Updating a 1940s Kroehler Rocker

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I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. My chance to update a Kroehler rocker has come at last. You may have seen these chairs around…my step-dad has one in his man-cave. I see them listed on Kijiji often. And, unfortunately, I see them curb side on garbage day once in awhile.

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I’ve been wanting the chance to upholster one for a long time, to see if these old-fashioned chairs could be made a tad more contemporary.

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Stripped down, the chair looks like this.

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It’s got a nicely curved side that I wanted to simplify. It was previously a little choppy looking, with the piping dragged to the back this way.

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I started, by adding a thick layer of bonded polyester.

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And I made a capped seat with piping.

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Here’s the shot of the side. The side border was created in one piece, which I think makes it look cleaner.

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Once the arms are back in place, it looks quite sophisticated. What do you think? Does it look more contemporary with the new changes?

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11 thoughts

  1. I like what you did with the seat cushion. The look is ‘tighter’, more refined. Doubling the buttons pulls the eye down a little, effectively ‘shortening’ the back – works better with the cushion. Nice job!

  2. I just has a similar chair reupholstered, but am very disappointed with the job, after seeing what you have done. How much would you expect to pay to a local small upholsterer for the job. ?

    1. Prices will vary widely, with a number of considerations, including the overall condition of the piece. If you are in a major metropolitan area, upholstery shops can and do charge premium rates. You will probably be able to find someone who works on their own (not a big shop) and their rates would likely be lower. Be careful of the quality of craftsmanship. Look for someone with excellent references, because many people are self-taught, and don’t actually know what they are doing. To answer your question, for a chair like this, expect to pay $250 – $600.

  3. It looks fantastic! I have 2 very similar rockers that need to be reupholstered. One has its original 1965 Kroehler tag and was bought for $25. The other, slightly larger, is very dear to me; I have a picture of my mother holding me as a baby, sitting in the chair – the photo was taken in 1956. The older one was re-done about 25 years ago and needs an update. The 1965 model has been well-loved by our cats.

    I’m inspired! THANK YOU for the great information! I’ll be carefully looking for someone with special skills here.

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