You can update wicker to blend with contemporary looks or leave it shabby to furnish a mellow porch. What makes the chair is often the cushions, whether they are loose pillows or a complete upholstery job. Wicker chairs belong in the sun room and the dining room and, with suitably audacious upholstery, can hold their own in a living room or a theatrical boudoir.
Bold and Beachy
Treat wicker chair upholstery in a beach house like a beach umbrella. Forget the sweet chintz and soft florals. Rev things up with clear bright colour, bold patterns and lots of white. Stripes are nautical and complement seashore decor Yacht pennant designs are lively; even big circles in beach ball colours are fun and durable enough for heavy use and strong summer sun.
Choose a sturdy outdoor-rated fabric that can handle wet swimming costumes, sand and sweaty sunblock without getting the vapours. Get some extra fabric and have patio umbrellas made from it to match the wicker chair upholstery, creating a visual transition from sunroom to terrace.
Old and Chic
Shabby chic style and wicker were made for each other. Big squashy cushions in faded and flowered fabrics, worn and distressed vintage wicker, a ruffle here and ribbon there, turn a sunroom into a timeless, elegant and charming retreat. Use natural fabrics for chair upholstery and cushions. Look for durable old pieces like printed linen tablecloths, unbleached linen and cotton canvas. Mix faded florals with equally faded stripes.
To add an extra layer of soft cushioning to chairs, sew tabs on the back of the cushions at the seam and tie them to the wicker chairs over the upholstered chair seats. The tabs will keep the additional cushions from sliding off.
Vintage to Modern
A beat-up old wicker chair with faded paint and ragged cushions can become the star of the summer patio with spray paint and new cushions. It's easy to wash old wicker and apply one or two coats of spray paint to give it a whole new appearance. But what makes the chair modern is the upholstery. Replace old cushions with sharp new ones; cut squares or rectangles from extra firm foam to fit the seat.
A contemporary fabric pattern in a sturdy cotton canvas or a blend will look even cleaner with piping edges along the cushion seams. Keep the palette spare -- shiny black wicker goes well with a black and white print fabric. Try a "newsprint" pattern or an abstract design and stack two cushions in a deep seat for a chair that guests can sink into.
Upholster wicker chairs to reinforce a themed room design. Kente cloth or safari animal print fabric turn mahogany-stained wicker chairs into exotic mementos of Africa. Try mixing a zebra print on one chair with leopard on another and use bright Kente cloth for throw pillows and ottoman cushions. Go tropical with vivid bird-of-paradise and orchid bloom prints, tropical fruits or exotic birds with bright plumage. Your Carmen Miranda seating works with honey-toned wicker chairs or chairs painted in solid shades like lime green, orange or mellow yellow.