Every Study Needs a Fancy Chair

One thing that is 100% true about owning an old house – especially if it’s a big one – is that you end up with 1,628 chairs that you don’t need and don’t have room for. But that’s okay, because you want them and you figure out a way. Many of these chairs are given to you by people who say, “I have this chair, and it’s old, and I think it would look great in your house!” And, no matter how many chairs you currently have, there’s always room for ONE MORE so you never say no. Old houses are basically orphanages for chairs. It’s true.

Every once in a while, you buy a chair. ON PURPOSE. Which feels really weird, since you already had 1,627 chairs at home.

This is the story of that chair. Don’t worry, it’s not a novel.

Back when Madison Street Salvage was just a salvage place in a city warehouse, I bought this chair. It was posted online, and I told Doug, “We’re getting there when it opens and I’ll have a check ready so no one else gets it.” And, I got my way. This was 5 years ago. It’s just been a Lady-In-Waiting ever since.

It’s an ANTIQUE RECLINER. It has mechanisms much like a beach chair to lay the back down.

This was truly a “I think this piece is really cool but I don’t where it’s going to live but I’ll figure it out at some point” purchase.

Let’s talk about the fabric. I really dig it. But, it’s not in the best shape, and it’s really thinning. But, I do love it so much. The chair has two removable frames that have wood and metal and springs, just like a chair would have, but they are removable like cushions. This is the back, falling apart.

The seat bottom. The nice thing about this being built this way, is that it’s SO EASY to reupholster.

Here’s the frame without the cushions.

After much soul-searching and plotting and deliberation, I decided it needed to go in Doug’s Study. It just felt like a big stately armchair with a twist. But, that solved the issue of whether to reupholster or not. Which really, was the right decision I think.

I ordered a bunch of fabric samples, and this more-expensive-than-I-would-usually-buy fabric was my favorite. It’s a super thick velvet. Very fancy. And, with the way the chair is built, I knew it wouldn’t take a lot of yardage, which made the price of $52 a yard easier to swallow.

Also, this fabric is the exact reason you should always get samples. I used to not be a sample person, but I am a convert. This fabric was just “meh” to me online, but when it was in my hands, it’s was so different and modern and crazy – and I fell in love with it.

We took an upholstery class last year, and I’m breaking rules from it already. But I don’t feel bad about it. I decided not to de-construct the chair, because I want to leave the original fabric intact. Because a) I Love It, and b) Someday, someone might want to know what this chair used to be, and I like leaving the history. So, I left the fabric on, and just added a whole lot of batting to build the chair back up.

It’s like wrapping a present! the corners are the worst, and you have to cut a little away to make it work.

I used a few staples to keep the batting in place.


Next, I cut a piece of fabric bigger than the cushion, and begin the wrapping again – this time with more staples.


Same process with the seat.

Wrapped! The bottom is a little messier than I’d like, but it’s the bottom, so….. no sleep lost.

Here’s the completed seat on the frame!

Since the back of the frame is open, I also need upholstery on the back of the top cushion. I cut a piece of fabric just large enough to cover the staples of the upholstery in place.

And I stapled this in place.

Next, I went over the staples with a glue gun and some trim. I probably could have done trim that was small, but I like the impact of this.

Ta-Da! Also, the “mural bedroom” is a good workspace.

From the side.

Here’s the tag : Cook & Company Automatic Chair, patented January 29, 1901. By S.A. Cook & Company, Medina, New York. I LOVE that it’s 1901, and the house was built in 1902 – it could have been a very fashionable and realistic addition!

Here’s some information about the company from Kovels. Side note – Ralph Kovel was a business associate of my father (in restaurant goods, not antiques), so when I was little, I just knew he and his wife as “Mr. Ralph and Miss Terry,” and I was too young to really understand that they were antique experts and a REALLY BIG DEAL. I do remember visiting their house once as a girl, and it was magical, and the replica general store they had set up in their basement set my imagination ablaze. So, they may have been a piece of my “love of all things historic” puzzle.

Here is the mechanism for the reclining function. It’s like a beach chair!

Here’s the back.

Here’s me showing you how the reclining function works :

And now – model shots!

I love the modern fabric with the antique chair and the wallpaper. I also love the play on geometry between the wallpaper, the chair fabric, and the bathroom floor when the door is open.

SO MANY PATTERNS. I love it, though. I totally get why someone else wouldn’t, but it makes me smile and that’s my motivator!

The chair distracts from the goat a little, but that’s okay. I plan on hanging out in this little spot when Doug is working, so it’s really MY chair. Also, since we THINK this room was the original family breakfast room, I think having cereal in here form time to time is completely appropriate. Can you imagine a mug of hot chocolate, a magazine, and some cereal here? It’s going to happen.

SO CLOSE. Almost to the finish line. Some shelving to build, and then it should all come together. But so far, it’s looking quite regal.





  1. My parents have one of those chairs, but it’s a rocker too. It is literally everyone’s favourite chair because it’s so comfy lol

  2. Love it! I had to laugh, because when I starting collecting furniture for our 1889 house, I too, ended up with way too many chairs. In my case it is because chairs are more plentiful in my part of the country, and since we are splitting our time between two houses, two hours apart, I tend to forget how many chairs I already have when I find a cool one.

  3. The combination of that upholstery fabric and the wallpaper is making me swoon. Thank you for explaining why my house has so many extra chairs, and why I had to fight the urge to bring home a couple more last weekend!

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