As I've mentioned several times already, because Chris and I moved cross-country without furniture we had to furnish our entire place starting from scratch, so, in order to save money and be environmentally friendly, we decided to acquire the bulk of our purchases from thrift stores and Craigslist.
We found our dining chairs (9 of them) on Craigslist for $85 from a man whose brother owned a deli that closed down and needed to get rid of the furniture. Our dining table only has room for six chairs but we figured we'd take all nine and put the other three to use elsewhere.
Three of the chairs had purple seats, five of the chairs had red seats, and one of them was brown. The colors were too dark for our taste so we decided to look for lighter shades of fabric in two different styles to add a sense of balanced quirkiness.
Over the weekend we drove to a couple of local fabric shops and Chris chose the yellow one with the peace sign pattern and I chose the cream one with a vintage flair. We bought 2.25 yards of each for under $20.
This was my first time reupholstering anything so it took me a few days to finish all the chairs. At one point my right hand and thumb was so sore from using the staple gun (I have weak forearms and small hands, as Chris likes to remind me) that I had to call it quits for an entire day and wait for Chris to come home to finish stapling while I pulled the fabric tight. Stapling aside, this type of simple reupholstery was much easier than I had imagined and the perfect project to do over spring break.
As you can see in pictures 3 and 4 in the collage above, I decided to cover the old seat fabric with the new fabric, instead of removing it, because it was in fine condition and removing it would have been more trouble and time-consuming. Here's a closeup of what I'm talking about:
We've had the new fabric on the chairs for a couple of days now without any tears or stretching so I'm hoping they'll stay that way. Here are the finished products in all their bright cheeriness, which has also made the dining room seem just a tiny bit larger and a lot more inviting:
9 Simple steps to reupholstering a dining chair:
1. Measure the length and width of the seat so that you know how much fabric you'll need to buy. Ours measured about 20 X 15.5 inches. (Keep in mind that you'll need an extra 3 - 5 inches for each side of the new fabric so it can be folded up to the bottom of the seat to be stapled in place).
2. Remove the seat from the chair by flipping it over and unscrewing the hardware (see pictures 1 and 2 in the collage above - wine is optional). I used a red permanent marker to label each bracket so I wouldn't have to guess where they went when reattaching the seat: T for top bracket, B for bottom bracket, L for left bracket, and R for right bracket.
3. Lay the new fabric wrong-side up on a flat surface and place the part of the seat that you sit on against the wrong side of the fabric (picture 3 on the collage above).
4. Cut the fabric around the seat leaving enough around the edges to fold up in order to staple it to the bottom of the seat.
5. Fold the extra fabric up along the straightest edge and use a staple gun to staple the entire length, beginning from the center and moving to the sides. Try to keep the fabric as tight as possible while stapling to reduce unwanted wrinkles and folds.
6. At the corners you need to pleat the fabric to make it look neat (the same way you pleat the corners of wrapping paper when preparing a gift).
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the remaining three sides of the seat.
8. Make sure the new fabric doesn't cover any of the screw holes and trim it if it does, along with any other excess fabric.
9. Put the finished seat back on the chair and reattach it by screwing all the brackets into place.
And you're done! If you've got small hands and fingers like me, make sure you give them a rest if they get sore. Sounds pathetic but it'll slow you down if you don't.