Dining Chair Plan – Combining Patterned Fabric and Solid Vinyl

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how I want my dining chairs to look. If you’ll remember, my step-sister gave me four wingback chairs a while back.  (She also gave my my buffet and dining table, so she has almost completely furnished my dining room and entryway.  😀 )

I had planned to use all four around the breakfast room table, but as my plans progressed (and changed, as usual 🙂 ), and I decided that I do want a dining room after all, I liked the idea of using two of these chairs as captains chairs at the dining table.  Before I reupholster them, I plan to modify the shape a bit.  First of all, the “new” chairs won’t have tufting.  But the main change I plan to make is to reduce the bulky look of the wings and arms, and pretty much reshape them completely so that they’re more understated and streamlined.  I’m generally not a fan of rolled arms, and these come up too high anyway, prohibiting the chair from sliding up underneath the dining table.  I started removing the nailheads, vinyl and foam a couple of days ago, and reshaping the arms looks to be a fairly easy project.  But I’ll share more on that later.

Anyway, you know that I’m planning on using the P Kauffman Pattern Play Tutti Frutti fabric on those chairs.  I’ve already purchased this fabric, and I love how colorful and playful the pattern is.

p kauffman pattern play tutti frutti fabric

But the other day, I was at the local upholstery shop, and just as I was walking out the door, a bolt of green vinyl caught my eye.  I got a sample, brought it home, and sure enough…it matched my kitchen cabinets (and the green in that fabric) almost exactly.  So now I’m trying to figure out how I can incorporate this awesome green vinyl into my dining chairs.

At first I thought I might save it to use on my side chairs, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that I want slipcovered side chairs.  I think.  (Don’t hold me to that.  I’ve looked and looked and looked, and still haven’t found side chairs that are quite what I want.)  But the captains chairs will definitely be upholstered, meaning that they’ll be harder to clean when they get dirty.  It just makes practical sense to use the vinyl on those. (Mark this day on the calendar!  I’m making a decision based on practicality!! 😀 )

So as usual, I went in search of inspiration.  And the more I looked at chairs upholstered with two fabrics, the more I really liked the idea.  The most common way to do this seems to be using one color (generally solid) on the seat, arms, and front of the chair back, and then using a second fabric on the back and sides of the chairs.

chairs covered in two coordinating fabrics - via Traditional Homevia Traditional Home

I love this next example because the patterned fabric on the back of these chairs is the exact Robert Allen Bella Porte fabric that I bought, but mine is in the Watercress color, and this is the Citrine.

chairs covered in two coordinating fabrics - via BHGvia BHG

I considered for a split second using my Bella Porte fabric on the captains chairs since I really like this look, but I pretty much have my heart set on using the colorful watercolor print on mine.

I really like the look of this one as well, with the patterned fabric on the seat and front of the chair back, and the solid on the back and sides.

Contemporary Dining Room by Mill Valley Interior Designers & Decorators GEORGE Interior Design

But that wouldn’t really make sense on mine since my pattern is a fabric, and my solid is a vinyl.  It makes more sense to put the vinyl on the parts of the chair that will get more wear and tear.

Beach Style Dining Room by New York Interior Designers & Decorators MuseInteriors

Another idea would be to use the green vinyl just on the seat, and use the colorful fabric everywhere else.

Contemporary Dining Room by Shawnee Interior Designers & Decorators Tran + Thomas Design Studio

So I’m not exactly sure what I’ll end up with at this point, but I enjoy the dreaming and planning almost as much as I enjoy the doing and seeing the finished product.  🙂  I’m 99% sure that my chairs will have that awesome green vinyl on them.  But before I can get to any of that, I need to get to reshaping those arms.  I hope it’s as simple as I think it’ll be!  If I’m successful, I’ll share the details with you.



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  1. I love all your examples of the two fabrics on the front and back! The different fabric on the seat doesn’t sit well with me….haha.

  2. I really love the ones with the patterned backs. Those are really cool. I’m curious, however, if half-vinyl and half-fabric might look odd together.

