Sweet Seats – ReDoing Our Dining Room Chairs

By | October 12, 2015

Our dining table chairs are finished!

We already discussed the process of fixing up and painting the chairs, in this post, so you can go there to see all the steps up to this point.

Painting Dining Room Chairs

We finally got to Joann’s to buy fabric and we ended up going with a single option in a neutral color, light gray and white, to tie everything together. I think it worked really nicely and the pattern was subtle and not overly floral, but also not really geometic or super busy, two things I wanted to avoid. And it was less than $25 for all the fabric we needed for all 8 chairs.

(I also wanted to avoid stripes or any strong lines in the fabric to make it easier to work with so we didn’t have to be concerned about keeping it perfectly straight when attaching it with the staples. I’d HIGHLY recommend you not choose a striped fabric to do this until you’re more experienced because it’s tough to pull the fabric perfectly even and you might end up with crooked stripes.)

Joann chair cushion fabric

Then, last weekend, we started the long process of reupholstering all the cushions. First of all, it was a lot more effort than I expected. To be honest, I had planned on tackling this entire project pretty much on my own…but I ended up needing Wyatt’s help because I wasn’t tough enough to stretch and hold the fabric tight while shooting the staples in. Part of that is because our staple gun is pretty heavy duty and I get a blister on my hand after using it one-handed for too long. I know, I’m a weakling. I’ve gone soft since having a baby I guess.

I was able to do the dismantling of the original cushions, though, and it was a pain in the rear. Or rather a pain in the hands. So many staples to remove. Sheesh!

Reupholstering chair cushions 11 Reupholstering chair cushions 12

The nails weren’t much better. I had a big, red sore spot on my palm from using the pliers and screwdriver for so long.

Reupholstering chair cushions staples

We considered just recovering the cushions over the existing fabric but they looked pretty icky so it was better to remove them, as frustrating as it was.

Reupholstering chair cushions 3



We had a total of 6 seat cushions to redo. (Two of our chairs don’t have seat cushions.)

Reupholstering chair cushions

Some of these seats already had multiple layers of fabric on them. The set of chairs we got from Wyatt’s dad (they were in their family’s house growing up) had some sticky, dirty, vinyl on top of the old fabric, which was a fun surprise. We’re most pleased with those cushions as a transformation I think considering the family connection.

Reupholstering chair cushions 8

Once I had the old fabric all off, I re-cut the foam cushions.

As a little cost-saving tip, use a foam mattress pad instead of foam from the craft store. The craft store foam was almost $20 a yard. I found these XL twin-sized foam mattress pads on clearance at target for less $6 each. Major savings considering I needed almost 4 yards of foam for the entire dining chair project (about one and a half of the mattress pads).

Foam Mattress Topper for Reupholstering Chair Cushions

Then, it’s basically a simple process of tracing everything old with your new materials. You’ll need to do that for the fabric first.

Reupholstering chair cushions 5

And the foam:

Reupholstering chair cushions 10

(We used two layers of the foam for each cushion so I traced each one twice and cut it own, placing the textured sides together for a smooth outer finish.

This is where I needed Wyatt to come help. When you get ready to start actually stapling everything onto your chair board, you have to have a lot of hand strength to really hold and stretch the fabric tight to avoid wrinkles or pulling.

Reupholstering chair cushions 7

For a couple of the cushions, even Wyatt had a little trouble and had to get creative with how he held everything in place.

Reupholstering chair cushions 14

The corners are the trickiest, but we found that simply pulling them tight and wrapping around the edges from one side to the other created a nicely finished corner. Remember, you can hid any wrinkles or folds that happen by stapling them in place around the back of the cushion.

Reupholstering chair cushions 6

After we were finished, we had to trim a little of the excess fabric, but it was better to have too much than too little when it came to holding and stapling.

Reupholstering chair cushions 9

Just for comparison, here’s the before:

Reupholstering chair cushions 2   Reupholstering chair cushions 4

And the after:

Reattaching Chair Seats to Dining Room Chairs 2

The process did make a big mess of our kitchen, though.

Reupholstering chair cushions 13

But, we had a pretty cute little helper.

Will DIY helper  Will DIY helper 2

Unfortunately, we had to take a break between the seat cushions and actually finishing the chairs because the arm chairs (the blue ones) had a back cushion that proved to be a lot more challenging. I’ll be back with a few more tips and tricks we learned during that process, and the full reveal, soon!

Thoughts on reupholstering chairs? It was a lot harder, physically, than I thought it would be because we were really concerned with getting the fabric stretched really tightly, but overall it was still a simple process, and it didn’t take that long since we did all the seat cushions in one evening.



7 thoughts on “Sweet Seats – ReDoing Our Dining Room Chairs

  1. Grandma Donita

    Does take a lot of hand strength but with that Helper’s smile you can do anything.

  2. mom

    Anxious to see them all together,I can tell they are going to be a great success!!! And what an adorable little helper, was he the supervisor?

  3. Nikki

    i reupholstered a wingback chair with the help of a neighbor last summer. it is a ton of work!! i totally understand why you have to pay so much to have a piece done by a professional. i plan to do a couple smaller chairs this winter or next spring, but i need to find some fun fabric first. great job, melissa!!


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