The King’s Chair

January 17, 2011

Several months ago, I found a cane arm chair at a thrift store and just had to bring it home.  Something about its shape spoke to me.  As I mentioned before, I had every intention of placing it in our master bedroom, as a place for ‘The King’ of this castle to take off his shoes at the end of the day.  Unfortunately, over the course of this makeover, ‘The Queen’ happened to fall in love with it, and thinks it might just belong downstairs. 

I stripped it down to its frame before the holidays began, but sadly, it was cast aside for the frenzy of Christmas crafts and holiday décor.  I tried to finish it before Christmas when I discovered how to make double welt cord, but then my last needle broke and the chair was returned to the garage.  This past weekend, I returned to this project, and finally finished it! 

Here is the chair ‘Before’:

chair before

And ‘After’:

camel velvet chair after

I kept it classic this time.  I didn’t pick a snazzy modern fabric or the latest geometric for the upholstery to wow you.  Instead, I chose a neutral camel velvet because I wanted it to be a timeless piece ~ one I could rotate throughout the house based on whim, feeling, and mood ~ all the things that dictate furniture placement in my home these days. 

Here’s the brief ‘How To’:

First, I stripped the chair down to its frame, then gave it a coat of RustOleum’s ‘Canvas White’ gloss spray paint.

chair bare frame


Note, there is a basic wood frame with springs that sits inside the seat of this chair (not shown).   I stretched the velvet to fit the back of the chair and stapled it in place.

back fabric

Next, I added new foam, batting, and then the velvet on top, all stapled in place with a staple gun.

foam batting fabric

For the new cushion, I used the old fabric as the template.

use template

Do you have disappearing ink pen?  They’re a fabulous magician’s tool for marking your fabric before you sew all the pieces in place.  The ink disappears the next day. Genius!  I found mine at Joann’s Fabrics in the sewing section.

disappearing pen


I stitched up some basic piping in a casing like I mentioned here and then a simple slipcover around 3” foam for the entire seat. 

foam and piping

I attached the foam wrapped in batting, and new slipcover to the wood seat frame mentioned above, then attached it to the chair frame.  As a last step, I attached my double welt cord with some hot glue.

double welt cord


There is one thing I learned from this latest makeover: it will be a long time before I reupholster anything with velvet.  It is not a forgiving fabric, rather, it’s a temperamental stretchy diva of a fabric. 

velvet piped cushion

Is it absolutely perfect?  No Siree.   Is it good enough for me?  Yes indeedy!

I am rather proud of the back, it is lovely.

back of chair


Do you approve of the new lattice pattern wool rug?  I exchanged it for the blue version you saw here.  If you love it too, you can buy it from RugsUSA.  I had big plans to take this chair upstairs and let ‘The King’ use it for himself.  Alas, I think it might just have to live downstairs for awhile to make ‘The Queen’ happy.

chair in living room


Speaking of The King, have you seen ‘The King’s Speech’ ?  We saw it this past weekend, hello Colin Firth?  Incredible!  I’m in love love love with Mr. Darcy.  And he won the Golden Globe for ‘Best Actor’ last night!  

As great at the story was, I also loved the cinematography.  Several walls throughout the film took my breath away.  Some were the gorgeous wallpapers from Lionel’s home (Geoffrey Rush who plays the speech therapist), big props to the film’s set decorator and art director.  The wall in Lionel’s office just mesmerized me.   Layers of muted but colorful plaster, like a giant piece of abstract art.  Stunning! 

kings speech wall in office

I highly recommend the film, but note I’m a lover of well acted period dramas that tug at your heart strings!  This one definitely qualifies. 

What about you?  Dragged anything home from a thrift store lately?


cg kate signature



Tags: ,

129 Responses to “The King’s Chair”

  1. What a beautiful chair! I desperately want to learn how to reupholster!

  2. Caro says:

    Love the chair! You did a great job and should be proud. I really like the rug also. Good choice.

  3. janet says:

    This chair is stunning!! I have a chair that’s just sitting around waiting for this kind of face lift……..just trying to get up the nerve to do it!

  4. Caycee says:

    Amazing and beautiful, as is everything you do!

  5. Trisha says:

    The chair is perfect and looks great in the living room. I love the neutral color choice for the fabric. It is timeless.

