DIY: Repurposing a Rocking Chair

My love of crafts doesn’t start and end with just crochet. I have creative ideas running through my mind 24/7. I think it comes from being part of a family of creative people. My mom is one of the most creative people that exist on the planet. She can see potential in anything and turn it into a masterpiece. My dad is a professional photographer and videographer, My brother, Nyle, is a culinary genius, and he is a professional chef and food artist. My other brother, Nabeel, is an incredibly talented musician and video artist. I am at the tail end of all this talent with a hook and yarn trying to stitch my way through the creative process with a few added detours to do a few other crafty things. Hopefully, my family apple hasn’t fallen too far from the proverbial tree.

Near my home, there is a Bethesda Thrift Shop that periodically has in-store sales. Last Friday, they happened to have a 50% Off on almost all their merchandise! I happened to come across this 1970s rocking chair that had a hint of musty smell coming from the cushions (ewww), hidden back in the corner of the store with a price tag of $8. Did I read that right!? $8.00??!! Does that mean it would be only $4 on the sale?? Surely, that isn’t possible?! Well, Shirley doesn’t work there, but Darlene did, and she confirmed that YES it was $4.00. WHAT A STEAL! I ran out of that store so fast, yet awkwardly, because carrying a chair like that isn’t easy when you are running.

I didn’t bring that into the house. NOPE. NO WAY! It stayed out in the driveway overnight while I combed over the pages of Pinterest looking for tips on what I could do to this chair to bring it back to life again. Pinterest never fails me. NEVER! Ideas were pouring out of me and before long a plan was hatched. By Saturday morning, I was ready to hit the ground running! My season of repurposing was about to begin and I was ready!!


Of course, Saturday arrived and my personal friend, Mother Nature, decided to bring clouds, cooler weather, and a forecast of rain. That deterred my planning ’til later in the day, but hence, I would not be stopped. I ran to the store buy paint, fabric, stuffing for the chair and other supplies needed for my project. I was looking for things which could stand the test of time and one day be in my “forever home.” I decked myself out in my super sexy sweatpants, bandana, oversized painting shirt, flip flops, and my trusty mask and decided to get the party started!

I began the process of disassembling things first and removing all the hardware from the chair. Once I removed the cushions and ruffle, the batting and cover underneath were gross and there were probably 45 years of skin flakes that came out in a ball of brownish dust, but if that was the worst of it, I would live. Whoever assembled this back in the day, (could not find a stamp or label) did a decent job, but the amount of furniture tacks used was astronomical. I had a bad thought cross my mind about someone who would do that, until I rethought that, and praised them for being so mindful of making a quality piece when this was once shiny and new.


This is where I stop and have a moment of reflection. Every time I embark on a new DIY project, I reflect back on the history of a piece. It may sound odd, but I think of whose home this belonged to. Who sat in this chair? Did someone rock their crying baby trying to nurse or to cuddle? Did someone’s Grandpa read his newspaper every night by the old lamp while his wife cooked him dinner? There is history in here. There is a story in this chair and I love that and the mystery surrounding the journey of what it took to end up in my care. That is pretty powerful stuff! Because of that, I always try to respect each piece and bring it back to life. Sometimes, items I find are so tattered and beaten, I just love to breath new life into it. Everything deserves that. Even people. Especially people. Ok, Ok, let me jump down from my metaphorical and philosophic soap box and get back to the nitty-gritty of this project.

Here is what the rocking chair looked like when I brought it home from the thrift shop:


These are the cushions. Just look at those cushions. Look at them for a little while. Did you see the steam boat? The pistol? That Anchor though!

Into the trash it went!


Here is a picture of the rocking chair without that filthy cushion.


I had to make a stop at the store for some supplies. Below you will see what I needed for this project.

These were the two colors used:


I got this fabric and some batting on sale for $4.88.

Once I added the priming coat and it was fully dry, I took this sponge with some Vaseline and applied it to areas that I did not want my second (darker) coat to stick. By placing Vaseline, it allowed for me to apply the paint and then later wipe it off when the second layer was dry. That way, the bottom painted layer shows through, making a distressed look. I also chipped at the paint a little and took a paint brush to it to give it a more worn out look.

I used a hammer, a sander, screwdrivers, and pliers.


Once I got all the fabric off the chair, I sanded it with a fine sandpaper. My glasses were fogging up during the sanding process!

Then I applied the first coat of primer. Once that dried, I spread the Vaseline on the edges and areas I wanted this color to show through.

Spray Paint can get a little messy!

See the video of me applying the second coat. Once the darker coat of paint was applied and dried, I took a cotton cloth and wiped down the areas where the Vaseline was applied. The rain forced me to do the rest inside.

I cut the pieces of Batting and Fabric to fit around the seat of the chair.
I used the tacks that came with the original rocking chair to secure the new fabric.

I may have hammered my thumb a few times and had to ask my dad for assistance. He generously helped attach the rest of the fabric.

I wrapped the fabric neatly around the wood posts since they were not removable and tacked it all underneath so it was hidden.

Voila!! Here is a before and after photo of this beautiful piece! 13150065_10204853580098780_1100234469_nI added a lovely throw pillow to jazz this piece up a little bit!



Have you repurposed a piece of furniture or something you’ve found at the thrift shop? Share your experiences by leaving a comment to this post!

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” ~Anonymous


4 responses

  1. I have an old dresser in the basement that I have been debating repurposing. You have inspired me! As the weather improves, I’ll be sanding and painting! ali

  2. I really enjoyed reading this! I may need to visit my thrift shop. I’ve been looking for a coffee table.

  3. In recent years my lack of funds has forced me to become even more crafty than I already was! I’ve been doing crafts of all kinds since I was a small child of ten years old. My mother used to teach me things, then my sisters taught me, and then the internet came along LOL. Do I even need to say more? In about 6 months I’ve gone from knowing only a few crochet stitches to now doing tough experienced level projects. Not quite professional yet, but getting there! I’ve repurposed quite a few pieces of furniture years ago. I was much younger (about your age lol) and had the ability to do it all. I had done a dressetr which started out with 9 coats of paint on it! It was so gobbed up with paint you could barely close he drawers! My mother refused to get rid of it and someone asked how the wood looked underneath. How would we know? haha. Then she said she would pay me to fix it up! That was it! I stripped off the paint, cleaned up the wood, sanded it, and added a light coat of stain and varnish to preserve it. IT WAS GORGEOUS! The solid oak wood was in perfect condition as it was preserved by all that paint and when I cleaned it up and gave it back its own color and shine you’d never know it was the same dresser! My mother was thrilled!

  4. I have the almost identical chair. The cushions and ruffle are green velvet, and it is not a rocker. The most original tags are still on it. “Distributed by Frank & Son, Inc. 470 Park Ave. South, New York City. 100 years mfg. 1863-1963”

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