Can you give me tips for making over this chair?


I found this chair sitting on the street after some neighbors moved out. It had a badly damaged rattan seat so I removed that and had a handyman cut this bottom for me. I'm going to sand it and then paint it. Not sure yet of the colors but I'l probably keep the background flat or satin black and paint the carved parts semi-gloss colors that pick up colors used in the room. I plan to make a cushioned bottom. Now that I'm about to embark on the task, I have questions. Two parts of the chair back don't quite touch the verticals. I assume just some strong pushing will remedy that, and maybe putting some glue on the part that inserts before the pushing? And what about the piece of wood that was cut for the bottom? I'm just noticing that all four corners weren't cut the same. Will that matter? Now to the covering of it. I'm assuming I have to cut the foam to match the corners. And what's the best kind of foam or batting or whatever to use so that it's cushy enough to be comfy to sit on? And the last question. When I put the fabric on the chair bottom, I guess in the corners I just tuck under, pull to fit, and staple or tack? Also, how should this bottom be attached to the chair or does it have to be? I don't think there would be a chance of it sliding away from the chair unless it's not picked up properly, but not when someone is sitting on it. Should I attach it with screws froH the bottom of the chair? Maybe two screws on each of the four sides? See photos below.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

How to attach the bottom to the chair or is it necessary?

q questions about how to upscale this chair

The chair.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Front right corner of bottom piece of wood. See that it doesn't fit snugly to the chair.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Front left corner of bottom piece of wood. See that it doesn't fit snugly to the chair.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Back left corner of bottom piece of wood. See that it fits snugly to the chair.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Back right corner of bottom piece of wood. See that it fits partly snugly to the chair.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Left side here is a horizontal piece of the chair back. Doesn't go all the way into the vertical part of the chair back.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Right side here is a horizontal piece of the chair back. Doesn't go all the way into the vertical part of the chair back.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Piece of wood for the base of the chair bottom.

q questions about how to upscale this chair

Detail of the chair back.

  14 answers
  • Betsy Betsy on Feb 16, 2020

    Hi Louise: First, let's address the seat. It seems to fit close enough that it won't be a problem. I'm not sure I'd screw the seat in, unless you use 1 thin screw and predrill a hole so as not to split the wood, but I'd just leave it alone. As for the horizontal pieces, I'd add some glue and tap them back into place. Wood glue is very good for this or E-6000. As for making a cushion, JoAnn has a lot of different types of foam. I like the green as it's denser than the white and should give you a more comfy seat. Here are a couple of sites that should help you out on that:

    I hope this helps. Good luck and happy crafting!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 16, 2020

    Hello there,

    Make sure you use Fire retardant upholstery foam - spray stick it to the base. F Starting at the front, pull taught and staple. Stopping about 2" from the corners. Follow by the back and then the sides, pull taught then staple. The tackle the corners. At Back, make an inverted pleat and staple in place. At front if square, fold under as a parcel and staple. Trim if required. Secure using a screw fitting to the back legs of the chair where it will be unseen. Best wishes.

  • William William on Feb 16, 2020

    The corners will be covered once the seat is upholstered. Not a problem. You can use L brackets in each corner to fasten the seat to the chair. Apply wood glue to any ill fitting parts and tap them together. You can even use rope to hold everything together and twist it to tighten the joints until the glue sets.

    A little help in upholstering the seat

  • Janice Janice on Feb 16, 2020

    Hi Louise, you are already on the right track by having the seat made to fit the chair. You can find various densities of foam at Craft stores and it can easily be cut to the correct size by using a serrated knife or electric knife, if you have one.

    Upholstering the seat is relatively easy and is best done by adding foam to the new board you had cut, applying spray adhesive to adhere the foam then cutting an appropriate size piece of fabric to cover the foam and staple to the back of the seat board. I'd simply wedge it in tightly and call it good. The chair can take on many styles simply by the color of paint you select for the main portion of the chair and the patterns/color/texture of fabric you select for the seat. Have fun with it and make yourself a truly unique chair. I once covered a small chair seat for my bathroom in a plush white towel, painted the chair itself black and it was quite striking!

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Feb 16, 2020

    Great advice you are getting. By posting such good pictures, you are making it easier to be of help. The project I am attaching is one I have used because of how good it is. Definitely glue your legs in snugly. I have used pantyhose in the past to hold a chair together when I glued it. Belts work, too, if you don't have clamps.

  • Elonsdale54 Elonsdale54 on Feb 17, 2020

    Hi don;t understand the verticals. But just lightly sand the sides of the chair you can put 1x2 under and screw the bottom of the wood to it if you want. You can get a cushion foam at JOanne fabrics or fabric store at least 3in thick does not have to be exact with the seat because when you cover it with fabric you will pull from the sides and staple it with strong staples and a staple gun. to do the corners you have to tuck them properly and pull the ends and tack. Do it with all the corners all around. It's just how you want it. The top will not fall off. I have done so many chairs.

  • Louise Louise on Feb 17, 2020

    I have another question and hope it hasn't been answered here and I've overlooked it. When I cut the foam, I'm assuming I have to cut it just like the wood seat bottom where each corner is cut away. Right? And then, when I'm pulling the fabric over the foam and batting and stapling on the back of the wood, I have to somehow pull it so it's keeping the cut-out corners shape. Yes? If so, then it seems the two corners that fit snugly around the chair back and the squarish pieces in the front will need to have a bit of the wood removed in those areas to allow room for the fabric and batting to fit into those corners. Or am I just seeing things wrong?

  • Elonsdale54 Elonsdale54 on Feb 18, 2020

    The foam could be a little shorter than wood. You need room to stretch fabric

  • Patti Patti on Feb 19, 2020

    When I recovered my chairs I used a dense padding because I wanted it to be a little stiff, not when you sit you feel the seat underneath. My padding was 4 inches and the edges of the chair round. I cut the padding exactly the size of the chair because I didn't want to feel the wood under my knees when I sat down. Its your preference. When you pull the fabric do left side then right side followed by fron to back. Then I turned the chair over and cut another piece of material to cover up the strtched material using thin strips of upholstery card board to make the edges perfectly straight.

    • Dee Dee on Feb 20, 2020

      I did the same thing. I got my foam at an upholstery shop and then bought a fabric that really had no pattern. I made the mistake of first purchasing a stripe. Hell to work with. But since I only needed a few yards I went back and just got something that would not require straight lines. I also turned the chair over and matched up the bottom. My next project is going to be making a bench seat.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Feb 21, 2020

    When it comes time to cut the foam, place the chair seat on top of the foam, then trace the shape outline with a sharpie marker. To ensure that the foam is cut straight (without chopped lines) use an electric knife. This step works best with one pair of hands holding the foam taut, and another pair of hands doing the cutting on the marked lines.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Feb 21, 2020

    Did you get enough answers? It looks like lots of great advice.

  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom Holly Lengner - Lost Mom on Feb 22, 2020

    We would love to see a picture of the chair once you finish it.

  • Bambi Bambi on Feb 27, 2020

    I would've made sure the chair legs and back were glued and hammered into place using a rubber mallet so as not to damage the wood. Then I would've had the seat cut to fit. By doing it the way you did there's a possibility that once everything is in place, the seat may be tight and need some trimming. Not saying it will but it is possible. Would love to see the finished project. 😊