    1. I think it’ll look great! But then again, it’s a combo I’m kind of used to seeing here in this part of the country. In Texas, the combo of leather and fabric, or vinyl and fabric, seems to be quite popular, although it’s most generally used on this style of dining chair:


      Mine will definitely be a departure from that common style of chair, but I think the combo of vinyl and fabric will still work. At least, I’m hoping it will! 🙂

      1. I, too, couldn’t picture it together. I love the plain in the front with the pattern in the back, however because of the two different types of fabric, as soon as you showed the picture of the plain seat and patterned upper, I thought that would look best. Then you showed this example which was how I had pictured it. Definitely the most practical. However….. 😉

      2. I think it’ll be beautiful! It’s given me a bit of inspiration for a chair in my mother’s house that needs some attention too! She has this beautiful teal silk that would be great for a portion of it, but if the whole thing was done in it, I think it would be too much, but mixing fabrics, patterns, etc….I hadn’t even thought of that!
        Good luck with the arm reshaping!

    1. In addition to the seat and front of the chair back? I know I really want to use vinyl at least on the seat for easy cleanup. I can see that fabric getting dirty really quickly if it’s used on the chair seat. If I were making slipcovers, it would be less of a concern since they could be washed.

      But I do like the idea of using solid green piping on the whole chair.

  3. So glad you found the green vinyl for the chairs—fabric for the back–a great look! This will really unify your kitchen and dining room.

  4. I LOVE this idea. I like the BHG example…..pattern on the back, vinyl on the front. This is going to look so good with your colors. I’m so happy that you like to use color in your decorating. Thanks for that.

    1. Hmm…why not? It’s not the cheap plastic-feeling stuff. My headboard is vinyl, and it’s as soft and supple as any leather I’ve ever felt. It would be beautiful on chairs. I don’t like or use the cheap plastic-looking vinyl, though.

  5. Great ideas! It’s incredible all the detail thinking required when making a decision. You said you would share if the chairs turned out but I hope you are taking photos and notes to share either way. We learn so much from reading your posts. Thank you for sharing!

    Right after recovering some kitchen chairs with denim, I learned about some stuff that is water proof and not crinkly. “…PUL, polyurethane laminate fabric, which is waterproof, breathable and non-toxic.” It’s used in the Days for Girls http://www.daysforgirls.org/ kits that I have started helping to make. By putting under the denim in my chairs it would have prevented any liquid from getting into the new foam. I plan to use when I recover my dining room chairs and for at least some of my wingback chair.

    Thank you again for sharing and being so inspiring!


  6. I’ve seem some pretty awesome looking and feeling vinyls recently. What a great choice! Your closing sentence… “If I’m successful, I’ll share the details with you.” Even if you’re not successful – share the process with us 🙂

  7. I like the pattern on the seating areas and the solid color on the back and sides. So opposite of most comments. LOL

    1. I was thinking kind of the same thing, but business in the front, party in the back. Kind of like the mullet hair style of years ago, lol!

  8. Perfect! I think they’ll be beautiful!!

    I’ve been pinning this look for a while in advance of recovering two chippendale chairs we use in our kitchen.

    Looking forward to your progress and glad YOU’RE going first! Your dining room will be another great success story!!

    (I think you should also write a blog about time management, lol! Do you sleep? 🙂

  9. Kristi, I think your choice of print is beautiful and perfectly suited to the colorful vision you have for your home. I love mixing solids and prints on chairs. I’ve also combined fabric and leather on chairs and sofas and would have no problem utilizing a quality vinyl if necessary. However, the fabrics I used with leather were heavier weaves, not lightweight, bright and airy prints. Before you commit to this, I know you’ll think long and hard about juxtaposing these two very disparate materials. I realize you’re thinking of practicality, but I believe you fell in love with a color and not a material. It might require going through many samples to find the right shade of green, but the final result could be worth it. Now might be the time to forego practicality and just think of compatibility.

  10. I too like the look of the patterned backs, with a solid front, and I’m sure the vinyl you’ve picked is NOT the kind that people stick to, so don’t think that’s a concern. AND it’s so practical! I have recovered my chair seats so many times, due to stains, etc. Red wine and tomato sauce, etc.
    A friend recovered hers in faux ostrich (vinyl) They look great and have stood up for 4 years without a mark, so far.

  11. I know it’s practical but sitting on vinyl is awful. i love the look of the solid with the print, just not vinyl.

  12. I’ve started seeing a lot of chairs done with the plain seats/back with patterned backs on TV. I LOVE that look!…so classy in an understated way. My dining chairs have cane backs, so I can’t do that. Can’t wait to see how yours turn out.

  13. Absolutely love the first pic by Traditional Home! (Yes, it is me the colorphobe!) Don’t like the Contemporary by Shawnee or Mill Valley at all. Can’t wait to see how you reform the chairs!!!

