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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

Chaise Longue Restoration: A DIY Project

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Translated from French, Chaise Longue literally means ‘long chair’.

Chaise Longues were created in the early 19th century by French furniture craftsmen for the rich to rest without the need to retire to the bedroom.

Today, the chaise longue is seen as a luxury item for the modern home, often used to complement a home's décor in living or reading rooms, or as a stylish boudoir chair for bedroom seating.

You can find out more about these on this Wikipedia page.

This Chaise Longue was purchased with it's original material upholstery. The upholstery was torn in the seat and the wood frame was faded from the sun. Even in it's tired and worn out state, it looked beautiful and I just had to buy it.

I'll show you how I brought this piece back to the timeless beauty and made it a stunning piece of furniture once again.

Get ready for the Chaise Longue Restoration. Assess the condition.

Before I begin any restoration, it's important to assess the condition of the article.

I took a close look at the upholstery and the frame to determine what needed to be repaired or replaced, look for any signs of damage, such as tears, stains, or loose joints.

This helps create a plan of action and gather the necessary materials and tools for the restoration process.

In this case, all joints were solid and apart from superficial damage, there were no serious issues to deal with.

Remove the existing upholstery and fabric.

The first step in restoring this antique chaise longue was to remove all existing upholstery and fabric. All the foam and webbing were also removed.

I was left with just the wood frame. That gave me the opportunity to examine the piece "under the hood" to make sure there were no hidden structural issues.

First I cut away the fabric, allowing me to then access the foam. Both the fabric and the foam were firmly secured with staples from it's previous restoration.

Sand and refinish the wooden frame.

The frame was then sanded (by hand), starting with a medium-grit sandpaper to remove any existing finish or paint from the wood and in the direction of the grain to avoid damaging the wood fibres.

Once the old finish was removed, I switched to a finer-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the wood. Sanding the carved areas was difficult as the sandpaper did not get into the grooves so I used my rotary tool with fibre pads to get into the nooks and crannies.

After sanding, one should always wipe away any dust with a clean cloth so that the finish can be applied.

I used a shellac polish (otherwise known as French polish) as I am not a fan of standard wood stains or varnish. The polish was applied five times to give me that deep rich look and bring out the natural colour and grain of the wood.

Reupholster the chaise longue with new fabric.

Well, actually, I did not use fabric. I chose an upholstery leather, in the colour we wanted for its place in our lounge.

I first put on the webbing, which forms the base on which the foam sits. The webbing is then lined with calico then the foam added on top.

The next few hours was spent on shaping the foam to fit the design of the chaise longue. I use a standard electric meat carving knife to start the shaping then a rasp to do the final shaping.

Once the foam was shaped and carved, it was then lined with Dacron. This is to prevent the leather from 'balling' the foam.

Here came the hard part - fitting the leather to the seat and back-rest. Leather has a certain amount of stretch, but still needs to be cut to prevent folds and wrinkles.

The leather was roughly measured (purposefully oversized) and cut to fit each section of the chaise longue, leaving a few inches of extra leather for folding and securing.

To prevent damage to the frame that upholstery nails can make, I used a staple gun to attach the leather to the frame, starting with the seat and working your way up to the backrest.

Excess leather was trimmed off. This chaise longue did not have buttons so I got away with that one!

This chaise longue restoration took six days to complete and the results are shown in this album.

See other repair and restore work in this link.

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