I need your help

Dear prudent people who read Prudent Baby, I need your advice. During my trip to Canton, I acquired these two adorable rocking chairs. What should I do with them?

Should I leave this one as is, maybe just give the wood a dark stain? Or re-upholster?

I definitely want to reupholster this one. It has a crazy 1976 bicentennial fabric. You remember, it was on your grandpa’s recliner? But should I keep the box pleat style at the bottom? It needs some type of skirt. Should I paint the wood? What color scheme? I want it to work for a boy down the road, is that not realistic? Any fabric ideas?

I have plans to actually get to some of these thrifting makeover projects this month because (1) they are starting to pile up and it’s embarrassing and (2) I’m going to have my third child in January and will never have time to do anything ever, ever again. What do you think? Make it good and you will win that pretty Alexander Henry fat quarter up there.




Oh, that is such a hard call…I can see why you are asking for input! But, I don't think I know yet. I adore the "oldness" however, they would look spectacular with a new coat and some purdy fabric. Decisions, decisions…good luck!


I think you should wrap them up and ship them to me so my two year old and I can get a better look at them in order to give you prudent advice. You see, I get inspiration when I can touch and feel (steal) items and I see it as the only option here. I'll send my address right away.


is that a handle on the top one? bizarre. i believe in the power of a coat of white paint and some fresh fabric… maybe some laminated cotton for that one? and for the other… yes, either dark stain or bright paint, and ditch the fabric but keep those precious box pleats.


I think you should try to sand/stain the bottom one and put a simpler box pleat cover on it. The armrests are ultra curvy and a more tailored skirt would be best, I'd think. What about a buffalo plaid or an awning-type stripe? I feel like I want linear-oriented fabric to combat with the curves if it's for a boy.

The top one makes me want to reupholster it in some kind of fun oilcloth (and lose the handle).

On the flip, I like the idea of a buffalo plaid on the top rocker as well (esp if you decided to go the boy route w/the top one)!


It depends on where they are going.

I like the shape and color of the top one. I can't tell what that fabric is. If it's not too weird in person, do nothing. Maybe just add a fun pillow or throw to make it a little more cozy.

I am not a huge fan of the fabric or color of the second one. At least change the fabric or, if possible, remove the cushions. If you have time or it would look better with what else is in the room, paint or stain it.

Good luck!


I would recover and stain the top one – wood can be so pretty I hate to see before/after pics where it gets covered in paint πŸ™‚ I like the handle for ease of moving (since little people always move their chairs where they shouldn't be) even if it looks a little odd. But that's my practicality speaking – if its the right price and functional I use it no matter what it looks like, lol.


I would paint the second one a bright white and use one of Anna Maria Horner's oilcloth fabric on the seat…I've been meaning to do that on my dining room chairs because they are getting gross after only about 5 months since I last reupholstered them! Toddler's and furniture don't mix! lol they are adorable chairs!


I would give both of them a dark stain, and re-upholster with coordinating fabrics. I feel the best neutral fabric for boys, that is still really cute, is a chocolate courderoy. Yes, keep the pleats.

Laura Webber

I LOVE all of your beautiful photography- so I'm not teasing you at all… but the perspective of your chairs, to me, looks like they are for a doll house! I had a hard time figuring if you were serious about restyling them or not! Enjoy your project!


I would recover the first one – and for the second I think it would look nice painted white with a green print! Then it could work for boy or girl πŸ™‚


I would recover both, but keep the first one with a wood stain. I think with the upholstery on the first one you could be quite daring and loud, as the chair itself has nice clean lines. With the second one I think it would look fabulous sprayed white with a dark denim upholstery. I'd keep the box pleat skirt too.

Laura @ ON{thelaundry}LINE

um, actually, I'm pretty sure you need to give that first chair to me, so I can stain the legs a dark wood and then reupholster them in a totally impractical but thoroughly awesome white faux fur.
And the bottom one… hmmm… for a boy, for some reason I'm thinking along the lines of classic red and/or classic navy blue… It's up to you, you will have more time to think about it after you fedex me that top chair, anways. πŸ˜€

princess granola

those are adorable. i especially like the first one b/c it is so unique.

for the first one i'd stain it darker adn reapholster it in something like laminated cotton in a bright print. or solid red or orange..but that's just what would go with my house. πŸ™‚

the second one i would paint a blue-greenish color and use a dark brown duck cloth for the fabric. i'd use simple pleats and another shade of the blue-green color for the ties on the top and as airplane (or something else) appliques on the skirt.

i might also change the arms on the second one…it looks like it would be easy to remove them and replace with something simpler..that might work better for a boy.


I think I would leave the first chair as it is. For the second one, what about a jeans fabric? I certainly would leave the would like that, I love thar kind of used finish. You found two very nice chair!

