Reupholstering the Chaise Longue

Those of you who follow me on instagram will be familiar with my sitting room and, more importantly, the chaise longue in there. I bought it for The Mad Husband as a 40th birthday present from the local junk shop. It cost £250 and we have both always loved it.

mad about the house sitting room with Enid Catback of chaiseblush pink chaise longe by vintique upholstery
mad about the house sitting room with Enid Catback of chaiseblush pink chaise longe by vintique upholstery

When we moved here and Enid Cat came to live with us she very quickly decided that the chaise longue was hers. If anyone else sat there, or dared to dump a coat or bag on it she would appear from wherever she was in the house, jump on and stare fixedly at the current incumbent until they moved. Which they usually did.

Over the years the bottom began to sag and she took to scratching the arm. We noticed the damage too late and by the time we started telling her off she simply laughed in our faces. We had lost any authority over it and she felt it was hers to mistreat as she wished.

broken chaise with Enid cat
broken chaise with Enid cat in residence

It was with some trepidation that we thought about re-upholstering. After all, who’s to say she wouldn’t damage the new one? Perhaps, if we were lucky, she would be so furious that we had messed with it that she would decide to sit elsewhere.

It had to be done though and when Sharon O’Connor of Vintique Upholstery popped up on my instagram feed, I decided she was the woman for the job. After 25 years working in fashion and retail before setting up her own studio, Sharon has an encyclopaedic knowledge of fabrics and colours and is well-placed to advise anyone who isn’t quite sure what they want. Or who knows what they want but doesn’t know where to find it.

mad about the house sitting room with Enid Cat
the old chaise in the darker pink

I was pretty sure I wanted a blush pink colour. I had loved the old darker pink, which worked well against the dark grey walls, but having seen stylist Hilary Robertson’s blush pink chesterfield some years previously, that was a colour that stayed in my mind. We were also changing the colour of the walls to a more chocolatey shade and I wanted something a little lighter.

Sharon had the brilliant idea of covering the back of the head rest and the arm and doing the piping in a contrasting fabric so bring in a little pattern and tie in with the darker walls. She turned up with about 100 samples and steered me gently through things she knew weren’t right but thought I should see, to patterns and colours she thought would be right given the conversations we had had before her arrival.

back of chaise longue in spring drifting by arley house
back of chaise longue in spring drifting by arley house

And so we arrived at Kirby Fabrics Ice Blossom for the main body of the chaise and Spring Drifting by Arley House for the details. If the room was lighter I might have chosen the floral for all over but I was worried that in a dark room that might be a little too Victorian. All we would have needed was an aspidistra and it would have been very Howard’s End.

Sharon collected the chair and worked on it for a week. Enid was quite put out. She nearly had to sit on the floor but in the end managed to find a different place to sulk. Then, when it returned she jumped straight on. Nearly a month in and she hasn’t scratched it at all (I’m aware she may be lulling us into a false sense of security). She’s also had to get used to the idea of sharing as the re-upholstery underneath has made it so much more comfortable that we all like sitting on it now.

blush pink chaise longe by vintique upholstery
kirby fabrics ice blossom with spring drifting by arley house

I have since recommended Vintique Upholstery to at least one other client. She is based in Sunbury on Thames and will travel within reasonable distances so do check with her. I’m thrilled to have found someone with such great fabric knowledge. I was going to go a local upholsterer, but they simply asked me to bring the material I liked, and I know that without Sharon I wouldn’t have found these companies, or had as much choice as I would have looked at a couple of places, got bored and moved on. If that sounds like you then get in touch with Sharon.

I am thinking of doing the old gold coloured sofa at the top next. The material is fine but it was so badly upholstered before that it’s really uncomfortable. This time I have no idea what fabric I want. I’m dying to see what Sharon will suggest.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Wow what a transformation. I’ve been mulling over a chaise longue. This might have inspired me to find an old one and do it up. Cross fingers it remains a non-scratching post! Love your new book btw – such an easy but informative read.

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