The $5 Chair Makeover

DIY: A little bit of fabric makes a big difference!
My home is a work in progress.  There are plenty of things in it that are not exactly what I want, but they are functional and, for the moment, get the job done.   My dining chairs are a good example of this.  I like my dining chairs just fine, but they're not the highest quality and maybe not the exact style I'd choose if I had my druthers. 

What has been bothering me lately about them is the fact that the upholstered seats are brown with red accents and my current dining room is black and cream with blue accents. Not a match made in heaven.

As I was strolling around a store the other day, I happened upon some fabric remnants for sale.  One was a beautiful cream on cream fabric with a slight swirl in the pattern.  And more importantly, it was two yards for $4.99.  Sold.

Eventually, if I do keep these chairs, I'd like to redo them completely (as in, sand them down, and stain or paint them).  However for now, swapping out the upholstery will do just fine.  It's easy and only takes an hour or two, but for those who haven't done it before, the instructions are below! 

Fabric Scissors
Screwdrivers (Flat-head and Phillips)
Needle-nose Pliers
Staple Gun

Okay, Let's Do This: 

1. Carefully flip your chair upside down.  (You may want to do this on a carpet or towel so you don't scratch the wood of your chairs or floor).

2. Locate the screws on the bottom that attach the seat to the chair frame. Unscrew, doing opposite corners first (like when you're putting a spare tire on - it's best if you balance the weight).  Make sure to keep your screws somewhere safe. 

3.  When the seat is detached, flip the seat so that the bottom is face-up.  Slide your flat-head screwdriver under the staples holding the current fabric in place and gently maneuver out.  Pliers can be used for any that break or get partially stuck. 

Having a dish on hand to collect used staples is a good idea (Tetanus shots do not a fun afternoon make!)

4.  When your old fabric is off, remove seat.  (I recommend checking it for Rogue Staples.  Also, if you want to replace the batting or foam, this is the time!).  When I pulled the fabric off of mine, I discovered that there was even OLDER fabric underneath. As this would have shown through the new fabric, this simply got cut away (It was essentially disintegrating anyway. A few more years and I could have blown it away like dandelion fluff.  Toxic dandelion fluff.)

5. Stretch out your new fabric face-down, and place your just-removed fabric on top of it.  Use a pencil (or tailors chalk if you have it) to outline the old fabric on the new and create a template for your next seat cover.  BEFORE CUTTING, double check to make sure you left enough space for ALL of the seats that need cut out (Not that I've ever done that, of course.  I just heard about this guy who did it once. You know, a friend of a friend...). 
Once all of your seat covers are outlined, carefully cut them out. 

7.  Place your first seat cover (still face down) on your work surface and position your seat in the middle.  Double check to make sure that all edges will be covered by the fabric before you start stapling.  (You know how when you have a present that the wrap doesn't quite cover you can just stick a bow on that end? Yeah, that doesn't work so well with a chair...). 

8.  Start Stapling!  Everyone will find their own way to make it work for them, But I like to start with the flat edges of the fabric(the front of the chair) and then make tiny pleated, overlapping folds as I work my way around the corners.  

9.  Once you're done, align the seat as best you can, and replace the screws (again, working caddy-corner will ensure that you have the seat balanced. 

 10. (Optional) Lastly, working on a covered area, I gave each seat two layers of Scotchgard (allowing them to dry between layers). 
Scotchgard is a good investment for furniture that will be around food!

I have to say I'm rather pleased with the result.  For $5, I have four "new" dining chairs. Not a bad investment and a lovely "For-Now" solution! 

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