Eva Scott

My grandparents have the exact same chair as the second one just with a different fabric, but equally crazy yellow/greenish fabric! I loved it as a little girl!

As for fabric choices, I just saw this this week on Fabricworm and shared it with a friend. I am loving these new fabrics. Very cute boy choices.


And keep the box pleat style. So cute! Painting it white or light orange would make the fabric pop. I like the old school original color of it also though.



For the chair up top, I would spray paint the wood red and reupholster with a black and white patterned fabric. I really like the idea of using polka dots, flowers, or a geometric pattern.

For the bottom chair, if you were going to do it for a girl I really like the thought of having some kind of tutu skirt or fringe hanging off of it. If you wanted to go more unisex, I would probably paint it chocolate brown so you could accent with either a pink, purple, or blue.


At first I thought these chairs were doll sized.

I think the top chair should be re-upholstered with a simple print/solid oil cloth, and stain the wood dark.

The bottom one should get new pillows/coverings. I like the idea of a wide wale corduroy keeping the box pleats for an old man kind of a look. I personally like the wood the way it is, but if you want to paint it, go for a bright color (red or orange).

Good luck with figuring out what you want to do. The options are really endless!


What great rocking chairs- my kids love them. I would stain the top one and reupholster with a fun fabric. I have a similar one as the bottom one. I painted it white and covered it with a bold, fun, bright stripe with no skirt. I did add a little more padding. It actually is my son's favorite chair to read in at night. Good luck with your projects.


Just my opinion but Don't You Dare Paint the Wood!!! Wood should be stained (well nice wood). You can buy Mohawk spray stains if you really absolutely have to "paint" something, but these should not be latex painted. I think the top one is great as it is but I could see it with something a little more colorful or interesting. I do think, however, that it needs to remain clean and "mod." The lower one is very feminine with the light wood, shaped arms, tied on cushion, and pleated skirt. Needs a darker stain and I agree with the corduroy or plaid fabric suggestions. Something with a little bit heavier feel to it. I think I'd do away with the pleated skirt – cute as it is. Too bad your woodworker has run away – bet she could make you some super manly arms for that thing. With detailed measurements, she probably still could. They are both really cute chairs and I'm sure whatever you decide will be stellar. Sad face for going to Canton without me : (

Seaweed and Raine

Love the top chair! Keep the upholstery, and go with a sand & stain (maybe add a groovey cushion?).
The bottom one is busy. Boys are busy enough… (I know, I have 2!) give it a denim treatment or something of a nautical nature (not that boys are REALLY naughty by nature!!! [I know, stupid punn intended]).
Check out these if you like πŸ™‚
or this
What ever you decide to do – have fun with it! πŸ™‚


Yes, you do need help… Oh you meant with the chairs! Three will be a joy but boys are totally different than girls, that is another blog and a whole new book, I am sure. Back to the chairs.

Don't you just love kid sized furniture?!?!?! I love the clean lines of the first one but I do think it needs new upholstery or a cute little slipcover and a little tlc with some furniture wax and it will be better than new.

With the second one I would paint it for sure. Either neutral paint (white, grey, sandy beige, navy, black, silver, gold, pearl) OR go bright and vibrant (purple, cerulean blue, muted lime green, turquoise, orange, bright pink)! It is kids furniture it should be fun!!!

For both: A fluffy (thick) seat and padded back cushion that is tufted with some fancy covered buttons!

The one you choose for the girls use a big loud print and some fun and frilly ruffles.

The one for the boy no ruffles, box pleats, or skirt of any kind (sorry) and a masculine print maybe some hounds-tooth or a bold diagonal stripe (like a man's tie).

OOOH… so many options, glad I don't have to decide (obviously I can't make a decision) πŸ™‚ Can't wait to see what you do!


if they were my chairs (which obviously they are not, duh!) i would stain the wood of the first one darker or maybe just use a good oil to freshen it up. for the second one i would paint it black (because black just looks so clean and crisp and can easily be transitioned to boys furniture.) i would recover it but it takes me forever to figure out my favorite fabric and we just don't have time for that here. oh-and i personally would get rid of the box pleat. of course it will be gorg no matter what you do. thanks for letting us makeover furniture vicariously through you!


My first thought upon seeing the first one, was to paint it white and upholster is something gorgeous and bright like Anna Maria Horner Innocent Crush fabrics. I think the clean lines can stand up to some fussy girly brightness! But if you want for a boy later – how about use fabric paint and a refrigerator stencil to put a "boy" design on the seat back? Like a white background with a stencil of a firetruck or something?
As for the second one, it has such a "country" look to it, that I say go with the lines of the chaair. Make it an updated, modern, country chair. Get some fabric with chickens on it or something. I am imagining some Robert Kaufman or Alexeander Henry fabrics with roosters/chickens! Paint it a coordinating country blue or green.

