mostly casual. I mainly decorate with linens, velvets, taffeta and seagrass, and I use mostly slipcovers. So, of course, I wanted the chair to reflect my personal decor aesthetic.
First, I chose the round back chair because I love the curves of French furniture. I had the frame painted in a glossy gray paint, the same as the flat paint that is on my walls in the library. The chair is upholstered in a solid cream muslin. I had Hien Lam in Houston create a slipcover for the chair using two pieces. The round back is attached with a series of tabs, which allow the gray painted wood to show through. The seat is slipped in a short, double ruffle skirt for added femininity. Lastly, a bit of folly comes from the “ballerina” ties that run down all four legs of the chair.
When Ballard Designs contacted me about the Louis chair offer, I was thrilled and knew exactly where I would put the chair—in my new library! I recently redecorated my old office, turning it into a French/Swedish inspired library. It’s filled with shelves to hold all my design books in one place instead of scattered around my house. I painted the walls gray and added Swedish antiques. Along one side is a long window seat that sits under a silk taffeta shade.
In the library, the chair can either be pulled up to the table with the other two Swedish slip chairs, or it can sit in front of the bookcase. Either place, it looks wonderful and adds to the elegant sophistication of my ultra-feminine library.
Here’s a look at the other bloggers’ chair. To read the story at the Ballard Designs blog, Style Studio, go HERE.
The first blogger is CocoCozy:
And here is how CocoCozy’s Louis chair turned out! Sooo cute!!!
CocoCozy painted her chair matte navy and used two different fabrics from her own fabulous and chic fabric line! The chair went into her office. Adorable, right? Wow!!! It looks like it cost a fortune.
On the back, she used a different fabric. Soo cute!!
Here is what CocoCozy wrote about her chair design:
I would describe my chair’s style as “Modern Prep.” Navy is a classic preppy color—it is timeless, universal and exudes quiet sophistication. I know a glossy lacquer finish is very on-trend these days, but to be a bit off-trend and a bit more reserved, I decided on a matte finish. For the modern part, I went with graphic patterns in a crisp navy for upholstering the chair. I personalized the look by using fabric from my own collection: Logo on the front and Fence on the back. I thought the square pattern would contrast nicely with the curvy repeat pattern. I’m happy with the way it turned out!
I was inspired by my summer visits to Nantucket, a totally beautiful and completely preppy island off the coast of Massachusetts. Although I would not describe my personal fashion style as anything close to preppy, I love the vibe and feel on this little island haven. I also think the navy and white is very nautical, and last summer I spent quite a bit of time on boats and on the beaches in Nantucket.
Just last year, I moved COCOCOZY into a new office space in Beverly Hills. A very small, very tiny design office (did I mention the word small?) just a few blocks from the famed Rodeo Drive. I’m not done with office decorating yet, but with this chair I’m on the way. The chair is exactly what we needed in the tiny front office. It adds texture and interest to the mostly white office space. I like the way it works with our white lacquer fretwork table and the gleaming chandelier. Perfection!
To read more about the chair on CocoCozy’s web site, go HERE. And when you visit her web site, be sure to go shopping. Her fabrics and furniture are fabulous.
The next chair is courtesy of Erin Gates of the blog, Elements of Style.
Eric chose the square back chair and had it painted a bright yellow. The fabric is white cotton.
Erin placed her Louis chair in her office where the yellow and white is the perfect foil for all the black and white.
Here is what Erin wrote about her chair and why she chose it:
My Louis is traditional with a modern twist. I wanted a chair for the office that played off the yellow accents and the more modern Knoll chair my assistant has—but in a totally different style. I really think it showcases the variety of styles we decorate in. It sits at my desk and I love it!
Next up is Holly Street of the blog Things That Inspire:
Holly’s chair was painted the same white as the trim in her daughter’s bedroom – where the chair now is.
Here is the bedroom all in the aquas, whites, and hot pinks. Here you can see the back of the chair which also has a stripe!
And here is what Holly wrote about her chair design:
When Ballard contacted me about the Louis Chair Challenge, I immediately thought of the perfect place for the chair: my 12-year-old daughter’s room. Her room has been a work in progress for the past year, and we have gradually acquired many of the key furniture pieces in the room. However, we needed something that would inspire us to finish it, and the Ballard chair was the perfect thing both functionally, as her desk chair, and visually, to pull together the color scheme in the room.
The chair is both sweet and sophisticated—the perfect style for a girl on the cusp of her teenage years. The sweetness comes in the color scheme, aqua and a rosy coral, which are fun and youthful colors that look fresh and pretty together. The sophisticated aspect comes in the chic stripe, which is a great counterbalance to the floral pattern that is used in the pillows and on the bench.
