Today I’m going to share my tips and tricks for how to reupholster dining chairs – specifically how to upholster rounded corner seats without any bunching! See how smooth and flat that corner is? And how nice and tight that upholstery is overall? I’ll show you all of my upholstery tips and tricks!
Here are the beautiful chairs in my kitchen – I wanted black and white upholstery with the teak wood, and it was absolutely the perfect choice!
Here’s a quick look at the before & after:
Hubby & I have our own way of upholstering chairs seats, especially our own advice for how to upholster rounded corners, that guarantees a smooth and secure finished product. However, it also makes it miserable for whoever tries to undo this lovely work, because we use a lot of staples!
- Quilter’s batting and/or upholstery foam (we used three layers – how much you need will depend on the size and number of your chairs)
- Upholstery grade fabric (again, dependent on size and number of your chairs – I also bought extra in case some genius spills tomato juice)
- Staple gun
- 8mm staples (many)
- Screw driver (to remove seat)
- Patient set of second hands
How to Reupholster Dining Chairs:
First remove the chair seat.
Save the screws some place you will find them.
|These screws have literally been in this bowl since 2009|
Remove the old staples, using pliers. I really got attached to the tool pictured below because, although it is meant for cutting, it has such a fabulous grip. I used it for pulling 2.6 billion staples from the sub-floor after ripping up carpet for hardwood floors. But pliers are what you’ll probably have on hand.
Throw out the old foam – especially if it is a vintage/used piece. Blech. I’ve seen people keep the grossest foam that is starting to disintegrate. I just worry about mites, farts and dust trapped in old foam. I used quilter’s batting because I wanted to maintain the super flat look. But usually people will use upholstery foam with some batting on top. Use what you find comfortable!
Trace the chair seat onto your foam or batting, leaving enough allowance that you can wrap and staple the batting on the back comfortably. If you’re using foam, cut the foam to size and top with a layer or two of batting.
Tips for Replacing Foam/Batting on Upholstered Chairs:
This is where we deviate a bit from other tutorials (you can skip this step if you’d prefer). Once cut it out, we affix the batting to the chair seat with a few staples so we’re not wrestling with it and the fabric simultaneously. I don’t see a lot of people do this, and it is extra work, but it makes upholstering so much easier – which I think helps to get a perfect end result. After affixing the batting, trim some of the excess batting for less bulk in the finished product.
Throughout the whole process, stop periodically and check fitment. You don’t want bunches of fabric on the underside of the seat where it will be affixed to the chair frame.
With the batting wrangled into submission, trace and cut out the fabric (making sure the pattern is “facing” the same way on each chair). You can use the old fabric as a template.
Begin upholstering by pulling the fabric tautly and stapling in a few staples on one side, then the opposite side, checking the alignment and also the tension. These first few staples really anchor your fabric, so take your time to get it right. It helps to have a second set of hands so one person can hold the fabric and the other can staple.
How to Upholster Rounded Corners:
Keep working your way around the seat, pulling the fabric tight and stapling. Pull corners especially smooth, even if that means you have a bunch of excess fabric a few inches from the edge. Don’t worry about that, we will trim it later – just focus on getting a really smooth corner. Check it from the top, periodically, to make sure it looks good.
To tackle the fabric bunching, after pulling it so tight on the rounded corner, we make slits in the excess fabric once it’s stapled in place. This allows us to overlap the fabric and really staple it down smoothly. It is hard to take a photo of that because this print is so busy when zoomed in on.
We go a little staple crazy, I know this. We even add a second “ring” of staples so everything is smooth and lies flat with no puckering or bunching. But this helps keep everything smooth and looking really perfect.
When you’re done, you can add a cut-to-size piece of no-fray, very thin material to make the work look a bit tidier. This involves more staples.
And that’s it! Re-affix the seat to your chair and host a dinner party. Once you learn how to reupholster dining chairs, you’ll want to recover every chair you see!
have I mentioned how much I love the black and white houndstooth with the warm teak wood? The chairs of my mid-century mod dreams…
We also like to leave a little love for future DIY-ers. Anyone who is ambitious enough to remove the staple overkill happening here (gosh, I hope it’s not future-me – UPDATE it was) will be affronted by this message:
P.S. Am I the only DIY’er whose nails get totally wrecked?!? They looked so pretty in my latte post but now the deep plum shade that previously looked so chic is all chipped and worn, making me look like an angsty teen.
Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!
i cannot say enough how much i LOVE the wood on those chairs. i want a teak dining set!and my nails are always a hot mess…
I find that teak really varies. I am really happy with the rich, deep tone of the wood. These were kept in a basement forever and that seemed to make them darker. They have lightened up since being brought into a sunlit (ish) space. Some of my teak is more orange-y and I'm not sure I like that . . .
