From Trash to Treasure | Easy-to-Follow Guide to Chair Reupholstery

From Trash to Treasure | Easy-to-Follow Guide to Chair Reupholstery

Where are my frugal ladies at? Do you want to add a little personality and pizzazz to your home decor/furniture but can’t (or won’t) pay the Anthropology or Pottery Barn price tag? Well, have no fear. This Easy-to-Follow Guide to Chair Reupholstery will have you turning someone else’s “trash” into your treasured piece of furniture in no time! And the best part? Your friends and fam will be blown away when you tell them how much money you saved doing this seemingly-difficult-but-actually-simple project at home!

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Check out these inspo pics (& price tags) below:

Screenshot of Anthropologie Dining Chair for $498 before tax
Pottery Barn Chair Screenshot with prices

I truly love the look of all four of these, but there is just no possible way that I can afford to spend $369-$519 on a single dining chair! Especially when I need a minimum of 6 (but more like 8) chairs for my table! That would be somewhere in the ballpark of $2,214 to $4,152 just for chairs!

Believe In the Impossible

If you are feeling the same way I did about those prices, you may be thinking “I am never going to be able to have that bohemian-meets-modern-farmhouse style table & chairs without selling a kidney!”

I am here to tell you friend, that you can have your dream chairs and more for a dramatically lower price. Eek! I am so excited to share my latest chair reupholstery project with you.

Bargain Hunting

It’s true that you need to have patience and a little bit of a skilled eye to walk into a thrift store and see the potential in something. Thankfully, I have honed that skill over the years so I am prepared to share with you everything I know about picking up thrifted pieces. Here is the thought process I go through when prepping to thrift:

The Goal

Are you looking for a particular piece? Do you need a certain number of items?

Jake and I went to multiple thrift stores with the goal of finding new dining chairs. We knew we would need 6, so this was risky, but we believed we could find them! And we did!

The Vision

What is your inspiration? For me, like I shared above, it was the Anthropology/Pottery Barn look without the price tag… I knew that if I wanted upholstered chairs, I was going to have to look for something that was already upholstered. The likelihood of finding exactly what I was looking for already is very slim, so I knew I would probably have to reupholster whatever I found.

Chair Reupholstery- Say What?

Before you start panicking about the difficulty of this task, let me reassure you that chair reupholstery is easier than you think. All you need is some fabric, a stapler, and a little bit of patience. If you have a sewing machine, that can be very useful, too. I did use one for this project.

Trust me, if I can do this, so can you!

First things first, choose a fabric that speaks to you. Whether it’s a bold print or a soft neutral, make sure it’s something you love and will bring joy to your space. I knew I wanted a thick, neutral colored, canvas-type fabric. I also wanted to spend as little money as possible, so I opted to purchase these 9×12 foot drop cloths on Amazon and I am so glad I did. One drop cloth was able to reupholster nearly four chairs!

Next, remove the old fabric from the chair using a flathead screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Try not to destroy the fabric during removal as you will need to use it as a template for your new fabric. Cut the new fabric to size and start stapling it onto the chair frame.

If you are able to use a sewing machine, use your seam ripper to undo the sewn aspects of the original material. I found it helpful to use a sharpie and label each piece of fabric so I knew (for pattern purposes) what parts I was tracing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Molly, what about the corners? Won’t they be difficult?” Ah, yes, the corners. But fear not, my friends, for I have a trick up my sleeve. Simply fold the fabric over at the corner, creating a neat and tidy fold, and staple it in place. It’s as easy as that!

Not only is chair reupholstery a fun and doable DIY project, but it’s also a great way to breathe new life into old furniture. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save by not having to buy those new chairs!

So, grab your fabric, your stapler, and let’s get to work. Your old, tired chairs are about to become the treasure of your home decor.

Reupholstered Chair Beside Old Patterned Chair

My Easy-to-Follow Guide to Dining Chair Reupholstery

Out with the Old

Using a flat head screwdriver and needle nose pliers, remove all staples and fabric from chair. Be careful not to rip or ruin the fabric if possible as you will be using it for a guide later. This is a very tedious and time consuming process. I suggest putting on your favorite playlist or binge watching a show to pass the time. It is also helpful to have a second set of hands from time to time, so grab a friend to join you!

Once all of the upholstery has been removed, carefully remove or hammer in any staples that have broken off or are stuck so you don’t hurt yourself. (I learned that lesson the hard way!)

Trace Your Pattern & Cut

On a large, flat surface, lay out your fabric. Press any wrinkles or creases and use something heavy to weigh down any turned corners. On the back side of the fabric, trace your pattern pieces, face down. You want the traced side to be the side that no one will see once the project is complete. Make sure to trace all pieces the same way!

If using a sewing machine, continue reading. If not, continue to stapling!

Pin right sides together, bottom sides facing out. Carefully sew along the edge using 1/4 inch seam allowance and be sure to backstitch for extra durability.

Once you have your pieces pinned and sewn, make sure to trim excess strings, look for any missed stitches and verify that your work is durable and complete.

Some Assembly Required

Place fabric over chair in appropriate spots, making sure that pieces align properly before stapling.

Carefully start stapling, pulling the fabric tight as you go.

When you get to the corners, fold the fabric and make crisp, clean edges, and continue stapling.

For the chairs I did, I had to add a back piece using upholstery tack strips like these. You will want to measure your piece to know what size you will need. For what it is worth, I recommend buying new tack strips rather than trying to salvage old ones. Hammering out the originals can be time consuming and cause them to break. Using a new strip will provide significantly less of a headache for you.

Once the reupholstering was complete, I added the black netting fabric back to the bottoms of the chairs and my husband reapplied the bases to the chairs as well.

    Money, Money, Money

    For this chair reupholstery project, we spent:

    1. $80 on six chairs
    2. $20 on Drop Cloths (I did need two 9×12 cloths but had one on hand already so I only had to purchase one).

    In total, we spent $100 (and about four days) making these beautiful chairs! That is a savings of about $2,114 to $4,052.

    I told you it would be a dramatic savings!

    Boho Farmhouse Table and Chairs with Title "From Trash to Treasure | Easy-to-Follow Guide to Chair Reupholstery"

    I hope you will try your hand at some reupholstering! If you do, be sure to tag me over on Instagram (@mollyfinneganblog) so I can cheer you on and celebrate with you!

    xoxo, molly

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