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?


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129 Responses to “The King’s Chair”

  1. Love the chair! I have been looking for a rug like that, thanks for the link. I was able to find a coupon code good for January and bought it for an additional 20% off.

    Here is the code for anyone interested. WSJAN20

  2. Stephanie says:

    Love the chair, love Colin Firth, and loved The King’s Speech!!! That’s a whole-lotta-love for today’s post! :)

    No recent trips to the thrift stores … I’ve grounded myself from going until I do something with the things I picked up LAST year! My New Year’s Resolution!

  3. The chair looks AMAZING! Love the color/fabric you chose! And to think where it started! :)

    – Lauren

  4. The chair looks great! I love that carpet!

  5. Nicole says:

    Hey, can you tell me what kind of staple gun you use? I need to purchase a new one, and since you do so many projects, was wondering what kind you used.
    Thank you.

  6. Daniela says:

    What a great job you did with the chair, and l too LOVED “The Kings Speech” fantastic movie, and of course it helps that Colin Firth is in it, brilliant acting. The funny thing was that l too was eyeing Lionel’s office wall, l kept thinking what an amazing backdrop for a photo shoot it would be!

  7. wendy says:

    It looks lovely! Much better, thats for sure :)

  8. Not only did you find a great chair but your redecorating instinct was right on. I love the camel velvet. If the chair ever needs a new home…… :)

  9. Katrina says:

    Wow, I’m totally impressed! It looks wonderful. You are very talented!

  10. You really did master that velvet. :) Thanks so much for linking this up to my party, Kate! :)

  11. Saundra says:

    Your chair is perfect. I wish I could find thrift store items at a reasonable price! I saw similar chairs like that this past weekend with price tags of $225 each. I know that’s less than new ones, but it’s not “thrift” prices to me!!

  12. Anastasia says:

    Haha – my first thought of the after picture was to get distracted by the beautiful rug :) Thanks for sharing the info on it! I’m looking for something similar for our living room :)

  13. Sherri says:

    What a happy coincidence that I happen to be home instead of work and caught you on Nate! My whole house is thrift, side of the road treasures. Great website from one of your new fans!

  14. alicia mitre says:

    love this web site, just found you kate and will never let you go, tremendous inspiration!! god bless, xoxo

  15. Joyce says:

    Beautiful upholstery job! I’m trying to get my nerve up to try re-doing a wing chair as we speak. I got distracted by your beautiful room though, do you mind sharing your paint color & where you bought the rug?

  16. Nikki Kelly says:

    This looks just stunning! AND thank you for the tutorial on double welt cording. It really helped me in my latest upholstery project!

  17. Kristin says:

    I saw this when you originally posted it and just saw it again on CSI Project and can I just say….Ah-mazing! Love the VELVET.

  18. Oh Kate…this chair is beautiful! I just purchased my first upholstered chair with intentions to sew up my very first slipcover…wish me luck.

    You did a wonderful the welting.

    Now go back to that thrift shop and find a chari for ‘The King’

    Janet xox

    PS…If my hubby goes before me, I am hunting down Mr. Darcy!

  19. sorry Kate…..It’s 5:36 am….to early to spell the word ‘chair’ correctly ;->

  20. Mama B says:

    Great tips on the recover of your chair and it looks very french! I just love furniture rescue, its like going to the pound for a puppy, the piece is just sitting there saying “please take me home with you”

    I have started on a chair I picked up for nothing and now you have inspired me to finish it.


  21. Ashley says:

    OH MY GOSH!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE you chair! My favorite thing in design is making old look new and you totally accomplished that here! I don’t think I am quite as handy with the sewing machine, but when I sharpen my sewing skills, I am totally going to try this!!! Thanks for the inspiration. I am a new blogger ( so I am always looking for inspiration for new projects!

  22. Jenn says:

    Love the chair! In the middle of a similar project myself and having major issues w the piping. You really just hot glued yours and it’s completely durable? It looks amazing!

  23. Charlotte says:

    Where did you get the fabric? And what’s the name? Looks beautiful!

  24. yolanda says:

    OMG!!! you have inspired me to do a project like this. granted i would start out small but what an EXCELLENT job with this chair. love it love it love it!!!!!

  25. lbn says:

    I would appreciate very much your help with the name of the staple gun — I have a similar chair and can’t find a staple gun with long nose that is either electric & small. — is that right?

  26. Elizabeth says:

    What sort of foam and batting did you use for the chair back? I have dining chairs that need new backs, but I have no previous back on them to work from. Thanks!

  27. Layne says:

    The back of the chair does look very nice! I like the simple elegance of your chair. Velvet gives a rich look without needing a lot of color. Velvet is not much fun to work with. I used velvet for drapes and discovered the hard way that the fabric stretches. I had to hem my first set twice.

  28. Jill Flory says:

    I LOVED ‘The King’s Speech’! And I loved that wall too :)
    I came over looking for your double cord welt. Miss Mustard Seed sent me over when I asked if she knew of a tutorial for using it!

  29. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Jill, thanks so much! the link is here:

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