Furniture Refresh: Reupholstering Andover by Davis Allen for Stendig Dining Chair
January 6, 2024
About 15 ish years ago I was browsing through the Out of the Closet in West Hollywood as a broke college student. Thrifting for a cause and because I needed clothes and if I was lucky something new to me for my apartment. I came across this gem of a chair for $15. I loved it at first sight. Even though though the seat was sunken in and stained, the curved lines and the deep black lacquer drew me in. I knew it was good quality but I wasn’t very well versed in furniture design (and still ain’t) to know exactly what I was looking at.
Ever since I bought it I had been promising myself that I would clean it up and recover the seat. It took over a decade and several residences later before I finally rolled up my sleeves to do it. It was then that I discovered how precious a gem this was. I lifted the seat to check for a brand seal and found glinting back at me: Andover by Davis Allen for Stendig. Made in Italy. I immediately searched it up to find that I had an authentic original chair by the famed architect and product designer Davis Allen.
Updating the Stendig
Andover by Davis Allen for Stendig Before
Andover by Davis Allen for Stendig After
Down the rabbit hole I fell to learn more about the history of the chair. (This article is a great summary about the chair’s designer and its history.) I appreciated the history of the chair and I liked the original fabric it had, but I knew that my reupholstery effort wasn’t going to stay completely true to the original. For one, I went with an entirely different fabric weave and print that better suits my room; and for two, I increased the thickness of the seat because I could not find a way to salvage it otherwise. The seat is a solid wood frame with a center hole cut out for sitting. It looks a bit like a toilet seat. This explains why it began to sink over time. Even with the firmest foam, with no underlying support, sinking is a foregone conclusion.
Besides, I liked the beefed up seat. It’s just more comfortable to me and I don’t think it throws the visual line of the chair off at all. Learning that this chair, if I restored it to its original glory would resale for upwards of $800 had me speechless. Though I have no intention of selling it, seeing as how the world has a monetary value for it I’ll need to get it added as line item on my renters insurance.
The fabric I used was a $4/yd canvas from Joann Fabric. Unfortunately, I’m unable to find a resource for the fabric as of publishing, but if I do I’ll update the resource list at the bottom of this post. I purchased 1” foam and doubled it for the new cushion. When I saw that there wasn’t much I was going to be able to do about the sinking seat, I flipped it over and placed the new foam on top. For the next fifteen years it can start sinking in the other direction. I retained the dust cover that came with it to finish it up. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that had caked onto it over the years and it was gleaming again.
Now it proudly sits in my living room as a beloved piece and a testament to the path I’ve walked since my college days. For me, it serves as a symbol of my own transformation over the years. I finally made good on the promise to myself to update it which an incredibly good feeling. That chair has seen me through a whole lot and now we’re both living life to the fullest.