In my post on my dining room and dining table, I showed a before and after of the waiting room chairs from the 1970s that I have reupholstered. I’m going to go into a little more detail now in case anyone else is looking to redo similar chairs and could benefit from my process and what I learned.
The chairs were made by Jasper Seating Company in Jasper, Indiana. I can’t find a specific date on any of the tags on the chairs, but the style is similar to Danish mid century modern. The wood is listed as Walnut and is very pretty even still. I contemplated sanding and refinishing them, but in all they are in great shape and I wanted to leave them original if I could.
My parents purchased them for their dental when they launched in 1974, but I think the chairs had a previous owner because the tag on the bottom list the customer as SHREX. These chairs are likely between 45-55 years old and its amazing how great they still are. One was even still being used in an operatory at my Dad’s dental office before I snagged them.
I worked for my Dad over the years during high school, and again after college, and it was during one of those stints that I discovered four of the chairs being stored in the back room of the office basement. One chair was being used in a hygiene operatory, as I mentioned, and another one of a slightly different style was being used in the staff lounge area. At the time I didn’t have any place to put the chairs so I left them there until after Zach and I got married and I could use them in my own house.
I purchased my fabric from Joann Fabrics. I considered ordering some fabric from a retailer with more selection, but after a visit to the store I found exactly what I wanted so there was no need. I researched the style of chair to figure out how much fabric I would need per chair and found some charts that said I should have a yard and a half for each chair. This was way too much fabric. Even though I thought I needed 6 yards, I only ended up purchasing 5 yards of Nate Berkus Wareham fabric for the seats because there was not enough on the roll for 6. I am pretty relieved that there wasn’t because that would just be more fabric leftover in my closet now. I think in all I used a yard of fabric per chair or less, so the estimate of a yard and a half was way more than enough.
The fabric was originally $50 a yard but thankfully it was on sale and I got a large additional percentage off for signing up for Joann’s coupons. for $500 of fabric I ended up spending less than $250 for it, and that was including the 3 yards of black faux leather for the back rests.
I took the back and seat cushions and began to remove the hundreds of staples connecting the fabric to the seat base. I kept on original cover to use as a template for the new covers and tossed the rest. I skipped some of the details like the seam down the sides of the seat cushions in favor of simplicity.
The original foam on the chairs was in unbelievable condition. It wasn’t dry rotted in the least and was still incredibly comfortable. I reenforced it with some new batting but otherwise decided to save the $ and stay with the old foam.
I attempted to use upholstery tacks that were folded inside the fabric like the originals but it was pretty hard to work with and didn’t want to go through the pleather . Instead I decided to use upholstery nails in a brushed pewter and I love how they turned out.
The seats I didn’t really document because it was very simple and just like doing the backs. The key is to keep the material pulled taught and just fold it well, stapling as you go. Super simple and anyone could do it.