The Repair Shop expert defends decision behind King George coronation chair
Sonnaz Nooranvary was given creative freedom, but decided to keep the commemoration chair as close to the original as possible.
In tonight's episode (Wednesday 12th January), two of The Repair Shop cast members, French polisher Will Kirk and upholsterer Sonnaz Nooranvary, were tasked with restoring Andy Matthews and his daughter Anna's chair, which had been made specially for King George VI's coronation ceremony.
The chair was originally presented to Andy’s grandfather, who attended the coronation as an usher. However, after 90 years, it had suffered some wear and tear, with the wooden frame becoming unstable, the velvet fabric fading and lots of thread bare in places.
Sonnaz and Will were given creative "freedom" to do whatever they wanted. However, at the end of the episode, the item was restored to its former glory, with Sonnaz making the decision to keep it as close to the original as possible.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, the upholstery expert has revealed why she decided to make this choice.
"On the back of the chair there is embroidery of the crest, and I didn't want to get rid of that," she explained.
"And also the way that Andy and Anna were talking about the chair and the arrival and the memories and how they remember it, and what they wanted to do with the chair moving forward – they didn't want it to be a piece that was going to be used every day – my gut kind of told me that the historical relevance, how they remembered it and this embroidery really needed to stay looking the same."
Because of this, Sonnaz took a slightly different approach with mending the chair, opting for more of a "conservation" than a complete reupholster.
The only thing that changed majorly with the chair was the braiding, which Sonnaz says was "unsaveable".
She added: "Because of the historic relevance and the importance of the chair, I actually carried out more of a conservation on this chair as opposed to a reupholstery. I just had a gut feeling that the owners much more appreciated the chair looking how they remember it.
"So this particular chair, I gave the surface of the original velvet fabric – which had faded quite badly – a really gentle clean, not with water, so a dry clean, and I reinforced it onto a lining fabric. All the padding underneath, I replaced the webbing, but I reused the original horsehair pad. I just added more hessian and using traditional methods, so I use a tack hammer, as opposed to a staple gun. I brought it all back up to life again!"
While Sonnaz had something to work from, having already seen the chair, it didn't make things any easier, with the expert adding: "I felt the pressure in every single step and stage of the conservation of this chair. I was nervous, because you don't always know what's going to happen when you start unpicking the fabric."
New episodes of The Repair Shop air on BBC One on Wednesdays at 8pm. Episodes are also available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide or visit our Entertainment hub for the latest news.