Refurbishment Inspo

with repair doyenne Cherie Findlay

One of our favourite things is sharing refurbishment and up-cycling projects with The Bower’s community. Cherie Findlay is a retired Visual Arts & Textiles teacher whose beautiful sewing & mending projects have been on our radar for some time. Her latest up-cycling project is a chair refurb and the practical simplicity of her work here is inspired; the chair is now entirely unique in appearance and its cultural history.

“We purchased the chair and a matching desk in the mid-1980s while living in the USA,” says Cherie. “First it was my son’s and then went to my daughter, and  when she left home it went with her.”

“About 12 months ago my daughter said the chair was in a bad state and needed attention. Because my daughter is now pregnant I said I would take on the task of refurbishing the chair. I knew it would be a big job.”

“It is a lovely desk and chair, but the cushion inside had developed mould over the years and the fabric and cushion were beyond rescue.”


1.  I pulled the cushion off and treated the chipboard base with Hydrogen Peroxide (wearing a mask) and left it in a warm spot, repeating until the mould and smell was gone.

 2. Next I used a primer sealer to stop any mould being a problem in the future and painted the board a light colour.

3. I removed the chipboard base and had a new foam insert cut to match it. 

4. I then sanded the chair and applied a clear satin so it would still match the desk.

5. My daughter who is an Interior Designer supplied the fabric sample book which was used for the patchwork upholstery.

6. I washed and then sewed the fabric colour samples together that would compliment the natural chair colour.

7. The new foam that was cut to size was then added to the base chipboard and covered by the sewn fabric samples which were then secured with a wall stapler to the chipboard base.

8. Last but not least I inserted a thin fabric sample piece underneath the chipboard to finish off the job.

9. The refurbished chair was then screwed back together.

Cherie finishes: “I have always repaired and refurbished wherever possible, it’s how I was raised. I have bought things from The Bower  and donated items that have value but are no longer needed as well.”

“I believe the circular economy is an essential way to cut down on waste and skills need to be passed on.”

She’s singing our song, alright.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can undertake refurbishment projects like Cherie’s visit our Learn page.

Assembling material samples
After being sewn together

After – underneath the seat

After – gorgeous!

We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation who are the traditional custodians of this land and pay respect to Elders past, present and future and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people.