Reupholstering a Chair

I can pat myself on the back now...I have finally completed one big project in the past...oh say...three months J It makes me sad that this happens, but it gets to a point that there is no place in my house for any more 'big' I'm really really unmotivated.

But for whatever reason, I've been looking for a great chair to redo for the past couple of months and came across this bad boy at the thrift store. It was $15, a little more than I wanted to pay but it was sturdy and really well built.....and really well upholstered...

There was absolutely no way to that this baby wasn't going down without a fight.
You can see two things here from the below picture. 1: I obviously was not thinking of tearing this old upholstery off....given the fact that I already painted the wood with silver leaf. And I wish I had decided to go in that same direction, because for #2 you can see that this was going to be a heck of time taking this stuff off.
Underneath the foam were little claws that held the back fabric on along with creating a nice looking firm structure for the back. I'm not sure this was really needed. But it was there. And it was stapled to the chair about every centimeter. AND the top fabric was stabled underneath it.
I was not about to spend the next foreseeable days of my life pulling out staples.

So I went the next easiest way and start ripping the fabric off with my seam ripper. 
Hours later....and two seam rippers later...I was finally ready for the fun part!
But first, remember, when reupholstering, the first piece you take off is always the last piece to put back on. In my case, I took the back off first, the front fabric (which covered the arms and backrest), then the seat. So, I put the seat back on first, then the front fabric, and then the back.
But of course, before putting the fabric back on you have to cut the fabric. I laid out all the old fabric onto my new fabric. Then I outlined the old fabric but added 5 or so more inches around it. You'll want to do this just in case. The old fabric has been pulled and pulled to create the shape it was around the chair, so you'll want it longer than it really is....unless you're ready to pull and pull J . It would suck to be in the middle of reupholstering the chair and realizing you cut the fabric to short, and have to go out and buy new fabric.  
And now you know why I opted to take the fabric off instead of just recovering it.
1. Because I needed the template
2. Because I was dumb and wanted to use white fabric....and the old fabric totally would have shown through. 

Okay. So next. Start the assembly! When stapling the seat on, I just followed the same lines of where the piping originally was. Don't worry about the staples showing, the piping will cover that later. Then trim the excess fabric.
As for this retched mess...after putting the front piece on, I had to be really careful where I stapled since the metal claws were still on the back...along with a quadbillion old staples. Once I got it where I wanted it, I cut the excess fabric off. 
Next was putting on the back. I just following the lines that were originally there, stapling over the new staples from the front fabric.
I then trimmed the pieces also. 
Next, I glued the piping along all the staples.
In my next post, I'll share how make and put on double piping.

I made sure to take detailed pictures of chair before to know where to place the piping. Of course I had to add some piping to the back of the chair where there wasn't any originally because of all the craziness with the metal and staples.
Throughout this process, make sure you take a lot of detailed pictures also for a reference point of where things were and what they looked like before you ripped them off.

Although it was tough reupholstering the chair from was totally worth it when it was done.
I did make a huge mess with my already painted arms though. If you were going to do this the right would spraypaint/paint the wood after all the old fabric was off and before all the new fabric was placed back on.
Luckily the 'huge mess' was fixed with just a little touch up paint.
This chair is currently floating around my house now, since I really have no place to put it. Maybe it'll go in my office when that gets done....of course that's no time in the foreseeable future. 

Here's the before and after J

before...of course:

Total cost of this project was: $15 for chair, $10 for fabric (2 yards), $3 for piping cord, $3 for silver leaf.....$31 total! A little more than I wanted, but I was determined to get this darn thing finished and lookin good! J


  1. The chair looks amazing! I wish I was brave enough to try something like that!

  2. That is so beautiful! I looooove the silver on the wood. I've got some chairs that I want to reupholster, but I'm still too afraid that I'll mess them up.

  3. LOVE IT! Love the white, love the silver, love the pillow too! This motivates me to get back to the chair I tore apart 2 years ago and have still yet to finish it. But now I might have to use silver for the wood.

  4. I am bookmarking this. I have 2 chairs very similar. I have been searching the net for a tutorial on reupholstering this type of chair. Thanks for sharing. It looks great BTW!

  5. You are an inspiration Alicia! That looks fantastic and I love the silver! I'm really looking forward to your next post about the piping. I just reupholstered an old box couch (see my latest post) and attempted to do piping but it ended up looking like a dogs dinner so I gave up. But I'd love to know how to do it as I have a couple of other chairs to do.
    Again, awesome job! :)

  6. That looks amazing! Great job and nice determination!

  7. this chair is literally BEAUTIFUL! i'm bookmarking this, I've got to accomplish this some day! (also, your crafting space looks a lot like mine.. the TV on & an animal curled up!) xox

  8. What? Are you kidding?
    Girl, you never cease to make my mouth drop open with your brilliance! And I kept reading and I just could not stand it anymore and I had to scroll down to see the finished chair and then go finish reading! Then I could not take my eyes off it. And my favorite is that your post makes it look like you did it in 5 minutes. If only I had your skills. (I just sighed wistfully if you did not hear it).

  9. This is really beautiful! And I LOVE the pillow on the chair- did you make that too?

    Thanks for stopping by the other day!


  10. What a beautiful chair! And even though you say how hard it was, you make it look very easy... tempting even. Ha!

  11. Awesome makeover!! I could never do white in my house you are brave hehe...I am happy to be your newest follower. Please stop by for book club if you're interested--connie,

  12. Wow! This looks great! You make it look so easy!

  13. I have 3 wing back chairs glaring at me to redo them.. I have no Idea where to start you make this look so simple! Turned out beautiful!

  14. Oh my gosh! This looks amazing and you make it look like a breeze. I literally just wrote about the war going on in our home with a stinking wingback chair. I feel inspired and shamed! :P

  15. amazing job!! I just discovered your site, and love what you are doing :) Will be following!
    Melissa :)


happy DIYing! Alicia