Project: How to Upholster a Secondhand Chair

Secondhand shopping and thrifting is such an art in itself. Hours are spent exploring antique boutiques while uncertainty nibbles on one’s shoes, leaving doubts as to whether one will find what one is searching for or whether one might come across an entirely unexpected item? Then there’s the joy of eventually spotting a true treasure, hidden in the depths of the thirty-fourth vintage store and, finally, giving the gem a new home, knowing the bargain has been well worth the search.

I believe that in the age of a global throw-away society, which has drifted away from a mindset within which precious resources are reused and items repaired, people need to learn to appreciate the beauty of vintage pieces and value the stories behind them. And with a pinch of imagination and a little money, you can almost magically adjust anything to your personal taste and needs.

I found this set of chairs in an old barn last summer and fell in love with the scandinavian, mid-century look in a heartbeat. I knew the chairs would add the perfect touch to our new dining area and for a total of £20, I could not resist. However, I did not like the fabric, like not at all and so I looked up instructions on how to upholster chairs on our way back home – who knew it would be that simple. There are different techniques out there, but this one has worked well for me and I would not change it in the future. Some people remove the old fabric first, some even replace the cushion, I suppose this makes sense if it is in a bad state, however, I could not be bothered and as the fabric was still in great condition and the new velvet fabric relatively thick, one would never guess that there are two layers of fabric present on the chair.


Fabric (i.e. 59x39in)

Fabric scissors


Staple gun

Screw driver


Remove the seat from your chair with a screw driver and keep the screws safe. Iron the fabric and spread it out on a clean flat floor, right side facing down. Place the seat on top of the fabric, cushion facing down and either outline it with a fabric chalk before cutting it out or skip the step and immediately start cutting around the seat. Make sure to cut out a relatively large piece, approximately 6 inches wider than the actual seat. Once you have cut out the fabric, fold one side of the fabric over the seat, pull firmly but not too tight and staple it onto the back of the seat. Place one staple on the opposite side in order to make sure the fabric is not too loose, one on the third and one on the fourth side. Continue to staple the rest of the fabric – placing the staples about 1-2 inches away from another. Fold over the corners and play with different positions until you like how they look and secure with a couple of staples (the corners can be a little tricky, depending on the shape of the seat and the thickness of your fabric). Finally, screw the seat back onto the chair. Bliss.