11 October 2010

PIY Pointers: Recover a Chair Seat

Ever stumble across those single chairs at the flea market or thrift store with the most awful, dated fabric seats?  I used to wrinkle my nose at them before I discovered how easy they are to transform into something gorgeous and unique!  Plus the opportunity to play around with both colour AND fabric is just DIY joy!

So today we're chatting about how simple and easy it is to recover your own fabric seat chair or bench, provided the padding is in good condition (we'll save replacing bad padding for another post!). 

You'll need:
-1 piece of fabric seat furniture (plus primer, paint and finish for the wooden base)
-piece of fabric (measure for size using the old cover as your guide)
-staple gun and staples

For the purpose of this tutorial, I'll be using the Lyrical Blue Harp Back Chair I recently completed.  Remember the before?

1. Turn the chair upside down and remove the seat cushion from the base, using a screwdriver to take out the screws.

2.  Sand, prime, paint and finish your wooden seat base separately at your leisure.

3. With any luck, your seat cushion has been covered using staples.  This is the cheaper and more modern way to recover fabric, since sadly - good upholstering is becoming less and less frequent. 

Using a knife (but be careful!), slide the tip under each staple and give it a wiggle and a lift to remove.  This is the tedious part, but settle in front of the TV and it will go by quickly.

4. At this point, you can assess the condition of the seat cushion and padding (you'll often find a few layers of different fabrics, depending on how old the piece is).  If it's in good shape with no smell, I'll often keep the original layer and recover right over it.  In other cases, I've had to discard old stinky padding and start fresh.  Let's assume you got lucky, as I did here!

5.  Wash and iron your fabric, to ensure it's pre-shrunk and smooth on your seat cushion.

6. Cut to size, allowing enough fabric to curl around the edges and do a folded hem.  You don't need a lot of extra fabric or it will just bunch under your chair when you go to screw the seat back in.  I also leave notches in the corners, since this is where the fabric tends to naturally bunch.

7. Start stapling at the middle of each side with folded edges, pulling taut but not stretching the fabric.  Once all four sides have been anchored, work your from the middle to the outside edge of each side (I continuously flip the seat often and make sure I'm getting a taut pull).  If you have a straight pattern on your fabric, pay special attention to making sure it's lined up straight with your edges. 

Once you hit the corners, my personal technique is to staple each side all the way the corner.  I then pull the centre edge directly over the corner, leaving one small fold covering each side of the corner.

8. Now that your seat is recovered, rescrew it to your newly painted chair base.  Enjoy!

I hope this was tutorial was helpful for you and if you tackle a chair recovering, I hope you'll send me a pic...

Have a lovely day friends!


  1. That tutorial is great! I have two chairs I am thinking about redoing:)

  2. You're the best! Thanks for this tutorial session! Now, I won't turn my nose up at these chairs either ;) Thanks! Alyssa of BB

  3. Great tutorial! I have a chair in my garage just waiting for it's makeover. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Oh Lenore, it looks AMAZING!! I love the paint and fabric you have selected. It looks so classic but fresh and modern. I likey!!

  5. I am def filing this away for when I get to furnish a new house someday!

  6. This is awesome! You have such a talent for these things--the chair looks so chic. Such an improvement!

  7. What an awesome tutorial! Thank you so much for that the chair looks amazing!


Thanks so much for stopping by, I love reading all your comments! If you have a specific question, please email me at lhume1@mts.net. XO Lenore