This chair came to me around the same time I sold this gorgeous china cabinet that I made over to a friend of mine. The same friend who brought me this chair. My grandma used to rock me in it she said. I think I want it painted she said.
No, you know what, I want it stained.
I don’t know.
What about fabric?
I don’t know. You choose.
That conversation only took about two years and the result is this story of an Antique Chair Restoration and the oldest chair I’ve ever met.
Some of my friends (and family, too) can talk me into the craziest things. Like making all of their decisions for them. They can also, apparently, talk me into the impossible.
I know its been years but I just found out that I’m pregnant with twins so I’m gonna need that chair now.
Even though its underside was bulged and opened like this when I got it, I never thought to look what might be hiding in there.
When someone says paint it, that’s always easier. But with something like this I’m glad to take it back to as close to original as we can get. It’s a family heirloom after all. But nothing prepared me for how difficult taking these layers of paint off would be. NOTHING.
Many, many hours of stripping. And not the kind that pays you in dollar bills every second.
The chair had to be taken apart completely to be stripped and reupholstered. It was during this process that I finally got a good idea of what awaited me.
You guys, that’s STRAW!! Straw stuffing! Never mind the old timey cotton batting, the burlap, the rusty springs…..STRAW!
I removed every layer of everything. This was layer number two. The original layer is underneath this. I can’t believe I missed getting a pic of it. It was pink damask in case you were wondering.
When I finally got all of the layers removed I was left with a skeleton and many, many staple and nail holes. I started to worry nothing would “stick” when I reupholstered.
Then there was the case of the broken joints and the fallen off pieces. I fixed those with extra screws, wood glue and a lot of prayers.
From there I started lining the seat with upholstery webbing. Something about knowing your pregnant friend (or newborn babies) will be rocking in said chair makes you extra cautious. And, really, I’m paranoid enough already.
I finally found the sweet spot. Raw wood.
I picked out her stain color. I picked out her fabric.
I even went a little funky. It’ll be living at the beach so I thought this was fitting.
No more straw. No more rusty springs. Though I did consider putting them back in there.
I wasn’t sure. But after screaming at it, crying over it and spilling blood because of it…I was pretty sure I did.
And the best news is, she did, too. She really, really did.
Rock easy my friend….rock easy Hazel & Christopher. All my love….
I have one of these I found at the side of the road. Maybe I should not be so chicken?
Get on it Kirby! 😉
I picked out what appeared to be an old antique rocking chair years ago from a second hand store. I was putting it off and finally tore it apart. it looks just like this! with straw and springs. i was so overwhelmed it’s just been sitting for months. This article was so great to see. It can be done! Do you have any advice for me? It seems like I picked a challenge one for my first time. Also, the I’m making had decorative pins every half inch surrounding every piece of fabric. Can anyone guess a date for these?
I have a rocking chair very similar to his that I bought at a yard sale years ago. Do you have any idea how old it might be or or from what time period. Thank you and nice job on the makeover of the chair!
Hi Shannon! Thank you! I really don’t have any idea on the age but I’m guessing they haven’t stuffed chairs with straw in quite awhile. It might be worth doing a Google search for more info. Very interesting indeed!
Hi, my sister gave me a rocking chair like this; it was a duplicate of the one my grandmother had when I was a child and had always loved it. I am scared that if I take it apart to recover it I wont be able to put it back together. Any ideas of where I might find a ‘how-to’ , instructions or demo?
I’m afraid not. Wish I’d had some!
Do you know the name of the fabric or what the pattern is? Fabulous job!
Hi Angela! I’m sorry, I don’t. I can’t even recall where I got the fabric from at this point. Thank you so much!
Kristen Bisson says
Hi Jamie, Your project turned out beautiful!
I found an old rocker on the side of the road that looked similar with layers of material, stuffed with straw and disintegrating cotton material. A mouse had made a cozy nest so I ripped out everything and also threw away the springs that were rusty and damaged. Now I am at a loss. I also see loads of nail holes around the edge where the upholstery webbing and fabric was. Did you use the springs or replace the hole in the chair with a board and foam? The back of the chair also had springs but they are long gone now. This chair looks like it is from the late 1800s “Eastlake Style.”
Thank you! I used upholstery webbing and foam, no springs. You could absolutely use a board and foam though! Good luck!
Jessica Solis Castillo says
What is the stain color name?
Oh goodness, I don’t even remember now! Knowing me it was a Minwax color and it looks very red here but that could also be because there was a red tint to the wood in the first place. I’d say it was probably English Chestnut but if you want to try and recreate the color I would highly suggest doing a sampling piece first before deciding. Stain is fickle, in my opinion. It never looks the same twice!
Hello! I have this exact chair! I had it reupholstered about 20 years ago and has the straw removed as well. Do you have any idea of the age or value? I don’t really have a place for it any more and am considering seeking it. I have no idea it’s value. Thanks!
I honestly have no idea! I did some basic internet searches when I was working on this and didn’t have much luck. If you find out anything, I’d love to know!