Re-upholstering your Dining or Kitchen Chairs

With the current kitchen set renovation in progress I thought I'd post a quick and easy tutorial on how to re-upholster chairs.   I'm talking about the chairs that have a cushion-y seat and can easily pop out once your unscrew them from the bottom.   I aspire to mastering "major" re-upholstering jobs like wing backs, ottomans and such; but for now I'm sticking with what I know!  

Let's start with some basic considerations and tips for a simple chair re-upholstering project:      

1.  Good Bones:

Ideally your chair should be intact; because once you start using your staple gun on that thing, you definitely don't want it crumbling to pieces on you!   Plus, there is no sense in spending time and money re-upholstering if the chair won't last much longer.  

2.   Cushion Seats

Chairs with cushion seats that easily pop out once unscrewed from the bottom are great for re-upholstering.  Tip: make sure you keep the screws with the appropriate chair bottom/cushion and chair. This will make putting them back together much easier.   Number the chair bottom (under a leg) and put the hardware/wood bottom for that chair together labeled in the same way.  I learned this the hard way and had to test all the cushions on each chair for the best fit possible.  Below is an example of a chair suitable for re-upholstering! 


This is what the chair looks like once the wood seat and cushion are removed. 

This is what the chair looks like once the wood seat and cushion are removed. 

3.  Fabric

Choosing fabric can be a challenge, but if you know your color scheme and style preference (floral, geometric, solid color, stripe, etc.)  that helps!   It's OK not to know might enjoy just looking at all the fabrics and choosing one that catches your eye.  In that case you may have to plan your room around the fabric you choose.  Consider the material/fabric type also!  If you have young kiddos and you are re-doing your kitchen chairs, you might think about trying a wipe-able fabric.    Or choose darker colors if there will be tons of kid traffic on them. 

4.  Supplies Needed

For this project you will need a fabric scissors and fabric, staple gun, and a flat surface to work on.  I use a carpeted floor.  When you staple the fabric onto the chair bottom, you need to press hard so the staple goes in all the way.  You don't want a flimsy or slippery surface to work on for that reason!   As far as amount of fabric needed, I just completed a re-upholstering job and I used about two yards of fabric for 4 large dining chairs (pictured above).  If you aren't sure how much fabric you need, just ask someone at the fabric store....they are so helpful! 

5.  Cutting your Fabric

When you cut you fabric allow about 3-4 inches around the perimeter of the chair bottom so you can bring up the edges onto the back of the chair.    It looks like this: 

I usually end up trimming the fabric as I go because I always start with more than I need. Better to have too much, then not enough!   

6.  wrapping the chair bottom and cushion

In my experience It is easiest to start with the corners.  Start by pulling the corner of the fabric over the corner of the chair.  Secure it by stapling it in place.  See below: 

Then you can pull each side straight onto the chair edge, so there is overlap with the corner piece you just stapled.    This is pictured below: 

Once the corners are secured, you are ready for the sides.  Make sure you are pulling tightly so the fabric is tight against the chair cushion on the other side.   I staple usually every couple inches or more if needed.   Make sure you note where the nail holes in the chair bottom are so you don't cover them up with the fabric.  You will need easy access to those holes once it's time to screw the seat back into the chair. I usually trim around the nail holes see I can seem them easily:

Once you have the perimeter tightly secured with staples, then the fun part begins!  Putting them back into the chairs! 

7.  Screwing cushions back into chair frames

I would recommend having someone help you with this step.   One person can lie under the chair ready to screw the screws back in, and the other person can push down on the cushion from the top.  This will help ensure the seat is on tight and is flush against your chair frame.  

And that is it!  It is a fairly simple project, though it seems that for these "simple" projects I always experience some type of equipment malfunction!   Seriously!  Live and learn.    

I hope you took something away from this mini tutorial.  It takes a little practice.....and patience. I didn't get my groove until the third of four chairs today!  Do you have any chair candidates stored away in your basement or garage?   See what you already have, and give it a try!  I'd love to hear how it went!  

Happy almost Friday and a sincere "thank you" for checking in today!