Monday, February 20, 2012

How To: Simple Chair Re-Upholstery

So I know it's been awhile since my last how to post.  I've been working hard to get my etsy shop up and running.  I made my first Etsy sale last week and while it's good news, I still have a lot of work to do.  I have been meaning to do this project for awhile so I figured I share the process, and the results with you.  If you decide to try this out be prepared to use a bit of imagination and problem solving, since every piece of furniture is different and some may be more difficult then others.  This will at least give you a starting point for a very simple technique to bring new life to an old chair.

I found the chair I'm working on here at the Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift store for $10.00.  I thought the design and color went perfect with my newly purchased mid-century dresser from the Broyhill Brasilia collection.


1. Pliers 
2. Screw driver (preferably with interchangeable heads to help you tackle any type of screw)
3. Rotary cutter or Scissors
4. A staple gun with 1/4" staples.
5. Upholstery Fabric of your choice (I got about two yards of this from goodwill for about $2.00 in the textiles section)
6. Lining fabric (any cheap cotton weave will do, I used and old bed sheet)
6. A chair that needs some love


Inspect the underside of your chair to determine how the seat is attached.  Mine is simply screwed on with four screws, one in each corner.

Inspect the screws to determine what type of tools you'll need to remove them.  Mine were little squares.  I'm quite sure that's the technical name for them.

Remove the seat from the rest of the chair using your tool of choice.

Now you're ready to remove the Upholstery.  In my case it was simply attached with staples.  I used a Flathead screwdriver and some elbow grease to remove it.

To my surprise there was yet another layer of upholstery fabric under the first so I removed that as well using the same technique.

I discovered some mold in the foam cushion.  Rather then throw it out and buy new foam, which I would suggest if you're not on as tight a budget as I am, I washed it in hot water with a quarter cup of bleach to kill any and all nastiness that might have been living in there and I threw out the old fabric. Here's the before and after:

Now Lay the seat on your lining fabric and cut around it with about 3 inches of allowance.

Use this as a template to create another identical shape from the upholstery fabric.

 Now begin to wrap the seat in the lining fabric.  You don't need many staples for the lining fabric as you are only going to tack it down.  work from the center top and bottom, then the center sides.  Always place a staple directly across from the staple you've just done to ensure the fabric is evenly stretched on all sides.  Neatly fold and tack down the corners.

Now repeat the process using the upholstery fabric.  Place the staples no farther then 2 inches apart, working the same way as above.  take care at the corners that the top and sides are as seamless as possible.

Now your seat should look something Like this:

Now replace the seat on the chair and re-attach using the original hardware and you're done!  My old chair now reflects my personal style, goes great in my bedroom and is an awesome complement to my new dresser.  Let me know how your projects go and good luck!


  1. I love it! too bad I am lazy and bought a re upholstered chair from a fancy antique shop instead of doing this...

  2. I'm definitely going to use these instructions when I finally get around to reupholstering a cute little stool of mine! Thanks!!

  3. Here are the after photos of my reuphostered stool:
    Thanks for the inspiration!! :)