Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Dining Chairs

Since I broke one of our dining chairs while using it as a step stool I thought it was a good opportunity to show you what I did to update them in the first place.

I found a set of four of these chairs at Goodwill, and I loved the caned back and the shape of them. The cane on the back was in really good shape but they were smelly, dirty, and the fabric wasn't very pretty.

Here is a before shot:

Here is a quick tutorial on what I did:

1) Remove seat cushion. If you turn the seat over there should be some screws. Once those are removed the cushion should lift right off. My chairs had four pocket screws. Here is what it looks like:

2) Lightly sand chair. Once the seat was taken off I lightly sanded the chair then cleaned off the dust.

3) Paint. I ALWAYS prime before I paint furniture. This time I used spray-on Kilz Primer. Once that was done, I used Rustoleum Painters Touch spray paint in Heirloom White.

4) Distress. I lightly sanded the corners. I knew my kids would add to the distressed look so why not make it look intentional?

5) Reupholster cushion. If you're lucky and don't have really gross, smelly cushions you will not have to replace the foam and you can just cover over the existing cushion without even removing the fabric. But unfortunately mine were smelly beyond repair so I removed them with a pair of pliers and a tapered awl. Here is an example of a tapered awl:

4) Remove old material. I used the awl to help me get under all those staples so it's easier to pull them out with pliers. Once the staples were all out, I took off the fabric and foam. Next, I cut out my new fabric using the old material as a pattern. I got my fabric from Joann's here are the details

I got it when it was on sale for 12.49. (I found this fabric in the special order section of the store)

5) Cut foam. Foam is pricey so I waited to buy it when it was 50% off at Joann's. If you know of a place to buy it cheaper please let me know! I cut my foam the same size as the seat I was recovering. BUT I've since learned that the foam should overhang the board by about an inch. My chairs still look great but in order for there to be a little more cushion on the sides and in front you should cut it a little bigger.

6) Cut batting. Cut the batting long enough to wrap around the edge and bottom of the seat. Don't cut it too short, you can always trim the excess later.

I then pulled out my electric stapler, staples, and hammer.

7) Staple. I first stapled the batting to the bottom of the seat in a few spots just to keep it in place.

I needed a hammer because occasionally the staple didn't go all the way in. It also would have probably helped if I had used shorter staples. I used 1/2-inch ones as I already had them on hand.

Really, I don't think there is any right or wrong way to tackle the stapling. I probably do it a little differently with every project; however, I have found that this way works pretty well.

Start stapling on one side, making sure the fabric is taut from staple to staple. Then go to the opposite side and do the same thing. However, you'll want to pull tight not only from staple to staple but from the opposite side that is already tacked down. Make sure there are no wrinkles or too much slack. Continue this with the other two sides.

I left the corners for last. I tried to position the pleats where they would be the least noticeable. For example, the back of the chair covers the back of the cushion so that is where I put the pleats. There was no hiding the pleats in the front so I just tried to evenly space them. 

I wasn't a huge fan of the engraving on the back of the chair so I bought these wood ornaments at Lowe's to cover them up and to add a little more personality.

EverTrue 2-3/4" Raw Whitewood Ornament

I used gorilla glue and clamped it tight to the back of the chair.

Here is one of the finished chairs at our old apartment back in Milwaukee.

Linked to:
Miss Mustard Seed 
Dwell on Joy 


  1. Fabulous makeover!

  2. Thanks for the post! I must try this soon, my chairs are so tired

  3. Such easy steps! Thanks! Looks like a completely different chair!!
    Great job!

  4. I love your chairs Kristi! I recently discovered You can buy cheaper foam at Home Depot. They call it camping foam. I just bought myself 2 pieces for my mudroom benches.

    1. Thanks Carolee! I never knew Home Depot carried stuff like that!!

  5. I stumble upon your blog and love this post i always wanted to a project like this but I was nervous. Now that I know how to i might give it a chance... thanks for the steps...

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sharm! You can do it!! :)

  6. Hey Kristi! Loving your chair makeover and the fabric you used! I have seen other bloggers use mattress toppers (one side looks like an egg crate) as a cheaper alternative to foam. Don't know why it's so pricey! Thanks for visiting my blog :) Heather @ settingforfour.blogspot.com

  7. Beautiful! I have never upholstered anything. May have to give it a try. Great job!

  8. Perfect timing for this tutorial! We are just about to reupholster our dining room chairs this week. We found the fabric we want (it's burgandy, to match our window bench), we borrowed our friend's big stapler, and we've just got to sit down and actually do it. I'll have to send you a picture when we're done.

  9. It looks lovely, i would love to try this!! how much fabric did you use for each chair ?

  10. WOW- is all I can say. I would never have even looked at those chairs in the first place. You really have vision! I'm going to have to do this on my leather dining room chairs... Mr. Bo-jangles ruined them when he was a kitten:(