  14. Knowing how I feel about your favorite print, I am thrilled to hear that it might only be on the back and outside of the arms, leaving lots of opportunity for it not to be seen (I know I am killing you!). I just cannot get my head around “scrub” fabric on furniture, could be because I still have a terrible steroid headache. The green sounds great, especially since it ties in with your kitchen. Blessings.

  15. Kristi, follow your heart, (gut instinct). My opinion, is to go with the practical vinyl for the seat and back and the fabric for the surrounds. The argument against the vinyl for the seat as being uncomfortable would only be valid if you were using a cheap Naugahyde that sticks to your legs in hot weather. We know you wouldn’t do that, Kristi. Afterall, the chairs will be pulled up to the table and very little of the vinyl is going to show anyway, (pity, that). The colorful fabric on the backside of the chairs will make a statement when viewed as a whole, especially in context with the kitchen decor. If you go ahead and pull in the Bella Porte fabric, it will look stunning with the other two fabrics.

    I think a truly talented designer is able to see a room “finished’, before they ever start. With your great eye for design, I’m convinced you can see it “done”, and it’s now just a matter of execution. You are so fortunate that you have the ability to do so.

    Keep inspiring us, Kristi. We need your visionary talent to guide us.

  16. Kristi, I don’t see any problem whatsoever with covering the front and inside with the vinyl and the back with your colorful print. I agree completely that this would be more practical for a dining room. What do you think of doing the welting in black instead of green? Or, since nearly every chair in your photos has nailhead trim, are you considering doing that?

  17. I like the idea of the green on the backs and sides with the pretty flower print on the front, but as you say, it
    would get dirty pretty quick. Is there a clear vinyl that you could put over the pattern to keep it looking nice?
    Or some kind of a fabric protectant, like spray-on or paint on stuff? Like oil cloth kinda. Don’t know if there
    is such a thing, just asking. I would think that there would be some sort of see-thru vinyl to put over your
    patterns though. If not there should be. lol Would solve so many problems. 🙂

    1. Rosemary, there’s a process whereby a clear vinyl coating can be bonded to fabric. However, I think it looks more appropriate in a less formal family dining area. Even though it’s not shiny, it’s obvious that it’s there

  18. I like the idea of vinyl on the front and arms and fabric on the back. I think vinyl on the seat only would look like a repair job–the seat got stained and you replaced it with vinyl.

  19. Kristi, I just looked and found some things related to my first post. Home Depot sells a fabric protectant: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Vectra-32-oz-Furniture-Carpet-and-Fabric-Protector-Spray-Vectra-22-32oz/100670364 The commercial looked good, but then commercials always do. Amazon sells a clear flexible vinyl fabric It says you can sew on it. The link is:
    Hope to see the finished chairs, no matter what decision you ultimately make. You do wonders with whatever
    you make!

  20. I like the idea of the chair with 2 fabrics.. but I would hunt for something classic – that will stand the test of time. ANd place green in the room for accents.

  21. Okay can’t wait to see what you come up with….but as I was looking at all the pictures you had for examples…all I adored btw….I noticed that all, like you said you wanted had cleaner lines….but I am most interested with what you do to the chair legs…are you going to leave them or paint them?…black perhaps???to give the chair cleaner looking line and weight????because even though those chairs are really nicely upholstered….the legs to me just are not quite working…..just wondering!!!!

  22. Kristi, I love the look of the use of two fabrics, one on the front and one on the back and your vinyl is the perfect choice for the ‘inside’ portion which will be the part that gets sat on and gets the most wear. Also, I see the use of leather, suede, and vinyl with a fabric frequently so I think it will be great. However, I don’t care for the use of the vinyl only on the chair seat, especially with the style of your chairs. But that’s just my opinion which doesn’t really count for much but I’ll throw it in for free anyway. lol

  23. In the Northeast high grade non leather products that mimic leather, are refered to as Pleathor. Not plastic, not leather, but pleathor. No one ever says vinyl unless they are referring to retro flooring. Just a little FIY. Blessing

  24. Soo many great options you come up with!!!!! Your blog is “goals” (as my 13 yr old would say) because you let us walk through the process with you. THANK YOU!!! Keep in mind the reality of your life. I have two children and three dogs. The BACK of our furniture is always the first to be beaten down. We rarely sit at our “formal dining room” table (maybe 5 times a year) the cushions are fine but the backs of the chairs have wear and tear….from dirty hands….dogs running into them…shifting them from place to place….just daily wear and tear. Thank you for being real about all of this!!!! Hubby and I made your platform bed…..Sooo Good and such great directions. Kudos