a pair of Thonet lounge chairs

This is the “after” shot of these two lounge chairs by Thonet, from Home Anthology.

As is so often the case these days, I didn’t get a good “before” shot—just the one below of the lovely teal green vinyl that was original to the chairs.

I really wish I’d gotten one of the bent maple veneeer plywood arms/legs!  The original finish was glossy lacquer with no color added, but someone at some point had coated them with a very dark tinted varnish or polyurethane, maybe Minwax Polyshades.  It was streaky and they really looked like they’d been dipped in molasses.

Rob and Nini at HA had them refinished and now they have their natural color back with a smooth, satiny feel to it.


The fabric is Knoll’s “Rivington” in the Paprika colorway.  It has a vintage look that suits the chairs, and the color looks great with the maple.


These chairs have a curve to the back that fits the body beautifully.  Very comfortable!


The fabric was too bulky to fit onto the button blanks but fortunately I had this Italian glove leather in a red that matched perfectly.  Nice, huh?







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7 Responses to a pair of Thonet lounge chairs

  1. brad chenoweth says:

    I recently purchased two lounge chairs that match this chair at a flea market. One is slightly larger than the other: one in robbins egg blue the other salmon naugahyde. I don’t see any manufacturer tags or designer identification. Can you tell me what year(s) these are from and/or who the manufacturer was?

    • MCR says:

      The ones I reupholstered were made by Thonet, as mentioned in the post.

      edited to add: sorry, I missed your other question! I don’t know the timeframe for manufacture of this particular Thonet chair but am guessing it was 50s-ish. The frame is very similar to Mathsson and Aalto chairs that were designed in the 40s.

  2. Ann Gasser says:

    I’m starting an upholstery class next week and using Rivington in Paprika my pair of MCM chairs. What a thrill to find your site and these pictures. I’ll run into the same challenge with the button blanks, I imagine, so could you provide any specifics on the Italian glove leather?

    • MCR says:

      Look for cabretta leather, or lambskin or maybe a lightweight calfskin. I’m not sure of the grades, I just go by how it feels. You could also just take some Rivington to an upholsterer and see if he can get it to work with his button blanks. Many upholsterers will make a few buttons for you for a low fee. Don’t use the button kits from the fabric store; they’re made for garment use and will pop apart on furniture. Good luck with your chairs!

  3. Pingback: 49 samples of orange upholstery for my new midcentury modern sectional - 7 finalists - which to choose? - Retro Renovation


    Hi. I bought 2 “Bill Stephens for Knoll” bentwood lounge chairs at a flea market. They need some upholstery TLC. as the arms are worn a bit and there are some areas that need to be sewn back together. Most upholsterers here in the St. Louis area say that they are glued, and it’s too much labor for them (if they would touch them at all) I have received a bid, but it’s way too expensive for me. I don’t understand why it would cost so much. Perhaps you could explain for me. I would be most appreciative. I will try to get some pics to you. They are gorgeous chairs despite the flaws!

    • MCR says:

      If you want to send photos, my email is info @ modernchairrestoration (no spaces).

      That said–I have never seen this chair in person. I don’t know how it’s constructed and I’m not counting on being able to figure it out from photos because I’ve run into too many pieces with quirks that aren’t obvious until the upholstery is removed. I’ve also redone quite a few mid-century pieces whose designers didn’t really factor in ease of reupholstery. The frames of traditional sofas and chairs are specifically made to be reupholstered many times.

      Second, reupholstery is generally expensive more expensive than people expect it to be. Most of it is skilled labor and there are fewer upholsterers around now than there were a few decades ago because it’s usually cheaper to buy a new inexpensive sofa or chair than to have the worn-out one redone.

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