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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Office Redo - How to Reupholster a Chair that I bought for $5

Every office has to have a chair,
 I've always loved banker's chairs. 
when I saw this beauty at Salvation Army about a year ago,
I knew I had to have it.  

It was structurally good, 
just the vinyl on the seat and arms was cracked and peeling.
After a little negotiating I walked out with this baby for only $5!!!

(Can I get an Amen sister?)

I have used it in this cracked condition for the last year.  
But I did have a vision for it.
  Finally, the time has come to make that vision a reality. 
To make this happen I needed to dive into the world of reupholstering.  
 I have never really upholstered anything except the seat of a kitchen chair. 
 But how hard can it be?

(I know famous last words.

 I've wanted to reupholster something for a long time and have read tons of library books on the subject.  
I decided now was my time to try it out on my $5 chair!!    
I know your dying to see if I succeeded or totally ruined my chair,
 but don't cheat and scroll down just keep reading.  
The suspense is much more fun!
I decided to just take it apart one piece at a time.  
I studied the chair and took lots of pictures all along the way for reference when putting it back together. 

 (You can't take too many pictures of the deconstruction part!)  

First, I detached the legs.
Then I began the tedious staple pulling!!  
There are about one million staples on every layer!!!
I pulled them out one by one with a screw driver.

(I have since learned there are tools for this that are much faster at pulling staples.)

I was very careful because I wanted to reuse as many support and non-decorative parts as I could.
Below you can see all the layers of fabric, piping, nail heads and foam I had to remove.
 The bottom middle one was the worse, 
that's all the food and hair that was stuck down the back of the seat!!  

I did not remove the foam padding on the arms and seat as it was still in good shape. 
I kept all the pieces and labeled them as I took them off the chair.  
Did I mention there were a lot of staples? 
 Like a billion!!! 
 See me slaving away at removing them?  
Yeah, check out my trash can full of them!

(Yes. I'm shamelessly looking for a little bit of sympathy here!)

Alright, enough crying!
Once I had everything stripped off the chair, it was time to paint.  
I lightly sanded all the wood parts and painted them;  
two coats of primer and two coats white.  
I used spray paint.

Now for the fun/nerve racking part, 
putting it back together.  
First, let me tell you the funny story of how I chose the fabric. 
 Towards the beginning of the office project I knew I wanted to bring some yellow into the room, 
since the main part of my house has yellow walls and the office is open to it. 
 So one day I bought the cutest yellow table cloth at Target thinking it would make great curtains!!  
  As the room began to progress and I got the curtain rod back up I pinned the table cloth up on the rod and I loved it.  I returned to the store to purchase a second table cloth for the other side of the window, and was only too happy to find they were now on clearance.  
 I took it home and it sat on the desk for a few weeks as I finished other parts of the room. 
 When I got ready to work on the curtains I took the second table cloth still in it's package to the fabric store to find some ribbon to match it. 
 Then, and only then, I looked closely at the package to see the exact size to figure my ribbon yardage.  But all I could find was the diameter of my supposed square table cloth.  
Yeah, you guessed it I had purchased a round clearance cloth, 
and because it was clearance I could not find any more square ones.  
 I returned the round one and used the square one for my chair.
It all works out in the end. 
 I used all the old pieces as patterns. 
 I laid the pieces down on the material and cut each piece about 3 to 4 inches bigger. 
 First I covered the bottom and the arms of my chair with a thin layer of batting.  Mostly because my foam was badly discolored and I didn't want it to show through.  
I used my air gun with staples in it to attach everything.  Once it was stapled I cut off the excess batting.  I did these same steps on every piece of material. 
 I was very careful to always get everything laying very flat with no wrinkles before stapling.  
Also I stretched everything good and tight by stapling on one side and then the opposite side. 
 I put the pieces back on in the opposite order I took it off.  

(Your photos will help jog your memory if you can't remember the order.)

Basically I went in this order:
piping on the arms, 
front of the back,
 base of the seat, 
piping on the back, 
the back of the chair 
and the piping on the bottom of the seat.

The seat back was done different than I thought it would be, but turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  The tufted back was a piece of foam with pre-cut holes and brads pushed through the foam and a cardboard backing. 
 (See top two pictures below.)  
After I took all the pieces apart I was left with a bunch of the red vinyl brads.  
I tried spray painting some scrap vinyl but it wouldn't dry.  It stayed slightly sticky.  I then tried white shoe polish.  It took quite a few layers to block out the red, but after they dried I could polish them and they were perfect. 
 I reused the foam, cardboard and brads. 
 One at a time I pushed the brad through the fabric, foam,and cardboard.  Then I just opened the ends of the brad and flattened it against the cardboard.  It took a little time and finessing to get the folds to look right, but  in the end I was please with it.  

