How To: Refurbish an Upholstered Side Chair

How To: Refurbish an Upholstered Side Chair

Maxwell Ryan
Jan 13, 2009

Time: 33 hours (This includes shopping and 10 hours of hand stitching.)
Cost: $150.00 est. (Please note: JoAnn's has great 40% off coupons, which saved me a lot of money.)

Dark Hotel Chic. Ever wanted to refurbish your mother's old yard sale chair? This is a great how-to that Sagesse submitted to our January Jumpstart Contest last January and which won her division (Thanks, Sagesse!)...



Tell us the tools and resources you used for the project:

1. Chair purchased at a yard sale, by my Mother.
2. Fabric, gimp, batting, and webbing from JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store. (
3. Sandpaper, Rust-Oleum Professional High gloss Performance Enamel, Contact Cement, and Butcher's Wax from Lowe's. (
4. Staple gun and staples from McMaster Carr. (
5. Antique Browning agent for brass feet was borrowed from a metal worker friend, due to small amount needed.
6. Hammer, chisel, pliers, screw driver, scissors, thread, and needles are from my own tools.


Share step by step instructions for how you completed the project:

1. After years of having this chair sit in my parent's house, I finally have a place to reupholster and use it. I get so excited about the project that I forget to take a picture of it in its original purchased state of being covered with a worn out burgundy velvet fabric.
2. With a hammer and chisel, I remove all fabric and find out this chair has been reupholstered about 3 times.
3. Make a purchase list, and go shopping.
4. Front brass feet are removed and chair is sanded with 320 grit sandpaper. The chair is then spray painted with black Rust-Oleum Professional High gloss Performance Enamel. I like this paint b/c its stands up well to a beating.
5. Strip and refinish brass feet by oxidizing them to give them an aged look. Oxidizing is sealed by Butcher's Wax. Re-attach to chair.

6. Re-web bottom of sagging chair to create a tight seat.
7. Cover seat, back, and front with batting and muslin to create a smooth base for fabric.
8. Using inherited grandmother's thread, I hand stitched designs into a faux leather fabric (also known as vinyl). Please note: I do NOT recommend using vinyl unless you have adequate upholstery experience. It is very unforgiving and does not stretch or take the shape of rounded corners.
9. Attach fabric by stapling to chair frame. Trim access fabric with scissors.
10. Finish chair with gimp (fancy trim), by attaching it with Contact Cement, to hide staples.
11. Stand back from chair and pat yourself on your back for a job well done!

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