  6. sara says:

    GREAT job! I love it!!!!

  7. Erica says:

    That chair is gorgeous! Great job! It will definitely fit into any room you decide on! Such a classic timeless piece!

  8. Lori says:

    This is beautiful, and I don’t think I ever would have thought it would have ended up looking so classic when it started out so dated. Really well done. Would you please fill in a gap or two for us, and tell us what you used for the support under the seat, maybe post a photo of that part of the process if you happen to have one? Thanks.

  9. Melissa says:

    This chair is georgous! I have been looking for a great chair for our master and found one just like this yesterday at goodwill. it had crushed green leather upholstery. Sadly, someone had already beat me to the punch and she already had a sold tag on her! I guess I’ll have to keep looking! Great job!

  10. Oh what perfect timing! Im taking an upholstery class right now and documenting the process on my blog! And I have also chosen a velvet! Yikes! We’ll see how it goes….

  11. Oh and might I add… yours looks AMAZING!!!

  12. Wonderful!

    Makes me want to try to find something similiar and try it.

  13. Julie Zoller says:

    So love this… I am working on a fabulous chair, excited to get it finished…I am a new bloger and love your inspiration…check us out at

  14. The new rig was the second thing I noticed, right after your lovely *new* chair. You did a great job, Kate. You’re a decorating diva who knows how to work with diva fabric. ;) Have not seen The King’s Speech yet, but that’s on my list. I love Mr. Darcy, um, Colin Firth. ;)

  15. Oops…that should have said new “rug” as I don’t see a rig in your living space…sorry… :s

  16. tammy says:

    What a wonderful make-over of the chair! Absolutely beautiful….I am wondering what made you change out the blue rug for the new one? I like both but the blue one was so lovely :(

  17. Michele says:

    I’m working on getting the nerve up to do my first upholstery project– what kind of stapler do you use?

  18. J&JHome says:

    You are just amazing! The neutral color is just gorgeous.

  19. julie selby says:

    I am very impressed with your chair, but I wanted to say that I LOVE your new color rug! I am amazed at the difference. Your room has stepped up to WOW!

  20. Sabrina says:

    Ohh what a difference! Just curious…what did the bottom (under the cushion) look like? I’m in the middle of renovating a similar one picked up from a thrift store and mine also has a cushion that needs to be redone…it will be the first time I’ve attempted sewing a cushion – eek!

  21. Heather says:

    It looks great…no apologies, it looks pretty perfect to me!
    FYI, they have similar dhurrie rugs at Garnet Hill for less. Not wool, and a little scratch, but nice. We got one for our basement.

  22. You chair is stunning, as always!

    And to answer your question: YES! I found two wing back chairs on CL for $25 each. They were sturdy and the foam was in good-ish condition. Needless to say, I snatched them immediately.

    Then I called some people to get some reupholstering quotes. WOWZA! To say I had some severe sticker shock is a HUGE understatement. I won’t lie,… I thought of taking them Goodwill. But in the midst of talking to one of these people, he asked about my chairs and told me this specific brand was and is excellent quality and worth well over $1200 each. So, my husband and I are considering tackling the reupholstering project ourselves. And even though we’ve googled reupholstering wing back chairs ad nauseam, this project REALLY intimidates me.

  23. Thanks for the review, being a Brit I’m attracted not only to period drama, but also Colin Firth!! I really want to see the movie, the Queen Mum seems one of the last true ‘ladies’ and the story of the ‘man who would be King’ is intriguing. Now i just have to find a friend to go with!
    Fabulous job with the chair, another gorgeous, timeless piece! I wonder if you ever have castoffs?? I’d be more than happy to drive across country to pick them up :)

  24. Victoria says:

    Pretty!! I really like the velvet even if it was tempermental.

  25. Tanya says:

    Wow! That looks great. I love the classic colours you picked. I have DIYed kitchen chairs and stools, but I haven’t tackled something this complicated. I definitely need to take a class. I just paid to have a vintage teak chair professionally reupholstered. Frankly, it looks awesome now & I have no regrets, but serious upholstering skills would be a great skill to have.

  26. autum says:

    I just redid a similar chair, and used contrasting colors. Gray for the chair and cream for the piping. Now I’m wishing I had kept it all the same color. Yours is just lovely.