After all the pieces were intact, I nailed on new silver nail head trim. 
 I love nail head trim! 
I used individual nails that I got at Lowe's. 
I'll show ya latter how I spaced them.  
Using a rubber mallet works better than a hammer. 
I'm in love with those little silver dots!  
Oh, I think I already mentioned that!
At this point I sprayed it with Scotch-guard to keep it from getting stained and too dirty.

What did it cost me? 
Here's the breakdown:
Chair $5
Tablecloth fabric $15
Nail Head Trim $9
Spray paint $6
Total Cost $35

Here is the before and after of my Re-upholstery 101 class project.

what do you think! 
 Les was very surprised by my out come.  
He told me he thought I was crazy and would end up crying about my disaster on his shoulder.  
In the end he wouldn't quit singing my praises and wanted to go buy a chair for me to redo for him!! 

I'm dying to hear what you all think?  
  Good, Bad, or Ugly!!  
This project was definitely and adventure, but one I am excited to do again!! 
 I already have two more project chairs for my room and one for Emilee's room!

Thanks for stopping by!


Unknown said...

Absolutely AMAZING job!!!
Love your fabric choice, what a fun updated version of a bankers chair :)

Jodi said...

Wow! You did an excellent job! What a great find and redo! Love it. :)

Jessica said...

Beautiful job!
I redid Jacob's computer chair with fabric from curtains too! And I feel your pain at pulling out all those staples!

Wanna help me redo my couches someday? I think they need to be RED! :)

Jessica said...

Beautiful job!
I redid Jacob's computer chair with fabric from curtains too! And I feel your pain at pulling out all those staples!

Wanna help me redo my couches someday? I think they need to be RED! :)

Anonymous said...

AWESOME...You do great work! Still wish I could fly you down here to fix my house up!

Megan B said...

Love how this turned out! :) I would definitely spray the fabric with some scotch guard so it doesn't stain over time. I re-did a chair with a light colored fabric and it got dirty over time.

dee dee said...

I am sitting here with my mouth wide open... (how unlady like!) but wow girl... you are so full of talent!
The chair turned out wonderfully! Oh for one ounce of your energy!
dee dee

Tracy@GeneralSplendour said...

WOW wow wow. SO impressed. You have never done upholstering before? You did a great job and yes it is quite gorgeous! You should be proud of yourself.

Emma said...

Once again you are amazing! I really love the fabric with all the white in your office. I love how you have a determination to try new things, research and then do it.

Marissa said...

Omg ..where do I start..first of all I'm new to your blog and I love it...2nd..WOW..I think you are truly gifted with talent not to mention lots of patience!..it looks beautiful..give yourself a high five! You did an amazing job!

Anonymous said...

That is really an impressive transformation! Fantastic! Visiting from Tatertots and Jello.

Amy at Ameroonie Designs said...

Okay- LOVE!! Do you really have to ask if it's lovely? It is amazing!!

giota said...

I love this chair. Your work on this chair is super. Great job

Ann-Marie ~ Brambly said...

Sush a stylish transformation.That chair has a new lease on life!

Schulz Family said...

This is amazing!! I was going through link parties and saw it. Wow I would be so thrilled if I could do something like that.

TinaA said...

You've done a great job, amazing change!

Cynthia said...

Totally amazing! I bow to your reupholstery prowess!

Unknown said...

You did an incredible job transforming this desk chair-I'm featuring it on my Saturday favorites-have a great weekend-Claire

Sandy said...

Wow!! I'm not sure I can express how impressed I am with the transformation!! I want to do this soooo bad but I know I don't have the patience or talent for it. Well done!

Heather M said...

Great job on the redo! It looks fantastic! I'm visiting from Organize and Decorate everything. Congrats on the feature!

Unknown said...

Impressive, very impressive! How did you do the piping; it looks professional? If you have any piping tips they would be appreciated.

Pocolocoone in NM

Unknown said...

Wow! Fantastic job! I can't believe this is pretty much your first re-upholstery project!

Jessica | Petal + Ply said...

it turned out so great!! love the cheery yellow fabric too!

Anonymous said...

Great job! Beautiful results and amazing directions. Thanks

Christina | Little Victorian said...

So gorgeous! I love that you used a tablecloth. I recovered my dining room chairs with a shower curtain.

Incredible job re-upholstering, it's hard to believe that was your first time.

Amy said...

This chair transformation is fantastic, great job!

Lucy said...

What a pleasure it has been meeting you this morning and learning how to do something I, too, have always wanted to try! You, my Dear, are an inspiration!

Sarah Schueler said...

It is absolutely gorgeous. I ditto the piping comment. I would LOVE to know how you did it. Please? :)

Joy@Thrifty Parsonage Living said...

Your chair turned out beautiful, love the fabric you chose.


