So this was by far the most time consuming DIY project I’ve ever done. I found this chair on Facebook marketplace for $40 and decided to give it a little sprucing up for a new reading chair. It had all the ingredients for a large comfy spot to curl up in, but the fabric and color were a little outdated. (picture below)
Step 1: The first step was to remove the old upholstery. Tools I had to use were a box cutter, flat head screw driver, and a set of pliers for removing tough to grab staples. You’ll need to be careful on this part, as there can be a lot of sharp tacks sticking out of the wood. This is the most time-consuming section, as you should pull all of the little bits out to make sure that they’re out of your way for your new fabric.
Step 2: Sand and paint
My chair had some wear on the arms, and I wanted to paint the frame, so I did a light round of sanding with my orbital sander to smooth out the bumps and get rid of the sealer. Once I finished that, I did a layer of Kilz latex primer and Behr paint in “marshmallow” and did a light round of sanding to give it a distressed look. (picture below was between coats of primer and paint)
Step 3: Reupholster
Starting with the back section, I stapled the fabric across the back from the inside, making sure to keep it taut to prevent any ripples in the fabric. I added a layer of burlap (I found a yard at at Michaels since I didn’t have a fabric store on hand) for stability. Then I cut a section of foam that matched the old scraps in size. I pinched the foam into the base by wrapping my front piece of fabric with a batting liner between and stapling it to death. It was tricky getting around the arms, as my stapler was slightly too large to navigate tight spaces, but after a while I got it around.
Don’t worry about excess fabric yet. I trimmed all the excess off at the end when I knew that my staples held and I wouldn’t need to adjust anything.
Once you finish the top you can work on the bottom! This area was a lot like wrapping a present. Stapling around the edges, make sure that you do a cross shape first so that you’re not pulling too far in any single direction or your pattern will end up lop-sided. The front edges can be folded over. I cut a small slit when I got to the arm joints (**wait to do this until you are absolutely sure you know where it will land or you can get a wrinkle in the fabric**) and tucked the fabric in around the base.
Step 4: Cut off Excess Fabric!
Once you finish cutting, use a pair of precision scissors to cut as close to your staples as possible all the way around. You’ll cover the edges with a trim, but it’s much easier to have very little excess. I had to go hunt down these scissors from Michaels because my normal scissors were just not cutting it (ha!) so I found these short blade scissors that are spring loaded that made it infinitely easier to get close to the trim.
Step 5: Trim!
I debated what kind of trim I would use. You can definitely use a traditional trim (and next time I will) but I ended up using 3 strands of thick cotton string that is traditionally used in piping. Using a hot glue gun, I went around all of the edges gluing on top of the staples so that they would be covered and layering my strings on top. BE CAREFUL DOING THIS! I ended up with 4 different burns on my hands from trying to handle hot glue. It’s been a while, ok?
Here’s a pic showing the process:
Once you go all the way around, you can check for any last minute touch ups and you’re all done! I love the way my chair turned out – It’s sitting in the window in my bedroom, adding a bright splash of color and giving me a ‘lil burst of accomplishment when I open my eyes in the morning.
I’m a little addicted to weekend projects now. The day after I finished this project I received 2 more antique chairs in need of some TLC for free. I’ve been informed by the roommates that we don’t have the space for even more chairs in our living area, so this time I’m going to see if I can fix them up and find them happy homes with friends or even other shoppers on Facebook Marketplace. Now that HomeByTheBae is up and running, I may even do more step by step photos or videos for if you decide to attempt your own DIY reupholstery project.
This is my starting point for my next chair, and the fabric and trim I plan on using. What do you think? Would you like to see a comfy chair like this in your house or apartment?