A couple of days ago I was walking Stuart and I came upon the most delightful discovery in a trash heap:


Before I continue, I need to explain something. I find it very hard to pass by old furniture or other possibly useful stuff, even if it's out on the curb ready to be picked up by the trash man. I'm not saying I'd actually get into a dumpster to explore, but if something's just sitting there and it has "good bones," I just might not be able to resist the urge to take it home with me.

Speaking of good bones, this rocker has 'em in spades.


I could look past the dirt and broken cane back to see a really cool piece. In an instant, I knew exactly what I would do with it and exactly where it would go in my house. So with Stuart pulling me on the leash and me carrying this chair, we made our way home for a simple but immensely satisfying DIY project.

Step one of the process was obviously a good cleaning. It actually took several passes of the dust rag before this thing was ready for anything but a ride to the dump. Upon closer inspection, I could see that this orphaned chair had already been refurbished at least once. The original caned seat had been replaced with a cushion and the finish seemed to have been re-done to make it darker.

Step two: I cut out the broken cane back with a pair of scissors.


Step three was a light sanding, and when I say light I mean barely anything. I basically just ran my electric sander over most areas of it to make sure the new paint would stick.

Step four: a few coats of glossy black spray paint.


The black board behind the chair is a piece of MDF that I painted black. It would eventually be cut out in the shape of the seat and back and the cushioning and fabric would be attached. This was step five, and it was by far the most difficult part of this project. Thankfully, I have a kindly husband with a jig saw and he did it for me.

Besides spray painting, step six was probably the most fun part of this re-hab: upholstering the back and seat. There are trillions of tutorials for how to do this online, so I spared myself the trouble of documenting the process for you. The one below is pretty much the way I did it:

How to Reupholster a Dining Room Seat

Step seven: Screwing the back and seat into place. Mick did this as well. Let's all give him a round of applause.

Now, for the big reveal: 


Isn't she beautiful? Can you believe this baby was ready to go to a landfill?


I love the fabric I chose, even though I had the slightest trepidation when I left the store. I kept picturing this chair with some kind of animal print but I knew that wouldn't work at all with my living room decor. This fabric reminds me of an animal print, but it's subtle enough not to hit you in the face with it.

Bonus: I was intrigued by the shape of this rocker from the beginning, and as soon as I got home I did a little research on it. Turns out it is in the Thonet style, a design that is highly coveted by collectors. I do not think mine is an authentic Thonet since it does not have any of the markings that would usually be there if it was. And if it was, it's been modified to the point where all value has probably been obliterated. No matter. I love this chair and it turned out even better than I imagined as I was struggling to haul it home.

Cost breakdown:

Chair: FREE!
Spray paint (2 cans): $7.98
MDF board: $8.95
Fabric (2 yards): $49.50
Batting (2 yards): $11.98
Spray adhesive: $9.95

Project total: $88.36

It must be said that this was not necessarily a budget project because I decided to splurge on the fabric. However, there were many fabrics on sale that would have worked for as little as $6 a yard. So remember, you can keep a project like this well-within your budget, whatever it might be.

That's it folks! Excuse me, but I think I've got some sitting to do. Have a great weekend!

6 Replies to “Diving for Rockers”

  1. Jennifer says: October 9, 2009 at 11:55 am

    This turned out so great! Such great lines, I love it.

  2. Mom says: October 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Great job, Holly. Real shades of your father there. It is fun to refurb an old piece.

  3. Michelle says: September 25, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Holly that looks soooooo good!!! I probably would have kept walking had i seen that on the side of the rode, but now i will look at “dumpster stuff” in a whole different light! LOL!! I love it!!

  4. Holly says: September 25, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks, Morgan and Antoinette! It was so much fun. Unfortunately, I don’t
    have a lot more room in my house for other “orphans,” but I will remain on
    the look out. Heck, I could always sell ’em on Craiglist.
    On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 2:03 PM, wrote:

  5. Morgan says: September 25, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I absolutley love it! It makes me want to go out and find some broken piece of furniture and fix it all up. Too bad you can’t show it to the person who was going to throw it away. I’m sure they would be shocked!

  6. Antoinette says: September 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I adore it! Good for you for finding a beauty and giving her a new life. You’ll never be able to get Fallon out of it over x-mas btw. Just a heads up.
    Glad you took the time to document the transformation.

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