I love little changes that make a big difference! No, this is not a new bed – just an easy-to-sew slipcover for our headboard. I have been creating a light and neutral look in our bedroom, but something wasn’t quite … Continue reading
Re-inventing an old chair is one of the easiest furniture makeovers, and it is so rewarding to create a one-of-a-kind gem like this!
When I debuted my Queen Anne chair makeover, I provided some tips for painting. Today, I’ll cover the basics of reupholstering a chair seat. I had also mentioned in the earlier post that I had discovered a great fabric choice for seats, so let’s start there.
The secret is that this beautiful fabric, with its bold graphic pattern and textured weave, is not a standard decorator upholstery fabric but an outdoor fabric! It won’t stain, fade, or wear out. You can wipe or even scrub it clean! These days, the options for colors, patterns, and textures in outdoor fabrics are immense. I’ve used outdoor fabrics on several projects, and the results have been great!
I bought the Lake Paradise and Muse fabrics from fabricguru.com. This is definitely my favorite source for online fabric shopping. They have good prices and selection, and they make it easy to search, which can be overwhelming with some of the other sites. I bought the Sunbrella Dupione from a marine supply store online.
A couple of caveats: the polyester outdoor fabrics are stiffer than cotton upholstery fabric, so they don’t feel as soft or wrap as neatly around corners as a cotton. Also, while fine for the upholstery, they would feel stiff on a cushion, so if you want to create coordinating pillows or other items, you might want to look for the same print in a regular decorator cotton. I found the acrylic was much softer to the touch, though I did not do the sewing on those fabulous bench cushions. I also have noticed some slight piling on our dining chairs, but it’s very minor, and I am sure that they would be in much worse shape by now, if I had used a standard cotton fabric, because we eat there every day.
Upholstering a Seat:
You will need:
- flat head screwdriver and pliers
- sheet of foam (unless you are reusing the existing seat cushion)
- upholstery fabric
- staple gun and staples
1. Use a flat head screwdriver and pliers to remove all the old staples. Argh! Look at all those staples. This took a long time!
2. If you aren’t reusing the old foam, cut a new cushion from a sheet of foam from the craft store. I used two pieces of 1/2″ foam, one cut to fit the seat exactly and the other a bit wider, to wrap around the outside of the seat.
3. Center the fabric under the foam and seat bottom. For a large print, like the “Muse” on my Queen Anne chairs, pin the fabric in place, to make sure the pattern is centered.
4. Using the staple gun, tack the fabric onto the seat bottom on the center of each side. (Apparently, I forgot to take a picture of this!)
5. Next, staple from the center of each side towards the corners, stopping about two inches from the corner. Fold up the fabric at the corner and tack it to the bottom of the seat:
6. Now finish stapling the fabric on the sides. Depending on the angle, sometimes you need an extra fold in the fabric.
7. Repeat for all sides and corners, and you’re done!
Let me know if you have any questions!
I have a confession: I am in love… with my newly made-over chairs.
I like a lot of classic furniture, but I never was interested in traditional ornate wooden chairs. The curves and details just didn’t do it for me… until I saw how fabulous they can look when painted in a fresh color! Here are some of the inspirations that made my heart go pitter-patter.
Go to The Nesting Game
Go to Centsational Girl
When I saw these chairs, I desperately and urgently wanted to make my own! And I could not believe my luck when, on the first day I looked, I found someone giving away two Queen Anne chairs for free on Craigslist. The chairs are not vintage, but all the better, so I needn’t feel guilty about painting them. The guy who was giving them away had several other pieces of furniture for free that had all been victims of his cat, as you can see in the “before” picture.
I wish I had the space and a use for ten of these chairs, because I’d love to paint some in apple green, light blue or white. The upholstery options are endless, too. For this project, I decided on grey. Grey is the popular “new neutral,” and I agree that it is beautiful and timeless.
Painting furniture can be broken down into just a few simple steps:
1) Prep: sand and wipe down your surface.
2) Prime: it’s worth the time and money to use a coat of primer, as this will seal the existing wood or paint and help the new paint adhere.
3) Paint: I used a grey spray enamel from the hardware store.
- Tip: chairs like these have lots of of angles and curves, and it’s easy to miss areas, so I try to work my way around systematically. I stand on each of the four sides and spray anything that is facing me, working my way around the chair. Then, I work my way around again, standing at each of the four corners and again spraying anything that is facing me. By doing this, you shouldn’t miss any spots.
4) Clear topcoat: this step is also worth the time and money, as the paint will wear and could rub off on walls or other furniture.
I love home decorating ideas that don’t have to cost a lot of money to get a one-of-a kind beautiful result. I definitely have my eye out for the next great find! These chairs are for my sewing and craft room, which is also our guest room. In a house full of boys, it’s the one place where I have fun adding some flowers and curves.
UPDATE: I followed up with a post about the upholstery, including my new favorite choice for durable and beautiful fabric.
I love such a love for beautiful fabrics! And why use just one fabric to upholster a chair, when you can use two?! The back of a chair is a great place to use a more delicate, expensive, or ornate fabric that might not be ideal for the seat, and the contrast between the two materials adds a lot of interest. I’ve seen great examples of this from some of my favorite designers:
So, I was looking around my house for a way to try this, when my eyes landed on a pair of green side chairs that we’ve had for many years as extra seating in our living room. They were originally dining chairs that worked well for saving space, and I cut down the legs to make them more comfy for lounging. Our new house can get dark, so I’ve been trying to lighten up our furniture, and I just happened to have recently bought this gorgeous floral fabric. I didn’t even have a specific plan for it, but I knew that I had to have it (did I mention, I have a weakness for beautiful fabrics?!) I spotted it on Fabricguru.com, which is my favorite online fabric store. They have great prices on remnants and an easy-to-browse interface. The downside is that a lot of the fabrics are discontinued or almost so, so if you need more down the road, it may be hard to find.
Here’s what happened when the old chairs met my new fabric:
To apply the fabric, I experimented with our staple gun, but in the end, it worked best to apply the fabric with just a regular craft glue gun. I folded about a half inch “seam” around the edge and just glued it on. I was prepared to cover the edges – or staples, had I used them – with some piping, but I lucked out, and the panels had piping already, so it looked very finished with very few steps. I think you could retrofit a variety of existing chairs with some creativity and minimal upholstery skills.
For some more inspiration, check out these beautiful examples found by other bloggers:
Go give it a try! It might take some adaptation to work on your particular chairs, but keep in mind using nailhead trim, piping, or decorative braid to hide staples and seams, creating a transition as you turn your chairs into eye-pleasing conversation pieces!