I am told that this chair was first considered Grandpa’s. My dad remembers as a teenager finding his father (who had a Grade 8 education) in the rocking chair every evening, cigar going, reading a newspaper, magazine or quite often one of the university English novels that one of his children had left sitting around the kitchen. (“Mother would have to censor the novels first,” dad recalls, “in case there was anything in them she didn’t feel he should be reading.”)

The only photo that could be found – and she’s just in the background!

To me, it was always Grandma Leahy’s rocking chair. In the early years of my life, when she was in good health, I have many memories of her rocking and chatting away with us from beside the woodstove as we visited the farm around the corner. In her later years, after dementia set in, it was still her spot but the conversations changed significantly. “I’d like to go home now,” she informed me from her chair one day as a family get-together went on in her house around her. The front of the arms on the painted brown chair became worn from where her fingers would rub, sometimes with agitation or nervousness, often just out habit. Grandma Leahy died in 1998, and Grandpa followed in 2002.

My cousin and his wife have recently taken over the farmhouse, and when my grandparents’ furniture was offered up to family members, I was quick to stake claim to the rocking chair that held so much history for me. Once I was ready to think about refinishing it I of course turned to Kelly Hickey from Thistle and Feather, who had already done such a fantastic job on our buffet and hutch. She certainly did not disappoint!

After consulting with my designer, Meredith Kirk, we agreed that white was the way to go, and chose the colour “Casement” in Fusion Mineral Paint, which Kelly topped with Varathane water-based Diamond Wood Finish in Satin.

This was Kelly’s first custom-upholstered piece, and when I told her I’d like to see a nailhead design which would complement other furniture in the house, she asked me to trust her to figure out exactly how that could look – and she did a wonderful job!

While our newly renovated space is very neutral and clean-looking (the whole reveal is coming soon!), I knew that this chair was the place for pattern and a little touch of colour. When we were married, one of my Dad’s cousins gave us a chintz plate with a note saying that my Grandma always loved that floral look. It was my inspiration when choosing fabric ideas to show Kelly, and she ended up spotting this perfect medium weight cotton canvas at Fabricland. To finish off, she added wool felt to the bottom of the runners to help prevent the chair from scratching our hardwood floor.

If you live in the Peterborough/Kawarthas area and are looking to have furniture restored, you definitely want to talk to Kelly Hickey – and tell her I sent you! Check out her Thistle and Feather Facebook page for all sorts of refinishing ideas!

I’ll leave you with the before and after!

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