Or just give me the chairs. πŸ™‚


definitely reupholster both and refinish both to a darker stain. i really like the first chair. super cute and lots of potential.

Jill @myheartisyoursblog

I feel bad about saying this but I am a huge fan of this new martha stewart color. I saw it in her newest living issue. She painted a chair a dark plum color. It was such a cool color. You should do the top chair like that And recover with a cool Alexaner Henry pattern to match.

As for the bottom, I would paint it orange for the boy. Obviously if it would match his room maybe would be better. Actually, Maybe keep the wood, restain it and re-cover it in an orange color. Orange is such a great color that I don't think people use enough.


Leave the top one alone. It is a perfect find! I would paint the second one a minty green to match the other chair and maybe use the cute cowboy fabric on Fabricworm?


I've been seeing a lot of crocheted bicycle seat covers lately, and that is the first thing I thought of when I saw the first chair — a crocheted slip cover! The second one just needs a cute new fabric update.

Rising Designs

The first chair looks like you could just leave it alone. Or with your great talent why not add a silhouette "cut-out" with that new machine of yours? Maybe you could use some type of sticky vinyl or even paint a stencil.


Top one: leave the clean lines of the wood but reupholster the seat in something very neutral {white or off white}with crazy texture like cable knit {old sweater} or faux fur.

Bottom one: Darken the wood with pain or stain and put a super modern, bright, large pattern on the seat.

Very cute chairs. I'm jealous.


The second chair should totally keep the box pleats and have a simple fabric… but you should put pockets on the skirt so that it can be used for a reading/knitting/crochet chair… everything would be right where you need it! If it's for a kid I totally would do the pockets for bedtime favorites.


I changed my mind…I agree that the bottom one should be black, and I think you should do a black and white pinstripe fabric. Are you going to chare–I mean, share–the after photos?!

Little P Design

I am also having to make decisions about what furniture goes with the girl room and what goes with the boy room, so I feel your pain. Take my opinions with a grain of salt coming from a preggo woman who's due in a few days….could be considered a little wacko! After looking at these two pieces for a few minutes I definitely think that your chair #1 is more masculine that chair #2. I wouldn't change a thing about seat #1's wood except put a good lacquer on it. I like the current cushion color, but if you need to match I would stay with a simple one color. As for chair #2, it definitely needs color. Paint it white, black or some other strong color. The grain doesn't look as good as chair #1 so you should cover it up. Then do a simple bottom cushion in a bright, fun fabric. The spindles are enough of a design feature that you shouldn't have to cover them or the bottom with fabric/ruffles. Good luck with all the ideas and enjoy the project!


SO ADORABLE!!! What great finds! So I am thinking for the first chair, which has GREAT lines, that you should stain the wood a dark color and then reupholster in a teal/brown print (I am seeing concentric cirles of brown over a beautiful teal. The prehaps a small round chocloate brown accent pillow made out of the minky dot fabric. Ooooo snuggly!
And for the second chair, since you were thinking of giving to the "little boy who lives down the lane", a deep navy upholstery with perhaps a superman emblem on the back (or dino or other such character he may enjoy), leaving the wood as is (if it is in nice presentable condition, or just a light sanding and a good coat or two of Poly) but instead of the box style pleat skirt, perhaps make a couple of poakets on either side for books, paper, pencils, an action figure or two. This still leaves a "skirt" (which are right about, the chair needs it), but a more utilitarian take on it and leaves the chair a bit more boy. Love the chairs!!!!

Sweeter Hours

Oh what potiential!
First chair: Give it some love by removing the cushions ( by unscrewing possibily?) cover with some batting, then a pretty child's fabric ( I love the alphabet ones. I would leave the wood as is so that it looks like you updated a modern classic.

Second chair: Total revamp. The style of the chair is a bit old so I think that if you paint it a funky color and re-sew some covers for the pillow seats ( or make new ones) it will automatically look like a successful redo of vintage.

Love them!


You should totally reupholster both of them. I'd either paint them each a different color (one girl-friendly but bright, like a coral or lavender, and maybe blue or green for the boy) and upholster them in the same fabric, like this one: http://www.fabricworm.com/dajatiptopca2.html
Or paint them both bright yellow and reupholster them in similar, but more gender-specific, fun fabrics.

Ali Smith and Noah Thomas

I love grey, aqua and orange for boy's room!
The dark wood rocker: Yes, keep the wood and maybe do an aqua fabric or aqua and brown to contrast:
For the bottom one, a rich, pale grey or pale blue-grey for the frame with orange fabric, but definitely get rid of the skirt!
This would be sophisticated for a boy but still playful and they are such cute chairs, great find!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *