Chair Makeover {DIY Tutorial}

Today I am going to give you all a quick, easy tutorial for how to revamp an old chair and give it a new life. I bought this chair in August 2009 for about $20 at Goodwill. That may seem a bit steep for an old chair, but I thought the chair was unique enough that it’d be worth the $20.

So, it has sat around for 2 years and finally got it’s big makeover this weekend, and boy am I thrilled with the results.

Some supplies you’ll need to reupholster the chair (staple gun, pliers, screwdriver, hammer and scissors):


And you’ll also need the following:
-2 cans of FLAT white spray paint (96-cents each at Wal-Mart…this is essentially your primer)
-2 cans of Krylon spray paint (this is always my go-to spray paint)
-Sand paper
-Dust rag
-2 yards of fabric (depending on size/type of chair)


First step is to clean and dust the chair THOROUGHLY. Any dust/dirt left on the chair will become part of your finish. CLEAN IT WELL. Sand any imperfections/rough spots. Remove sanding dust with a tack cloth/rag. Then remove any cushions, etc. that you want to reupholster.


As to not kill the grass any further, I set my chair on a plastic sheet from Dollar Tree. Then I lightly applied a coat of primer, waited 30 minutes and then applied another coat:


It’s ok if the coverage is splotchy. Really. Don’t worry, it’ll all be ok. I promise. While that is drying, it’s the perfect time to start recovering your cushions with your new fabric. I used a vinyl-ish, damask/jacquard print I got at a garage sale for $5. It’s Pee Wee proof, I think. Mostly I got it because the color is a gorgeous pearly, neutral and it’s damask. OK…mostly because it’s damask-ish, not going to lie.

I’ve never done a chair revamp before, so I kinda wung it. I ripped off the fabric and used it as a template for how much material to cut out:


And I also had to remove a billion staples:


I found it easiest to use the pliers and grab onto the BOTTOM half of the staple and with a swift motion yank it out. If you yank the top of the staple, you spend 30 seconds trying to wiggle it out, which leads to hand cramps and DIY fatigue. Just trust me on this one. Now, if you don’t want to remove 1.2 billion staples, you could hammer them in with a hammer and move on. I do recommend taking them out though.



The back cushion was easy to reupholster, but the seat cushion…omg. It was difficult because of the corners. I am still not 100% happy with the way they turned out, but for now it’ll have to do.

Basically, until my husband can help me manhandle that seat cushion, this is as good as it’s going to get. I don’t want to claim to be perfect, so I’m just keeping it real with you all that sometimes you have to be OK with the imperfections and/or hide them with a pillow/crop it out of the photo. 

I did one side at a time, tightening and checking the front of the seat cushion for alignment/tautness:


Until I was done and ended up with this (FYI: I did trim away excess fabric):


See? The corners aren’t perfect. Sigh. Oh well. I’m going to say my inspiration was a vintage chair and vintage stuff ain’t perfect.

Then I went outside and spray painted 2 light coats of classic gray Krylon glossy spray paint onto the chair frame:


I love the neat accents on the chair. I feel it makes it more unique. As do all the random dents.

Let it dry at LEAST an hour. I let my chair frame dry overnight.

Next, it’s time to screw your cushions back into place and admire your pretty new chair.



I took a break to check Twitter and came back to find this little boy making himself comfy (he threw my pretty peacock pillow on the floor! Boys…):


And then he decided he did indeed want the pillow:


Well, whether you call it a chair or a dog bed, you can totally tackle this easy, beginner DIY project. Mine came in at about $35-$40 total, but if you find or have a chair on hand, this could cost you under $10 for only about 2 hours worth of time/effort.

I think it’ll serve as a lovely accent piece in our dining room makeover, and it saves me from dropping mucho money on a new accent chair.

Have you worked on anything lately? Have tips for DIY chair makeovers?



  1. Abbey
    August 30, 2011 / 1:23 pm

    I really love the fabric and the shape of the chair! Great job! This makes me think that even *I* could do something like that.

  2. Jenelle
    August 30, 2011 / 2:35 pm

    Fabulous work like always!!! You've inspired me to be more creative when it comes to drcoratimg my new home! Where did you get the area rug?

  3. DrJulieAnn @ Modern Retro Woman
    August 30, 2011 / 4:22 pm

    Very nice job! It is posts like this that remind us that we don't always have to go out and buy "brand new!"(Plus, you've reminded me that I promised my mother that I'd recover the seats on about 15 mid-century folding chairs for her)#commenthour

  4. Kassi @ Truly Lovely
    August 30, 2011 / 7:26 pm

    100% better!!! Love the material you covered the seat with!

  5. Carolyn
    August 31, 2011 / 12:20 am

    OMG Monica, you are a genius. I swear I don't know why HGTV hasn't come calling yet.

  6. Andrea @Oasis Accents
    September 4, 2011 / 5:15 pm

    Anyone would be proud to put that in their home. It turned out beautiful.

  7. Glenda
    September 10, 2011 / 3:17 am

    Beautiful! I just finished a similar project with a rocking chair and I agree – yikes! lots of staples! And yes, it's much better to just remove them.

  8. Kimberly Gauthier
    September 10, 2011 / 4:17 am

    I can definitely do this one! Am I missing the share buttons on your site? Your work is too good to keep a secret. 🙂

  9. Kathy
    September 10, 2011 / 1:24 pm

    That chair looks awesome! What an improvement – love Goodwill/Salavation Army and a little paint.

  10. Anne
    September 14, 2011 / 2:45 am

    This looks great, I can never get spray paint to look that good on furniture.

  11. mONICa and eLAINe
    December 7, 2011 / 2:04 am

    Absolutely love it! Came out great and I like you, just because your name is Monica.xo,Monica