Mellow Yellow Striped Rocker

In this edition of the Great Condo Makeover, we’re tackling seating.

Right now our living room has a grand total of 4 seating positions…all on our lovely IKEA couch. And that’s for small arsed individuals, such as Mr. RQ.

We like to have company over for board game night, and our guests are always improvising to find a space to place their lovely behinds.

When we first moved in I wanted to make a reading nook. Mr. RQ hated the idea, but my X chromosomes ensured a win in this battle!

After a long stint of fruitless searching for a good reading chair, I found this bent wood rocker early this summer at The cost? Absolutely free!

Bentwood Rocker Before Collage

 Bent wood is a huge deal apparently. I did some research and found similar secondhand  bent woods selling online for upwards of $100.

I’m not sure if mine is an original Thonet bent wood, but it’s still a beaut.

My colour scheme for the living room is black, white and grey with yellow accents.

I decided I wanted the chair itself to be an accent, so I went with a nice pale yellow paint from Valspar.

Valspar Bentwood Rocker

I did the usual: wash, lightly sanded, primed, then painted. In all it took about 3 coats of paint to cover the whole thing.

This was a little tricky to cover because there are so many hidden surfaces that are easy to miss because of the bent wood.

Bentwood Primed and Painted

 As you can see, this chair has no seat. Luckily for me Mr. RQ’s dad is super handy and super nice, so he cut a piece of wood for me.

Before he could cut it though, I had to figure out a way to get the proper seat shape and size.

I decided a traced template would be easiest, so I pulled out my eyeliner, traced the outer rim of the seat, then pressed some wrapping paper onto the eyeliner to get the imprint. Smart, eh? 😉

Cutting Bentwood Seat

Geo did a great job! Seat fit perfectly.

 I learned how to do upholstery (and I use this term very loosely,) last year when I saw this post about turning an old coffee table into a bench.

I like to cheat a little when it comes to upholstering. I don’t buy the expensive foam you’d find specially for the job. That stuff runs you $60-$80 for a piece of the 1-inch, let alone for something thicker.

Instead, I buy foam toppers from Wal-Mart. They’re meant for your bed, and it’s the same foam but A LOT cheaper. I got a huge queen sized piece for $19.99! That same piece of 1-inch ‘upholstering’ foam would have cost me at least $100.

I cut out a piece of leftover foam I had lying around. Because I had it ‘laying around,’ my dog wrestled it out from under the bed and massacred it.

I cut out a couple of pieces that would fit just about 2 cm bigger than my piece of wood, then secured it with some hot glue. I also cut out a piece of quilting batting for the top. This is to make sure your foam doesn’t warp too easily and take on the shape of bums as time goes on.

Bentwood Seat Foam

For fabric I initially wanted some gloriously modern, yet classic chevron like this lovely chair.

Grey Chevron Chair

Do you know how hard it is to find chevron in black and white? Impossible apparently where I live.

Instead, I looked for some simple fat black and white stripes. Again, near impossible.

So I drew on my memory bank of fabric locations and remembered that IKEA sells fabric. Lo and behold, they had exactly what I was looking for, and it only cost $7.99 a meter! Bargain!

Bentwood Fabric

So, upholstering can be tricky. You have to figure out where to lay your fabric, and which direction you want your pattern to run.

Make sure you stage things before you start cutting! You only want to do this once, so the “measure twice, cut once” rule totally applies here.

I lined up my fabric so a black stripe was running down the middle of my seat. I also folded the edges around to see how much excess I would need, then I cut the fabric .

I use a light duty staple gun that I purchased from Wal-Mart for about $5 – $10. I think staples can be proprietary in nature, so you want to make sure you’re buying the right staples for your gun unless it indicates the gun or staples are universal.

Upholstery Duo Bentwood

Stapling can be fun and scary at the same time ha ha! Use the staple gun carefully and please keep your fingers away from the staple. Never staple things when they’re sitting on your lap. That’s just common sense I suppose 😛

To get a more finished look, I like to fold the edges over slightly before stapling. This isn’t a must, but I just like having things look slick and professional so whoever acquires my items appreciates the time and effort that went into them.

Here’s a quick rundown on how I like to upholster to get a snug, even fit.  I’ll eventually post an upholstery blog one of these days.

1) Place your first staple in the middle of either the front or back edge.

2) Staple nearly all the way across, making sure to not pull the fabric too much. Do not staple down corners! Leave about 2 staples width unattached at each corner.

One Side Staple Bentwood

3) Flip over and do the other side, again starting with a staple in the middle. Pull the fabric taut so that it is not saggy in the middle on the seat side. BUT make sure not to pull too tight, because you need some stretch for stapling on the other sides.

4)When all sides are stapled, you should have 4 corners that are not stapled down.


5) This is when I tell you that I have no magic recipe for stapling down corners. I use the philosophy behind wrapping presents, and thus far it has worked well for me.

Unfinished Corner Bentwood

You should end up with something that looks like this.

Stapled Edges Bentwood Seat

Because the seat needed something to actually attach to, I used a few brackets to get a sturdy hold.

Attaching Bentwood Seat

Some of the staples didn’t penetrate the wood all of the way and created a gap between the base and the seat. I needed something to mask the space,  so I decided to make trim, also known as cording, to hide the gap.

I tried to make double cording using this tutorial , but I didn’t have the right foot for my sewing machine. (I promise I’m 28 and not an 80-year-old quilting granny haha)

I got some thin piping at Fabricland for $.75 (75-cents) a meter. I simply followed this tutorial I found on the web to make my own cording.


Bentwood Cording

I attached my cording with some hot glue, and pesto! Done and done.

I loves it!

But….I won’t be keeping it after all. I think it’s more suitable for a nursery than a mature downtown condo haha.

Bentwood After Collage

I’ll have to find a home for this pretty gal, which I presume will not be hard 😉

~ RQ



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