Hans Wegner “Papa Bear” Armchair Reupholstery: Transformation Complete!

After a month away from home, our beloved armchair has finally returned from the upholsterer’s, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of its former self, or returning–fresher, tauter, and somehow younger-looking, like an aging trophy wife after a prolonged stay at the cosmetic surgery clinic. Forgive me for bombarding you with pictures, but it’s been a long time coming. For those of you who are new to the blog, this armchair belonged to my grandparents and was given to me by my parents. It had been reupholstered several times in its nearly 50 year past, and was in dire need of rejuvenation. See befores here. In order to do this flamboyant and special piece justice, we had it reupholstered in the same wool blend fabric made by the original fabric manufacturer, Danish company Kvadrat. The colour I chose is not the original charcoal grey shade, however, but shade #640 from the Tonus 3 range. For those of you with mid century furniture in need of reupholstering who are wondering whether shelling out for Kvadrat’s fabric is worth it–I’d answer with a resounding yes. It has a very rich feel and look in real life and is made to withstand heavy use. Also, you can rest assured that you are using fabric and fabric colours that are period-appropriate for this kind of furniture: covering a Wegner chair in chintz or flashy velvet might be cute as a short term magazine stunt, but the lines of this furniture are really quite interesting enough not to need any patterned bells and whistles. As most of you know, I agonized over which of the many beautiful shades to pick before I settled on 640. Now that it’s here, I am very happy with my choice; I think it will be very forgiving when it comes to possible stains, the colour is rich and changes pleasingly from the more berry-toned to an almost muted chocolate depending on the light, and it commands attention without looking garish around our other things. Unfortunately, our cats appreciate the comfort of this chair too, so my current solution is to protect the new fabric from paws and fur by hiding it under a sheepskin…ah well.

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13 Responses to Hans Wegner “Papa Bear” Armchair Reupholstery: Transformation Complete!

  1. Jan says:

    Wow, der sind 1000-mal besser aus als vorher und Familienerbstücke sind sowieso am Besten, ich muss meinen Sessel von meiner Oma auch mal beziehen lassen 😉 Liebe Grüße, Jan

    • lavalotti says:

      Hi Jan & dankeschön! 🙂 Was ich an Erbstücken so super finde, ist dass die auch nach 50 Jahren oder mehr noch halten, Charakter haben und qualitativ hochwertiger sind als die neuen Möbel die ich mir leisten kann, ha!

  2. brismod says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow. It looks amazing and I like your fabric choice very much. And look at all that delicious pottery you have scattered around your home. Love. xx

  3. Corry says:

    Wow indeed. It looks like a completely different chair. The fabric certainly shows the lines of the chair off beautifully. The colour looks great with the rug.
    I hope the cat appreciates his luxurious throne!

  4. lavalotti says:

    Thank you 🙂 We were relieved that the chair turned out well. The cat, of course, thinks it’s his cat-given right to sit on the nicest chair in the house.

  5. Joe says:

    Been wondering if you had the chair back from it’s make over.
    It looks great and very comfy, move over cat!
    What a great family heirloom.
    I am going to try to re-upholster a retro rocker I inherited from our house move, I have ordered some fabric and got myself and electric staple gun and some books from the library but now I see your chair I am having second thoughts.

    • lavalotti says:

      Joe, if you’re dealing with a simple seating cushion plus back cushion concealed by the wood backing of the rocker, you may well be able to do a good job yourself. I once redid the seating covers of a set of kitchen chairs. Our armchair, however, has really tricky lines where proper seams had to be constructed and so on, there is no way I could have done a good job on my own. Also, the tools are pretty pricey once you assemble them all. 🙂

  6. Joe says:

    As I am now discovering, the more research I do the more tools I need. I think it might be time to contact a re-upholsterer.
    Or keep them shabby for for a little while longer whilst the children are small!

  7. Ted Camesano says:

    I have this chair, upholstered as you have, with a one-piece back, rather than paneled. I have always assumed that this was a shortcut by the upholsterer. Am I correct? If not, I won’t have to be tortured by its lack of authenticity.

    • lavalotti says:

      Hi there, I assume you’re right in that it’s simply a shortcut of the upholsterer. Many won’t tackle a project like this at all because the shape is quite fiddly and somewhat complex to upholster well, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the one-piece back being a sign of an inauthentic chair. I wish I had seen ours in its original fabric state, but my grandparents had it reupholstered several times in the almost 50 years they owned it before passing it on to me.

  8. Don H. says:

    Greetings and congratulations on your reborn Wegner Papa Bear chair! Found this page while researching for a quality upholsterer to re-cover my original Papa Bear and ottoman. My parents, now deceased, purchased ours in the early 1950s and I have photos of my sisters and myself sitting in it in 1959 in our home in Sacramento, CA. I know of at least two re-covers done by them and I have had the chair for about 25 years, much to the delight of my entire family and several dogs, who have all declared it their favorite chair in the house. I am currently in search of a good and trusted shop which would tackle this tricky job for us. We are currently in Arizona. Do you have any suggestions for nearby references? Don’t know where you are located, but I expect if I keep searching, I may get a nibble. Thanks very much for your great photos. Looks like a beautiful job was done to bring yours back to style.

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