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How to Recover A Chair Seat Cushion

How to Recover  Chair Seat Cushion

Recovering a chair seat cushion is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give a chair a whole new look, and if you use some thrift store fabric like I did it can be quite inexpensive as well.

When I finished my striped living room plywood floor makeover it freed me to start working on other living room projects, and a desk chair for my floral decoupaged desk was the next in line.


vintage wooden chair with removable fabric seat 2

I recently found this wooden chair at my local ReStore for $5.

There’s nothing really remarkable about it, but it’s in great shape, has a fabric seat, and is just the right size for both me and my desk.

I’m guessing it was probably a dining room chair because my mom has a dining room set from that era with chairs that are somewhat similar. Except my mom’s set has a lighter wood finish.


vintage wooden chair with removable fabric seat cushion

The fabric seat was in great condition, no stairs or smells, so I could recover the existing chair seat as is. I checked it over carefully before bringing it home.

If you don’t have to remove the fabric cover on a chair seat it really makes the project sooo much easier, because removing staples can be a lot of extra work.


tag under seat of vintage 1985 wooden chair

This chair was made right here in Canada in 1985, but a very well known company named Palliser, which is still in business today.

I love it when labels are left on, so you know something about a piece of furniture.

This label is definitely a keeper.


removing screws holding fabric seat on vintage wooden chair

The first thing you always need to do when removing a seat from a chair is to remove the screws that are holding the sear in place.

This is done very easily with a regular screwdriver.


removing screws holding fabric seat on vintage wooden chair 2

I’ve left the screws in this pic so you can see when there are.

After removing them the seat just popped off.


Preparing Wooden Chair for Painting

giving wooden chair a light sanding with a sanding block 2

I’m painting the chair so I took it outside to give it a good light sanding with a sanding block.

Even after 34 years this chair still had its shiny finish.

I love these sanding blocks because they’re easy to handle and relatively inexpensive.


giving wooden chair a light sanding with a sanding block 3

Since you only need to remove the top shiny finish, you don’t need to go crazy with this.

Just give the whole chair, legs and all, a nice light going over.

giving wooden chair a light sanding with a sanding block

Once it’s no longer shiny, after you remove the dust with a damp cloth, you can call it done.


Painting Wooden Chair

painting vintage wooden chair white

After I removed all the sanding dust from the chair I took it inside and gave it 2 coats of a white ReStore paint and primer combo.

This is the same paint that I used to drybrush my living room floor.

I just used a regular brush, and let the chair dry well in between coats.


Choosing a Fabric for your Chair Seat Cushion

fabric tablecloth and staple gun for recovering chair seat

To reupholster a chair seat all you need is your fabric of choice, a staple gun, and a pair of scissors.

I’m using a $2 floral tablecloth that I found at a thrift store a while back.

I just loved the colors and I knew I would repurpose it in some way someday.

And today was the day.

Every time I’m choosing fabrics or furniture pieces, or art and accessories, or whatever really, for any room… I remind myself that things don’t have to match they have to go.

What does this mean?


floral fabric tablecloth chosen for recovering chair seat

Well to me it means that you just have to find things that you love that relate to each other in some way, without being matchy matchy.

For me being too matchy matchy does nothing to show off  your room’s personality, not to mention your own personality.

The reason I chose this floral is because it relates to the desk fabric with a few its colors, the pinks and greens, but it’s not an exact match.

It’s a larger scaled pattern, which adds interest.

And I absolutely love it.

That’s the most important thing… you have to love it.


How to Recover a Chair Seat Cushion

Now this is where the magic happens, and anyone can do this.

chair seat placed beneath floral fabric for sizing

Because I wanted to place the pattern in a certain way on my seat, I put the seat right under a layer of the fabric.



How to recover a seat cushion with floral fabric tablecloth

And then I cut out around it, making sure to leave enough room to staple it underneath.

If you’re not concerned, or you’re working with a small pattern or a solid color, you can place your seat on top of the fabric and cut accordingly.


stapling fabric underneath seat

When recovering a seat you start by pulling tight and stapling in the middle of all four sides.


chair seat with new fabric stapled on except corners

Then you work on pulling tight and stapling, making your way from the four middles to the corners.


