Who Needs an Upholsterer?

Within the last few weeks, I have made two major purchases: a new camera (a Nikon D40), and a new house (in Fayetteville, Arkansas). This post will pertain to both, seeing as I decided to reupholster a chair for my new house and document the process using my new camera.

So lately, knowing that I might be in the market for my own home, I’ve been obsessively following this website: thisyounghouse.com. The couple who runs this blog completely revamped a dingy, unattractive old home and turned it into a palace of preciousness. They have tons of tips regarding DIY projects, and their creativity–combined with some design ideas from Southern Living magazine–inspired me to put a new cover on this old chair.

old chair

It’s a cute little retro chair that my parents’ neighbor (and my adopted grandma) Dot gave me a few years ago. I kind of like this fabric, but it won’t really match the design I’ve picked out, so Catherine, my sister, and I went fabric shopping and picked out a precious pattern from Amy Butler designs. The fabric store had a half price sale this week (woohoo!), so we cleaned up.

Tools you need for reupholstering an old chair:

  • an old chair
  • a screwdriver
  • cute fabric that’s thick enough to cover what you already have on your chair
  • a sturdy staple gun with staples
  • scissors
  • an iron

To begin, flip your chair on its side and look for the screws holding the seat to the frame.



Unscrew ’em, and set them aside. Admire the seat before you alter its life forever.


Gather your supplies.


Using your fancy fabric scissors, cut a piece of fabric large enough to wrap your seat in.


Now get that scary staple gun READY! I tried a few test shots before using it on the actual project. Mine, like me, is “heavy duty.”


Once you’ve cut your fabric to a ballpark (large enough) size, iron the creases out so you have a nice, smooth surface to work with.


Now here’s the fun part! Start stapling the fabric to the seat around a flat side. Save the corners for later.


Once you have a smooth edge stapled, staple the opposite edge the same way–pulling the fabric taut. Next, tackle the corners.


I don’t really have a technique for this. I just tried to fold the edges neatly enough that no one would notice them.

Eventually, you’ll be done with this. Keep turning the seat over to make sure you like what you see. The good news is that any misstapling can be fixed by the flick of a screwdriver. 


Not bad for less than an hour’s work. And all done while watching Confessions of a Shopaholic, too!

Screw the seat back into the chair frame. This might have been the most difficult part for me, but as long as you keep the fabric from covering up the holes, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Learn from my mistakes, people!


Turn rightside up, and . . . EUREKA!


It’s like a new chair! Your keister will be sitting pretty.

More DIY projects to come. 😀




11 responses to “Who Needs an Upholsterer?

  1. Amazing! Want to come recover some chairs with me? 🙂

  2. That fabric makes my heart sing! Maybe we can help you with these projects and blog on them to make up for our blog laziness. Blaziness. Blogadaisacality. Inexcusable blogligence.

  3. Jessica Brimm

    Your chair looks great! I have been thinking about reupholstering a chair for a few months, but it seems like such a big job. You make it look easy!

  4. Great job! You recall there is another one in the attic here at home?

  5. Ahh, the beauty of change. Now try a sofa. With a staple gun, you can do it! I know first hand.

    Miss ya!

  6. Jessica – this project was ridiculously easy. And it took less than an hour and less than fifteen bucks. AND my sister and I were even watching a movie the whole time, so yeah… I’m certain an arty person like you could do it in probably 15 mins. 🙂

    Summer . . . I’m calling you tomorrow night, ok? I’m ready to upholster some chairs!

    Jen . . . your turn to blog, you delinquent.

  7. Omg, omg, omg, I LOVE Amy Butler fabrics!! I even love Amy Buter fabric email updates.

    Thanks so much for the tip on thisyounghouse.com. I love it already.

    HUGE blessings on living in God’s country–Northwest Arkansas. You will love life here. I’m so excited for you.

  8. Oh, and I also love my big, bad staple gun!

  9. Jocelyn, I have always loved those chairs, even when they sat in the midst of our spider-infested apartment. And the new fabric is simply beautiful. Well done!

  10. It looks SO CUTE, I love the chair and the new fabric (Amy Butler is awesome.) Also I love “This Young House” and am continually amazed by them. I look forward to seeing photos of your new home!!

  11. Jocelyn, congrats on your new purchases. The chairs look great. I will have to try that!

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