VERY NICE! I saw your link over on Traci's blog (Beneath my Heart) Good job! I would love to re do a chair like that for my office. Had no idea they were called a "banker's chair"

Thanks for sharing!

Marilyn C.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

OMG! THis chair turned out beautiful! Stunning! A W E S O M E !!!
I have had a 10 dollar craigslist find for about a year with the fabric leaning in the corner, ready to start the reupholstery.... I am so afraid of tackling this project. I have never done anything like that before!
Maybe after seeing your gorgeous chair, I can muster the courage to get started!
Your chair is so beautiful!

sara said...

Amazing! Espicially for your first job. Love the fabric. I'm most impressed by the piping. That is the part I can never get right.

DomesticSuperhero.com said...

Wow, this turned out beautiful! I really love the fabric choice, I have the same tablecloth folded up on my entry way table! I love it! It's truly the perfect yellow!

I recently made an ottoman from a pallet and found the tufting to be the hardest part! I did so much research, but I never thought or saw anyone use brads! So creative! http://domesticsuperhero.com/2012/10/18/diy-tufted-ikat-ottoman-from-upcycled-pallet/

Anonymous said...

Just stunning! I love your fabric choice. The punch of yellow looks great in there. Note to self: Never pass up another great chair at thrift store! Got it!
You did such a fantastic job, I'm very happy for you, that you get to enjoy such a divine space;)

from diywithjenandb.blogspot.com

paigeshannon said...

What a great job! I have a chair in my room that I have thrown a blanket over so I don't have to see the stains. Now I know what to do. The piping is awesome - please tell me how you did it. Thanks.

paigeshannon said...

What a great job! I have a chair in my room that I have thrown a blanket over so I don't have to see the stains. Now I know what to do. The piping is awesome - please tell me how you did it. Thanks.

The Wade's said...

I am looking to do a very similar type chair and the thing I can't figure out is how to do the top part since I can't staple it. I see you put the silver buttons, is that how you got it to hold together?

Rose said...

I love the way it turned out. I do have one question. I didn't quite understand how you attached the piping. Will you please explain a little more for me?

Anonymous said...

You are really very creative. This blog inspired me to make my own office chair.

Discount office supplies

Harzeez Report said...

Lovely. I saw on pintrest and thought "omw she has my chair sans casters!" I am about to embark on the same project. J read books too and my aunt is going to help. 2 couches afterwards. It is nice to get a first person real reaction pov. Gives me hope and prepares me

Harzeez Report said...

Great job. I am about to embark on this exact project. Found this on pintrest. Love getting a first hand realistic pov. Thx

absolutelytrue said...

I have this exact chair and started removing staples tonight. You are right, there are billions. I haven't ever reupholstered anything before, and I sure hope mine comes out as great as yours.

How did you do the piping? That's the part I totally don't understand. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I love this so much! I have almost the exact same chair that I found on Craigslist and is in desperate need of a makeover. I've been hesitating, but you've given me the inspiration I need to tackle it. I'm really enjoying your room makeover posts!

Unknown said...

I am brand new to following blogs and I am not even sure how I found your page-Pinterest I think! I have a similar chair that I have put off recovering but you've inspired me! How did you do the piping and attach it? Not sure how I will know if you've responded or not so I am including my e-mail. Mrsr11@msn.com
Thanks! Lisa

Verity said...

Looks an amazing job!!! How did you get the piping round the arms and chair? Looks very pro!!

Unknown said...

I am MADLY IN LOVE with this chair re-do! I have seriously had dreams of doing this exact thing to a desk chair and am thrilled to see it occur in real life!

I love your blog and will be following it!

Thanks for your amazing tips and insight! Can't wait to do some of the same projects myself!

Unknown said...

Hello! I love your work, you are quite a handy woman! I'd like to ask you to share a tip, coz I have no idea how to reupholster the back of a dinning chair. It's a chair with only metal frame, no hard back to staple onto. Is there another solution then sewing? Thx for your advice, Nastja

Unknown said...

Your chair is awesome! You did an absolutely amazing job! I just got a vinyl armchair from Goodwill that I wanted to reupholster. I was worried that the vinyl would make it difficult. Thank you for all the tips!! I hope my chair turns out as cute as yours!

Sherri Drum said...


Question - did you sew any part of it? Or just glue and staples?

Anonymous said...

Fabulous job. Great fabric too. I hope that the Scotchguard does the job for you and keeps that beautiful chair in tip-top condition for a long while to come.

Frodosdojo said...

Absolutely gorgeous ! But it looks like a lot of work - not sure I am up for it.

Unknown said...

First of all, amazing job. I am curious about the piping around the edges of the chair. How and what did you do to achieve this? Was there any sewing involved in this project?
Thank you