How to Finish Corners when Recovering a Chair Seat

Creating nice corners isn’t difficult. It just takes a little patience.

pulling in the corner fabric to make it tight before stapling

Pull and gather the fabric once like so, watching how it looks along the corner of the chair seat.


pulling in the corner fabric to make it tight before stapling 2

Then you pull and gather the fabric a couple of more times, again always watching how the corner is looking.

You don’t want the fabric to become too thick in one spot.


cutting away remaining fabric once corner has been stapled in place

Then you pull the final portion over, staple, and cut off the excess.

If you feel it’s necessary, you can put in a few extra staples.


corner of new fabric covered chair seat

Here’s what the corner looks like on the top side, neat and clean, and it perfectly follows the contours of the seat.

Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. If there’s a little gather that you can see, you probably won’t even notice it once the seat is put back on the chair.


hammering the staples into the chair seat to make sure they're tight

Once your fabric is all stapled in place, use a hammer just to make sure the staples are all down nice and snug.


bottom of chair seat view after being recovered with floral fabric

And here’s what the underside looks like when the seat is all done.

You’ll notice that the holes where the screws will go are covered.

That’s not a problem at all.


screwing recovered chair seat onto newly painted chair

The screws will go right in through the fabric.

Just make sure to hold the seat down tight when screwing in the screws.


Supplies used for Recovering a Chair Seat Cushion

– fabric
– screwdriver
– scissors
– staple gun
– hammer


Chair Seat Cushion Before and After

vintage wooden chair with removable fabric seat cushion

Here’s the before again, of my 1980s unremarkable $5 wooden chair.


recovered chair seat with fabric floral tablecloth

And here’s the after.

So bright and cheerful!

I chose to paint the chair white because it’s a great backdrop. White just makes colors pop.

And if I ever want to change the fabric, which I’m doubting right now, I won’t be repainting the chair… just recovering the seat.


Wooden chair makeover with fabric and paint

And here’s my newly recovered chair with my desk. All I have to do now is add some of those cork thingies to the feet bottoms so they don’t scratch the floor.

This is the perfect chair for this desk because I like to sit cross-legged while working on my laptop, and the desk pullout is at just the right height so I can do that.


Reupholstering the chair seat of newly painted wooden chair

I’m foreseeing spending many hours writing here while looking out the window at the front gardens.

I hope this post has helped to show you how easy it is to recover a chair seat.

If you have any chairs like this that need a quick makeover, this is an easy way to totally transform them.

Thanks so much for reading, and until next time…

keep on keepin’ on!



Save this project for later by pinning!

How to recover a chair seat to give a dated wooden chair a whole new look.


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  1. Hi Tuula
    I just love the striped colorful floor It’s Fabulous it’s got a really Happy feel Thank you for my freebie some Fantastic ideas. The chair looks great. I’m of to do mine Colour makes a whole lot of difference.
    Happy up cycling

    1. Thanks Chelsea! You’re so right, colour can definitely make a huge difference.

  2. What a wonderful refresh of this formally sad little chair. I like the whiter and brighter colors you went with. Well done!

    1. Thanks so much Audra! It really is pretty easy to make a sad little chair a happy one.

  3. Great post! Beautiful work, as usual!!

    I’ve always been too afraid to do something like this because I always thought I would not be able to pull the fabric evenly. Whether I was considering fabric on a piece of furniture or stretched on a frame for a wall-hanging, I always picture it coming out wavy or crooked, etc., because I would have pulled it more in one area than in another. I don’t think I could adjust it properly and then it would be further worsened because it would then be attached unevenly. I don’t think I would be able to look at it and know what adjustments to make that would correct it rather than increase my mistakes.

    I love your work but I am not sure I could try it yet.

    You are so good at these things!! The chair, and desk, and curtains, etc., all look great!! Again, I love your happy colors!! Thank you and best wishes!!

    1. Thanks JV! You can definitely do this. It’s just about pulling the fabric just so its taut, not tight. Maybe practice with some fabric that you don’t really care about to get the hang of it before you go for it for real. It’s such as easy way to totally transform a chair,

  4. I just love your bright and cheerful colors! This post is perfect timing for me! I have 4 chairs on my patio to recover. With your help I really think I can do it!! Thanks! Dona

  5. Love it! It’s so bright and beautiful! Thanks for sharing!