:DIY Nursery Swivel-Rocker Armchair Tutorial:
When designing my baby boy's nursery I searched high and low for an attractive and affordable rocker/glider chair, and quickly came to the conclusion that those two traits simply didn't exist together.  
You had either the horribly ugly and ubiquitous traditional gliders with light maple wood frames and bad granny cushions (if you've ever been on the hunt for a nursery chair you know exactly the ones I mean...they may glide oh-so-smoothly but stylish they are not.)  OR you had beautifully tailored upholstered rockers and gliders that run well upwards of $1000.
I decided that making my own nursery chair might be the way to go, especially after an internet search turned up these rocker-swivel mechanisms for $50.  
The hunt was on for a suitable chair, and I starting prowling my local vintage and thrift store haunts for just the right one.  I didn't find one at first, and as my due date drew near I took note of the $250 Ikea Ektorp chair, or the slightly smaller $200 Ikea Ektorp Jennylund as back-up options, just in case. They're nice, basic armchairs with clean lines and a small roll arm that isn't TOO big and round and out of hand.  Plus, the skirt is a necessary element in order to hide the rocker mechanism beneath.  
The Ektorp Jennylund
The more petite of the two Ektorp chairs, with a shorter skirt drop:

EKTORP JENNYLUND Chair IKEA The cover is easy to keep clean as it is removable and can be machine washed.

The Standard Ektorp
A slightly larger chair with a longer skirt drop:

Fun Ektorp Slipcovers

A bonus with this chair is that if the Ikea color selection doesn't work for you, there are at least a couple of companies (Knesting and Bemz) that make Ikea slipcovers in a huge selection of fabrics, both prints and solids.  Look at all these fun possibilities!

In the end I would have been cool with the Ikea chair, but right at the last moment I actually managed to find a better vintage option.  How about that orange and green plaid tweed!?  I love the wings and the shape of this chair.  I especially loved the box pleat skirt, perfect for a bit of whimsy in a kid's room...but unfortunately I was vetoed on keeping it.  
And the quality!  We say all the time that they don't make things like they used's cliche but with furniture it's so true.  The seat of this chair has real hand-tied coil springs in perfect condition, which you rarely find these days.  It's still supportive and springy after, what, 40-50 years of use?  Definitely a steal at $90.
Mounting the swivel/rocker mechanism was easy.  We (and by we I mean my husband) simply attached a couple of boards across the base of the chair, screwed to the solid wood edges of the chair frame, and mounted the rocker part to the boards.
Now I have to admit that I have an ace up my sleeve.  As a designer who specializes in custom upholstered furniture and places big orders all the time, I've got relationships with solid upholstery workrooms who give me really good pricing.  But depending on your location, you should be able to have a chair re-done for around $200-300, would be my guess.  And you can often score a vintage craigslist chair for $25-40, freeing up your budget for the makeover.    
I chose a brown burlap-tone "linen" (actually a polyester blend upholstery fabric that looks/feels like linen but is much more durable and kid-friendly)  so that I could bring in lots of other prints and patterns elsewhere in the space.  But for a bit of whimsy I added a contrast piping detail.  Love that!  I used the same combo on the sofa, which I had custom made (there's that advantage of being a furniture designer again...sorry.)


I'm so happy with my nursery rocker!  All in all I paid $90 for the chair, $100 to re-cover it, and the swivel-rocker mechanism was $50.  So for a grand total of $240 I have a nursery chair that rivals any high-end pricey model out there.  I used it on a daily basis for over 2 years and had absolutely no issues with the quality of the rocker/swivel mechanism.
Tour the rest of Benicio's "Little Gent" nursery here (with complete list of sources and DIY projects), and check out the Apartment Therapy feature too! 
(And if you want to dive into the story of how I bought an ugly little "fixer" house and re-did it room by room, it's all here:  nitty gritty remodel // kitchen // dining room // living room // bath // nursery // bedroom // patio // my design studio)

Make sure to check out the "DIY" link at the top of the page for many more nursery and home decor projects.  The ottoman pouf, the fabric-covered cubby boxes, the customized crib bedding, the striped roman shades, the hot air balloon decals, and the monogram pillow, decoupage accessories, and the nautical ceiling light were all DIYs!


helen@handmaidtales said...

Wow! That's a really affordable re-upholstery job, especially with piping. It looks fantastic!

caly said...

love it . did you actually upholster yourself? its done so well.

aligater said...

I have turned our ikea armchair into a rocker for our baby's room! It was so easy and I am so happy with how it turned out. Thank you for the inspiration!

jc said...

Hi, I just got a quote for re-upholstering a club chair like that for $300 + fabric...did you get a a good deal/know the upholsterer/do it yourself?? How did you get it done so cheap? Where are you located in case it's close to me and I could have this person do a chair also? Thanks!

Rosa said...

Hi jc -

I'm glad you're looking into doing a club chair makeover...I'm a big fan of re-purposing vintage furniture which is almost always of a better quality than you're likely to find made today.

I'm in LA and I do tend to have access to some very affordable workrooms. Where are you located? Feel free to contact me by email and send a chair photo for a quote!

jc said...


Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately, I'm in KY, so I don't think we'll be able to get together for a chair re-do! :( If you know someone in the area, I'll take any recommendation I can get. Thanks again for your reply!

jazz said...

Hello, I was wondering how well did the rocking/glider attachment work? Was it a jerky movement? Could it sustain the various heights and weights of different folks?

Rosa said...

Hi Jazz,

The swivel rocker mechanism I used on this chair works great! I still use it in the nursery to this day and I'm really happy with it. The springs are adjustable to allow for more or less "play" on the rocker, so you can set it to your liking. Just remember that it doesn't glide, it only rocks and swivels.

Thanks for reading!


Joy Martinez said...

Hi Rosa, where did you buy your rocker/swivel mechanism? Thanks! ~Joy

Rosa said...

Hi Joy-
The link for the rocker/swivel part is highlighted in the post. Just above the photo of it.

Thanks for reading!

william smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
katie said...

i love the chair!! do you remember the name of the fabric you used? Thank you :)

Rosa said...

Hi Katie,

The fabric is called "Bronson" and is available here:

I used the color "Earth" on the chair and the color "Natural" for the contrast piping.

Thanks for asking!

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