A Pro Refinisher’s Adventure into Beginner’s Upholstery

Upholstery Demonstration

Wood refinishing and upholstery often walk hand-in-hand: when one is necessary, the other probably needs attention, too. Wear on the wood parts of your grandpa’s chair may or may not match the tattered condition of its upholstery, but if you’re going to the trouble of replacing the fabric, this is the perfect time to get the wood looking like new as well.

2 views, man with chair

Sean with his chair, before & after re-upholstery and wood refinish

Sean Harrigan is a professional wood refinisher in Livingston, Montana. Since he often has customers asking him to refinish the wood on their upholstered heirlooms, he decided to delve into the mysteries of upholstery by taking Living Home Furniture’s Beginner Chair Upholstery Class. He chose the ‘Mad Men’ office chair as his first project, and proceeded to disassemble and reassemble the entire frame:

chair parts laid out on a table

Sean’s chair, disassembled. Photo by Sean Harrigan

chair frame with clamps

‘Mad Men’ chair, reassembled, glued & clamped. Photo by Sean Harrigan

2 views, base layer plus built-up upholstery layers of seat

A base layer of hemp canvas over the springs, foam, cotton & dacron make a comfortable seat! Photos by Sean Harrigan

Upholstery instructor demonstrating technique

Upholstery instructor Carla Pyle demonstrates fabric application for Sean during the class. Photo by

2 students working on their individual Upholstery projects

Sean applies fabric to his chair’s arm as Deb cuts dacron batting for her chair during the workshop. Photo by

Learn more about the Beginner Chair Upholstery Class here.

About the Author

CarlaHey there! I'm Carla Pyle. I love the stories that our furniture tells. For me a picture of my Granddaddy Milton's green upholstered arm chair brings to mind the vivid rhymes & colors of 'The Cat in the Hat' and his soft low voice in the telling. I love too that there is always an element of nature in furniture - the warm-toned curving grain of a walnut leg or the reflection of life in a mid-century chrome piece. The best part of teaching & sharing natural upholstery is that it ties all of these things together. Stories - of individual experience and of the planet - help us build happy & healthy homes.View all posts by Carla →