Before & After: Shaking Up a Shaker Rocking Chair

Before & After: Shaking Up a Shaker Rocking Chair

Nora Taylor
Mar 12, 2016
(Image credit: Submitted by Jenn)

Hidden among many other obscure objects at a garage sale in Princeton, New Jersey, this bentwood rocking chair sat dressed in black paint and heavy black leather upholstery attached with large tacks. At the time, I couldn't place where this piece had come from. It wasn't a Thonet chair, but it had the similar features and was certainly older. As I continued to look at it, the colors and materials looked so heavy on such a small, slender frame. It begged to be refinished. So I thought what the heck and bought it for for $25.00.

(Image credit: Submitted by Jenn)

After some initial research on my new project, I figured out it is a 1860s Shaker rocking chair from the Ohio/Kentucky area. This heritage is where a lot of the design inspiration ended up coming from. The deep roots in craftsmanship and natural materials are two elements that can be hard to come by today. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure that I could nod to its heritage but also bring it into a modern home.

First things first, removing the upholstery and stripping paint. Stripping black paint is not an easy task. It took time and effort. It took a lot of sanding, but luckily my good friend commands a workshop. I did the heavy sanding while she helped with final detail sanding. She's a rockstar to say the least.

Once it was cleaned up and "naked", I was faced with the decision of how to dress it up in a modern way. After 2 years of indecisiveness, I chose a large weave pattern and purchased the leather. Once I had my materials I wanted to work with, I cut paper strips into roughly 3.5" wide strips to lay it out on the framing. This template proved to be the best advice that I received from a friend.

Now came the tricky part. Determining how to keep the leather stretched around the frame without structurally damaging the aged wood. After a lot of sketching and testing, I found a way to loop leather strings through the leather strips and around a wooden dowel to form a modern corset. After the weave was in place and all of the strings were pulled tight, I finally sat in my new-ish rocking chair with a smile.

Thank you, Jenn! You can see more of Jenn's project on Behance.

Apartment Therapy supports our readers with carefully chosen product recommendations to improve life at home. You support us through our independently chosen links, many of which earn us a commission.
moving--truck moving--dates moving--dolly moving--house moving--cal Created with Sketch. moving--apt