You Might Want To Sit Down

We hooked you guys up with an easy breezy chair upholstery tutorial a while ago, and we’re back with some more fabulous chair overhauls for your viewing pleasure.

John’s frequently mentioned sister Emily recently recruited me to go fabric hunting with her in hopes of stumbling upon the perfect new fabric to cover two old chairs with serious transformation potential. First we pounded the pavement to find the perfect complement to this sleek, low slung chair (with worn orange fabric that had seen better days). Here we are testing out a few swatches before calling the upholsterer:

And here’s the well dressed “after” proudly sporting a tiny black and white checkered fabric that gives off an overall gray effect with some movement (and a super fun pillow to keep things interesting):

But the upholstery party didn’t end there (in fact, we cleverly negotiated a discount rate thanks to the fact that we had two chairs that needed recovering). Here’s a chair that Emily and I discovered for a mere $15 at a thrift store (The Love Of Jesus, here in southside Richmond- and yes it’s really called that). The bones were there but it needed some major work. Here’s the granny-esque before:

And a progress shot after we spray primed and painted the wood a bright crisp white:

Then we sent her off the the upholsterer for a sexy little makeover (in ever so classic black suede) to compliment her new white paint job:

So there you have it. Two fab chair makeovers thanks to some timeless fabric selections and some much needed upholstery assistance (many thanks go out to our local upholstery guy Bruce Thorton: 437-8853). We hope you’ve been inspired to rescue a sad, droopy looking chair or two! If they have the right bones you’ll be well on your way to sittin’ pretty. And send us your chair makeover pics if ya got ’em- there’s nothing like a little eye candy in the morning.


  1. Kelli says

    Both chairs look great! I nearly bought one very similar to the second chair on craigslist a while back, and I regret not going through with it. I’ve been searching for another one, but how would you describe the arms of the chair? Wicker, mesh, what? I have no idea what it’s called.

  2. YoungHouseLove says

    Great idea Sandy! Try searching “cane” or “caning” or even “caned arms”. Happy hunting!


  3. bschwanke says

    Wow, those look awesome! I’m so impressed. I’ve been wanting to recover my favorite arm chair, and I’m wondering why you chose to go to a professional for the job and wondering if I’m going to be waaaay in over my head!

  4. Melody says

    Ditto what Gord asked. I’d love to know how much this cost, because I’ve heard it’s the proverbial arm and a leg. Would you mind sharing?

  5. Katie says

    bschwanke – I have done some reupholstery work before and it’s not as complicated as it looks… the worst part is removing all the staples. You just have to pay very close attention to how you take it apart and put it together in the reverse order. You can use the old pieces of upholstery as templates to make the new pieces. Obviously some chairs would be much more difficult than others (like the 2nd one above, the back would be more difficult with the buttons and how the seams are lining up). If your chair isn’t that intricate and you have some basic sewing skills, I say go for it!

  6. YoungHouseLove says

    Ok, so upholstery isn’t the cheapest thing to get done professionally, but it’s entirely too complicated for me to attempt so I’m all about going DIY when ya can but also knowing when to hire an expert (although I’m super excited and inspired by people who take upholstery into their own hands).

    Anyway, the two chairs above were $600 total which breaks down to $300 a piece which isn’t bad when you tally in the cost of the pieces (the orange chair was a free hand-me-down and the caned chair was only fifteen clams!). The main things to consider before you spring for a professional reupholstery job are to be sure that you love the lines of the piece (which won’t change), to be certain that the piece is sturdy and well made (paying to recover a rickety, cheap-o chair is a waste) and to know exactly where you’ll put it (because if you don’t have a spot for your new chair it’ll end up stuck in some unused corner which will fill you with guilt after spending the moolah to recover it).

    Then just be sure to select something timeless that works with your home’s existing color scheme when it comes to the fabric (you might wanna shy away from anything too trendy like an ikat pattern) and you’ll end up with a piece that will last you decades and might just become a family heirloom down the road. Happy chair huunting!


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