How to Deconstruct a Chair
THE CHAIR is DONE! If you follow me on IG then you know all about this chair and the build up to get it done haha! It was just one of those projects that stumbled upon me 😉 I found the chair on the Facebook Marketplace. Then went and snatched it up as a fun side project and a month later here we are! Thank y’all for being so patient and I hope you love how it turned out as much as I do!
Let’s dig right in and I’ll show ya how to deconstruct a chair!
Here is the chair as it was posted and then when we got her home. She had great lines and bones just needed a little love!
How to Deconstruct a Chair and the Tools You Need
These are the tools I used for this deconstructed project
- vice grips for pulling out nails and off fabric
- upholstery scissors
- butter knife for wedging fabric into creases
- small hammer for nailing in tight areas
- this staple remover proved to be worth it’s weight in gold and I highly suggest purchasing one if you’re thinking about deconstructing!
- wire cutter for grabbing onto small parts
- NOT PICTURED -sharp box cutting knife – decorative fabric tacks from Hobby Lobby, which look almost identical to the old ones I removed but I can’t find them online. The tacks are back in the upholstery section and they were $2.29. It took a little over one box.
The Drop Cloth and How to Bleach It
I also got burlap that I ended up not using for this project and THIS drop cloth which I bleached following these instructions
- fill top load washer with warm water and add a crap ton of bleach haha like a 3rd of a bottle
- put in drop cloth
- poke it down with a stick aka mop handle until it’s as submerged as you can get it
- let soak for several hrs 6-8 stirring occasionally
- run washer
- toss drop cloth in dryer
And that’s it! Beware though not all drop cloths will bleach!
The weekend we got the chair it was unusually warm so we put her in the shed because let me tell ya deconstructing can get messy! So you may want to put a tarp or drop cloth under your piece of furniture and work area. For example here are just a few things that fell out once I started taking fabric off; a business card, a joint, an old photo, a giant toe nail, hair pins, among lots of other crud lol!
How to Deconstruct a Chair
When I deconstruct I like to just start cutting and ripping of the fabric layers so I can see what’s going on under there and then decide what will stay and what will go. I didn’t worry about removing all the nails or even all the fabric for this chair but every chair is different. My advice it to have a general idea of what you think you want it to look like but also to not be afraid. I used whichever tool worked best for each part. Some of the fabric came off easier than others. Some was nailed and some stapled but that handy little tool worked well for both.
Wax Off Wax On: How to Deconstruct a Chair
Deconstruction is a lot of pull everything off and then you put fabric back on. Because we live in southern IL and our weather is cray we had to bring her back inside the very next weekend because it was freezing out again. As you can see on one side of the chair there was burlap behind the strap and on the other, pictured above, there was some kind of pink fabric. This helped me decide that I would probably be putting something new over both sides.
I’m so intrigued as to how chairs used to be made! It’s honestly pretty amazing! You can see on one inside arm I removed the first layer of fabric to find a second. On the right inside arm I took that second layer off to find batting.
Below you can see the original burlap and muslin on the front bottom of the chair. And further below you can see the back after 2 layers of fabric and some batting. I got way too excited to find all those awesome old straps!
If you aren’t a master at sewing no worries! I’m doing good to sew a button on and I can still do this! For each section cut a piece of the drop cloth leaving an inch or so of extra fabric on each side. You’ll come back in and trim it up later if needed but it’s better to have too much than not enough! Then you’ll just follow the original nail trail.
I started with the biggest most seen area first because I wanted a good piece of the drop cloth for it. The best way that I’ve figured out how to do this is to start at the top in the middle and to one on one side and then one on the other. This way you end up having the fabric be pulled and tacked evenly. I had a bit of extra fabric so I made a fold on each side as symmetrically positioned as I could.
Inside Arms and Arm Rests
For the inside of the arm rests I started on the corner nearest to the back of the chair and worked my way forward. For the top of the arm rests I started by tacking 2 nails on the top back part and then moved my way from the outside around to the inside. I also always checked to see if any of my scraps could be used anywhere on the chair as I went along.
After working on the inside I decided to put drop cloth on the outside of the arms too because I didn’t like the way the old burlap straps with the new burlap looked. So I cut out the old straps and tacked in the drop cloth fabric with just a hand full of tacks. Since red isn’t my fav so I stole one of the neutral black striped straps off the back. One strap easily did both sides.
Once the chair was done the last thing I had to do was the seat cushion. Remember how I told ya about my sewing skills? Originally I told myself that I could just tuck the drop cloth around the cushion and no one would know. But deep down inside I knew that would bug me haha!
So I wrapped the remaining piece of drop cloth around the cushion aka wonder bread lol! Then I sewed it on! It took me a long time and I didn’t even try to make it perfect because I knew I wanted it to have that rough cut look too. Pus I wasn’t about to torture myself that way! And it turned out just fine!
Here she is! I’m obsessed with how it turned out! The only burlap pieces I left were the original ones. The part in the front and the straps. Everything else got drop clothed. What do ya think?
How to Deconstruct a Chair
Deconstructing furniture is a lot of work. It can be time consuming and tedious but it’s also always worth it! I got this chair for $40, the drop cloth was less than $10, and $4 worth of upholstery nails. Not too shabby! Just shabby enough! 😉 I’m already thinking about the next piece I’d like to deconstruct!
I hope y’all enjoyed this article! Let me know if you have any questions!