thonet chair rehab

This post was made possible exclusively by the time and energy of my dear mother rooting around warehouses for hidden gems.


I wish I could say that I would have looked at this chair, dirty and amidst all sorts of other junk, and felt like it was a diamond in the rough. But I think my mom is unique in that respect.

(PS, when you’re envisioning this warehouse that she dives through, think about it like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter where he hides the Half Blood Prince’s textbook and eventually finds the lost diadem of Ravenclaw. But dirtier, and policed by a kind gentleman missing several of his teeth who goes by “Old Dave.”)


My mom did the hardest part- removing the upholstery and sanding it down. She saved the outside cushions to use as templates.


I chose a gray stain, because I wanted it to be modern but also show the wood grain coming through. I actually had to mix the gray with some black stain to get it to be the right color- the one I bought looked a little too blue on its own.

And yes, I stained this inside my apartment which was a really idiotic thing to do and resulted in a headache that lasted for several hours. I don’t understand how people get addicted to sniffing glue.


I agonized over a fabric choice for the cushions. Did I want to go neutral, or with something really wild? Should I choose something really soft and comfy, or go with something retro like vinyl?

I ended up choosing this one to pay homage to the original yellow cushions. Re-covering cushions is pretty easy- just try to cut off the old covering on the seams, and then use it as a template when you’re cutting the new fabric. Be sure to leave yourself about 1/2″ extra on all sides for some seam allowance.

I didn’t photograph that part because I was probably still high from the staining.


AND I found a way to incorporate a little piece of the original.


These things go for $300-$400 online. Guess what my mom paid? $25. She made sure to preserve the original Thonet tag on the inside so I could prove its authenticity.

I keep hoping if I brag about her enough, my mom will start a website and do this professionally. Although I do appreciate being one of her exclusive clients.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa Ryder says:

    Nice job on the chair. Kudos to you and Momma Mar bear, The apple don’t fall far from da tree. xx

  2. Mary Beth Harfmann says:

    Well, I know what I’ll be doing when we head to the cuse this summer…your mom will have to make a list of her warehouse stops for me and my sister-YAY
    Great job on the chair!!

  3. pathalewilson says:

    Looks great Erin. I like your fabric choice, and the strap!

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