Vintage Thonet Inspired Bentwood Stool Makeover

Have you ever found a piece while thrifting and been surprised by its value when you researched it? I recently found this bentwood stool. I was surprised by what I found when I took off the fabric!

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This project is part of  the New Again series that I've been doing every month with Jen from Noting Grace, Libbie from A Life Unfolding, Leen from Sand Dollar Lane and Brooke from Cribbs Style. We each pick something to redo and give a new life to. Make sure to see the links at the end of this post to see what they made New Again! 

One of my favorite places to find thrifted antique and vintage treasures is a local once a month pop up sale.

It’s actually about 30 miles from me, but it’s worth the drive every time. I always find something!

Before one of the recent sales, I saw this stool in their sale ad photos. My friend and I went together because she had her eye on something too. We found her vintage cabinet right away, but I couldn’t find the little stool anywhere. Thankfully she quickly blitzed through the building and found it for me.

I bought it because I liked it.

But then I decided to research it a little bit. I discovered it’s a vintage bentwood stool.

And those can be worth a lot of money!

I read up a little on Michael Thonet, a German cabinet maker who invented bentwood furniture in the 1830's. It was a completely new and different design for furniture. Although I was sure there was no way this stool was an original Thonet, it is definitely inspired by his designs.

I also discovered the fabric was actually covering the bentwood ring of the top!

Even these Thonet inspired stools can be quite valuable, especially the ones with caned tops. I decided to do a little exploring to see if this one had a caned top.

Underneath the stool I found these names. I tried to find Ms. S. Montgomery and Ron Montgomery, but I didn't find them.

The fabric was ripped already and it looked like just thin plywood under it.

So I carefully pulled back the fabric on top.

It was glued to the bentwood ring and top.

But as I pulled it away, I saw a brown thick fabric and I knew…

There was no caning on top.

Just to make sure, I cut a slit in the brown fabric. There was the top of the plywood.

So it wasn’t the very valuable bentwood stool, but it was still worth more than I bought it for. Plus I really like it, so that’s where the value is for me.

It was in such good shape. It just needed a little bit of cleaning.

And new fabric.

This was a pretty easy project that used just a few supplies.

Vintage Thonet Inspired Bentwood Stool Makeover: Supplies

Jute cording

Vintage Thonet Inspired Bentwood Stool Makeover: How To

The top was attached to the sides by four screws. I removed those carefully.

I removed the rest of the staples holding the fabric on. Pulling on the fabric gently took them right out.

I decided to leave the piece of fabric with the names on the bottom to preserve that history.

Then I cleaned the bottom with diluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.

The wood ring of the top had quite a bit of adhesive residue on it, so I used straight Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean it off. That took a little more scrubbing.

Then I laid my new fabric across the top and trimmed it to the width.

Next, I trimmed the fabric into a circle, using the joint where the brown fabric met the wood ring as a guide.

I carefully started hot gluing the fabric to the top, pressing and smoothing it as I worked my way around it.

I didn’t glue it all the way down to the ring.

Here is where the jute rope comes in. I hot glued that on to cover the edge of the fabric.

The jute rope came with taped ends and I knew as soon as I cut the tape off, the ends would fray. So I held the ends tightly and put a little hot glue dab on the very end. As it cooled enough to touch it, but still flexible, I twisted the glue with my fingers to clamp the ends down and take off excess glue.

Then I used hot glue to begin attaching the rope.

I worked my way around the top, keeping the rope as even horizontally as possible.

As I reached the end I fit up the size of the rope to join the ends.

And did the trick gluing the frayed ends together again.

And then hot glued the ends together and to the top.

And then I reattached the top to the sides with the four screws.

And that was it! I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I don’t know where it will end up living in the house, but for now it’s here in the living room next my green velvet chair and in front of our new library shelves.

Thanks so much for checking out my Vintage Thonet Inspired Bentwood Stool Makeover!

Now here are the other New Again posts for this month!

New Again

Cribbs Style / What You Need to Know Before Using Oven Cleaner to Strip Furniture

wood drawers on blue outdoor tarp sprayed with oven cleaner to strip finish

Noting Grace / DIY Faux Marble Vanity Tray

diy wood and marble tray with black handles

The Roots of Home / Vintage Thonet Inspired Bentwood Stool

vintage thonet inspired bentwood stool