Parker Knoll Armchair Makeover

Parker Knoll is a British furniture manufacturing company, originally formed by Frederick Parker, a British furniture manufacturer, and Willi Knoll, a German inventor of a new form of sprung furniture. With roots in the manufacture of high-quality furniture, the brand concentrated on mass-market products from the 1930s to the 1990s. In recent years, the company has moved back to the higher-quality end of the domestic furniture market.

This was an online purchase from a well known website. It is one of two chairs I purchased for about €60. I still have the second chair, which is identical. That project is on the to-do list! This is what the chair looked like BEFORE.


It was covered in a green velvet type material, which was very dirty and worn. The arms and legs were covered in a black faded lacquer. It was very worn in places and just looked scruffy. It was in bad need of an overhaul, so I couldn't resist. 

To complete this project I used:

New fabric

Staple Gun & Staples (I use an electric staple gun)

Paint Remover, Screwdriver, Paint Scraper, Wire Wool, Sand Paper, Soft Cloth, Danish Oil

Don’t forget to project whatever area you are working in by putting down a dust sheet cover.

Estimated Time to Complete:

Paint Stripping – 6 hours

Upholstery – 5 hours

Oiling Chair – 2 hours


This was one of my first ever projects to recover. I will admit, I was very nervous but hours of YouTube videos later, I decided to fire ahead and take the chair apart.

This is the best piece of advice I can offer to anyone nervous about up-cycling or recovering a piece of furniture….. Just start and take it apart. By doing this, you will learn how the piece was put together or how it was recovered. Old fabric can be used as a template for new fabric and if you strip paint or varnish back to the natural wood, you can always stain the piece again.

Don’t panic, just get stuck in. And that’s exactly what I did.

Fabric removed and first coat of Paint Stripper applied

I removed all the fabric and removed the ‘wings’ at the side of the chair. Removing fabric is a slow process, so allow yourself plenty of time for this part. I took several breaks and I used a pliers, scissors and screwdriver in the process. Wearing gloves would also be a good move too, the staples can scrape your hands.

The chair had these springs underneath the cushion, so there wasn’t much structural work to be done as such. It was all cosmetic.

I applied a layer of paint stripper which I purchased in my local Woodies. It was approx €8 for the bottle. I would advice to do this outdoors or if you are doing this inside, make sure the area is well ventilated. Apply a heavy layer with a small paint brush and leave this on for about 2 hours, until you see the solution begin to crack. If you leave it any longer, it will harden up and all your hard work will be lost. I discovered this the hard way!

After 2 hours, re-apply and leave for another 1 hour. By this point the lacquer was very soft and I was able to scrape it off using a paint scraper. Do not use anything too sharp or you might damage the timber.

After the majority of the lacquer was removed, I gave the piece one more layer of paint stripper, waited about 30 minutes and then went back over the entire piece with some wire wool.

Lacquer Removed

As you can see, the dark brown lacquer once removed, left a lovely natural timber. I washed down the chair with a damp cloth and left to dry over night. The following day, I used medium sandpaper all over the timber to remove any last bits of paint. I was really happy with the finish and decided against staining the chair again. Instead I used a danish oil to protect it. I applied 3 coast of this with a soft cloth. Follow the directions on your tin, but I rubbed the oil in once and left it overnight, then re-applied two further coats the following day.

First coat of Danish Oil applied

The next job to tackle was the upholstery. It is advisable to keep the old material and use it as a template, however if you are redesigning your chair and intend on changing it, use a tape measure instead of the previous piece of material as your guide.

I started with the back of the chair as it was the most straight forward piece to begin with.

Upholstering Begins

I then recovered the cushion cover for the base.

Cushion and Back Complete

Lastly, I recovered the wings, the back of the chair and the two side panels. These were tricky, but given I have a tendancy to want things perfect, I was happy to take my time until they were just right. The satisfaction when I added the wings was unbelieveable.

This is the finished recovered Parker Knoll.

Recovered Parker Knoll

The hours of work were well worth it and now I have somewhere comfortable to sit and contemplate my next Furniture Find.

Thanks for reading. 



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