chair upholstery tips
DIY Projects

Dining Chair Upholstery Made Easy

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be back. After a couple of weeks off, I am back with lots of great new projects, ideas, and recipes. Where have I been, you ask? Buying a new house!!! Yay!!! In The New House finally has a new house! More on that very soon. But for now, let’s talk upholstery. Have you ever seen a great chair at an antique store that you passed up only because the fabric was old and gross? Or maybe you have a dated dining set that could use a facelift. Reupholstering sounds so intimidating because it involves altering furniture, but for something like a dining chair it is incredibly easy. I’ll show you some sneaky little tips and tricks on how to upgrade your chairs to make them look brand new.

Here’s a little backstory. Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been madly in love with my grandparents’ fancy dining table. My grandmother is quite the entertainer (you can learn more about her here) so she had a regular dining table for normal meals, and a fancy dining table for elaborate meals and guest overflow. I never wanted to sit at the “kids’ table” at Thanksgiving because I loved that “fancy table” so much. It’s a gorgeous cherry antique set with perfectly shaped curves and an amazing glow that shines when the sunlight hits it. My grandmother babied this set and it is in the exact same condition as when she bought it (minus a few dings and scratches, probably caused by me). One fantastic day my grandfather called and said they were in the market for a new dining set and it was finally my time to own the furniture I dreamed of having. It wouldn’t fit in my rental at the time so my mother had to foster it at her house for a year. But now that I have the new house I have somewhere to put my beloved table. (Truth is, we actually bought the house we chose just because it had a great spot to display the table.)

The downside to my new furniture ownership is the chair fabric is also original. It is a dark mustard-colored yellow and a little dingy. I knew I needed to upgrade the cushions before I put the beautiful work of art on display so I tried my hand at upholstery.

Chair Upholstry Before

Chair Upholstry After

Such a big difference, right? Just by giving the wood a good cleaning and the seat some fresh fabric, it looks like a brand new dining chair set. (I didn’t realize I took the first picture of one without arms and the second with arms. Oops.) All I needed was a staple gun, staples, scissors, and fabric. I got the fabric at Hobby Lobby when it was on sale for 40% off. Score!

Easy Upholstry 101
First I measured the chair seat and added 6 inches to each side. Six inches may have been a little too much, but I wanted to be sure I had enough. Then I cut the fabric pieces and stacked them all up.
Easy Upholstry 102
After removing the seats (which just unscrew from the bottom of the chair) I placed one on top of the back side of the new fabric. Usually you would remove the old fabric, but since the chairs are so sentimental to me I couldn’t bear to take it off. I want the family history to remain in place so I just covered it up.
easy upholstry 103
My electric staple gun was out of commission so I brought out the handy dandy manual stapler. I gave my mom (pictured here) a quick lesson in stapling and we got to work. The key is to pull the fabric tightly while keeping the staples close together. It helps to have two people so one can pull while the other staples.
easy upholstry 104
The corners are a little tricky but you just keep pulling and smoothing until you get them the way you want. After all the edges are secure, trim the excess fabric away. You’re ready to screw the seat back onto the chair frame! *Note: Have an adult sit in the chair while you screw it back on to ensure the cushion is tightly attached.

New Upholstry Before and After

Hope this clears up any intimidation you may be feeling about upholstery. Dining chairs are really the easiest thing to do and a great starter project if you are interested in learning about recovering furniture. Now that I’ve mastered the dining chair I think I’ll try something else. You should try it too!

You can see my dining room tour here



  1. Sandra gandy

    The chairs are beautiful! Great work on the upholstery.

  2. The chairs are beautiful in their new upholstery color. I love the dinning room suit. and I love the memories you shared with us. Congratulation on your new house.

  3. Barbara Gandy

    The chairs look so pretty. You did a great job. I am anxious to see your new house. The floors look pretty also. I know you are very proud of it. I enjoyed your post on the upholstery bit. Look forward to seeing you as soon as we can make it up there. Love, Mamaw

    • Thank you so much! I’m so glad you approve. I’ve waited for the table and chairs all my life and I am so grateful you have passed them on to me. They are the highlight of the house, for sure. Stay tuned for pictures of the new house and be on the lookout for a housewarming party invite in the mail. Love you!

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