This chair originally came from Holland in the 1950s when my grandparents immigrated. My grandfather recently passed away, and on one last visit to their house my dad let me take this chair. I remember my grandfather sitting in this chair at his desk while the grandkids played in the shop.

This is my grandmother with the storage container of furniture when it arrived in Canada.

Picture from the 50s

The chair had sentimental value, but was fairly worn out. The legs were wobbly and the fabric was dirty and worn. First I took all the old upholstery off, then I sanded all the wood down using 80 grit sandpaper. I added a few more screws to the legs using a countersink bit, and got Tony to make wood plugs to fill the holes.

Antique chair

Then I was ready to stain. Yes I stained it in the bathroom. I used minwax stain in espresso, then did three coats of polyurethane using a foam brush.  Minwax espresso is a really warm dark brown colour.


For the seat cushion I cut a piece of plywood using a jigsaw in the shape of the seat.  I cut some 3 inch foam in the shape of the seat, covered it with a layer of soft batting, and then the fabric.  Then I flipped the whole seat upside down and knelt on the bottom of the seat as I stapled around the edges.  I worked from the center of each side and pulled the fabric very tight as I stapled. That was the easy part.

Next I attached a piece of fabric to the back of the chair using a staple gun. Then I put a layer of batting on top and used a few dabs of hot glue just to keep it in place.

Then I used some webbing material to make a sort of weave on the back of the chair to give it some support.  I have never done a chair like this before so I wasn’t totally sure what I was doing, but it seemed to work.

Then I put two layers of soft batting on top of the webbing, then the fabric. I decided to do a nail head trim to attach the fabric because that’s what was on the original chair.  The perfectionist in me wanted all the nails to be perfectly spaced but that was very difficult to do. I bought a nail spacer tool that was supposed to space the nails evenly, and  used a tack hammer, but it was pretty rare that I got 5 good nails at a time. They would always seem to go wonky with the last hit.

I started with a nail in the middle of each side and worked my way to the corners, folding the fabric under and pulling tight as I went. This is how the back turned out – not quite straight or perfect but not bad for my first time working with nail heads.

Antique chair makeover

And here’s the final chair.  I think it turned out quite nice.  I love that it’s from my grandparents and is a great reminder of my family history.

Antique chair from Holland

Dutch wood chair makeover

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