Treasures from Grandma’s Basement: Part 2

Next up in the Grandma’s Basement series is the beat up old rocker. I had just started my upholstery class at the local community college when my grandma said she had a great chair for me to redo. Okay, I love a challenge but when I saw this thing I had my doubts.


I am by no means an expert upholsterer and this chair was a mess. The springs needed retied, one of the braces was broken, the arm was cracked in half, there were little worm holes in the wood and it was so old the stuffing used was straw!

rockerredo3 rockerredo2

I only took it because I love my grandma dearly. Luckily it isn’t a family heirloom or anything. She had purchased it at an auction forever ago and was planning on fixing it up someday. So it sat in her basement until it was gifted to me.

The first step was stripping the whole thing down.


I used wood screws, wood glue and wood putty to repair the arm. I thought about staining it for a minute but I hate the sanding and stripping involved plus the wood was pretty beat up. I decided to paint it white so I made it easy on myself by using Annie Sloan’s Old White Chalk Paint which requires no priming! A sample jar was actually enough to paint the entire frame.

Once the frame was ready to go. I had to figure out how to retie the springs. I looked online and checked out books from the library. Nothing really looked like my spring set up but I thought I had figured it out. Many frustrating hours later I had a nice tightly tied rounded seat. I was so proud of myself. I tested it out and immediately the springs fell through the bottom. At this point I think I actually cried, although the pregnancy hormones probably were partly to blame for that. I spent a while longer working with the springs and finally decided to take them out, cut a piece of wood to fit and call it a day.  I added foam and batting to the seat and covered it with some great fabric from The fabric is a little thin for upholstery but I liked it so much I used it anyway. I used this tutorial on how to make double welt cord. To apply welt cord just hot glue it over the staples to give a nice finished look.  I think the chair turned out pretty well and looks cute in our nursery.



I can’t believe how different this chair looks! What “treasures” have you found lately?

rocker diy  b4 and after

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17 thoughts on “Treasures from Grandma’s Basement: Part 2

    • Thank you. Too bad my grandma moved and doesn’t have a basement anymore. I do have a couple more items to makeover from her basement though.

    • Thanks so much! Springs are much more comfy but the board worked too. Hopefully someday I will learn how to tie springs correctly!

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  2. Thank you for posting this. I bought an old chair from a yard sale a few years ago and was told by the seller she thought it was dated from around the civil war. She sold to me for $15. It was in horrible shape. The fabric was so torn and there were mouse droppings all over the fabric. We tore off the fabric and found it was stuffed with horse hair. Yes, horse hair. But the painted frame is in excellent shape. I’ve been so scared to try and reupholster it myself. Seeing you transform your piece gives me a little motivation (and hope) to tackle this piece myself. Your chair is beautiful.

    • I’m glad I could help. At least for $15 you really have nothing to lose. I bet your chair will look great when you are finished. I have 6 dining chairs I am hoping to get to this coming year.

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