13. Reupholster kitchen chairs

Last summer I inherited a kitchen table and chair set from my mom. This is the set I grew up with and they have been in my life as long as I can remember. I can remember loud, crazy meals with the 7 of us all around this table. Which is probably why they were upholstered in vinyl. Yuck. As much as I love this set, I could not handle the vinyl (especially since after years of use, it was starting to crack and peel).

I thought this would be an easy project and I was right (for the most part). With some amazing blogs and and videos, I just had to follow some step-by-step instructions. The most difficult part was choosing the fabric, which was also the most fun part. Okay, using the staple gun was the most fun part, but choosing the fabric was a close second.

I finally narrowed it down to 2 options

Could they be more different?!

Could they be more different?!

And after walking around Joann, I finally made my decision based on which one would hide stains better and the price. The best part is that the fabric I chose was on sale for $4.99 and Joann has mobile coupons. Since I had all of the “tools” I needed at home, the entire project cost me less than $10 (which means I can do this again next summer when I get sick of my fabric!).

I promise you, I had taken ‘before’ pictures, but my phone decided not to save the first few photos that I snapped, so we’re going to stick with ‘during’ and ‘after’ photos. But it’s not a problem because, trust me, the before pics weren’t that great to begin with.

As I mentioned previously, this project really was so easy. In addition to the necessary chairs and fabrics, the only tools required are:

  • a screwdriver (to remove the seat from the chair, and to help with the staple removal)
  • a pliers (makes staple removing so much easier)
  • scissors
  • a staple gun (so fun!)
Start by removing the cushion from the chair

Start by removing the cushion from the chair

Flip the cushion over and remove all of the staples

Flip the cushion over and remove all of the staples. Discard disgusting vinyl. 

Then you’ll need to measure out your fabric so that there is enough to cover the cushion and fold over the sides. Some of these chairs were tricky because of weird curves, so I did end up having some puckering, but I think they are hidden well enough. Pull the fabric tight and staple around the entire thing (if you watch the video I linked to above, I used their suggestion of stapling once in the center of the top, bottom, sides and corners. This worked well for some of the seats, but I did have to remove some staples as I went because of the way the fabric was pulling).



Once the fabric is secure, you just re-attach the seat to the chair, and that’s it!

I'm not sure what happened with the lighting here, but I think you get the idea.

I’m not sure what happened with the lighting here, but I think you get the idea.

The best part about this project is that it was gorgeous this weekend, so I was able to spread out on a blanket outside and get to work. The worst part about this project is I apparently have very sensitive hands and using a staple gun on 6 chairs gave me a blister. Which is to say that if a blister is the worst part, clearly I enjoyed this little task. Total time = 5 hours (including 1 hour of fabric selection).

If I could go back and do this again, I might change a few things: (1) I hate the color of the chairs, so I think next time I will start by painting all of them. The only problem is that they are a very shiny Formica and I don’t want to ruin them with paint. Any suggestions people? (2) Fabric selection. Maybe it’s because I’m an interior designer and I know there are limitless options. Or maybe it’s just because I’m very indecisive. I thought I had an idea of what I wanted, and I ended up getting something very close to what I wanted, but I’m not loving the final product as much as I thought I would. It may be the pattern against the ugly wood color. It may also be that as soon as I finished these, they went back into storage, so I don’t get to enjoy them yet. (3) Some of the cushions probably should have been replaced, which is something I didn’t think of until I took the vinyl off. Also, I’m not sure if the wood under the cushions was replaced or is just warping, but the shape doesn’t match the shape of the actual chair anymore so there are some gaps between the seat and the cushion, so I might go back and just replace the entire seat. (I said “might”…you should see some of those shapes….I’m not sure I could get them exactly, which would be the only way I would replace them). (4) I would take a little more time and try to line up the dots with the front of the chairs a little better. But that’s just me being ‘Type A’.

Finished product!

Finished product!