Last month I did my VERY FIRST reupholster project! It was a fun challenge. Although I had no experience walking into this experience, I can’t be more proud of how this chair flip turned out. If you have one of a similar style, this blog post will show you the steps I took to turn it into a $800 MCM chair dupe.
After, before, and in progress pictures. The green fabric is Crypton Piper Green from Fabric Guru, it has a velvet like feel, and is stain and odor resistant. The best of both worlds (comfort and function).
|Intermediate||18 hours (stripping, refinishing, adding new fabric)||$150|
The best advice I got when I started this project: Reupholstering is like wrapping a present.
It’s pretty much a process of figuring out how to fold the fabric to neatly wrap around the chair. If something doesn’t look right, remove the staples and try again. It is really not that intimidating.
With this mindset, let’s dive right in!
Step 1. Disassemble the chair
Remove the old fabric, piping and padding in layers, taking pictures of the different parts of the chair along the way. This step was a bit tedious, but once I got the hang of it, it went really fast and oddly satisfying.
Tip: Use a pair of pliers, pinch and twist to lift fabric off. This worked a lot faster than manually removing every single upholstery tack.
Step 2. Make repairs (optional)
After removing the old spring clips, patch with Bondo wood filler, reattach the spring clips, and tie the twine to help distribute weight evenly. This video from Fabric Farms Interiors explains the steps well: Step by Step Installing Zig Zag Springs
Tools: needle nose plier, a hammer
Step 3. Refinish the frame (optional)
Strip and sand the old finish, and reapply stain and topcoat.
Tools: orbital sander
Tip: If your chair only has minor scratches, try Restore-A-Finish, it is a quick and easy way to restore existing finish.
Step 4. Put the chair back together
Staple on burlap to cover the springs, cut foam and batting to size, and attach them with spray adhesive. For the seat of the chair, I marked the outline and sliced away excess foam. The cuts don’t need to be perfect, since the Dacron batting will cover the imperfections. This video shows how to cut foam: How To Cut Foam…With A Bread Knife!
For the back, I reused the old cotton, and made sure to leave enough space around the edges for the staples to attach to. I made the mistake of adding too much padding at the beginning, and the staples kept falling off. Chubby back is not the look we’re going for here.
Tools: staple gun, scissors, bread knife or utility knife
Tip: Shop around for foam/batting. I found 2x22x22 poly foam at Hobby Lobby for only $12. It makes the seat extra cushy and comfy.
Step 5. Attach fabric
Measure and cut the new fabric to size. For these tricky spots around the chair arms, I made small cuts to dry fit, then smoothed and tightened the fabric before stapling. It took a few tries to get the fold just right without any wrinkles. But if it looks wonky, just remove the staples and try again.
The final step is to cut off excess fabric, and staple dust cover.
Tools: staple gun, scissors
Tip: Buy extra fabric at the start of the project, or use cheaper fabric as template when figuring out the right pattern. I made a few mistakes and ended up using twice as much fabric as it’s needed.
And that’s it! See, it’s totally doable. My reupholstered chair is not perfect by any means, but it looks like a brand new piece and is so comfortable to sit on.
Of course, if you don’t feel like DIYing. There are always great alternatives on the market. Here are two of my favorite olive green mid-century modern chairs.
A few helpful blog posts on reupholstering:
Shop upholstery supplies and tools.