DIY: Reupholstered Side Chair

I’ve always had the desire to attempt the process of reupholstering a chair.  Quite a few of my blogger friends did and the results were amazing, but I was still reluctant – Could I really do it? 

After reading this post, for some reason, “it” clicked and I was on-board.  My mission of finding a chair had started.  I needed something new anyway for my desk since I’ve been using this chair which has no seat padding and gets uncomfortable after a while. It took some time, but one day when on a thrifting adventure with my mom, I spotted it and bells started to ring.

Let me start off by saying, I have no upholstery skills, so this is something that absolutely ANYONE can do.  If I can do it, so can you!  Don’t get me wrong, there were quite a few times that I wanted to give up, but I kept chug, chug, chugging along and I’m thrilled with the results of a comfortable, stylish, and inexpensive desk chair.

It all started off here…

I began by removing the fabric from the back of the chair.  The old fabric was secured with ALOT of staples (which brought back memories of the carpet on the stairs), so using plyers I (and the mister) removed each and every one.  It took a while and part of the surrounding wood on the chair got slightly damaged, but it ended up being fine since the new fabric and trim covered it later.

The seat upholstery I left since it was in fine condition and the new fabric would cover right over.

Once the fabric was stripped down, it was time to give this chair a paint makeover.  Up until this point, I had never before tried the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and thought this would be the perfect piece.  Because of the ASCP formula, there is no need to sand before painting and I was ALL FOR THAT! Holla…

I had some hurdles to overcome with the paint and wax, but all in all, I was happy with the result.  My experience with the paint is a story in itself, which you’ll have to wait for later this week. (Click HERE to read about My First Annie Sloan Experience)

Anyway, here is me painting the chair…

Two coats later, I then added the clear wax as top coat.

Once that was done and dry (remember, I’ll chat more about my ASCP experience later this week), the reupholstery work began.  I was psyched to start this part of the project.  I chose a brown and white chevron pattern for the back panel, along with a burnt orange and white patterned fabric for the seat and back. The chevron fabric I had leftover from a pillow and table runner, while the orange fabric is a panel that I purchased from Target to use for this project and some new pillows (that I have yet to make – story of my life).

I started with the chevron fabric first and stapled it to the inside of the wood trim surround in place of where the previous fabric was. (this is a few from the front of the chair)

Once the fabric was stapled all around, this is how it looked from the back…

Then it was time to work on the seat and back reupholstery.  I started with the back.  I added back the original foam insert that was previously used, stapled all the way around, and finished by trimming the leftover fabric with scissors.

Then I used the same steps for the seat.

Once I exhausted out my staple gun, this was the result…

Eek! Those edges don’t look good.  BUT WAIT… here’s how I fixed it.


Trim is the key to novice upholstery perfection!  Using a good ole’ hot glue gun, I added the trim surround to cover all the ragged edges of where I used the scissor to trim the fabric.

And minutes later, this was the result.

Beauty, right?

I am thrilled with the final upholstery project and glad that through some tough parts (mostly the removal of the old staples and fabric), I stuck with it.  This chair really gives such a fun flair to my office area. The chair is temporarily in this spot while my front room / office space is under remodel.

And here’s me working away (thanks to my 6 yr. old for snapping this shot) …

Have you ever reupholstered a piece of furniture?  Did you find the first time easier or more difficult than you thought? What DIY projects have you been working on lately?

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  1. says

    I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve had a chair sitting in my garage giving me the stink eye for months now, and I’ve been too afraid to attempt reupholstering. You may have lit a fire under me! I think I can, I think I can! Thanks!

    • Jenna says

      YAY Erin! You have to give it a try and even if you hit some hurdles, jump right over them (I’ve been watching too much of the olympics, lol). But seriously, it’s not that difficult once you get going.

  2. says

    Like Erin I too have a chair in my garage. It’s right in front of where I park my car so I see it everyday! This post has inspired me to get it all pretty! Thanks for sharing a great tutorial! Loving the fabric you picked out!

    • Jenna says

      The most difficult part was pulling out the staples. Adding the new fabric, really wasn’t hard. Once you get going, you’ll be fine. Line up your pattern the way you like, start stapling around the edges, and make sure you pull the fabric so it’s tight – then you should be good! xo Jenna

  3. says

    This is fabulous!! I have reupholstered a couple of chairs before and the way I did it was so much harder than this. My end result did not look this good either! I am so glad Kristi (Addicted to Decorating) shared your project. Beautiful!!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks so much Angie for your kind thoughts! Kristi is so sweet for sharing my project – I was very thankful. xo Jenna

  4. says

    Excellent fabric choices and they both work so well with the paint colour, and I never would have guessed that they would have :)

    This is timely as I have a BF that wants to redo chairs that are similar and we couldn’t figure out how to change the fabric.

    • Jenna says

      So glad to hear you are inspired by this post. I thought recovering a chair would be a lot more difficult, but it really wasn’t. Enjoy tackling your project. xo Jenna

  5. Candy says

    Just found this post via Pinterest! I have 4 kitchen chairs that I plan to paint & recover. Two will definitely need the trim treatment. Can’t wait to read the ASCP post! I really want to try it and need any tips that I can get.

      • Candy says

        Already saw it! After reading this post, l looked around your blog & subscribed. I want to use ASCP on my kitchen table chairs that I picked up at a yard sale & thrift store. I think 2 of them will be easy but the other 2, I may have to sand. They have a crackle finish on them (manufactured that way) and I’m not sure what that would look like with paint over it.

  6. says

    It looks great! I guess I always assumed that there was some sewing involved, which I definitely cannot attempt! I can’t wait to hear about your ASCP experience, I just did a series of posts about my {novice} attempt at painting a table with leaves and 8 chairs.

