Joy
Joy
  • Hometalker
  • Houston, TX

5 Steps to Reupholstering A Chair


How’s your summer going? Geez it’s HOT, like 104 degrees heat index hot. As much as I want to work outside on my porch… I am finding great projects to do inside. Like today’s DIY – reupholstering a chair.
About 20 years ago I went to my first estate sale. I feel lucky that I found two great chairs. I loved the lines and they were upholstered really well. The fabric choice even worked with my decor at the time. I purchased the chairs and happily took them home. They sat for about 15 years in their current state- why mess with a good thing, right?!?
When we moved into our current home I needed chairs in the girls rooms. So my little estate finds made their way to reading nooks. The chairs were comfy but they did not exactly go with my girls decor. After reading a couple of short books and armed with the right tools – I dove into reupholstering one of the chairs. I carefully removed the old upholstery so that I could use it as a pattern for the new fabric.
The chair was time-consuming but turned out beautifully. I decided the second chair (AS IS) could work in my other daughter’s room. Ha!

Flash forward to the One Room Challenge and my desperate need for two chairs. I searched everywhere for the perfect pair and came up empty. Then I had a lightbulb moment- with the girls off to college – the chairs were just collecting dust upstairs. I quickly brought them down and they were the perfect size for the space. Don’t you love it when you what you need right under your nose?
Let’s get started on the tutorial!
Disclaimer– I am not a professional upholsterer. I am sharing the way I created my chairs. Please keep in mind that you will be working with staples,tacks and sharp objects. Being careful and focused on the task is very important – do not leave tools and supplies where little ones can pick them up. Even with the utmost care- things happen. I ( The Aspiring Home) can not be held responsible for any accidents. Please proceed with this project at your own risk.
Materials:
The chair needing a makeover
Upholstery Fabric
Fabric lining
Upholstery strapping
Staple remover
Tack remover
Coordinating trim
Staples
Staple Gun
Tacks
Foam cushion – thick for the seat
Foam cushion -thin for arms
Scissors
Batting
Hot glue
Hot glue gun
Small hammer
Small Mallet
Pliers
Fiber fill
Step 1:
Begin the dismantling process. Carefully pull trim off and remove the guts of the chair. This is where the tack and staple removal tools will come in handy. Use pliers for stubborn staples and tacks. Try to preserve the fabric pieces- this will become your pattern. Unfortunately, I was unable to preserve the fabric on my chairs- just too old and I will show you the how I handled it later in the tutorial.
Ugh, talk about a MESS! It definitely gets worse before it gets better.

Step 2:
Once you are down to the frame decide on restoration or paint. I chose a black high gloss paint to complement the faux alligator hide vinyl. This is where the hubby doubted (ok, I scared him) a little bit. Make sure you prep your surface properly whichever way you go… you DO NOT want your guest able to pass the time picking the paint or scraping the stain off your prized project.
Step 3:
A. Add the foundation. Now it is time to add new guts to your chair. I love nylon webbing but sadly ran out in the middle of one of the chairs and had to go old school jute but it worked out just fine. I chose a high density 6 inch foam. Due to the beautiful curves of my chair’s seat- I had to piece the foam together.
I used a bit of hot glue to attach the pieces to one another. Doing this step will hold it all together while you grab your handy-dandy batting. Lay your batting over the seat cushion and attach to the frame. I used a staple gun to make quick work of it but you can use small tacks if you like.
After adding the batting, grab your lining and cover the seat. Doing this step will create a nice smooth foundation for the upholstery fabric.
B. Add foam to arms. This step is only necessary if your chair’s arms originally had it. Please be careful when stapling this foam to the arms. In all the years I have upholstered furniture and used my upholstery gun – I finally had an accident and stapled my finger. YEP – hurts like the dickens! I do not recommend doing it. I also don’t recommend trying to upholster your chair when you are sleep deprived. Wise – I was not.
C. Add foundation to the chair back. I began by adding a piece of my lining fabric to the back of the chair to give the back cushion stability. Next I added a layer of batting, leaving an opening in the bottom. I then stuffed the seat back with dense fiber fill until it felt comfortable. Staple the batting closed at bottom. Add a final layer of lining fabric over the batting stuffed with fiber fill. Trim off Excess fabric,batting, liner.
Step 4:
Add the pretty! Begin applying your fabric of choice. Since my original fabric did not make it through the tear apart process – I did the next best thing – I measured. Now I didn’t get too precise. I measured a square piece of fabric that would be large enough to cover all the twists, turns and curves. I began attaching the square piece by securing the fabric in a cross pattern then working my way out from the attached points. Working with vinyl is a little bit different and I had to pull staples a few times to help create a smooth transition. This isn’t difficult but it is a bit time-consuming. Once you have attached all the fabric to the chair – take a mat knife and carefully cut out the excess fabric. Be careful -you really want to keep a sharp blade while doing this process and be ready to change blades often.
That’s it! You now have a beautiful updated chair! Thanks for taking a gander at my little tutorial. If you are a newbie to upholstery- read TONS of tutorials, books and do what I did… I showed up at an upholstery shop and asked if I could observe.
Have FUN and Be Careful!
Check out my blog for more easy to do projects! www.theaspiringhome.com
Till Later,
Joy

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Joy

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Betty Lopez Hartman
    on Sep 21, 2017

    I have a chair that's almost identical. My issue was getting around the arm bases that are at the seat. Do you cut the fabric larger and snip in for play in the fabric, do you cut close and use something so it won't ravel? I know the trim covers a lot of the sins but getting around those areas is where I feel I fail the most. Help! Thank you!
    • Joy
      on Sep 21, 2017

      Hi! Yes, I used a larger piece and made several snips to make the fabric conform, then trim the excess. You are right- trim covers a multitude of sins. :) Good luck! Take your time and trust yourself- I bet you can do it!
  • Nurse Penelope
    on May 8, 2018

    hi, I have a question about the chairs you reupholstered. what did you do with the springs? did you keep them in the chair? thanks

    • Kat
      on Apr 5, 2019

      Hi Cindy, Penelope

      I'm working on my second chair right now and it has the springs. I decided to keep them. I found a great tutorial on what to do with them. You can use the same ones. Here's the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-jiKeZm8a4 Its not hard just time consuming. Good luck!

  • Robin Tracey
    on Oct 26, 2018

    Can’t wait to try redoing my chairs! Thank you !

    strange question....What kind of dog is that in the pic? He looks a lot like mine . Mine is an Irish wolfhound mix


    Blessings,

    Robin

    • Joy
      on Oct 26, 2018

      Hi! He is a Irish wolfhound black lab mix, our sweet rescue!

Join the conversation

2 of 40 comments
  • La streight
    on Mar 19, 2018

    an electric knife would allow you to cut the foam a little cleaner.


  • Donna Foley
    on Apr 21, 2019

    I was enjoying the article and then endless ads popped up. I opted out of 4 and finally had to give up. I was liking you article so much.

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