Tom and I have a thing for old chairs. I’m not sure, every couple finds themselves at furniture stores, yard sales and antique shops discussing how beautiful a chair is, but we do.
So often times I find old chairs that need a little love and update them. Not that we need another chair, but I just can’t walk away from them. I love well-made chairs or rocking chairs. The first one in the photos below was set out for the trash. It was a small desk chair that was in perfect shape except for needing paint and an updated seat. The other is an accent chair that is made with a spring seat. The chair had been recovered once in the 1980s (my best guess) by the fabric style. A cat had done real damage to the fabric and it was stained and dirty. The arms and legs were in perfect shape and the springs were good.
Over in the last few years, I have learned some tricks that helped me save a ton of money doing recovering the chair myself. I really enjoy making these chairs look updated and ready to use again.
The largest amount of money was saved by finding the fabric used. Yea, you can find lots of nice large pieces of fabric at thrift stores or yard sales that were once used for curtains or bedspreads. The fabric I used on these two chairs was a twin bed duvet cover. I was able to use just the front panel of fabric and saved the back for another project. I purchased the Duvet at the local Goodwill for 4 dollars including tax. I think we ended up with 4 1/2 yards of fabric on each the front and back so a total of 9 yards of fabric for 4 dollars. Over a hundred dollar savings compared to regular new fabric prices.
SUPPLIES NEEDED TO RECOVER A LIVING ROOM CHAIR or SEAT COVER :
Staple Gun and a large pack of staples
Low loft quilt batting
Bottle of clear fabric glue
4 Yards of fabric or more
A flat tip screwdriver usually
50 or more furniture decorative tacks
Foam for a cushion of desk chair
Before pulling the chair apart I took the fabric and fitted it to the chair so I could see the pattern. I then measured the back and made sure I would have enough fabric to also cover the back.
I only removed the back panel of the chair and saved the gimp cord around the panel. I wanted to make it look like I had recorded the chair. I then covered the front sides and back with quilt batting using a spray-on glue from Elmers. I sprayed the glue onto the fabric waited 5 minutes until tacky and then unrolled the batting on to the seat and back trimming anything that got too thick and bunched. I then sprayed the back panel and did the same thing trimming inside the gimp cord. This very thin layer of batting smooths the finish of the material if there are lose spots. It also covers any dark material or patterns. So when I cover the chair the blue dots will not show through.
I also sprayed the glue on the back panel and added the batting. Once everything is dry it is time to stretch the material over the seat of the chair. Starting at the front lip of the seat frame I line the pattern up how I want it and staple the material to the wood frame Pulling the new material up and over the seat. Stopping to staple the material to the back frame after tucking it into the space between the seat and back. Then slowly I mark where the leg goes with an ink pen. A small slit at the front leg location in the material. measuring how high the armrest comes up from the bottom of the frame to the place it comes out. Then I make a slit in the material just as long as the base of the armrest. Then slowly I pull the fabric around the armrest and down into the fold around the base of the armrest until it sits nicely and hides any loose edges. Then I staple the fabric onto the frame doing the same on each side. I go from one side to the other pulling the fabric so that it is stretched tight over the seat. I fold the extra material back at the corners and tuck under and staple to the frame. Then I do the same for the back of the chair but leaving some extra fabric in the large fold between seat and back for adjustment when someone sits. I staple the material on the sides and finally arrive at the top part of the wooden frame with no loose material.
Then I spray the back panel covering the gimp with glue also. I place the fabric centered over the panel with 2 inches of extra material around the edge. I smooth the fabric over the glue and let it rest on the kitchen table for about 10 minutes. Then flip the panel over I spray glue on the back of the gimp and some on the back of the old fabric. At each corner, I split the material about 1 inch and then fold the fabric together to make a smooth corner and add a touch of fabric glue ( the thicker clear glue is a squeeze tube) to hold in place. I let dry overnight.
At this point the all the glue is dry and the seat, sides, and seatback are covered with the new fabric. The back panel is ready to be put back in place with decorative tacks.
I start with the top center tack while the chair is laying forward on its arms. I then smooth out the top and tack the corners pulling them tight just before I set the tack. I work my way down to the bottom and pull those corners down and tight and set those tacks next. I then just follow the gimp cord and try to place my tacks as close to the gimp cord as possible and finish the back panel.
To finish up the chair I go around the small cuts I made to the front and back of each armrest and glue anything that needs tucked in or smoothed out from my cutting.
The chair looks pretty good! I am super happy that I did not take apart the chair or remove any wooden pieces. It is not perfect and I do have a small tear around one of the arm bases but the glue keeps it looking pretty nice.
The other chair we picked up out of the trash is now a desk chair for my son.
All I did for this little chair was to remove the seat, sanded and spray painted the body a flat black. I added a new foam cushion to the seat that I attached with spray glue. I cut the foam just a little bit smaller than the wood seat. I placed the new foam covered seat on the fabric and made sure the fabric reached the wooden back without pulling the fabric tight. I made sure to have about an inch or two of extra fabric to staple to the wood back. Then I stretch the material lightly over the seat, flip it over and staple the fabric to the back. I go back and forth with the staples to make sure the stretch is even. If you pull too hard the foam will dimple down and you will have to go back and pull out that staple and reset it. I had to reset two staples from pulling everything to tight but was happy with the results. Then I screw the seat back into the chair. You may have to trim fabric from the cushioned seat to get it out of the way of the screws and now you have two chairs that are looking great again.
My total cost for these to chairs to be recovered and painted:
free desk chair 0.00
foam for cushion 12.00
low loft quilt batting 6.00
decorative furniture tacks 5.00
spray paint 4.00
small spray glue 4.00
small bottle fabric glue 3.00
sanding block 4.00
Total price for chairs and recovering $60.00
This could be less if you have any of these supplies on hand. I only bought the chair, fabric, tacks, low loft quilt batting and fabric glue. I had all the other supplies on hand from other projects.
In comparison, total savings are around 260 dollars.
This accent chair was 225.00
and this desk chair is 95.00