A DIY Dummy's Guide: How To Reupholster A Chair

One chronic crafter-failure takes on her hideous chairs and reupholsters them into Pin-worthy beauties-to the utter surprise of herself and everyone who knows her. (Tutorial for non-DIYers included.)

I have never been much of a DIY-er before. I’ve never been able to make anything pretty with my hands and, until Pinterest came along, I honestly didn’t even care. I embraced my “man hands” and all of their incapable-of-creating-pretty glory.

But, somehow, Pinterest has a way of shaming people for not being party-planning-expert-chefs-who-make-their-own-soap-and-knit-all-of-their-own-clothing-in-a-house-they-built-with-their-own-two-hands. Prior to the ridiculous success of that site, I never felt bad for not stockpiling my pantry, or making my own honey, or living organic.

But then I also never had any place to share my first ever crafting success: my reupholstered bar stools!

This is a task I undertook half-heartedly. Like, I never thought they’d be worth sitting on following this overhaul. I imagined that I’d “reupholster” them and then show my half-effort to my husband who would then buy me new barstools for trying so hard.

Only, guess what?!

They came out amazing!

And, it wasn’t even that hard!

10 Easy Steps to Reupholster a Chair 

1. Put fear aside.
The first step in any successful DIY project is telling yourself you can do it, even if you and everyone who knows you are pretty sure you can’t.

2. Measure your chairs. Just the seat part, silly! We’re buying fabric soon and it doesn’t matter how tall your chairs are as long as you know the dimensions of the seat. Jot down the length and width, then add 3-4 additional inches for wrapping around the cushion.

3. Go to the fabric store. Fun! Yes, reupholstering chairs involves shopping. Pick something pretty from the UPHOLSTERY section of your fabric store. It needs to be durable to accommodate various butts and possibly feet, depending on the clientele of your household.

4. Collect your tools. You will for sure need a heavy-duty staple gun and a pair of scissors. You may also need a staple remover, an Allen wrench or a screwdriver.

5. Disassemble your chair. You need the seat part to be separated from the rest of the parts. In my case I had to remove the legs and the back. This is where the wrench went to work for me.

6. Remove the current upholstery. Or don’t. I left mine on for some extra cushion (and because I am lazy), but you can take it off if you wish. If you do decide to remove it, you will likely need a staple remover, some elbow grease, and patience. Sometimes those staples are tough to get out and you don’t want to ruin the back of your chair by rushing the job.

7. Put on the new fabric. Once the chair is ready, wrap the fresh fabric around the cushion to the back of the base. Be sure you leave about 3 inches around the seat for tucking and stapling on the back. This is where things get tricky; you have to pull the fabric on tightly and take your time around the edges so you don’t wind up with a bunched mess on your seat. Feel free to make the underside ugly and be liberal with the staples. All that matters is that the part people see looks good!

8. Trim the excess fabric. You don’t want any dangly bits under your chair.

9. Reattach chair.

10. Smile, enjoy, and take a bunch of pictures. You will need them to gloat to your friends, and of course to share them on Pinterest! Real world and virtual friends alike will applaud your work while also being insanely jealous of your skills!

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. You can Tweet with her online as @dumbparent, but don’t expect her to be serious. It’s virtually impossible.

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