Vintage Modern

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 7:50 PM


Remember my dining set? The one I got from Craigslist for such a steal?

Well, I hosted a Pampered Chef party last weekend - and while most people clean their kitchen for such an event, I take things one step farther (dare I say "too far"? I think I do) and reupholster my dining chairs for the event.

People, I am not bragging. It is a sickness.

Anyway, for better or for worse, it is done, so I thought I would share the process.

First, acquire yourself some beautiful, sturdy chairs that have ugly fabric. The uglier it is, the more motivated you will be to get rid of it. Check.

You can paint them, of course, if you want (or better yet, have a professional do it). I chose not to paint these, because a) my husband dislikes painted wood furniture, and b) I really liked the grain and color of this wood, and the beautiful patina of age. This set is at least 40 years old.

Can't you imagine all the hands that have worn that back smooth? Gorgeous.

Next, you should spend as much time as you feel necessary choosing the perfect fabric to recover your chairs. (This step not pictured). Some things to consider are:

- fabric (what care does it require? Is it stain treated?)

- color and pattern (will it look dated in a couple of years? Honestly, reupholstering is so easy that if you want to redo it often, it's no big deal, but it's still smart to pick something that has some longevity.)

- scale (the size and impact of the pattern. The surface of a dining chair is not very big, so if you choose a very large-scale pattern, you are going to have to cut your fabric carefully to make sure the pattern is showcased to its best advantage on each chair. This will require you to buy more fabric. For my 4 chairs, I bought 2 yards, and I have enough leftover to do at least 3 chairs over again if they get stained or something, because the scale of the fabric allowed me to use it very efficiently.)

Once you have sourced your fabric, take off the existing upholstery by unscrewing the seats from the chair frame and removing all the staples used to secure the fabric to the seat (I use a flat head screwdriver and needle-nose pliers).

(That's a lot of staples. Whoever put that fabric on the first time clearly thought it would be on forever.)

Pull off the fabric carefully and check the condition of the padding underneath. You may need to replace it, if it is stinky, dirty, or inadequate for bum-cushioning purposes. When I have redone seats including the padding, I use a foam layer and a layer of batting.

In this case, the padding was in excellent condition, and since it was "cotton waste" batting - already a thoughtful, green material - I thought it was incumbent upon me to reuse it yet once more.

Now, lay your seats, with the padding, on the fabric so you can cut it to fit. (This is always the scariest part for me. Everything can be undone if necessary - except cutting fabric. It gives me anxiety, and not that many things make me anxious. Cutting fabric, and Kid Noise. That's about it.)

In this case, it wasn't really a big deal, because I knew I had plenty of fabric to work with, and because I had carefully chosen a fabric with an easy scale and pattern to work with. This fabric didn't matter which way was up, and I didn't have to lay it out carefully to make sure some of all the colors were included on each seat. It really was perfect fabric!

(Note at this stage: be sure to look over your fabric for blemishes or other defects, because even if you pay $20 or $50 or $100 a yard, and it's made in the USA, and a name brand and all, it's probably going to have some, and you want to avoid those if you can. I neglected to do this, and it shows. Luckily, I am not a perfectionist and it doesn't bother me. Much.)

I always use an air stapler for this next part. (And I don't take pictures, because I'm operating n air stapler with three small children around.) You literally just lay the fabric right-side down, put your seat and padding on it, pull the fabric tight, and start stapling! Put one staple in the middle of each side to start with, so it stays centered. I usually do a couple of more go-rounds all the way around the seat before I start really tightening down any one area, just to make sure the tension is even all the way around. Leave the corners for last.

Speaking of the corners, I don't have any special tricks. Just think of it like making a bed - tucking in the sheets, you know - and eyeball it from underneath before you staple it up good to make sure it lays nicely.

Screw the seats back onto the frames, and voila!

Just like that! Now, put them back in your kitchen and admire them as much as you like. Mine still give me a little leap of joy every time I walk by, and it's been days.

That's a lot of bang for your buck, if you ask me.

Comments (7)

Wow! They look fabulous!

I love redoing chairs!!! Looks great.

Love the fabric and the color on the walls and the color of the wood... Its just lovely. All of it. :)

That finished shot of your dining table could be from one of the home decor blogs. It looks stunning. Your dining room is just gorgeous. I *love* that fabric you chose. Your taste is so awesome, I absolutely love everything you do.

That fabric is *amazing!* Love, love, love the finished look!

i'm in love with them!

im in love with our chairs, so so cute!