I was just thinking how awesome your nails looked–after gawking at those chairs. I don't even attempt to keep my nails painted. Back to the chairs. Gorgeous! Way to go, girl!
Awwww, thanks 😉
I've always thought those chairs were gorgeous! You did a great job recovering them. I signed up for my upholstery class and start next Monday. I'm so excited!
Yay!!!! I'm excited to hear all about it!P.S. Given your excellent post on strange upholstery choices for vintage pieces, I am happy you approve!
They look great! I love me some houndstooth and I love your message to the next person who decides to reupholster them ; )
HAHA! I refrain from painting my nails when I know I will be doing a project like this! I think the houndstooth is just perfect on the chairs… which I am going to sneak into your house and steel by the way!!! LOVE THEM!
Now that you know I only use two, you probably know I won't even notice the other two are missing for quite some time. Lol.
You’ve done the impossible! You’ve make reupholstering look easy! I have been dying to try a project like this but the process looks daunting but I think I could manage this! They look fab!
Gorgeous! I love them. I'll admit… I've kept the batting and the foam for my reupholstery project. It my defense, it's all in great shape! Perhaps this will inspire me to get it finished!
If it's a great shape or was yours to begin with, go for it! But I buy vintage pieces that either have really, really worn out foam or potential for bed bugs and other nasties. I'm just easily grossed out and do things normal people don't 🙂
The chairs are super fabulous! I can never maintain nail polish. I love it, but I always seem to ruin it within a few hours.
ur work is neat is so precise…i always loved ur chairs..nice to know u re did them, awesome!
Those chairs are just gorgeous. The houndstooth is a great choice for the chairs too. xx
the houndstooth look so perfect on that chair!fyi- for some reason your blog and a bunch of others weren't showing up in my reader, but it just corrected itself so i will be catching up!
Good to know, thanks! Blogger has been giving me all kinds of problems. Pages won't load with internet explorer, I've had to use firefox, and the message boards say it's a blogger problem but no solution yet. Sigh . . .
Tanya, these are two of my very favourite things…teak furniture and houndstooth. One of my very sad realities is chipped nails from all my diy projects and painting;) Awesome job girl!
Tanya, these are fabulous! I love the teak houndstooth combination! I reupholstered a set of antique chairs in college– and I left them in the basement of the apartment when I moved because I was too lazy to stuff yet another 4 items into the moving truck. I always thought about going back to that apartment and asking to check if my chairs are still there! Now I'm 1400 miles from my old chairs– but thanks to you I'm on the lookout for new-to-me chairs to beautify!
Awesome job on the chairs. They look gorgeous. As for trying to keep a DIY manicure safe when you don't have time to touch up…only tightly fitted latex gloves work for me, but it takes a while to figure out how to do stuff with them on. Good luck!
Tanya great tutorial and great transformation! I found you through The DIY Show Off and I'm pretty sure that I'll follow your example for my old kitchen chairs too! Will let you know when I do. Have a nice day!Olga, your newest follower!
Love the new look you gave these fabulous chairs! Super cute blog! So nice to meet you at the Canadian Design Bloggers meet up!
Love the chairs and the fabric! Glad to hear you were able to fix your nails – I was thinking about how awesome that nail colour is while I was reading this post 🙂
Like I couldn't feature these?
Hi Tanya! These chairs are pretty fabulous! Love them! I am following you now! Your blog is lovely! Angie xo
SO fab! I'm totally digging these chairs, great tutorial!
love your note! I am stealing that idea when I do my chairalso, love the teak chairs- you did a great job!
Thanks! I love that your chair will have a funny note too 😉
That looks super easy! Thanks for sharing!
Sweet looking teak chairs – and I love the idea of the note on the bottom. They will be great for when I can pass them on down to my kids.-Jak
Hey, I think any nails are impressive, and yours probably looked great when freshly painted. Love the vintage set, but having done re-upholstery before, I'm most impressed with your smooth corners. Gotta get me a second pair of hands.
Awww, thanks! Yes – two hands definitely makes a huge difference. And I am the picky one who fusses and holds things in place, while Hubs staples often, although parts I find easier to do alone.
Yes, chipped nails are def cool! Cool redo too! Houndstooth rock!Lisa B.SoCal Femme
Ex-Montréaler living abroad, and came across your blog when looking for ideas for my vintage teak chair re-do! Definitely have taken a few of your ideas and colour schemes into the rest of my apartment. 🙂 -Meaghan
Hi Meaghan, I'm so jealous you're living abroad!! I spent four months in Hungary and loved it. Such a different pace of life. I'm so happy you've found some inspiration here for your apartment 🙂