I am frugal and have already spent so much on Christmas. Don’t even get me started whining about a plumber’s bill for almost $600. Yes, I took a shower about a week ago and came downstairs to pour a cup of coffee and see all this water across the counter top! My kitchen ceiling was raining…….I knew my shower was right above there. <sigh> Called my daughter to ask who the plumber was she had used a short time ago, called him and they were able to come out right way. ( It was the shower drain trap. Replaced. Not too much water damage at all. We dodged the mold bullet by taking care of it quickly. We will think about repairing that ceiling drywall.)
But I had wanted to recover my dining room chairs. These chairs have fabric on the seat only and some of them are stained. I have cleaned all eight of them many times and they just gets stained again. Not pointing any fingers here….but I have some suspects.
(Not really just Jacob. I just had to post this cute photo of him. He’s so grown up now. Indulge me!)
I have had this dining room set for about twelve years and I really like it. It is large and that’s what we had looked for, a big one so that the whole family could sit around. High chairs for the babies could move into a slot and then when the little ones are bigger, booster seats work. But now we have Jacob all grown. He’s eleven now and I am still waiting on some more grandchildren but nothing on the horizon yet.
Meanwhile the seats are a bit stained and need replaced but I am not ready to pay $25 or more a yard for eight chairs. Especially if I mess it up and have to start over. If I have it done, it could cost $80-100 per chair, so I needed a cheaper solution. And I wanted it NOW! ( See more money saving and budgeting ideas.)
I had visited the fabric stores to see the fabrics available and I could not make up my mind. I don’t want white or cream like I had because it shows the stains too easily. But I cannot decide on a print. Too busy. What do I do? What if I don’t like it and I spend several hundred dollars? Rip it all off?
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Fabric for the Process – I Found It!
Out shopping one afternoon for Christmas village things ( like I told you with these villages, there is always something else you want or need), I was checking out the tablecloths and wondering if I should try a different color this year as my under-layer on my village. See my village on this post. Suddenly I realized I was looking at possible chair fabric! Why not use a damask table cloth? It would give me a similar look. I checked the measurements on those available and the longest was 60″ by 144″. Price $19.99 seriously. $5 per yard for 60″ fabric ! I knew that I needed 30″ by 28″ for each seat which gave me room for a tuck/hem. I knew I wanted a soft fabric which would be easy to work around the edges and fold smoothly. Something bulky would just not work. Sold!
As for the color, I did not want white or cream. Red was there but I didn’t care for it. So my option in the 144″ size was for a pale teal color. Works for me! My walls are light gray and I decorate in black and white other than my plants and wood furniture. So this was it! And it was less than $20. At that price, if I hated it later, I could just ditch it all and start over after the holidays. But I would have clean chairs for my Holiday dinners and parties. Shout out to Christmas Tree Shops. ( I have no affiliation with them.)
First of all, I have changed the fabric on a wood chair before. I have recovered desk chairs and side chairs. I am not saying I have re-upholstered any chairs. I know my limitations. All I have done is to cover the old chair seat (when it is in good condition) with new fabric. For my project on these chairs, I was only going to cover the existing chair pads leaving them intact to be re-done later with a nicer fabric.
How to Recover Dining Chair Seats
Most wooden chairs like mine have an attached “upholstered seat cushion” which can be removed by taking out the screws that hold it on the frame. You’ll need a battery powered drill with a bit that is long enough to go into these holes where the screw is located. There were 7 screws holding each seat to the chair frame and we removed these. ( My husband was in charge and I was the helper.)
Another item needed is a staple gun. My Inspector Gadget husband of course had an electric one so the work went quickly. There needs to be a lot of staples so the electric one will be best. Here is an affiliate link to his model. Arrow Fastener 9100K PowerShot Pro Electric Staple and Nail Gun. Be sure to have a supply of staples since it does take a lot i.e. perhaps 25-35 or so per chair. We used Arrow Fastener 206 Genuine T20 3/8-Inch Staples, 1,000-Pack
You just turn the chair over, pop all screws out, remove seat, cover seat with new cloth, and reattach in same holes as they were removed. It is really easy. Each chair takes about 10-15 minutes . Try to prevent your helper or husband from trying to break an imagined record for getting a seat done in “record time.” I guarantee that will get on your nerves really fast. Have a bottle of wine nearby and refill your glass when needed.
Hints to recover a dining chair or any chair.
Be sure to fold the fabric under as you pull and staple the edges. We worked alternating opposite sides for smoothness. I liked doing the front then the back, progressing into each side – left then right. Each of the sides staple smoothly, but at the corners you need to work around the edges, folding and tucking so that you get the smoothest edges possible. That is the reason I chose a light fabric like this polyester because I just don’t have the talent or equipment to do a heavier damask they were upholstered in currently.
So there you have it. It took about 2 hours for the work. We already had the tools and staples, so if you would like to try something like this, it may be extra expense to get that Staple gun. Or perhaps you could borrow/rent one. A box of staples is less than $5. When you need something, just use some ingenuity and figure out how you can do it and save a lot of money! Yes, I know this fabric is not going to last forever, but it can last until my budget recovers from Christmas and from that plumbing mishap.
Then I will be back trying to choose fabric again. Oh Lord, help me!
Update: Remember that the original manufacturer or designer used a white/cream for a reason. It blends with anything. I am so sick of that color of blue-green. I will be changing this out shortly. I lived with it for the past year, but I want my white back! Soon!
Update 2018 again: I have re-upholstered the chairs with regular upholstery fabric. I chose a cream with black accents and I love it. Waited for a sale at Hobby Lobby and it wasn’t horribly expensive at all. Loving it! What do you think? Different house and dining room.
Hi, I am Kim and thank you so much for visiting my magazine! I am a gardener and a hypertufa maker. If you came here to learn about hypertufa, I have a lot of information. But I also write about flower gardening and using succulents which are great drought-tolerant plants.