    I also saw the King’s Speech over the weekend and fell in love with Mr. Firth. Such a good movie. I am normally annoyed with profanity in movies, especially overuse of the F word, but this movie made me laugh out loud, literally, at the dropping of the F bomb.

  27. Kathy C. says:

    That looks fabulous!! Awesome job!

  28. Jo-Anna says:

    Wow! This is so pretty and classy!

  29. Pam T. says:

    Awesome upholstery job, Kate! Love the color with the rug & the rest of your room. Thanks for the link to Rugs USA – – – I might have to hand over some $$ to them!

  30. the chair is gorgeous! I vote for a win for the Queen! :) Love the new rug too! Have a fabulous day!

  31. Meg says:

    This is gorgeous! And the rest of your home looks amazing as well!

  32. anne says:

    loooved the king’s speech – also nice to have a Colin Firth movie that my husband also really enjoyed watching :)

  33. Rachie says:

    You did such a great job! It it totally transformed! I need to see the Kings speech!
    Rachie xo

  34. Pam says:


  35. Cheryl says:

    Gorgeous chair! What an awesome transformation, Kate! You’ll love it for years to come.

    I too am in love with Colin Firth and was thrilled when my husband suggested we watch The King’s Speech last week. He had no idea who Colin Firth was, though! Loved the movie.

  36. Shannon says:

    I love how it turned out. Very gorgeous piece- and I like that you went with the neutral. I am a big neutral fan. :-)

  37. Jennifurla says:

    Amazing, I have always envied people who can make a pice new again. Gorgeous.

  38. Jennifurla says:

    Amazing, I have always envied people who can make a pice new again. Gorgeous.

  39. LiveLikeYou says:

    Great chair and GREAT makeover. I’m so impressed you can do all this yourself!! yes I saw “King’s Speech” one of my favorite movies ever. Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth were insanely great!!

  40. Jill says:

    This chair is absolutely beautiful!!! I HEART it so much! I have been looking for a chair like this for such a long time, but the cane is always broken! What a great find and you did an amazing job recovering it! BEAUTIFUL!

  41. Your chair is stunning. I love the soft beige velvet with the white. It definitely is a classic. Gorgeous. Hugs, Marty

  42. impressive! it looks lovely! :)

  43. What a great transformation! Thanks for the detailed instructions…you made it seem less intimidating. Now I’m on the lookout for one of these chairs myself! :)

  44. MJ says:

    I love it!!

  45. Tre chic!!!

    And I freaking LOVED that movie. And Colin’s speech last night left me breathless! I just knew he was as wonderful in real life as he was in film. : )

  46. I love the how-to, gorgeous and sleek and clean. Plus, thanks for the heads-up on the King’s Speech. Have been wanting to see the movie and now there are plaster walls to see as well? No more calls, we have a winner. LOVE your blog.

  47. Great job! The detail is excellent, I agree with keeping it classic. That chair has enough style it doesn’t need to compete with any type of print.

  48. Julie says:

    Wow! I love how easy you made this look. Check out my blog at :)

  49. sarah says:

    It’s beautiful! I like that you went with the timeless fabric too. It will always look chic!

  50. Traci says:

    Looks fabulous, Kate! I have never re-upholstered with velvet. Good to know it’s a Diva. :)
    It turned out great, though. I love the simplicity. And I really do love the rug too.
    Have a great week!

  51. Shelley says:

    LOVE the chair! It looks so beautiful and classic. Definitely meant more for a queen than a king :)

  52. Michelle says:

    Gorgeous! I absolutely love it! I have three chairs to upholster and have been so afraid to do it. I’m definitely going to follow your tutorials for help.

  53. Abby says:

    Wow, I’m impressed with that upholstry job. You should earn a couple of medals, one for courage, one for patience, and one for going above and beyond the call of duty. Beautifully done!

  54. christi says:

    You did a beautiful job on the chair. I’m afraid that when you mentioned the word, “sew”, that I realized that it was a project that was out of my league! :) I have a chair that is similar, and I would love to give it a face lift, but I’m afraid that I would ruin it because I can’t sew a stitch!

    By the way…I LOVED the King’s Speech!

  55. The chair is beautiful! I will keep the invisible ink pen in mind when I finally redo my dining chairs that were a curb rescue. I love rug too!!!!