    • Jenna says

      The post shared the details of the fabric – the brown and white chevron was from and the burnt orange and white pattern was a drapery panel from Target.

  7. says

    This looks fantastic!! I love the surprise of the fabric on the backs being different. It’s so adorable. I’m currently pulling out staples from a chair that I’m planning on painting and re-upholstering… did you use paris grey chalk paint??


  8. says

    Thanks so much for posting this tutorial…it came in handy when my sister and I covered some chairs recently. I linked your blog to my post so everyone could see your tutorial. Have a wonderful day and thanks again.

  9. says

    You did an amazing job! I so wish I had this tutorial when I gave up mid-project and paid someone to do a similar chair. :) Yours turned out so perfect.

  10. says

    Wow! Your chair looks GORGEOUS. I love the color and print combination that you used. Thank you for posting such detailed pictures and instructions – you make it sound totally doable! I always walk past these chairs because I’m afraid of the upholstery job. Perhaps now I’ll pause when I find a good one. I also LOVE the ASCP color you chose – gorgeous!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Sarah! Yes, it looks harder than it actually is once you get started. The most tedious part was removing the staples from the existing fabric – once that’s done, it’s clear sailing. Good Luck. -Jenna

  11. says

    I actually love reupholstering dining chairs. I find it easier to remove the seat from the frame (it’s usually just screwed in from underneath) and wrap the fabric around the seatpad to the bottom before I staple (into the bottom). Of course, the last chair I did ended up being a total re-build, so taking the seat off wasn’t a big deal!

    Your chair looks great!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Julie. I’ve reupholstered quite a few of the types of chairs where you turn the seat over, but this on wasn’t like that.

    • Jenna says

      Yes, Yes, Yes!!! My kids love that book too and that’s absolutely how I felt – I kept pushing myself through it! -Jenna

  12. says

    You just made reupholstering a chair “click” for me! I’ve been wanting to do one but could not figure out how you make the front AND the back both look perfect- now I know! I love how you mixed the fabrics- looks fantastic!

  13. Jenny says

    I love the fabrics on your chair and the color you painted it. I found your post from Roadkill Rescue looking for ideas for my office chair.

    I just had to FYI though as my family owns an upholstery shop that I work for. We use a razor edge to trim the excess fabric, it gets closer to the staples than scissors. Plus the gimp trim should sit above the wood; you don’t want that messy glue sticking to the wood and ruining it. Another tip for those contemplating this project, to get the fabric nice and taut, it’s best to put a few staples in the center of each side to get your pattern centered and then work out toward the corners last (either folding like Jenna did or a French pleat).

    Good first try – keep it up and in no time you’ll be a pro!!

  14. says

    I have been eying some chairs that have already had their upholstery removed for my first re-upholstery project, this post makes me think I can do it! One question though, has the hot glued on trim held up over time and is there anything you would rethink after using the chair for a while now? Thanks so much!

    • Jenna says

      The chair is holding up great and since it’s my desk chair, it gets alot of use! The hot-glued trim is fine and honestly, I don’t think I would have changed the process at all. Good Luck with your reupholstery project! xo Jenna

  15. Linda says

    I love this! I have dining room chairs with fabric that is so stained and I’ve been wanting to recover them. But, the back of the chair is just like this one and I can’t figure out how to get it out! I’m so afraid of ruining the chairs as I will not be getting a new set anytime soon. Because of this reason, I gave up on the thought, but I absolutely hate the way they look!

    • Jenna says

      The reason I was fine with reupholstering this chair was because it cost less than $20. Here’s my advice. Find a chair that is somewhat similar to your dining chair, but cost little money. Reupholster it so you know the technique. Then you’ll feel comfortable and have the experience to tackle your dining chairs. Good Luck!


  16. says

    Springs. The dining room chairs will add a fresh look to the home and give any do it yourselfer great satisfaction.
    Treasured family heirlooms which are very much staying in the same home as well as things bought by dealers and
    being readied for the auction room are commonly worked on.

  17. says

    Such a great inspiring post! I have a similar project that has been on hold but I am afraid the faux leather fabric has been glued fast to the chair so I am going to have to reupholster over it. Great color combination – the paint and the fabric! New follower. Glad I stopped by:)

  18. says

    Outstanding, Jenna!

    I found this post through Pinterest.
    I love everything about it, the chair style, the color you picked for the wood, the patterns, the trim.

    I have a vintage barrel chair that I bought about 3 years ago, at a garage sale.
    It is time I get brave and reupholster it with a nice fabric.

    Guess who’s tutorial I am going to come back to.

    Best wishes & keep up the grate work.
    Thank you 6 (and) 9 year old kids who snap pictures for us :)

  19. Emma says

    Wow, you did a beautiful job! I have two chairs that I have been wanting to reupholster, and I feel much more confident now that I have seen your tutorial.

  20. Michelle says

    Beautiful chair! How did u get the back of the chair off? I have similar chairs and have shyyed away from recovering because I didn’t know how to do the back. Any tips u could offer? You did a great job! Michelle

    • Jenna says

      Hi Michelle,

      Getting the fabric off the back was probably the toughest part. As I mentioned in the post, the old fabric was secured with ALOT of staples , so using plyers my husband and I removed each one. It took a while and part of the surrounding wood on the chair got slightly damaged, but it ended up being fine since the new fabric and trim covered it later.
      Patience and determination always help!



  1. […] Jenna of SAS Interiors had been wanting to try her hand at reupholstering for awhile but was held back by her own uncertainty of whether or not she could actually take on the task. After gaining the confidence she needed, Jenna dove in and found her guinea pig at a thrift store. […]