This is what I call an adventure

Have you ever taken any furniture apart? I’m sure some of you are pros at it, and probably even put it back together. Probably, if I hadn’t ‘met’ a few of you through blogs and message boards, I would never have thought it actually possible to rip all the fabric off the outside of a piece of furniture and then recreate it more beautifully than it was before. I mean, theoretically, I’ve always known it possible. But that’s something that’s left to the pros, right?


On Saturday, I went thrifting. I wasn’t looking for any living room furniture. Rather, I was looking for kitchen furniture. You know… a dining room set, stools for the counter bar, baskets to store things in, those kind of things. Instead, I found this:

It was the perfect size and I loved the shape. I know it will be perfect if I can only find the right fabric in which to upholster it. And, of course, actually do a decent job of upholstering it…
This was a risky purchase. I took some really rough measurements with a shopping bag, trundled it up to the cash (got a lecture for bringing it to the cash and not finding the guy in the furniture department who did not exist to help me) and lugged it out to my car with the help of my thrifting partner. Attempting to wrangle it into the trunk is pointless. The back doors refuse to open the last three necessary inches. With bated breath, we open the passenger side door and slide the car seat all the way back. And, with hardly any effort, my tiny little chair slid right in.

I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon ripping out nails, layer by layer of material. First went the skirt, a change that improved the chair ten fold immediately. Definitely not planning on putting that back on.

Then, the back, staple after staple.

I probably could have gotten away with leaving the cardboard backing and the batting on, but it was stapled on over the front piece. Unfortunately, it was not about to come off neatly — there’s no reusing it for anything but a template.

The front bit required some more removal of things that weren’t fabric.

And finally, at the end of the day, I was left with just a little more to go: the green fabric on the back and the seat cushion. Hopefully, by this weekend, I can go shopping for the perfect fabric and all the other things I probably need: a staple gun, batting, cardboard backing, foam for the cushions, piping.

Feel free to point and laugh at the way I make my chin huge when I’m pulling on staples.

Have you ever reupholstered anything? Do you have any favourite tutorials or reupholstery blogs that might help me out?

0 thoughts on “This is what I call an adventure

  1. I can't wait to see what you do with that chair. I've done cover-up upholstering, but never anything like that, so if yours comes out great maybe it will motivate me 🙂

  2. My guess would be that the very best way to do it would be to reupholster the chair etc in the exact same way the fabric & batting came off (fold your corners & edges neatly & staple back into place from the under/inside side of the fold as much as possible so that the staples would be hidden by an unmarred top layer of fabric–also iron your seams/folds to make it look more "professional"), obviously without the skirt on the bottom though. 😉

    If you aren't keen on the staples (if they become too visible for your liking etc) you may be able to get some decorative rivets/faux nail head/rhinestone things (you often see them on leather furniture) that work the same as a staple, depends on your personal taste though.

    I'm emailing the link to this post to my husbands aunt as I type (who is a reupholstering guru) to see what she says — the furniture in our living room was reupholstered by her about 10 years ago and is holding up really well considering the couch & chair themselves are about 50+years old!

  3. Thank you Martina! That's pretty much exactly what I was thinking. I've been pretty careful as I take it all apart so that I can use the fabric as a template. And, I've been taking copious amounts of pictures so I'll have some visual memory cues when it comes to putting it all back together.

    I would love to hear what your husband's aunt has to say about the whole process! My mother-in-law has done some pretty complicated reupholstering herself, but since she lives 2 hours away, I don't have much access to her wealth of knowledge.

  4. Great that your tackling this fine little chair, it looks well made. Martina had good advice. Take apart carefully and use pieces as patterns and reference, following exactly as possible. Your pictures will be invalueable. Add at least 2" all round pattern pieces for grabbing fabric to work in place.Tack your fabric pieces at the middle top and bottom, then center of both sides, then go back and restaple working the fabric tighter at these spots then procede to fasten down along edges to corners of pieces.Splurge on a new foam cushion. Usually there are decent books at the library for this. Feel free to ask me any questions

  5. Good for you for taking on this chair. I love the shape and size of this chair. Let us know where you find your fabric. That is the hard part where I live. In the middle of nowhere…lol.

  6. Thanks Margaret! My reading tells me exactly that, that I'll need a few extra inches to making working the fabric easier. And I can always trim off the excess, right?

    As for being well made… The chair is American made, but parts of it are plywood. It's by Kroehler furniture and a quick Google search told me it's kind of mid-range in terms of quality. It's probably not the type of chair that professional reupholsterers would say is worth having reupholstered, but it's the perfect guinea pig for me!

  7. Brave or niave? 😉 If the chair hadn't been merely $15, I wouldn't be going anywhere near this project. I figure it's better to try and dump the chair on the curb in a month when I fail miserably than to pass up the chance completely!

    Don't worry… I'll let everyone know how things go, step by step!

  8. I know I'm going to enjoy following along with this project! 🙂 Good luck!

    Have you checked out Tonic Living online? they have some great fabric options, shipping is fast, and you can order sample swatches too!! Love them!

  9. I have! And I love their fabrics, not to mention the fact that they're LOCAL. But… this is probably the complete newbie coming out… I can't figure out which fabrics are thicker and would be appropriate for reupholstering something. Especially for a chair that I hope to be one of the main pieces in our living room and therefore often used, I feel like I should be using a good tough fabric as opposed to a basic cotton. Advice?

  10. I fear I would be good at the deconstruction, but then I'd give up somewhere around the 15-minute mark of the reupholstering part, and just drape a few yards of fabric over the chair and call it a "look". Can't wait to see how this turns out! I'm sure it's going to be great.

  11. I've done one reupholstery on a chair. I saved the original fabric pieces as I removed them to make a template for the new fabric. I wouldn't say it was a complete success but it certainly does look 99% better than it did before!

    Here's a great tutorial from Betsy Speert's blog. She took classes, lucky lady 😉 But I've saved this for my next foray into reupholstering. Can't wait to see your finished project! (I hope she doesn't mind my passing this along to everyone. BTW, she's got a terrific blog! I hope the link works.)……….Betsy+Speert%27s+Blog……….%29

  12. My goodness Nette, you are a brave girl!! I just can't wait to see how it all turns out, I have dreams of being able to do something fabulous like this so let me know how it goes!!

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