DIY Chair Makeover Tutorial

Hey everyone! I am so excited to show you my chair makeover today! I bought this chair for $10 (thank you very much, Craigslist) and it was in major disrepair. I had been searching and searching for the perfect chair to go in my newly remodeled master bedroom. Seriously. I searched for weeks. I wanted something with a wooden frame because I wanted to paint it white. I wanted something with wooden arms because I knew I was going to reupholster it and didn't want to mess with reupholstering arms. I wanted something that was sturdy. I wanted something that had a little character to it. I wanted it to be comfortable. And I wanted it to be cheap. Really cheap. And I finally found it!

So here is the before and after (because I know that's what you really want to see).

Let me just tell you that this thing took some work. You know when you read other tutorials about reupholstering furniture and they tell you that they had to remove 6,532 staples? They don't lie. I thought they were lying, but it turns out they tell the truth. I literally got 3 blisters from pulling staples. This is not for the faint of heart.

Anyways, on to the chair. I am going to show you exactly what I did to reupholster this chair. (Aka, this tutorial is going to be long and have lots of pictures. You've been warned.)

The first thing to remember is to take a picture of every step. This helps you put it back together.

I decided to tackle the back of the chair first. Take off any piping around the fabric.

Then start taking off the layers. Try to keep the fabric as intact as possible to use as a template for your new fabric. I had 4 layers. Fabric, foam, mesh, fabric.

I laid out all the layers so I could remember what went first.

Then start pulling those staples. And pulling them. And acquiring blisters. And pulling more staples. My weapons tools of choice were a putty knife (or a 5-in-1 tool), a pair of needlenose pliers, and a bucket to put all the staples and fabric scraps in.

See what I mean about the bajillion staples? All those little white/silver things in that groove are staples. 

After that is done, repeat the same process on the seat of the chair. Start with the piping.

Then the fabric. Then the batting. Then the foam. I left the black mesh and the webbing because they were in good condition.

Take a picture of the layers again. (Trust me, this is helpful. Especially if you do this project over a few days' time.)

Now the destructive part is over. On to the paint process! I made sure to sand the chair really well because the finish was already flaking off. Then I wiped it down with a damp rag and let it dry.

After that, prime the wood that will be showing. I did 2 coats of Rustoleum spray primer which only took 1 can. (P.S. Do you like my box props?)

Then start painting. I used Krylon spray paint in gloss white so it would match the rest of my master bedroom. I used almost 2 cans for 3 coats. I probably didn't need to do that much, but wanted to be safe.

Painting finished! Now to put the chair back together...

Start by gathering your supplies. Fabric, foam, batting, cording, scissors, marker, etc. I bought 3 yards of fabric and didn't use nearly that much. If I had to guess, I'd say I used about 1.5 yards. Maybe less.

Lay your fabric out face down and use your old fabric (also face down) as a template for how big it needs to be. I cut mine pretty close to the same size, which was easier than trimming it after it was stapled on.

The next step is to make the cording. I don't own a sewing machine and didn't feel like going to my mom's house to do it, so I made it using a hot glue gun. I measured the cording against the old piping, then cut it a little longer (so I could trim it and make the ends look nice). The fabric strips were about 3" wide. Hot glue the cord to the middle of the fabric. Then fold the fabric around the cord, hot gluing as you go. Trim the excess fabric. Then trim the ends so the new piping is the right length.

Next came the foam. I used leftover foam from my dining chairs, which is actually an egg crate for a twin bed. Lay them out and cut them to size.

I worked on the chair seat first. Fit the foam onto the seat, trimming excess as needed.

Next comes the batting. Fit that over the foam and trim it so it's an inch or so over the edge.

Staple the batting and foam onto the chair.

Then staple on the fabric. I had to have my handy husband help me with this because the staples had to go in that little groove and I couldn't get them in.

Trim the excess fabric off. It doesn't have to look perfect because the piping is going to cover the rough edges.

Use your hot glue gun to glue the piping on. Mine went in that little groove and covered all the staples, so it gives it a finished look.

Step back and admire how good it's looking!

Put the chair back back together using the same process. Add your piping around the edges, and voila. All done!

I love, love, love the way this chair turned out! It's obviously not perfect, since it's my first reupholstery job, but it looks at least 10000x better than it did! What do you think?
And a sneak peek of the chair (and lamp with the ruffled shade) in my room!

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  1. Wow! It doesn't even look like the same chair! Please share this over at Stylish Friday Finds link party! My readers would love it!
    Happy Weekend!

  2. Gorgeous. What a major difference!


    Very 60's chic with the colors and shape!


  4. Beautiful job, Katie! It was well worth the time and effort you put into it to get this look {except for maybe the blisters}. It looks like a totally different chair.

    Thanks for linking up to The Creative Home & Garden hop! : )

  5. Good Morning Katie, My goodness, your chair looks so different now. It sits beautifully by your window, with the table and footstool. A lovely place to sit and relax and enjoy a book.
    I know what you mean about staples, I am just upholstering a telephone table and I could not believe how many staples I had to remove, and my oh my, did my hands hurt afterwards.
    Katie, I have enjoyed my visit and I have become a new follower. I would like to invite you to visit me at Ivy, Phyllis and Me!
    Have a lovely Sunday.
    Best Wishes

  6. Okay - fabulous makeover and seriously amazingly detailed tutorial!! Love it! I would be thrilled if you have the chance to share this at our new Fall DIY Challenge if you haven't already- today we are linking up BLUE projects - old or new! Hop over to The Happy Housie to share yours! Hope to see ya there!

    - Krista

  7. So pretty! I bet the previous owners would be sorry they sold it if they saw it now! Thanks for sharing at our Get Your DIY on Fall Link Party. You helped make week one a success! I hope you'll join us again on Sunday. Our theme is fall wreaths :)


  8. s0o0o0 much lovely post and nice colour combination.?1.7.online beds company UK

  9. Great advice! Thanks for adding to the discussion.Thanks for putting this together! It looks very cool so far. I’ll be checking back to see the full plans. Global


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