Reupholstering an Antique Chair

by Refablished
Hi everyone, this is my first blog post on Hometalk. My name is Valeria and I’m so excited to share my latest upholstery project with you, because it came as such a fun surprise and challenge!
My friend from Vintage Rust contacted me and said she was working on a dining room set for a client, and while most of the chairs in the set were just seat recovers, the captain’s chair was posing a bit of a challenge! She sent me a couple of pictures and asked me if I was up to the task.
Here's a photo of the entire set. She was keeping the original finish, and recovering the chairs in white linen.
She sent me this pic, saying she'd had it with this chair and asked me for some help!
It is a gorgeous, antique, carved wood chair with an upholstered back. But from the start, something just didn’t look right about this chair. The fabric wrapped all the way around the sides to the back, and it seemed off to me.

..And the sides? Nope. Not gonna work.
But as I began to dig in and uncover the wood, it was heavily pockmarked over the back from hundreds of trigger-happy staple gun users over the decades. I wondered how many times this had been recovered? As I work on antique furniture, I like to fantasize about its story. Although I am usually probably wildly incorrect in my fantasies, I like to imagine some old furniture-maker’s apprentice stuffing the seats with hay and horsehair in the back of a kerosene lantern-lit wood shop, while snow softly falls outside and horses clop by. In reality, it was probably assembly-line production in the 1920’s, and perhaps some of you will be quick to point out the truth. In any case, the frame on this baby had been pretty damaged in places along the way.
So I improvised. Since the wood was still in decent shape on the sides, I exposed the front, pulled it taut and stapled it to the frame. I cut a separate piece for the back, but instead of remaining inside the frame, I pulled it out to the edge, to cover the heavily pockmarked surface. With some hot glue, I carefully covered my staple tracks with gimp cording, and it added just the right finish to a simple, cream colored linen.
Ah, better. And I left the front and sides showing, since that way seemed truer to the original chair.
See that beautiful side now?
I also added cording around the seat.
The simple, off-white linen keeps the beauty of the wood carvings on display and doesn’t compete. A pattern on these chairs would be much too busy!
Finished product...I'm in love! What do you think?

Many thanks to the incredibly talented Molly at Vintage Rust for trusting me with her project. Go check out her page at and check out mine as well, at Thanks for reading!
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