Inexpensive upholstery for midcentury and Danish Modern furniture

vintage-danish-modern-dux-chairShelly found a wonderful Danish Modern side chair and wants some ideas for upholstery. She writes:

Hey there!
Just wanted to share my $8.50 Goodwill find….the original upholstery was still in tact on the seat, but unfortunately gone from the top…it’s marked Dux, original import made in Sweden…I would love to know more about it, and what fabric you think would be appropriate for reupholstering???  Thanks so much! Shelly

danish modern upholstery from maharam

Shelly, as far as the “Dux” goes – I did a little online research and immediately turned up this example of what looks like your chair. It is a Scandinavian Modern design design in teak by Folke Ohlsson, who started the company Dux in 1953. This short biography here indicates that he is also credited with creating the concept of knock down, or KD furniture — pieces that can be flattened for shipment then reassembled at their final destination. Looks like you have acquired a little piece of mid century modern furniture history at a bargain price!

mid century style upholstery from maharam

As far as upholstery goes, I think you have many options. But how about this for a start: Reader Femme1 gets points for advising that she has found Maraham upholstery on ebay for cheap. I checked recently – and found the two styles shown here on sale. These particular lots did not sell (there was a lot of yardage involved), but the starting price was totally reasonable given the top-notch quality of this stuff.

Another option:  Estate sales. If you put your retro vibe out there, and give it some time, you should be able to find fabric that works for you. One note: I tend to prefer woven designs for upholstery – they stand up to much more wear and tear. Printed designs (such as barkcloths) are not as durable. Good luck and let us know how it turns


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  1. St. Christopher says

    As a suggestion I would say that whatever fabric you decide on, you may want to get enough to do another piece or two or at least a few throw pillows. You might find another chair that doesn’t exactly match but would look great with matching upholstery. Or maybe a black leather club chair that could be enhanced with a few throw pillows. BTW, nice chair. I wish you had a few other pics to show us!

  2. Jita says

    My suggestion goes along with St. Chris. Get extra fabric for the future.
    Also, pick a color that’s easy to match too and easy to clean.

  3. Jeanne says

    I have two similar chairs that I bought at the Salvation Army for $10 each and I’ve been saving them to reupholster. The only difference is the upholstered back section is oval shaped on the two I have. I’ll have to check for markings on the chair when I get home from work. I wonder if someone purposely changed the back shape on mine sometime along the way. ??

    Don’t you feel great when you find a treasure at the thrift stores?

  4. Elvis (aka) Jane says

    Great chair! What nice lines it has. I just lucked into a pair of midcentury (probably 60s) chairs with what looks like original upholstery. It’s a gorgeous yellowy-green weave, almost a true “moss” color. A friend told me she had the exact chairs growing up, and they were upholstered in a brown tweedy fabric. So I think you can’t go wrong with a woven fabric, as Pam suggests. That’ll look more authentic than using a contemporary “retro” patterned fabric or even vintage barkcloth (as yummy as some of those patterns are!)

  5. Scott says

    I think at the unbelievably great price, and the super condition it looks to be in, you should splurge and little and get some great vintage upholstery fabric.

  6. says

    Just a little FYI. In upholstery fabric most manufacturers label them with either a “w” or an “s” which refers to cleaning methods. “w” mean you can clean the fabric with water or a water based cleaner. “s” means you must use a solvent (as in dry cleaning) or like how lighter fluid is a solvent that takes out grease. I had a chair with a fabric that required solvent cleanup and I stubbornly used water on it and it was forever “water spotted”. Swore I would never go there again. I LOVE the chair and congratulate you for your great bargain! I could see a textured fabric in a solid accent color or a print that fits your decor; really it’s a great place to go a little wild if you want. Be sure and send in a photo of the “after”.

  7. Jeanne says

    I found a picture of one of my chairs that look like the identical frame as Shelly’s chair, just the back is different. I hope I can post a photo here and this works….

  8. Tom says

    Jeanne, your chairs were not made by DUX like shelly’s, they are actually american made and designed by jens risom. I do agree that your oval backrests are probably not original, they should have been more angular..

  9. Carolyn says

    I have gotten lots of great free samples and bought some great fabric at AMAZING prices from this site- They have some Knoll and Maraham upholstery fabrics at unbelievable prices. Their remnants are even cheaper if you need less than 5-10 yards.

    The free samples are a huge plus- most places charge at least shipping for them.

    • Leslie says

      Just stumbled upon this webpage looking for ideas for re-upholstering a mid-Century L-shaped sectional couch (straight thin arms, conical wood legs), don’t know the original designer but probably Danish, it belonged to my parents and their whole home was Mid Century modern.
      Suggestions? I need about 25 yards so alot of the remnants out there are not large enuf.

      Also suggestions for fabric to re-cover chair seats for a Drexel Declaration dining set also from 1960.
      thank you 🙂

    • Bex says

      Wow! I have been looking (online) for a couple days for some fabric to cover our (new to us) danish dining room chairs and also 2 danish lounge chairs. Was having a hard time finding decent fabric at a good price. New Toto looks fantastic! I’ve ordered a handful of free swatches for both projects.

      Thanks for the tip – and you are right, the remnant section is fantastic with deep discounts.

  10. Lesley says

    Has anyone tried reupholstering Saarinen Executive chairs? I have a set of that were my parents’ in the 50s – and have the original fabric! No surprise – they are in appalling condition. Several have frame breakage and all need new foam and upholstery. I’m game – but the complex forms and apparent lack of information worry me about diving in. Would also be interested in names of experienced pros in the north-of-NYC area.

  11. says

    Beautiful Danish modern chair! I would recommend using the fabric “Hallingdal” from Kvadrat. Kvadrat is a Danish company and the fabricline Hallingdal is made by Nanna Ditzel. We use it all the time for reupholstery of all the Danish classics from Wegner and the like.

    All the best

    Jesper –

    • Leslie says

      I investigated Hallingdal.
      Even with a discount from a re-upholsterer/designer friend, this fabric is outrageously expensive. The upholstery material alone would cost over $2,000 to recover a small L-shaped 1950s sectional.

      Not for those on a budget! Unless you get more than 50% off retail.

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