i have ugly chairs – now what?

Years of designing events in many venues has taught me two things: 1) the color schemes of most venues are outdated & boring and 2) in most places, nothing is uglier than the chairs. Navy blue, peach, mauve, hunter green, burgundy and beige adorn event venues everywhere. They actually manage to clash with every single color but hey, at least they don’t show stains easily. So, bonus… I guess… 

You have two choices. You can always work with the color scheme the event gods gave you, which generally means picking one of the dominate colors in the space.  Or you can work the venue to your colorscheme. There are many ways to do that but for our purposes with this post – we’ll focus on the chairs.

At our company, table4decorpartydesign.com we talk a lot about tabletop design – especially when it comes to budget. Even though you don’t want it to, a party is required to function on a budget. There are only so many pieces of the event pie and if your decorating slice isn’t very big – you’ll need to work those tabletops like a slinky pair of shoes on a first date.

When we work out a tabletop design, we want it to build from the outside in – which means starting with the chairs. These are the four most common types of chairs. The plastic folding chairs and the banquet chairs have some variations on design but you get the idea.

banquet chair

inexpensive folding chair


white wedding chair

chiavari chair





white chairs look great with or without a sash

The Chiavari chairs and the white wedding chairs look great – they need little more than a simple sash or other embellishment to tie them in to your design.

Even the plastic folding chair is white and pretty enough. But the banquet chair. Ugh! You might get lucky and have one of the few places on Planet Earth wise enough to get black banquet chairs – but I’m guessing you wouldn’t be reading this post if that were true. So now you need to cover them – but how?

The first thing about chair covers – they are a want, not a need. You need food, you need entertainment (experienced entertainment – not your uncle that likes to talk to everyone and owns an Ipod), you need bathrooms and shelter and chairs for everyone (more on this later).  I would even go so far as to say you need decor in the way of creating ambiance – but to do that you do not need chair covers. That means that if you have a 300 person party and a small wedding budget, carving out 600.00 or more for chair covers doesn’t make sense.

So then people think about the less expensive option – chair sashes or shawls only – like this   ————–>     

This is not a good look for a banquet chair. Your guests will actually notice the ugliness of the chairs even more.

If you don’t have the budget for chair covers – don’t do anything to the chairs at all. design tip: Concentrate time and money on other areas of design to draw your eye AWAY from the chairs.

So what are your options for chair covers?

banquet chair covers

The traditional banquet chair cover comes in many fabrics and colors. You can use it with or without a sash. It will slip over the chair easily and create a blank canvas for design.

spandex – great look, pain to put on

Banquet chair covers are the most popular and easy to use option with one exception:

<———– spandex banquet chair covers.

Spandex covers are totally awesome looking and totally an awesome pain in the &^% to put on.  This is not a chair cover for the weak or weary – the chair cover must be attached to each leg of the chair – and must also be removed at each leg. They are stunning and very clean looking but like many other beautiful things – you will probably feel some pain.

white chair bags cover a variety of ugly chairs

Universal chair bags are also a popular option. We rent these for those folding chairs or oversized chairs that a banquet cover just doesn’t fit. It is literally what it sounds like – a bag that slips over the chair and ties in a knot in the back.

The chair bag offers versatility for unusual chairs. Normally you don’t add a sash but the knot in back can be decorated easily. These have a very fun look and work with many designs. The biggest drawback – chair bags are not the easiest things to put on. My uncle helped tie 400 chair bags for a wedding we designed. To this day he mutters obscenities everytime he sees me.  Or maybe he is starting a new business “trucking chair bags”.

If your budget allows, chair covers are a great way to give yourself a blank design canvas. Just remember to work your design thoughtfully- the chairs should lend themselves to the overall design, not overwhelm or overpower it.

About designdakotastyle

ideas about event design and function from one little party design firm on the prairie... a glimpse into design with dakota style.
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2 Responses to i have ugly chairs – now what?

  1. Pingback: i have ugly chairs – now what? | designdakotastyle | Chair Cover Franchises

  2. Pingback: get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: part 4 | designdakotastyle

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