How to Deconstruct and Reupholster a Chair
Hey there friend!
I’m really excited to finally share how to deconstruct AND reupholster a chair with y’all! I’ve deconstructed a handful of chairs now, and this isn’t the first one I’ve written about.
I shared another “how to” article on deconstruction HERE!
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Deconstructing Old Chairs
But the awesome thing about doing this is every chair is different and each one a unique challenge. Like working on our old house you never really know how things are going to go until you get in there and start taking it apart! Aside from LOVING the look of deconstructed chairs, the process of getting to the finished result is really fun too!
Tools Used for Deconstruction and Reupholstery
- staple removers
- upholstery tacks
- butter knife
- fabric stapler
This Old Chair
I found this old chair, like most, on the Facebook Marketplace! The Marketplace is my jam y’all! I’ve basically furnished our house from it! Lol!
And I shared some tips and tricks to finding great antiques on the Marketplace HERE!
I snagged this one for $20! I love the shape of it and the ornate wood details. I particularly like the juxtaposition of curvy french country pieces next to more simple primitive farmhouse ones.
Deconstructing Then Reconstructing
Before I start taking the chair apart I spend some time looking it over noting how it’s upholstery is done. I would also recommend taking some pictures that you can reference later.
Previously I had used drop cloths to recover chairs I’d deconstructed. I like using drop cloths because they’re neutral, inexpensive, and easy to work with. However, I knew I wanted to do a little something different with this one!
I found this amazing wholesale company, Big Duck Canvas who offers a great selection at awesome prices. And I chose this striped linen fabric blend as a nod to the original upholstery and because I LOVE stripes! 😉 It’s thick and heavy like canvas but also has a little bit of stretch and is very soft. I ordered 2 yards for this project and couldn’t be happier with it!
Deconstructing the Chair
Deconstructing is pretty straightforward. I find a place to begin by cutting the fabric so I can pull it off. There are usually a million staples so sometime you have to pull hard! Then what you’ll find under the fabric is what varies from chair to chair based on it’s age and maker.
Inside of the Chair
Under the fabric there will typically be some type of muslin or batting material. It’s at your discretion whether you choose to keep it or replace it with new foam or batting. For this chair I opted to keep it original because I was in good shape and honestly I love the feel of sitting on an old chair!
Sides of the Chair
And I get really excited to see what’s under the fabric and muslin! I’m always hoping for beautiful burlap and upholstery straps! Both of which I found under this chairs upholstery! It’s fascinating to me to see how furniture is constructed!
Reupholstering the Back Cushion
Before I start the reupholstering process I lay the fabric out on it and position it where it will go. Then I cut each piece leaving plenty of extra for tucking in and tacking down. I started with the back piece by centering the a stripe. This is also where I placed my first tack.
I chose to leave a raw edge because, again, I like that look but you can also roll a little under for a cleaner look or even create your own piping using the fabric.
After the center tack is placed then I would go back and forth adding a tack to the left of it then to the right until it was completely tacked down. This keeps the fabric evenly pulled. Next, I used my butter knife to tuck the fabric in on the sides and my fabric stapler to attach it to the bottom corners of the wood.
Reupholstering the Inner Sides
I repeating this process on the sides. Also I want to note that I angled the striped to go with the natural curve of the side instead of straight down. This is where having pictures of it’s prior reupholstery is helpful! Again I left plenty of extra fabric to tuck and tack down. Then I started in the center with the first tack and worked my way back and forth until it was completely attached.
This can be a bit of a trial and error process to get it to look right. If you mess up or don’t like the position simply use the staple removed to pop the tacks back out and redo it!
Reupholstering the Seat Cushion
Okay, so I’m not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination! Lol! I mean I don’t know how to use a sewing machine, although I’d love to learn! And I only know a couple of very basic hand stitches so this felt like quite the undertaking.
In the past I’ve just cut my fabric into two pieces. One for the top and one for the bottom then just sewed them together around the cushion leaving a raw edge. While there’s nothing wrong with that I wanted to try and take a bit more time with this one. For me this was very much a learn as I went along, but I’ll try to do my best to explain how I did it.
Cutting Fabric Pieces
First, I cut a piece of fabric for the top. I cut it just slightly larger than necessary because I wanted to leave myself a little error wiggle room. Then I cut two pieces of matching fabric for the sides and one for the front. I rolled each piece in about a 1/4 – 1/2 inch and sewed them together underneath on what would be the inside of the cushion.
I continuously paused to test fit the fabric on the cushion. The cushion itself is old and uneven so I tried my best to get a good fit that looked as even as possible.
Finishing the Cushion Upholstery
Sewing the final bottom piece was the hardest and took the longest. Connecting all the pieces where they met up, especially the front corners, involved a whole lot of the trial and error I mentioned before! Lol! I would play with the fabric and get it folded and situated right in my hand. Then turn it inside out sew small section, flip it back and test fit it.
But after the first side and corner were done the second was much easier! Aka I learned something, which was really the goal of trying to do a nicer job this go round! I left extra fabric in the back and just added a couple of stitches to hold it together.
It’s far from perfect. If you peeked inside it looks like someone who doesn’t know how to sew drank a few glasses of wine and attempted it anyway lol! But to be honest I’m really happy with how the cushion and overall upholstery turned out!
How to Deconstruct and Reupholster a Chair
This is actually my favorite chair I’ve done so far! I know the look of deconstructed furniture isn’t for everyone, but I personally love the character and undone look just like I love chippy worn furniture. I also love it because I created a custom piece of furniture for total cost of $42! Plus the bonus of bragging rights! I get to say, “I did that!”, when we have company! 😉
If you have any interest in trying to deconstruct and reupholster a piece of furniture you just have to go for it! Like with all DIYs you can’t be afraid to mess up! There’s always a way to fix it, and if you don’t try you’ll never learn! If I can do it anyone can!
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and have the best day!
I love it!
LOVE!!! It’s fabulous, from the curves to the wood trim to the burlap that was there, to the new striped fabric. Love how it turned out!! And thank you for the tip on the fabric, I’ve been wanting some similar fabric for a project. I can’t sew either. My sewing machine sits in my office closet and gives me the stink eye every time I open the door. Ugh. I need to learn at least some basics.
Yay!! So so glad it was helpful!! I hear ya about the sewing machine! My grandmas does the same thing when I pass it upstairs! Lol! You got this girl!!
It is beautiful! You have so much heart for everything you do! Thanks so much for sharing ♥️
Thank you! I love any opportunity to be creative and improve our home on a budget!