The Fortners Reupholster Dining Room Chairs

When my husband Tadd and I first moved into our house last year, the closest thing we had to dining room furniture was a small, round table that would fit four chairs around it if you tried hard & believed in yourself. The size of our dining room in the house, however, called for a larger setup, so Tadd & his dad built us a beautiful farmhouse table that could fit eight chairs. We needed chairs but didn't have the budget for brand new ones, so the hunt for chairs we could fix up began.

Fortunately, we live just ten minutes away from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, where people donate household items and other miscellaneous items...very recently they had a big sale on a metric ton of mannequin parts that someone had donated to them. The Re-Store then sells these items, at an affordable rate, and the proceeds from the sales go to fund the construction of Habitat homes. It's a great setup. We found two sets of four chairs (only one set was in need of advanced they're  now covered in slips instead of sewn-on fabric!) that also came with small dining tables. One table will later be converted into a coffee table, and we donated the other back to the ReStore since we didn't need it and thought someone else could use it.
Chair After

Chair - Before

These chairs, which had upholstered seats, were in need of a little TLC. They were a bit unsteady, so Tadd disassembled them and re-glued all of the parts back together; they're now secure. One chair, however, was too weak to undergo the disassembling process, and we were left with three chairs. My task was to reupholster the survivors. Should you want to reupholster your own chairs, directions are below!

Chair Supplies

-Chairs - $50 for 4 chairs and matching a table from the ReStore
-Cushion padding - $12, enough material to cover 4 chairs
-Fabric - $17, enough material to cover 4 chairs
-Staple gun

1. To remove the seat from the frame of the chair, I had to unscrew them. With my chairs, they unscrewed from the underside of the chair and came out very easily.

Chair Padding Template

2. You may be able to reuse the original padding, but mine had melted to the fabric I was removing. I used the base of the seat as a template to cut out new padding.
3. I then used the padding I'd cut out as a template for my pretty orange fabric, which I recommend ironing the creases out of before reupholstering. Be sure to cut out enough fabric to cover both your padding and the base of the seat. The fabric has to wrap around both of these in order to properly cover everything.

Chair Padding Sandwich

4. Here comes the tricky part - stapling the fabric to the bottom of the base of the seat. You'll make a padding sandwich, essentially: the bottom layer is the fabric, face-down; the middle layer is the padding, face-down; and the top layer is the base of the seat, face-down. Because it takes many hands to fold and staple, I did not get photos of the next steps, so I apologize. I actually had to employ Tadd's assistance to hold the fabric tight while I stapled, so keep that in mind when taking on this project.
5. Secure one corner of the fabric, being sure to pull it tight and staple secure. Make sure that the fabric looks smooth both on the top as well as the sides of the seat. Also be sure to mark where the screw holes are for screwing the seat back into the chair frame. I didn't do that on the first chair and ended up having a difficult time screwing that seat back in.
6. From this point, go around the seat, repeating step 5 for each remaining corner. I found it was usually easiest and looked best when I folded the fabric in each corner like I was wrapping a gift before I stapled it down. Don't just staple in the corners; staple the fabric all around the bottom of the seat to ensure it stays in place.
7. Your seat should now be reupholstered and rejuvenated! If there are any unwanted creases, you can always remove the staples with a flat-head screwdriver and try again. If you have pulled your fabric tight and kept an eye on how it looked while stapling, you should be fine.
8. Screw the seat back into the chair frame, & enjoy your lovely chair!

Chair After

This was a craft I'd never attempted before, but the chairs went from frightening to fantastic in the relatively quick and easy process. Feel free to leave questions or comments below!

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