  56. Michaela says:

    I love how you redid it! I think you did the right thing in keeping it classic! I hope the Queen enjoys it (:

  57. the chair came out amazing!!! you did an awesome job! xo

  58. Kasey says:

    Oh wow, it looks gorgeous! Great job!!!

  59. Beautiful my dear, Kate! You do gorgeous work. See you soon!

  60. Erin says:

    The chair looks fabulous! What an amazing job you did!

  61. Alice A says:

    Thanks, Kate for sharing the “how-to’s .I am going to re-do a chair soon with Sheeting fabric(a great buy from SteinMart that I saw on Chinoiserie Chic) and the chairs were garage sale buys… years ago! ( Better buy what you really like, cause… when it’s a deal… you end up keeping it For-Evah!)
    Saw the KIngs Speech last week, and can’t wait to see it again. You are so right in your description…. everything you could want in a movie…..and a perfect ending too… I also enjoyed seeing the great wallpapers, , and I will listen closely this next time to hear Lionel Logues remark regarding the plastered wall behind that SENSATIONAL French settee… drool …
    Ooh,Love that new rug too!

  62. valerie says:

    wow! That chair is divine! Love that you chose timeless fabric and neutral….love love love….you are so talented! I mean really….talented and your tutorial is fine too!

  63. That is a gorgeous chair! LOVE.

    Also, we’re going to see The King’s Speech this afternoon! Saw Mr. Darcy win last night, so I thought I’d getter hop to it.

  64. Heidi M says:

    My favorite MKL quote! Love the revamped chair– plan to hit the thrift stores this weekend myself! Enjoy your treasure. :)
    BTW, The King’s Speech is on my “to see” list for sure!

  65. Debbie W says:

    I love the chair – I’d keep it for myself too! I’m curious if your hubby like mine often says “another piece of furniture? REALLY?!!” lol

  66. marielle says:

    WOW..what an amazing job…I am going to try to redo this awesome old chair my dad found on the street and gave to me….it’s very intimidating so it’s been sitting in my bedroom for the past year with its ugly yellow stained cover on it…puke-orama….seriously…why can’t you live next door to me and be my best friend…ughhhh…
    but…anyhow…thanks for the inspiration- maybe I will actually work on it this week after seeing yours!!
    <3 marielle

  67. Okay I know this post is about your chair (fab!) but I love the MLK Jr. quote (one I never heard from him) and I love the new rug!! So pretty!

  68. Amazing job!

    Where did you buy your foam for seating? Any recommendations on thickness and density? Thanks!

  69. i knew he’d be white and regal and i was right, most indubitably Colin Firth worthy, swoon I love that man

    your fellow “lover of well acted period dramas that tug at your heart strings” and admirer of all your beautiful creations, beauty and peace!

  70. Shelly says:

    Gorgeous! I love this chair! Nice work!

  71. Love it! How come I can never find chairs like this when I go to markets, they are always ugly!

  72. Tania says:

    Love the King’s chair and the King’s quote. You are so talented!

  73. sharon says:

    love the chair, plan to use your ideas on a project next month.

  74. Mary says:

    LOVED the king’s speech! i almost cried when colin firth won best actor at the GG’s last night.

    my latest project is a vintage window, diamond paned, that i want to spray paint with mirror paint like a project i saw either here or on another blog, can’t remember..

    ps- i broke tons of needles on my sewing machine before my friend pointed out that i was pulling the fabric toward me impatiently without realizing it, instead of gently guiding it.

  75. Sue says:

    Oh, I can see why you love it! It turned out gorgeous!

  76. Kathy says:

    This isn’t specifically related to your chair, but I love the things you do. I saw this from Better Homes and Gardens, and thought it’d be something to store in your idea bank for who knows when…

  77. Chair looks great!! I saw the King’s Speech on Saturday, I loved it, so happy to see Colin win last night. I’m buying the dvd when it comes out!!

  78. AP says:

    I just started to reupholster my cane arm chairs this weekend too! I’m going to try to finish the back the way I disassembled it, but I’m going with your tutorial if that doesn’t work. Thanks for the tips.

  79. Joy says:

    i just saw The King’s Speech this evening and was too MESMERIZED by the wall coverings…his office, home and the palace too! Nice to know someone else was thinking the same thing! (PS: loved the movie too–especially as a speech therapist. I almost cheered out loud! )

  80. phoenix says:

    Your chair looks amazing! I’m so impressed with your DIY savvy!

