Chairs can be an expensive addition to your home, especially when you need multiple chairs to seat your family and guests. Upcycling old chairs not only saves you money on buying new, but it gives you the chance to be creative with the finish and colours you choose. You can make furniture that fits seamlessly into your home décor, no matter what they originally looked like when you found them at the car boot sale, charity shop or junk store. In order to create your own upholstered chairs…
What you’ll need
To do this DIY project you’ll need the following tools:
In addition, these materials will be needed:
The measurements of the fabric will depend on the size of the seat, with extra width to allow the fabric to be folded around all sides of the seat and stapled in place on the underside.
Cost, time and difficulty
The approximate cost of materials for this project is £45.
This project is quite simple and is therefore suitable for beginners. Depending on the style of your chairs, this project shouldn’t take longer than half a day. Allow extra time for drying, which will be determined by recommended drying times on the varnish or paint you use. If you require a second coat of paint, this will require more drying time and extend the length of your project.
Step 1: Clean and dismantle the chairs
Brush down the chairs with the brush from a dustpan to remove any cobwebs, dust and debris. Turn the chairs over and twist the latches that hold the seat pad into the chair.
Pop the seat pad out of the chair frame and set aside. If you’re working on multiple chairs, it’s a good idea to make a note of which seat pad belongs to which chair frame. Brush around the empty seat space.
Step 2: Sand the chairs
Attach a course sandpaper to your sander and begin to sand off any old varnish, paint splashes or watermarks. Don’t forget to sand the inside edges of the legs and seat. Work the tip of the sander into all the joins and corners.
Once the varnish has been removed, swap the sandpaper to a medium grit and sand the chairs again to smooth out any rough edges. Wipe the dust away with an old rag before switching to a fine grit paper and giving the chairs one last sanding to ensure the wood is completely smooth. Wipe and brush away all the dust created by the sanding process.
Step 3: Varnish or paint the chairs
Once your chairs are clean and dust free you can begin varnishing or painting the frames. Use a small brush to apply a coat of clear varnish in a gloss or matt finish, depending on your preference.
If you would prefer to paint the chairs, either use a spray paint or brush-on paint to coat all surfaces with a fine layer. It’s better to apply a couple of fine coats rather than one thick coat, which may cause drips. Allow the first coat to dry for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer. If the chairs require a second coat of paint or varnish, add the next layer and allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 4: Upholster the seat pad
While the chair frames are drying you can move on to upholstering the seat pads. Lay the seat on top of your chosen fabric, leaving plenty of excess fabric to wrap over onto the reverse of the cushion pad. Cut to size, including this excess fabric allowance.
Place the fabric face-down and position the seat pad top-down in the centre of the fabric. Use a staple gun to attach the fabric to the wooden base of the seat pad. Add one staple on all four sides, pulling the fabric tight before attaching it to the base. Work along the edges and, when you reach the corners, pull the fabric tight around the shape, stapling as you go to create a smooth sweep.
Once the fabric is stapled all the way around the seat pad, trim off any excess fabric to allow the latches on the base to move freely.
Step 5: Reassemble the chairs
Once the paint or varnish is completely dry, you can re-insert the seat pads.
Turn the chairs upside down and twist the latches back into position. This may be more difficult with the extra layer of fabric, so you can gently knock the latches into place with a small hammer if needed. Turn your chair right-side up and enjoy your handiwork – what a transformation!
This article was written by Cassie Fairy. You can find Cassie’s blog ‘My Thrifty Life’ at Cassiefairy.com, where she shares daily blog posts about her home DIY projects, upcycled finds, budget recipes and plenty of inspiration for living a low-cost yet lovely life.