The color inspiration was the fabric that was selected for the bed pillows and bench in her room. It’s a wonderful floral with the same aqua tones found in the wall and headboard and a vivid coral accent that provides the punch of color that my daughter requested. Keith Arnold of Suzanne Kasler Interiors (who worked on the interiors of the main floor of my house) came up with the design for the chair. The frame is painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove, the same color of the room trim, and an 8″ wide coral stripe in linen is set on a background of aqua linen. My daughter loves the chair! It pulls together the colors and style of the room beautifully and really ‘makes’ the room.
The blogger Habitually Chic was the fifth and final contestant in the Ballard Designs Louis Chair Challenge.
Heather of Habitually Chic chose a green velvet with the linen painted finish.
Ballard’s popular Apple Green Velvet was used on the chair.
With Suzanne Kasler’s linen Mineral, used as the trim.
Heather of Habitually Chic didn’t write a story about her chair or her choices, so I’ll just make a supposition that this is her office at her apartment in NYC. The skirted table in linen makes a great desk – or side tables next to beds.
One chair: Five Designs – All Different! To read the story on Ballard Designs’ blog Style Studio, go HERE.
In another story on Ballard’s blog, the author Susanna Salk also designed a Louis Chair that is SOO cute! She used two fabrics – a gray ticking and a suzani.
Susanna chose a suzani with a big medallion which she centered on the oval back of the chair – front and back.
Next she chose a gray and white ticking stripe for the seat and arms. She bought some Ikat fabric by the yard from Ballards to make the window seat.
And now, she has a great office in the formerly unused corner of her bedroom! Love this chair!!!
Ballard showed the chair like this – but I think the way it was done with the white frame and the ticking stripe on the seat suits the chair so much better!!
To read this story, go HERE.
All these chairs reminded me of just how much I love the basic Louis chair. They make great dining room chairs and wonderful side chairs in living rooms and bedrooms. And with paint and few yards of fabric, they can make a huge statement in a room – or just be quietly elegant. But first, let’s take a history test – do you know how to tell the difference between a Louis XV and a Louis XVI chair? It’s really easy. Louis XV chairs have curves, Louis XVI chairs have straight lines.
Louis XV Chairs – Rococo period is defined by curves and cabriole legs without stretchers. Think ultra feminine – straight lines are used only if needed for construction, otherwise all lines are curvy. Period Louis XV sold at Christie’s for $6,000.
The Chateau de Talcy in France has a set of original Louis XV furniture – chairs and settees. Typical of Louis chairs – the front side is upholstered in a fine silk material, while the back of the chair is done in a less expensive, cotton plaid.
Louis XVI Chair – Neoclassical period is defined by straight lines and straight legs with rosettes where the legs meet the seat. The backs of Louis XVI chairs can be either square or oval. Think symmetry, columns, pediments, straight lines. Period set of Louis XVI – sold at Christie’s for $41,000.
Petite Trianon with an assortment of Louis XV and Louis XVI chairs.
My favorite Louis chairs are like this – with a check linen fabric.
Louis XVI chairs with oval back in checks.
In this Parisian apartment – suede green seats with pink plaid backs. To rent this apartment, go HERE.
In this Houston house, a set of Louis XVI chairs and a settee sport aqua and cream checks and nailheads. LOVE!
Dan Carithers’ house – he put a blue and white check on the back with a striped fabric on the seat for an interesting combination.
Louis XVI chairs in checks. Ruth Gay and Pam Pierce Designs.
For this client, we used a rose check from Chelsea Editions – who else?
On the back of the chairs, I used a tiny check. I love when the backs are exposed like this. Makes them so interesting. We bought these chairs at Tara Shaw’s.
This contemporary Kelly Wearstler lime green fabric looks great on an antique Louis XVI chair.
Armless Louis slipper chairs are great in the living room since they are easy to pick up and move around as needed. Jansen chairs in blue silk.
A mirrored octagonal entry hall with a set of Louis chairs.
Louis chairs, like these Louis XV ones in red leather make perfect pairs to flank – here, there are two sets of chairs, each surrounding a skirted table which divides the room into two seating areas.
This pair of Louis XVI flank an antique table. The tiger pattern makes them look more contemporary.
Here, a set of Louis XV flank the sofa. Love that mirror!!
A pair of Louis XVI flanking a tea table – gorgeous! Thank you to Trouvais.
Louis XV chairs flanking a fireplace – another great use of Louis chairs.
And here again, flanking a fireplace are a set of Louis XVI dressed in Fortuny.
Louis chairs make great dining room chairs. In a French house, antique Louis XV chairs in light blue with nailheads. Beautiful.