    I have this cane wing-back chair ( that I picked up from Craigslist a few years ago now for $30 that I thought I’d paint white and re-upholster. I’d be perfectly fine with a spray can but was overwhelmed by the prospect of screwing up the upholstery job so 3 years later, it’s still sitting as is, at my mom’s house. I’ve done dining chair seats but button tufting, etc. is beyond me. At the time I asked a re-upholsterer for a quote but she told me the cane couldn’t be painted – I’m glad you’ve proven her wrong! I’m not yet brave enough to tackle this project – nevermind that there’s no room for it in my condo! Perhaps for my next home! :)

  81. I love that you kept it classic, I think a lot of time people ruin those chairs by putting a crazy pattern on it….good job!

  82. Amanda H. says:

    I have a chair similar to that I picked up at Goodwill for a whopping $6.99. There is one tiny hole in the caning on the side but it is down near the seat and hardly noticeable. I love the fabric actually- its in great shape and minky brownish color- but I want to paint the wood. Its been sitting as is because I’m still trying to figure out how to do it without removing the fabric or ruining it.

  83. Kelly says:

    Beautiful chair! My heart skips a beat when I find a chair as cool as that one. I just posted a tutorial on double welting. I made mine just like your’s. And yes, cutting on the bias really helps you turn the corners so perfectly! Love it! If you ever need supplies, check out Rowley Co. They have everything! And very fast delivery. I stock up on all of my supplies with them.
    I hope one day to find a chair as unique as your’s. You did an amazing rehab on it.

  84. Erica says:

    Hey!!! I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now. It’s one of my very favorites and I check often for your talented updates!! The chair is gorgeous! Another amazing project that you make look so easy. But, I’m actually wanting to know about the rug UNDER the chair…. We need a new rug for our living room and I’m digging yours. Can you tell me where you got it? Thanks!!

  85. Shaunna says:

    Yep, this might be your best one yet. Love the caning, the cording, and that delicious camel velvet. It really is stunning! -shaunna :)

  86. Tiffany says:

    Lovely chair! And yeah – velvet is a pain, whether you are making clothing, costumes or upholstery…

    About the disappearing ink pen – they also make them in light colored ink for dark colored fabrics. A better choice than chalk if you are going to be handling the fabric alot while getting it sewn together.

  87. Allison says:

    Gorgeous chair, Kate! I love the velvet with the white and what a beautiful job you did It is fit for Queen Kate! Great quote on faith.

  88. Jessica says:

    Great looking chair! :)

  89. Great tutorial – thank you for this. Your chair is sweet…love it. I am perusing the aisles of Salvation Army looking for a chair right now so I can try this new endeavor of reupholstering! You make it seem effortless! Enjoy being queen!

  90. Athena says:

    Kate, the chair looks amazing. You did a wonderful job. I’ve yet to try a reupholstery project, but you make it look easy.

  91. Yarnista says:

    What a fantastic job you did! I love how bright and light your room is, too.

  92. I’ve been wondering how to reconstruct a chair. I saw some frames on craigslist but felt i didn’t even know where to start. thanks for this tutorial. i’m on my way to cl to see if they’re still available!!

    and colin firth! oh my puttering little heart. love, love, love him ever since pride and prejudice. swoon! so i will also see the king’s speech. :)

  93. LOVE the chair (and the rug—- if I didn’t have a messy kid and a chocolate lab, I SO would own!). So many bloggers I find are from back east so nice to see one from Northern CA where I’m from (live near Seattle now). Course, Northern CA to most people is probably San Francisco LOL and I lived closer to the mountains. Thanks for sharing!

  94. Wow! I have been anxiously waiting to see the final product ever since you wrote about the double welt cord, and it was definitely worth the wait! Great piece! ~Barbara

  95. Brenda Moore says:

    Classy in the class of First!

  96. Jo says:

    WoW just fabulous…. fit for a Queen, love it :)

  97. The chair is absolutely divine! I love the neutral fabric you used on this one. I, too, like to be able to move furniture around at whim.

  98. Leeanne says:

    Where is the rug from??? Love it (love the chair as well).

  99. Irene says:




Leave a Reply