We have two toddlers. We also
have had white dining room chairs. As I’m sure you can imagine, those puppies haven’t been white in a very long time. Though it’s bothered me for some time now that they are no longer white… and never will be, it wasn’t until I recently got into major nesting mode that I decided to do something about it. I went into this project with ZERO plan. I had read a few DIY re-upholstery blog posts before, but it had been months, and my motivation didn’t extend quite far enough to re-find or read any of them again. But, I figured I had nothing to lose since aesthetically, the chairs were ruined months ago.
I had the idea to re-upholster in vinyl instead of fabric. I figure this way the chairs stand a chance of staying clean since cleaning them just means wiping down instead of trying to get the perfect balance of upholstery cleaner, water, and scrubbing to get the food/stains off without soaking the chair and leaving it wet for 3 days. We were in Walmart one night and I happened to spot some black and white damask vinyl. I did what all good crafters do, and pulled a random number out of my head, purchasing 2 yards. Total cost for the vinyl was $5.97. Y’all?? That’s all I spent on this project, and check out the results:
I’m almost embarrassed to post that before picture, but it just shows how serious I am when I say our chairs were A MESS. So, how did I do it?? There was zero skill or talent needed. The hardest parts were correctly lining up the fabric and figuring out how to load a staple gun. The rest?? Was easy peasy.
First, you need to remove the chair cushion from the actual chair itself. I flipped the chairs over and quickly found 4 screws that were holding the two pieces together. A Phillip’s Head screw driver and about 40 seconds resulted in two separate pieces:
Once that was done, I attempted to clean my cushions just so they don’t have anything nasty growing if/when we eventually remove the vinyl. If yours aren’t in as terrible shape as mine were, you can skip the cleaning I then laid the cushion face down on the vinyl and just cut willy nilly around it. I didn’t measure, and all 4 turned out fine with some fabric to spare.
Now came one of the hardest parts. On the first chair I did, I didn’t even think about this, and thankfully it is ALMOST straight… but off enough that it will bug me and I’ll go back to get more fabric and fix it Since I have a patterned fabric, I needed to make sure the pattern was lined up on the chair. This wasn’t easy. I found the most successful method was if I left the chair facedown, pulled the fabric up against the widest edge and used the wood/cork/whatever it is base of the cushion to make sure everything was lined up. Once it was lined up, I just popped a few staples in with a staple gun. When stapling, you’ll want to stay about 2 inches off from the corners so you can easily pull them in later.
You can see in this picture, I used the bottom of one of the damask patterns to line up against the edge of the cushion base.
Once that’s done, you’ll want to do the other three sides. Even having already stapled one edge, I found that the fabric would shift a little as I continued around the chair. For that reason, I did the short edge (back of the chair) next and then the two sides – this ended up causing the least amount of shifting and worked pretty well.
When you do the sides, you’ll want to make sure the corners of the other edges are flipped out so you don’t end up stapling the fabric down to the wrong place. Once you have all 4 sides stapled (remember to stop stapling 1.5-2 inches away from the corner), you’ll want to trim the fabric. The corners are the hardest part as far as stapling and getting your fabric to lay flat, and the more fabric you have, the harder it is.
This is the part I was most nervous about – getting the corners to look decent enough that my mother, wouldn’t cringe when she looked at them. My Mom is (and has raised me to be) pretty obsessive when it comes to gift wrapping. Thankfully the skills I learned wrapping awkwardly shaped Christmas presents came in handy when wrapping chair corners in fabric. I started by pulling the corner of the fabric straight up and stapling it down, leaving me with two smaller corner sections to battle.
I then fanned out these sections and stapled them down as well. Sometimes it only took one “fan out” other times I would do two smaller ones depending on how tight the fabric was in that one space. Each “fan out” I did I used two staples, one on each edge to hold it down. Once you’re finished, you should have a beautiful little corner.
I noticed that the screw holes on the back corners of the cushion were quite a bit lower into the corner, and I didn’t want to make them impossible to get to by layering over them with 10 folds of fabric, so for the back corners I ended up taking a slightly different approach. This approach probably would’ve worked for the front corners too, but I don’t think it looks as pretty, so I stuck with two different methods based on corner location.
To do the back corners, I started the same basic way, pulling the corner of the fabric in, but when I went to staple everything down, I made one “fan out” and pulled the other edge straight in rather than fanning the fabric. This left me with just one thin layer of vinyl covering the existing screw holes.
Once I had all four corners done, I’d flip the cushion over and take a peek at my masterpiece.
Once everything is finished, it’s another quick minute or two with the screwdriver to screw the cushion back onto the chair and I was done!!! Start to finish, each chair took me about 15 minutes. Total cost of all 4 dining room chairs: $5.97. These chairs have given our dining room a whole new look and I couldn’t be happier with the project!!!
Have you refinished chairs on your own? Tell me about how you did it!