For me, a big part of living simply is using what you have, rather than just running out to buy something new. Last week, I completely redesigned my workspace. I deconstructed my desk, gave it a much longer top, and added a shelf to the hutch so I could mount it on the wall. After a few coats of paint and new hardware, I had a functional and gorgeous workspace. But no chair.
This week, I am reupholstering my $5 used office chair. I found this chair at a clearance auction, and it’s super-comfy, but it is uuugggllly; navy blue with a big hole on the top of the chair. It looks very, very sad next to my new, beautiful workspace. It needed a makeover to go with the room’s new look.
Removing the old upholstery fabric
I chose a printed duck canvas for the fabric. I really like working with duck; it has a nice hand, it’s reasonably priced, and easily cleaned. I wanted something fun, and bright, but not too cutesy. I found the perfect fabric at Hobby Lobby, and with my 40% off mobile coupon, it was under $10!
As with any upholstery project, the first step is to remove the current fabric to use as a pattern. Although it’s tedious, I also remove staples so the new fabric will lay well on the piece. I also salvaged the dust cover on the bottom to reuse on the project. As I was removing the various fabric pieces, I used a sharpie to write on each piece what part of the chair it belonged to. Although this was a fairly simple project, it’s always helpful to have those notes when you start to put everything back together.
Tufting the chair to shape the fabric
I decided to use button-tufting to shape the fabric to the chair, so I was very a happy to see that the back of the chair already had holes drilled into it. Evidently, office chairs are shaped using a process similar to tufting. I made fabric-covered buttons to tuft with, and they are really simple; all you need is a button making kit from the fabric store. Simply put the fabric into the collar, then the front of the button form. Tuck the fabric to the center of the button, then apply the back. I usually give the pusher a firm tap with a hammer to make sure I have a tight fit. Then presto! Cute buttons. To attach the buttons, run some strong twine through the tufting hole in the back of the chair to the front of the fabric, thread the button, then run the needle through to the back, through the tufting hole. Then tie off the twine, and staple it to the wood for good measure.
After attaching the fabric to the chair with four tufting buttons, I simply smoothed the fabric around the front and sides, and stapled it to the back. A bit of stretching and pleated was needed for the corners, but I finally got a smooth, even cover on the front.
Covering the back of the chair
The next step was the most difficult; sewing an edging for the back. I used the old fabric as the core for a little bit of stiffness, but it kept rolling. I finally got if done, with the aggravatingly stretchy old fabric sewn in. To apply the fabric on the back of the chair, the flange on the cording was placed under the fabric, and the staples were placed between the fabric and cording so they do not show.
Again, to get all this put back together, I simply paid attention to how it was assembled as I was taking it apart. I always take notes, and with multiple pieces, I label the old coverings with a sharpie so I know which piece goes where. Upholstery is not hard, but it is time consuming, and requires some attention to detail. The end result is my super-comfy office chair with a fresh, new look! The fabric has a ton of color, and the black and white in the pattern looks great with my desk, for the amazing price of $15. I just love it!