Friday, June 27, 2014

Dining Chairs - A Makeover

Let's talk about this dining set.  We bought it off Kijiji for $150 - a steal for a midcentury solid wood set, including 2 leaves and 6 chairs.  What drew me to it was the upholstery.  Not the pattern or style, but the fact that it would be easy to recover and didn't require any sewing (what else?)  It sat in our house looking like this for more than a year...

Just waiting for the spring to roll around... so finally on the long weekend in May I tackled it.  I had already purchased the fabric for the chairs - it was actually 3 grey black-out curtain panels from Target!  They were $35 per panel - so in the end I'm sure I saved $$ instead of buying it by the yard, especially given the quality of the fabric.  (The curtains are nice and thick, perfect for upholstery)

All I had to was clip out the hem...

Here's a few more befores... The old fabric was in decent shape.  I didn't take off the old fabric, for a number of reasons.  1. There were probably a million staples holding it perfectly in place.  2.  I had no idea what I would find underneath, or just how that fabric was holding the cushions/wood together.  3. They didn't smell funky, and I wasn't worried about the pattern showing through.

Getting the cushions off was somewhat of an ordeal.  The bottoms ones were easy - just turn over the chair and take out 2 screws and it popped out.  The top ones...I had to dig out the wood plugs before I could even get to the screws - 4 per chair.  Let's just say they were glued in nice and tight.  I had to drill them out.  But once they were removed, getting the cushion out was easy.

I took out all the cushions, then roughed up the frames with sandpaper before painting.  We have a handy dandy spray gun - you fill the canister, thin out the paint with water, plug it in and then spray.  Easy in theory, of course :)  I don't have any photos of the painting process, mainly out of spite since it was so frustrating I had no energy/desire to record it.  Basically in the end I think I was using the wrong kind of paint.  I set out the chairs, sprayed the paint on, came back an hour later and it was crackling in a bunch of places.  Thankfully I ran out of that paint so I switched to Behr exterior, all surface paint and primer, extra durable.  Worked like a charm.  Amazing how a little change can make you fall in love with a project all over again...

Anyway, while they were drying I covered the bottoms with the new fabric.  Be prepared to use ALOT of staples.  I laid out the fabric, then turned the seat upside down on it.  Cut out an approximate shape :)  Start by stapling the centres, then work your way to the corners.  Staple evenly around the whole seat, pulling taut as you go.

The top cushions were very similar, they just took a lot more time to staple, since I was stapling into the edge and had to trim as I went.  All the staples are hidden by the wood frame, so it's quite forgiving - but I still took my time.

A whole long weekend, and a sore wrist later - it's done!  These pics show the chairs without the new wood plugs, which have recently been done as well.

Up next we'd like to change the table... perhaps just staining a bit darker...

Here's the before and after once again:


  1. Heidi, I love what you did!! Those lights are so funky, and the beverage bar is a nice touch. Good job on the chairs :)



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