Founded over a century ago in Marietta, Georgia, the Brumby Chair Company is still crafting the same style of Appalachian red oak rocker that has graced the porch of the White House and countless porches across the South.
But this year marks a turning point for the company. What started slowly in 2015 with a few local families in Marietta inquiring about repairing older rockers morphed into a full-blown restoration program, with vintage chairs being shipped from around the country to be loved back to life by the company’s artisans.
“The restorations that come to us have great stories behind them,” says Anna Brumby, the great-granddaughter of co-founder Thomas Brumby. One of her favorites is the tale of a three adult children who were helping their parents downsize and found their grandfather’s beloved rocker hanging in a barn with the caning completely lost to time. “We were so excited to work on that chair,” Brumby says. “We restored it as a surprise for their parents’ new home. I think restoring the rocker makes them feel as if those loved ones are still with them.”
“Others come in the shop with numerous coats of paint that must be meticulously removed by sanding, especially around the turnings, before the chair can be refinished.” Repairs typically cost $300-$400. The process is straightforward. You can drop off a rocker or ship it to Brumby Chair Company headquarters and each restoration takes two to eight weeks. “We have customers who bring us rockers that are over a hundred years old,” Brumby says.
Next year, the company will debut an even more hands-on approach to their services. Customers will be able to sign up for caning classes to learn in person from Brumby’s artisans. “Most caning guides are for French caning or rush, so it’s actually difficult to find quality instruction on our herringbone pattern,” Brumby says. “People might be surprised, but we get a lot of requests from customers who want to re-cane their rockers themselves.”