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An Eye On Design:

February 27, 2014

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DIY: How to Update and Reupholster Dining Room Chairs

November 13, 2013

{Paint + Fabric = A Simple Update for Dining Room Chairs}

It really doesn't take much to give old things new life, in this case all it took was a few cans of spray paint, some sand paper, a staple gun, new stuffing, and a couple of yards of fabric. With those few materials we were able to refurbish and reupholster these SIX dining room chairs for under $100 (not each, total)!


- Before and After - 

Here's How...

Step 1: Measure Your Seats

First things first. With any project planning is a very important first step to the success of how well it's going to turn out. For reupholstering dining room chair seats, this means measuring out the surface area covered by fabric and adding apx. 6 inches to the width of each side. These extra inches will account for over hang and allow wiggle room for mistakes. Fabric can always be cut down to the right size, however the opposite is not so true. My seats measured 15"x18", so I needed apx. 24"x24", that's 2 square feet of fabric per seat. I had 6 seats, so I needed apx. 72" of fabric which is 2 yards. The standard width fabric is sold in is 56", and that is sold by the yard. So I'd need 56"x72" of fabric. A note for newbies: At the fabric store all you will need to know is how many square feet or yards you need, though if you are still unsure take notes of all measurements from the project to the store and they will help you out.


Step 2: Pick out your fabric

Next it's time for some new fabric and stuffing. I find it to be a whole lot easier to match a paint to a fabric, than to match a fabric to a paint. This is especially true for the basic fact that you can have paint mixed at your local home improvement store to match any colors you like. Therefore, taking a trip to your local fabric shop is your first stop. Living in Los Angeles, there's a wealth of options and even an entire downtown district devoted to fabric alone. We went to Michael Levine Inc. in downtown LA, which has hundreds of choices of fabric; and chose the fabric above to compliment our grey and white dining room. Also pick up a roll or two of upholstery stuffing. Remember to check the dimensions of this material as well, and remember it's always better to have too much than too little materials.



A note for newbies: remember to check labeling on the fabric of your choice to see its care and cleaning instructions before you purchase it. Some materials stain easily or have a low fiber count. Ask the fabric shop merchant to point you in the direction of upholstery and high-traffic fabrics to ensure your choice lasts.


Step 3: Painting the frames

It's time to remove the seats from the chairs and paint the frames. Our chairs were easy in this respect because the seats simply pop out. You'll have to check under the seats of your own chairs to know what is the best way to separate them from their frames. Whether it is being set in place or held there, and use your best judgement. After the seats are removed the frames need to be washed and sanded. Wash the frames with a bucket of warm water with a few drops of dish soap in it to help a long the removal of the glossy stain top coat on the chairs and remove any dust or grime. Don't use wood cleaners with polish or sealer, you'll be undermining all the work that follows. Lightly sand the frames going in the direction of the grain of the wood with finishing sand paper.



Next lay the chairs, front side down, on a plastic drop cloth (outside) and spray even coats of paint on the back, bottom, and legs of each chair frame. Let the paint dry for apx. 30-45minutes in the sun, then stand them up and spray the front and sides of the chairs with more even coats of paint. Let that dry for apx. another 30-45minutes, and then touch up missed areas with the spray paint after they have more time to dry. For the frames of my chairs it was a 1:1 ratio of spray paint can to chair frame. So I used 6 cans of paint in satin finish to refurb my chairs (color I used: Dark Walnut). Then, leave them overnight to dry completely in a dry place: like garage or shed.


A note to newbies: take into consideration the tones of the colors in the room where the "new" chairs will be living. Does the room currently have warmer or cooler undertones? Not matching colors directly will add depth to a room, however, make sure the undertones are in the same family, warm colors with warm, cool colors with cool.

Step 4: Removing the existing fabric

To remove the existing fabric from the chairs use a pair of plyers and a flat head screw driver to pry the staples from the bottom of the seats. Depending on the age of the seats, removing the staples may or may not be difficult. Just be careful and move as slowly as you need to to get it done without injury.


After the staples have been removed the old fabric and stuffing can both be used as templates for cutting the new materials to the right sizes. Start by first matching up the edges of the new seat covering fabric and folding it in half width-wise (the shorter way across), then pin the old seat material to the new with straight pins. Pin the two materials together all the way around the edges of the old material to hold it in place as you see in the picture below. Then using fabric cutting shears cut into the new fabric around the old cover, about 1/2" to 1" away from the edge to create the right shape. This will save you a lot of time and make sure that your measurements are not off.


Step 5: Reupholstering the seats

Next, layer the materials so that the framing is on top, the stuffing is in the middle, and the new fabric is on the bottom of the stack with the face of the fabric down. Make sure everything is centered, then at the middle of one of the sides of the framing pull the fabric towards the center of the frame and use a staple gun to attach it in place. Repeat this in the middle of the framing on the size across from the first place you stapled. Pull the fabric tightly to make it snug on each side before stapling, then staple it centered. Repeat this on the remaining sides, then from the center staple on each side of the framing, pull the fabric tightly and staple along the fabric moving outward towards the corners of the frame. Repeat in the other direction always moving outward from the center staple towards the corners.



After all the sides have been stapled, apx. 12 staples per side, fold and pull the fabric on each corner towards the center of the entire frame (pictured above). Staple each corner of the fabric in place with apx. 3 staples each. Flip it over and check out your handy work. It should be tightly fitted, but not pulling in an one spot more than another. Now repeat that 5 more times on the other seat frames, place them back on the chair frames, and then you're done!


Finished Chairs!

See how easy that was?? I hope this post has inspired you to take on a project that transforms something that you may have that has become a bit out dated and make it new again! Reuse, reduce, live happy.


A Question to my readers:

What is something in your house that you feel could use an updated look? Tell me about it! Need assistance? Maybe I can help. Leave a comment or shoot me an email.


- Happy Monday!

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