Antique French Louis XVI chairs with a contemporary stripe in Suzanne Kasler’s former dining room. So beautiful!
Today, Suzanne Kasler’s new dining room has a set of Louis XVI styled chairs in soft leather. The chandelier appears to be the only piece used again in her new house. Which dining room do you prefer? Then or now? Notice the blue leather chairs – those went to a client’s house.
In Suzanne Kasler’s client’s house, the blue leather antique Louis XVI chairs are used in their kitchen.
In the same client’s gorgeous library – one of the blue leather antique chairs is used at the desk. Most gorgeous library ever???? Maybe! And across into the living room, you can see another Louis chair. Some designers use this chair over and over again – and some never use it at all.
In the same house, Suzanne used blue leather on a set of vintage Louis XVI styled arm chairs. So pretty!
In another house designed by Suzanne Kasler, she used these Louis XV chairs around the island/table.
These antique French chairs are covered in a lilac linen. The backs were left exposed instead of covered which adds to their beauty. Pamela Pierce Designs.
In this house designed by Babs Watkins, she used antique chairs with white fabric. Not sure what the fabric is – but this would be a good place to use leather or pleather to keep them clean.
In the same house, Babs Watkins used a set of dark stained arm chairs with more white fabric. Against the wall are additional chairs from the other room. This house designed by Babs Watkins is really such a pretty one.
Contemporary Louis styled chairs – the stretcher is an element that wouldn’t be present in an antique chair. Love the chandelier used here. Ashley Goforth Designs.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard used gilt Louis chairs with aqua leather and silk striped fabric on the back. Pretty combination.
These antique chairs were left uncovered – muslin seats with upholstery nails, burlap seat backs.
Mary McDonald used a set of arm chairs instead of side chairs and covered them in black leather.
In the same house, she pulled one of the dining room chairs into the foyer.
In New Orleans, Ann Holden used antique Louis XVI chairs with a metallic gray leather. If leather is out of your price range, be sure to look at the pleathers, they are a great, inexpensive substitute!
Black and white stripes give a contemporary edge to antique Louis XVI chairs.
I love this dining room! Mixed with a Swedish daybed is a set of antique Louis XVI chairs in a green/gray damask. Notice they mixed in two oval back chairs with the square back ones.
Single Louis chairs, like this gorgeous painted antique Louis XVI make great accent chairs – in a bedroom.
Use a small gilt Louis XVI chair in the bath – as a towel holder! Eleanor Cummings
A single accent Louis chair at a desk. Gorgeous.
Contemporary styled Louis chairs with nailheads. Oly Studio made this raffia fabric look popular with their Hannah chairs.
The Oly Studio Hannah chair that started the popular nailhead/raffia look.
This popular image by Suzanne Kasler shows the Hanna chair in white and raffia with nailheads.
In this office, Ashley Goforth used two different contemporary styled Louis chairs – one with black leather and one with a black and white stripe.
Another contemporary look for the younger decorators. Love the modern next to the antique! HERE.
I tend to cover my Louis chairs with slipcovers – just like I did with the Ballard Designs challenge. I like the fact that you can clean the slipcovers which comes in handy with pets and children and clumsy adults. I think that I am really addicted to slipcovers. Once you have the ability to wash your upholstery – you get hooked on it. I might need a 12 step program to get over it because I really don’t see an end to slipcovering chairs and sofas. Nothing makes me happier than freshly washed slipcovers!!
These two Louis XVI chairs are probably the nicest chairs I have. I like to use the large scallop slip with the wide tabs on the back.
Are you a Louis chair lover, or do you tend to avoid them? They are definitely a feminine chair and may look out of place in a more masculine designed room. Louis XVI can better to use in a less feminine room since the lines are straight and not curved.
When I started this blog almost six years ago, reproduction Louis chairs weren’t easy to find. They had to be custom ordered usually from a wholesaler which isn’t the easiest thing for a non-designer to do. I can remember being so excited when I found sources for Louis chairs back then. Today – it’s all changed. There are the Ballard chairs, and Restoration Hardware makes great Louis chairs that start at $199!!! Between those two retailers, your Louis search is definitely easy. Wholesalers – Eloquence is wonderful – they sell reproductions and vintage chairs. I’ve bought a few chairs from them – including this vintage one:
From Eloquence – they have a great selection of reproduction and vintage chairs.
And finally, there is the Lone Ranger HERE – though his antiques and vintage chairs are from Sweden and not France – they have the same details and lines. You can buy from the Lone Ranger at antique fairs or online, like I do and I’ve never been disappointed. I’m a huge fan!! Plus, if you are looking for a Mora clock that won’t break the bank, check out his selection!!
Started with France and ended up in Sweden. How did that happen????