Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From Old to Bold: An Upholstered Chair's Makeover

My grandmother handed down a really comfortable arm chair to us that was just the perfect size for my small living room. I had been on the hunt for an arm chair that would fit next to our fireplace but I just couldn't find anything that was both small, comfortable, and cheap (hey, we're on a budget) . . . until I saw this chair sitting in grandma's garage waiting to find a new home!

The upholstery on it is great quality but, there was a hole wearing into an arm rest and some spit up from one of my many cousins that had left a stain that even the best housekeeper was unable to completely get out. Plus, the cream really isn't my first choice for upholstery picks in the living room. I figured now was the perfect time to try to test out re-upholstering. I looked at a lot of tutorials and finally decided to dive in. 

My inspiration was the dachshund pillow in the picture. My aunt bought it for me for Christmas from Persnickety Pelican. I was so happy to find a perfectly matching upholstery fabric from With a coupon they sent me as I was able to get 6.5 yards of it for $36! I will show you how I took apart the chair and put it back together.

Luckily, this chair's cushion had a zipper. So the first thing I did was remove the foam stuffing from the cushion. The foam in this chair is in great condition! My grandmother is a fabulous housekeeper, and thank goodness because foam is pricey! When choosing a chair to reupholster do your best to be sure that there is no serious staining that could have ruined the foam. 

For the chair cushion, I performed the tedious task of ripping all of the seams out. This allowed me to re-use the cording and the zipper.

I re-sewed the cording into a strip of the new fabric. I then used the pieces from the old cushion to create a pattern for the new cushion. I traced and cut out all of the pieces for the new cushion and sewed it all together.  

I then re-stuffed the foam piece into the new cushion and zipped it up. Not too bad for my first time making a cushion but the right side of the cushion has a slight angle in it that is driving me crazy . . . something I will have to fix in the near future.

My next step was to start tearing the chair apart. While doing this I kept notes on what came off in what order, that way I could put the chair back together in the reverse order. The dust ruffle seemed like the most logical place to start. In fact, once it was off I suddenly really liked the chair. Amazing how the dust ruffle aged the chair so much. Personally I think it looks cleaner and more modern without it.

Then I flipped the chair over and began the horrible process of pulling what felt like a million staples out of the chair. 

At this point the staples were no big deal. I was so excited about this makeover that adrenaline kept me from noticing how tedious of a task I was performing.

Once the bottom staples were all removed I was able to start working up the sides of the chair. At this point I began to realize that this sucked. 

Eventually I reached the upholstery tacks. At this point, I was feeling pain in my back and my hands were red, swollen and I could tell exactly where the blisters were forming. If you decide to refinish a completely upholstered chair this may be the point where you seriously debate quitting. You may even find yourself dragging the chair halfway to the curb, all the while cursing the furniture maker who was clearly having way too much fun with a staple gun.

This is the point where you need to pull out the fabric you chose and picture yourself sitting in your awesome new chair. It is also the point where I finally called in my husband to be the reliever for a bit while I sat and cried about my sore hands. We called it a night once the tacks were out. The next day we finished pulling all the staples and the last bits of old fabric off the chair and I began sewing the front cushion. Again, I seam ripped the old cushion and used the pieces as a pattern. 

I first upholstered the very back of the front of the chair. Notice that fabric from the top and front of the chair always pulls through in between the wood on the chair, this is what makes the fabric appear seamless.Now, a staple gun doesn't work so great on the hard wood of furniture so I had to hammer in some of the staples and I used tack nails to reinforce the fabric every so often. I then placed the back cushion onto the front of the chair and got ready to tuft it! Once again, I called my husband in to help. We were using the existing holes in the back of the chair as a guide. I had also saved the old cushion front and laid it on top of the new cushion to guide the tufting buttons through. The buttons were so easy to recover . . . I cheated and used hot glue!  

Tufting was the easiest part of this chair. Do not be intimidated by a tufted chair. As long as you create a guide for where you want the buttons to go then you will be set. As you pull each button tight you will find that the fabric adjusts itself accordingly. 

Not bad for my first time tufting, right? Next were the arms. Again, I ripped seams and used the old arms as a pattern. A lot of sewing, stapling and re-adjusting and I finally had one just right. Of course, it was also 11 p.m. at this point so it was time to take a break for the night. 

Unfortunately, my project took longer than expected and I was left to finish on a Monday, which meant no extra hands to help me out. Which also meant that I did not take any pictures since I was so caught up working. But the next day I finished the other arm and the front of the chair. Then I was able to staple the lining back up and I upholstered the back of the chair. Nothing fancy, just easy stapling and pulling tight. 

Finally, after 3 straight days of work the chair was finished before bed on Monday night. Would I do this again? Heck no. Was it worth it? Heck yeah. But my next upholstery projects will definitely be chairs that are not completely upholstered. Any fully upholstered chairs from now on will be gifted a slip cover in this house!

Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment