Furniture project: reupholstered vintage Ben Chairs

Restoring vintage Ben Chairs

Treasure hunting at antiques auctions

We found our first pair of mid century Ben Chair carver chairs at a local auction around 8 years ago. Their original vinyl was faded and the foam seat pads were crumbling to dust, but we couldn’t resist.

Since then we have become a little bit obsessed! With their wonderful bentwood arms and really sound construction, we thought they had the flair and style to match highly collectable mid century Danish designs. Originally manufactured and designed in the 1960s by Ben of Stoe, a company based in Frome, Somerset, they’ve become one of our favourite mid century chairs. We’ve since kept our eyes peeled on our buying trips to antique fairs and furniture auctions and snaffle them up when we see them.

Restoring midcentury chairs

Often the frames need a good clean before being sanded and re-oiled. Sometimes we’ve found them with damage to the arms just at the brow of the curved bentwood arms, which is often caused if they’ve been kept in damp conditions. In most cases we’ve been able to fill any splits in the wood and have sanded and stained these repairs to blend in well with the original wood. We have also given these areas a painted detail if the repair has been too tricky to blend in. Ben Chairs come up very nicely indeed after restoration and sit easily at a dining table or as a desk chair.  Not only do they look good, they are extremely comfortable too.   

Here are a few examples of the vintage Ben Chairs we have enjoyed restoring. 

A lovely simple modern design by printmaker and designer Angie Lewin for British fabric producer St Jude’s Fabric. The bold ‘Golden Orche’ colourway gave these chairs a stunning new look and we couldn’t have been happier with the finished product. We’ve used plain coloured velvets and woven wool cloth too.

Commission your own reupholstery project

We take bespoke orders for Ben Chair reupholstery and also have some ready-made Ben Chairs in stock and available to order online, which are upholstered with some of our favourite fabrics. Get in touch if you have a vintage chair you’d like some help with.

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