How to Revamp a Chair

A few yards of fabric and a couple coats of paint are all it takes to revamp a chair that has seen better days.
old chair gets new lease on life

old chair gets new lease on life

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Whether it's an attic denizen or a side-of-the-road find, an old chair can get a new lease on life in just a few simple steps.

Materials and Tools:

old chair
power drill or screwdriver
spray adhesive
staple gun
old chef's knife for cutting foam
durable fabric 6" wider and longer than the existing chair cushion
heavy-duty interfacing
120-grit sandpaper
semigloss water-based paint
optional: 2" foam slightly larger in size than the existing chair cushion


1. Turn the chair upside down and remove the screws holding the cushion of the chair to the frame. Set aside screws.

2. Remove the original upholstery and staples from the cushion. You might need to use a flathead screwdriver and pliers to remove the staples.

3. Decide whether you need to replace the foam. If the foam looks and feels okay, move on to step five. If the foam is crumbly, hard and crushed, move on to step four.

4. Remove as much of the foam from the cushion base as possible. You should be able to remove most of it with your hands. Use an old chef's knife to slice away at the foam until you have a plain wood base. Cut a piece of foam the size of the cushion base. Working on the top of the cushion base, use spray adhesive to glue the new foam piece to the old cushion base.

5. Cut a piece of fabric that allows 6" of overhang on all sides of the chair seat. Place the fabric wrong side up on the work surface. Center the cushion (foam side down) over the fabric.

6. Pull the fabric edges over the foam to the underside of the wooden chair seat, and use the staple gun to staple the fabric in place at the corners and at the midpoint of each edge. Use your fingers and, beginning at one corner, fold the fabric back to make a clean edge; staple in place. If you find that you miscalculated the placement of the fabric, you can take bulk up in the corners and it won't be noticeable in the finished piece. Repeat for each corner. Add additional staples to secure the rest of the fabric. Trim away any excess fabric from the underside of the cushion.

7. Cut a piece of heavy-duty interfacing slightly smaller than the cushion base. Use spray adhesive to glue the heavy-duty interfacing to the bottom of the chair cushion to hide the staples and fabric edges.

8. Lightly sand the chair frame with sandpaper. Wipe down the chair with a damp cloth. Apply the primer and allow to dry. Paint the chair with two coats of the desired color. Allow the paint to dry. Turn the chair right side up and secure the cushion to the frame by replacing the screws.

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