Reupholstering an Antique Chair

Reupholstering an Antique Chair

Do you have any antique chairs sitting around that you plan to reupholster? Do you feel a little intimidated getting started on this kind of project? Yeah, me, too.

Today, I want to walk you through, step by step, how I recovered a set of chairs last month. I found them at a garage sale about ten years ago.

Actually, they were the first real pieces of furniture that I ever bought at a garage sale.

Ten dollars each.

I wrote the man a check. I told him he knew where I lived if he had any trouble with that check, just to reassure him it would be fine.

He lived four houses down from me, which meant I didn’t even load the chairs into my car.

One by one, I carried them on my head, ran down the street straight through my front door and plunked them down in my living room.

New furniture!

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

I was hooked.

Now I buy second hand furniture all. the. time.

Sometimes it takes me awhile to decide what I want to do with a piece of furniture. Like ten years.

But, here we are, they are done and I will show you how I did it- start to finish.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

This post contains affiliate links to products I know and love. Click here to read a full disclosure.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

Supplies

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

Tutorial

  • Rip off any trim (it is just glued on). Remove any upholstery tacks and staples with staple remover and pliers.
    • This is when I knew for sure I had two antiques, the chairs were stuffed with cotton batting and horse hair, not foam.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

  • Refinish the frame or not.
    • I decided I wanted raw wood, so I stripped off the stain with Strypeeze and the scraper tool, scrubbed the frame with water and steel wool. I wiped the wood down with paint thinner, let it dry and sanded it with 220 grit sand paper, wiped it all down and finished it with a white wax.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

  • Carefully remove all the fabric pieces and take pictures as you go.
    • These will be your pattern pieces, so you don’t want them to be torn. Also, as you dismantle the upholstery you will start to understand how to re-assemble everything.
    • Cut an extra inch or so around all the edges, so you have some wiggle room.
    • If you need to tuft the chair, just cut out the buttons with a razor blade and leave them in tact. You will replace them one by one.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

  • Using your old fabric as pattern pieces, cut out the new fabric.
    • If tufting, mark your fabric where each of the buttons should go.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

  • If tufting . . .
    • Remove one button at a time, place the new fabric in place. Thread your new button with the waxed twine and then thread your upholstery needle. Push the needle through from front to back, this takes some effort. Once you have both ends of the twine through, stitch through a ball of batting to help secure your knot.  Pull the needle out and tie a good, tight knot. Then, anchor your two ends by stapling them to a nearby section of the frame.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

 

  • Replace the fabric pieces and batting with the pneumatic stapler.
    • Work in a north, south, east, west pattern and pull everything nice and tight as you work. This goes fast and is such a rewarding part of the process.
    • Leave some overhang.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

  • Trim off the overhang with fabric scissors.
  • Hot glue the upholstery trim over the staples.
    • To finish the ends of the trim, just cut the ends so they meet together perfectly and sink them into a big blob of hot glue.

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

  • Scotch guard the living daylights out of the chair!

 

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

How to Reupholster an Antique Chair- Start to Finish! Including tufting!

 

And in case this is too much effort, here are some beautiful vintage style chairs from around the internet.

Let me know if you have any questions!

UPDATE- To see the finished room, visit the Farmhouse Living Room Reveal!

Sharing at these parties!

 

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34 Comments

  1. Tonya
    May 23, 2017 / 11:33 AM

    Sarah, you’ve done a beautiful job on this chair, it’s stunning! Love the tone of the wood frame. Makes me want to srip all my dark wood furniture!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:47 PM

      Thank you, Tonya! I was pleasantly surprised that the wood turned out so well.

  2. May 23, 2017 / 1:42 PM

    Goodness that is pretty! Thanks for sharing your tips with us!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:48 PM

      Aww, you are so sweet, I love passing on what I have learned that hard way. Haha!

  3. Brenda
    May 23, 2017 / 1:46 PM

    This chair is absolutely gorgeous! And I love not only the new upholstery that you so skillfully did, but how you transformed the wood on the chair. Very very nice. Inspiring.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:49 PM

      Thank you, Brenda. I think that buttery smooth wood frame is my favorite part.;)

  4. May 23, 2017 / 5:31 PM

    Wow, that chair turned out amazing!!

