An exploration in customisation

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I’ve been searching for vintage chairs for about two years now and I haven’t found a pair I felt I could confidently invest in, that would stand the test of time. This is partly driven by wanting to own a bit of history but also because I want to upholster my own chairs to accentuate the sofa. I wanted something different. While it hasn’t been a full-time search, nothing caught my eye until now.

I was trolling around on Instagram a few days ago and was stopped in my tracks by a chair. Desperately flicking through the comments I found the designers name and started a search of my own. It turns out the chairs I saw online were by a Czech designer called Jindrich Halabala. A bit more digging into the designer in particular and I came to find he is most recognized for chairs with exaggerated, curved armrests (which is what I fell in love with). So… after much searching, I came across this pair for what I think is a steal. They will need work, to be sure, but I can’t wait to make them my own.

For those of you interested in doing something similar, it pays to ask questions. I spoke to both the seller and to an upholster to get a rough idea of how much I could expect to pay for the work. I also wanted to understand the level of the project I was taking on. So I’ve included my questions (and email) below, in the hopes it helps as you undertake a similar project:


  1. As for bit detail about the condition/patina?
  2. Ask what the core cushions are made of?
  3. Ask what system was used for the springs?
  4. Are the legs sturdy?
  5. Would you describe them as “comfortable”?
  6. Is there any way to “prove” authentication?


  1. Ask if they provide an indicative price based on the photo?
  2. Provide dimensions.
  3. Detail whether the furniture is sprung or foam (and if you don’t know, ask for a quote for both).
  4. Highlight you understand that fabric costs vary.
  5. Ask for the amount of work provided.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.

I’m sure there are an infinite number of questions you can ask, but those are the basics you want to ensure you have nailed before embarking on a project. And remember, this should be fun – you get to be creative and save something from the annals of history. You also get to make something yours – what could be cooler?


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