Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Recover A Chair Seat in 5 Easy Steps

When Trusty Husband and I moved into our new house, I knew I wanted to revamp my dining room chairs. I found them at the Salvation Army several years ago and covered the seats in a black and gold dragonfly fabric, but style-wise, they needed updating. I found some fabric I really loved - "Olana" by Waverly, and got going recoving my chair seats.

Lots of people are intimidated by "high profile" projects like this, but it's SUPER easy. Here's an easy step-by-step:

You'll need:

- Home Interior Fabric (most home interior fabrics at places like Hancock or Joann are wide enough to cover two standard seat cushions with one yard)
- Staple gun
- Lots of staples
- Screwdriver
- Pliers
- Scissors
- Tape measure (optional)
- Large work surface

This is the chair before:

Step 1:
Turn your chair over and unscrew the cushion. It's easiest to do this on a table and let the back of the chair hang off the side. Note - keep the cushions with their respective chairs, because sometimes the holes don't line up correctly on each chair. And make sure you don't lose any of the screws!

You can see below where I recovered these chairs before. If you're RE-recovering your chairs, you might want to take this fabric off. This is where the pliers come in handy, because you'll be left with some staples sticking out. Yank those things right outta there.

Step 2: Unfold/roll your fabric out on your table (or floor, if you're not concerned about your back like I am). Position your seat on the fabric and ensure you have enough extra to staple around the cushion. It's always better to have a little extra you can cut off later than to have to ssstttrrreeeettttcccchhhhh the fabric so tight to make it fit that it skews the design. Cut out your pattern. At this point, I think it's easiest to cut ALL the fabric pieces at once.

Step 3:
Start to "wrap" your cushion. Ensure your fabric is facing the right way if it has a pattern (no one likes upside-down birds or flowers or bugs or whatever). Fold the fabric over the BACK of the seat first, staple it in the middle and on both edges about an inch in. Pull the fabric taut but not super tight around the front of the cushion, and staple there too. Repeat on the sides. Then staple all around the edges EXCEPT the corners (we'll deal with those next) - put staples approximately an inch apart.

Step 4:
Do your corners. Start with one of the back corners until you get the hang of it. There are lots of ways to wrap your corners - some people say you should do it like you're wrapping a present, but I think the easiest thing to do is stand the cushion up, place your hand on the "good" side and smooth the fabric over the corner. Hold it there and staple. You may have to play with it a little bit, but if it has a couple pleats, you're doing it right. Staple it several times so it's secure, and repeat on the other corners.

Step 5:
Trim off any excess fabric, but don't trim so much that it will pull out. Keep a couple of inches extra. Put your chair on top of the cushion and screw it back in. Voila! You've just recovered your grungy old chair seats for the cost of fabric and some staples!


  1. Looks great. I recover my kitchen chairs about every 18 months or so. (My dog likes to sit on them and look out the window at people passing by on the walking path behind our home.) It's easy and inexpensive. Two yards of fabric is all it takes to cover 4 chairs. Sometimes I find great remnants of expensive fabrics that I wouldn't ordinarily pony up for.

  2. Thanks for this. I have it on my list of things to do to recover our dining room chairs this month!