The club chair is a timeless classic that we like to find at flea markets or pass down through the family from generation to generation. It is therefore rare to find it in perfect condition. For your armchair to regain its former glory, it needs to be restored. You have two choices: call on the services of a professional upholsterer or, if you are good with your hands, do it yourself. To find out, we explain in detail how to restore an old club chair.
Restore your old club chair in 7 steps
Have you found a beautiful club chair with an intact frame, but the leather is in a sorry state? Here are the 7 steps to follow to restore your interior furniture to its former glory. For each step, be as delicate and meticulous as possible. In this way, you may be able to approach the quality of a craftsman’s restoration work.
1. The stripping
The first step is to remove the upholstery from the chair. The skins, upholstery and even the strapping are removed if it is damaged. This allows us to measure the extent of the damage, to clean the frame and to consolidate it if necessary.
The straps are the “floor” of your chair: the tighter they are, the better the support. Don’t forget that they carry the weight of the seat, so their function is essential. The straps must also be tightened on the backrest.
3. The lining
The lining is the installation of the springs and their attachment. These are what ensure the proper suspension of your chair. This stage in the restoration of your chair must be carried out with great care. Indeed, a badly fixed spring could twist. Finally, the whole thing should be covered with strong canvas, a thick and resistant jute fabric.
Club chairs are traditionally upholstered in horsehair. This is a delicate job that requires the expertise of a professional. Nowadays, horsehair is sometimes replaced by foam: it is less resistant, less expensive and easier to install. The horsehair is then covered and wrapped in a filler cloth.
The last step in the upholstery process is to whitewash the club chair. The application of a white cotton fabric allows the fabric or leather surface to be changed at a later date, without having to redo the entire upholstery.
6. Laying the leather
A thin layer of wadding separates the white fabric from the decorative leather to prevent rubbing and ensure a longer life for the seat. For club chairs, full grain sheep leather is normally used. It takes between 6 and 8 skins to cover a complete chair.
This is the last step in the restoration of your chair. The colouring is personal and depends on the final aspect you wish to give to your chair. Patina work is an art in itself!
Methods for making club chair leather look like new
Restoring the leather is one of the most important operations when you want to repair a club chair. Indeed, depending on the degree of wear, it may be necessary to cover it with a new tanned hide (or fabric) or to give it a new patina. You can choose from “cognac”, “honey” or “havana” coloured basane. We recommend that you use the services of a professional to change or restore the cover of a club chair. The moistening and drying operations required to fit the new leather require highly specialised know-how. If your “club” dates from before 1950 and if you have no budget constraints, opt for a traditional restoration.
Professional club chair restorers can also repair more localised damage to the leather. Such as cracks, scratches or localized discoloration. The craftsmen strive to restore the appearance and suppleness of the original hide. The main operations carried out consist of cleaning and then applying nourishing products to the leather. They are generally completed by a patina, a process that consists of repeating cycles of dyeing and waxing until the desired appearance is obtained. These steps are similar to those carried out during the manufacture of the seat. The leather will then regain a shine and tone very close to the original colour.
For the restoration of your leather chair, be patient!
Even if you entrust the restoration of your club chair to a professional, you should allow at least two weeks for the work to be done entirely by hand. The hides alone require two full days of drying. Quality takes time!
The right plan to temporarily rejuvenate your chair
Do you want your club to look more modern while you wait for a thorough restoration? Cover it with a thick cotton canvas! With the many patterns and prints available on this type of fabric, you will easily find the fabric that will enhance your chair. And if, despite all our advice, you feel that you need professional help to restore your club chair, contact us!