Most Treasured Heirloom/Biggest Furniture Project

My favourite piece of furniture in our home by far is my grandfather’s armchair. He and my grandmother purchased it in the early 1960s in the United States and it remained in their home for the duration of their lives, moving houses (and countries) with them several times, even crossing the Atlantic more than once. After my grandparents both passed away, the chair came to live with me. It is my most treasured possession and the comfiest armchair I have ever sat in. I also have reason to believe that the design is Hans Wegner’s famous “Papa Bear” chair design, so named because the armrests look like big bear paws enveloping you in a massive hug. Seriously, I would try to drag this piece of furniture out of the house with me in a fire.

This chair saw very heavy use in its day and continues to do so. My grandfather sat in it several hours each day reading books and newspapers; in fact when I think of him, my mind inevitably conjures up images of him in this chair.

It has been reupholstered various times during its existence, most recently in the late 80s in a fabric that I, ahem, would not have chosen for it. Thankfully it wasn’t given shoulder pads too. Its original upholstery was a tweedy charcoal gray fabric, and thankfully my inner nerd has located the company that may well have originally supplied the fabric. I’m not willing to test my as yet non-existent upholstery skills on this lovely chair, so this one’s a job for the big boys. I know professional upholstery jobs are not cheap, but Mr. Bear deserves it. I’m thinking a fabric in a colour close to the original, or perhaps a rich teal colour that would look good with our chocolate brown leather sofa and all the blue in our art and pottery. A little love and restoration investment might render this chair a much-loved heirloom for generations to come.

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3 Responses to Most Treasured Heirloom/Biggest Furniture Project

  1. Brismod says:

    Wow! What a great piece to be handed down to you. I love it, even in its 80s garb. How fabulous it will look when it is reupholstered. Well worth the expense.

  2. John says:

    The Hans Wegner papa bear chair is one of the most comfortable chairs ever made. It’s actually stuffed with real horse hair!

    I say put some money into the restoration, these things usually sell around the $22,000 mark, so a good tweed and a professional upholstery is worth it.

    Look at the Hallingdal collection by Danish wool company Kvadrat:

    http://www.kvadrat.dk

    You can see some images of the Papa bear chair for inspiration at the P.P. Mobler website:

    http://www.pp.dk/

    • lavalotti says:

      Hi John, thanks so much for stopping by and for the links! The Hallingdal collection by Kvadrat is exactly what I had in mind; Bradley Quinn mentions the company in his book on Mid Century Modern design. My grandfather’s chair was originally upholstered in a charcoal gray tweed, so I’m thinking of perhaps going for that colour again. Do you have any recommendations for other shades that might look good? We’re currently saving up for the reupholstering of it because some of the quotes I have had are pricey indeed, though as you said, very much worth it.

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