I’ve been wanting to try my hand at reupholstering a chair for quite some time now but we didn’t have the need for a chair until now. Travis started studying for the CPA exams on Monday yet we don’t have an office. No desk. No chair. We decided to refinish an old makeup vanity/desk thing I had in high school, but we haven’t gotten to that project just yet (check back in a couple weeks!) I bought this old chair for $49 at an antique shop two weeks ago. I thought it had good bones and nice clean lines. Travis said it was dumpy. Big surprise. He thinks everything I bring home is dumpy. But he has started to trust my instincts. Smart boy. The tag on the bottom says its from 1986… one year older than me. It smelled old, looked dingy and when I patted the fabric a cloud of dust would form. Yuck. To be honest, I didn’t mind the color all too much, but the thought of old, used fabric seemed disgusting to me. It also had a commercial office furniture feeling. So I bought some fabric and started my latest DIY adventure.
Check out the before and after…
- old chair
- pneumatic stapler or handheld stapler and staples
- tack strips
- piping cord
- seam ripper
- sewing machine
- measuring tape
Take Apart the Chair:
I started by taking apart the chair, keeping in mind that it needed to be put back together exactly the same way. I pried off the back panel, and removed the HUNDREDS of staples holding all of the fabric in place. I didn’t cut anything off because I used the fabric panels as templates for the new fabric.
I was happy to find that the arms were bolted on… meaning that they could easily be removed and recovered separately.
Reupholster the Arms:
Once the arms and fabric were removed from the chair, I started to reupholster the arms. As I mentioned earlier, I used the old fabric as a template. I pinned the fabric around the arms so that I knew it would be a nice snug fit and then I sewed it, flipped it right side out and stapled it in place.
Such pretty fabric!
Reupholster the Seat:
Reupholster the Back:
This step shows exactly how I used the old fabric as a pattern. I used a seam ripper to take the pieces apart and made sure to label exactly where each piece went.
Reattach the Arms:
This was a fun step because I was finally able to see what the chair was going to look like.
Attach the Back Panel:
I decided to replace the tack strips that were originally in the chair because the nails were all bent and a few fell out during the removal process. I trimmed the new strips with scissors to the same length as the old strips. I made some red piping which is only on the back panel for an extra special pop. (Learn how to make piping in my window seat post.)
Before placing the strips inside the back panel fabric, I fitted the panel to the back of the chair to make sure it was the right size. The two photos below show the planning process of pinning and sizing.
Then I folded the edges of the fabric over, sandwiching the tack strips in place.
I stapled the red piping to the back of the chair and then stapled only the top of the back panel (I needed Travis’ help for this part because I didn’t have enough hands). Then I folded down the back panel flap and hammered the tack strips into place holding the left and right sides of the panel in place.
Then I stretched the bottom side of the back panel underneath the chair and stapled it in place. Then the dust cover was restapled in place to cover the underside of the chair.
Then That Was It! All Done!!!
Have I mentioned that I adore this print? It was actually a lot easier to reupholster this chair than I thought. I feared it would sit in our garage for months and that I’d be too nervous to pull it apart and get started. But I couldn’t manage to see Travis sitting in a tiny, uncomfortable wooden chair for hours each day studying.
Travis likes his new chair… which he will be sharing with me, of course. This is him pretending to study. Every time he leans back in the chair like that I cringe. If he breaks it, he’ll be in big trouble.
Kimble’s smeller approves…
Chloe won’t be doing any studying, but she likes the chair too!
If you keep track of all the pieces and the order in which it was removed, putting it back together is simple. My brother-in-law kept asking me how difficult it was in comparison to other projects and I kept telling him it was easy. He didn’t believe me. I hope you believe me and give it a try.
Once the desk is refinished, I plan to refinish the wood base on the chair to match. I was thinking a black desk with hints of red paint showing through the warn spots??? We’ll see how it goes and I’ll be sure to share the process with you.
I’m so pleased with the results! No bad for a first timer.