    Tania

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:51 PM

      Tania, you are so encouraging! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Tanya Hulbert
    May 23, 2017 / 8:29 PM

    See what I mean? You are so giving! Thank you for always being willing to share in detail your “how to’s”! The chairs turned out so lovely. Can’t wait to have a cup of tea in one of them!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:52 PM

      Tanya, I feel the about you! xoxo Come for tea anytime!

  6. Brenda
    May 24, 2017 / 9:42 AM

    You are re-doing your living room. Are these chairs a part of the project?

    What an addition they will make to any room!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:52 PM

      Oh yes! Very much so, stay tuned for the living room reveal soon!

  7. May 26, 2017 / 10:40 AM

    Sarah, you did a beautiful job! So much work, but so worth it:) I had two chairs that I had planned to strip and expose the insides like restoration hardware… I got one side done and then hauled it down to the end of the driveway for big trash day….lol… I regret it:)

    http://www.raisingafarmhouse.com

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 27, 2017 / 12:55 PM

      Oh no!! I’m sorry, I have done things like, too. So sad!:(

  8. May 28, 2017 / 7:09 AM

    What a beautiful piece and a wonderful in depth tutorial on upholstery, one of the best I’ve seen. My readers could really benefit from an article such as this! I would love for you to share it at my blog party #FridaysFurniture Fix we would love to have you!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 29, 2017 / 2:22 PM

      Oh, I am so glad you liked it! What time is your party?

  9. May 28, 2017 / 8:27 AM

    My oh my that is just so pretty. I’ve been hoarding two antique chairs, maybe not quite ten years but at least five. I love the natural wood look and this is exactly what I want to achieve in mine. Thanks for the inspiration to get me started. Have a great memorial day weekend.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 29, 2017 / 2:25 PM

      I know exactly what you mean about hoarding antique chairs! I so respect your work, which means your compliments mean a lot to me. xoxo

  10. May 29, 2017 / 5:12 AM

    I am in awe. Ten bucks!?! I would have been squealing alllll the way home!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 29, 2017 / 2:25 PM

      Oh girl! I did!! haha!

  11. May 29, 2017 / 3:07 PM

    I have a few antique chairs to work on. And yes I am intimidated. I will be following this post line by line once I remove all of the nails! Your chairs turned out fantastic.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 30, 2017 / 6:57 AM

      I understand how you feel, just take it one step at a time. No major deadline, haha! Let me know if you have any questions. xoxo

  12. Pat
    May 30, 2017 / 6:44 AM

    Beautiful chair! What did you use to scotch guard it? Does the scotch guard change the color or the texture of the fabric? Thank you.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 30, 2017 / 6:59 AM

      Thank you, Pat! I added a link to the exact product I used to scotch guard it and no, it did not change the color or the texture at all. I know that they recommend spraying a swatch of your upholstery fabric to test this first, though, just in case.;)

  13. May 30, 2017 / 8:33 AM

    Thanks for sharing this post with all the great detailed pics. I have a headboard that I spent more than I should have and even though we have been very careful, it has some spots that I can not get out. I have thought about having it recovered but the hassle of waiting for it and putting significantly more money into the bed has held me back. Now I’m wondering if I could do this. You have me motivated. Your blog has a very nice clean look too. I enjoyed stopping by.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 31, 2017 / 8:25 AM

      Oh yes, I bet you could totally adjust this post for your head board. What a great idea!

  14. June 5, 2017 / 2:52 AM

    What a great deal and it looks gorgeous! Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 6, 2017 / 4:31 PM

      Aww, you are the sweetest, thank you for hosting!

  15. June 6, 2017 / 5:40 AM

    Thank you for the great tutorial! I’ve always wanted to try upholstery work but was too intimidated. This post gives me hope that I can do this!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 6, 2017 / 4:34 PM

      Oh good, I love to hear that. The trick is to go nice and slow.;)

  16. Lisa Tesneary
    June 13, 2017 / 11:02 AM

    LOVE IT”. 🌷

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 16, 2017 / 2:17 PM

      Thank you so much, Lisa!

  17. July 10, 2017 / 11:38 AM

    I love this chair!!!!! Great work. I just found your website and so glad I did. My husband and I live in the big city and I love to restore old vintage pieces and DIY and love interior design as well. Our hope is to settle down in a farmhouse soon and restore it as well. Love your quaint little home and your style. So glad I found you.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 25, 2017 / 7:08 PM

      Lymari, you sound like a girl after my own heart! I’m so glad our paths have crossed.

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