How to Reupholster Dinning Chairs

Our dinning room redecorating is under way, and as the paint dries on the walls I am doing what I can to update the furniture as frugally as possible.

That means reupholstering our hand-me-down dinning chairs. I’m not in love with the cream finish, but they are in great shape all-around, and I was hoping re-covering  the seats would freshen them up. I found home decorating fabric for $7 / meter at Fabricland and bought 3 meters (more than enough for 6 seats). Here are the other tools I needed:

  • screwdriver
  • scissors
  • lint roller (optional)
  • staple gun with small staples or tacks
  • Scotch Gaurd

marterialsStep 1 Remove the seat by flipping the chair upside down and unscrewing the screws. This is how my chairs worked, yours may be different but are probably similar.

remove seat

Step 2 Cut the fabric to size by using the seat as a guide and leaving a 3-4 inch margin all around. You want to have enough fabric to pull up and under the the seat, but not so much that it becomes cumbersome to work with. Once you’ve made one square, use this piece as a template to cut enough fabric for each chair.

Step 3 Iron out each piece of fabric for a neat crisp result. Worst step ever, I hate ironing.

cut and iron

Step 4 If the fabric of your seat is tatty, you should remove it and upholster directly over the foam. My seats where in such great shape that I was able to upholster right over it. I did give them a good one-over with the lint roller, just so dust and cat hair wouldn’t be trapped inside my dinning room for all eternity. Obviously this is optional.

Step 5 Lay the fabric upside down on your workspace, and centre the seat upside down on the fabric. Starting from the middle of the top edge, grab the fabric and pull in up and over the backside of the seat. Secure with a staple.  Next, do the same thing on the bottom edge; then one side and the other. Work in the counter-part manner along each edge of the seat until you get to the corners.

Make the fabric taunt over the cushion, but be careful of pulling too tight. If you depress the foam of the seat, you could end up with dimples everywhere you have a staple.

stapleStep 6 Remove excess material at the corners by cutting them horizontally. You should end up with triangular shreds of fabric. Tightly pull up and across and staple down the corner.

cut corners

Step 7 Trim and staple down any excess fabric from the underside of your seat, and snip away frayed edges. It may also be a good idea to staple a scrap pieces of fabric to the bottom. This way if you ever need a colour sample, or need to test an new cleaning product on the fabric, you will always have some handy.

all done

Step 8 Once all of your seat cushions are covered, it is time for a very important, and often overlooked step, Scotch Guarding! These chairs are going in the dinning room. You know, where people dine. Unfortunately, people don’t always dine so elegantly and spills do happen. You don’t want to have gone through all this work just to have your beautiful new modern fabric all nasty and stained by next Easter. Buy a can of fabric protector at the hardware store, lay out the seats on a drop cloth, and give them two good coats.

photo 4

Step 9 Reattach the seats to the chairs and enjoy!


before and afterNot an overly dramatic difference, but the chairs certainly have more personality now; well worth the $30 and one afternoon spent. The new fabric is much more modern with its ikat-esque print, and the grey and blue colours will help tie in other elements being put into the dinning room. It also has a nice metallic sheen that doesn’t photograph well but I think will look great with the chrome accents of the new chandelier and curtain rod.

Basically I’m just really excited to see this room-makeover come together. Off to do a second coat of paint!


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