Dare to glare at my chair repair query!
September 28, 2014 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Several of the leather straps that support the seat of my Barcelona lounge chair have torn. How can I repair (or replace) them?

You can see the straps in this photo. Here's a closeup of one of the broken straps; here's another.

I'm not 100% sure how they broke; it happened somehow in a recent move. But broken they are, and it renders the chair unusable—they provide most of the support for the seat.

So: what's the best way to repair these? I see a couple of possibilities:

1. Re-join the broken ends of the existing straps. How would I do this? Staples or wires of some kind, maybe? Rawhide laces?

This approach seems less than ideal, considering how easily the straps seem to have broken in the first place. (The chair was not handled roughly in the move—to the contrary, I babied it.) The leather seems dry and cheap—I feel like staples/wire/laces would just tear right out.

Anyway, as you can see in the second closeup, one of the straps is torn very close to the end—making this approach impractical.

2. Replace the straps with something more durable. But what? Is there someplace that I can buy strips of strong leather or similar material, which I could then cut to length and fix in place with rivets?

The material doesn't have to look nice; the straps are invisible when the cushions are in place.

It seems that there are a few manufacturers that sell knockoffs of the original 1929 design. Unfortunately, I don't know which manufacturer made mine. I do know that it's not the model sold by Knoll ($4,600+!)—mine only cost about $400 on clearance.

(For kicks, I emailed Knoll and asked whether they have replacement straps. They do—for $130 each. Since the entire chair only cost $400, and I don't even know whether Knoll's straps would fit my chair, this isn't an option.)

It's a nice chair, and I'd like to keep it, but I'm drawing a blank on fixing it. Help!
posted by escape from the potato planet to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Best answer: I would likely go with Seatbelt Strapping for this application. Also called Seatbelt Webbing. Comes in many widths and colors and lengths from a variety of suppliers online.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:52 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would take the chair to a good, local upholstery shop, they could easily replace those straps with leather (although, if the leather doesn't show, I would use a much less expensive material). Don't try to repair the broken straps, it's likely they (and the rest) would just break again.. replace ALL of them while you're doing it.
posted by HuronBob at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2014

Best answer: I helped a friend replace the leather on her chair. We pretty much followed this post on how to do it: Repair the Barcelona Chair.
posted by barnone at 4:00 PM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

For a quick and dirty fix, that some might call a kludge:
Would regular leather belts (the kind that keep your jeans on) fit? Maybe if you'd make them go all around the frame instead of fastening them to it?
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:33 PM on September 28, 2014

Yeah, webbing's a kind of ordinary furnishing item to have to replace, don't be intimidated. Follow barnone's advice. Your chair isn't an original so you won't decrease the value of it by making it usable.
posted by glasseyes at 5:57 AM on September 29, 2014

Response by poster: Fantastic! Seatbelt material sounds perfect—cheap and sturdy. And now I know what Chicago screws are. I'm hella busy and it'll be a couple of weeks before I can tackle this, but at least now I have a plan! Thanks!
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:51 PM on September 29, 2014

Response by poster: So I ordered polyester seatbelt webbing (from here), and Chicago screws (from here).

The seatbelt webbing is extremely tough, and it proved impractical to punch, cut, or drill holes through it. (I even bought a rotary leatherpunch, but it was utterly useless.) So I went out and bought a cheap woodburning tool (about $15 from a craft supply store – it's a plug-in tool with an assortment of different heated tips, used to burn designs into the surface of wood or, in my case, to melt holes through nylon).

This approach does produce some unpleasant burnt-plastic fumes, so is probably best done outside – but it worked like a charm. (And it melts the nylon fiber around the edge of the hole, thereby creating a seal to guard against fraying.)

So, thanks for the guidance! I'm glad to have my chair back!
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:48 AM on November 8, 2014

« Older The value of online friendship?   |   Push? Don't push? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.