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Monday 15 February 2010

Sluttishly Restored Furniture: Re-Covering A Chair


Remember a while back we asked you for your old furniture to play with and make pretty? Well, I had plenty of my own that needed some TLC following an unfortunate incident involving my house and a fire that wasn't in the fireplace.

So where better to start than with breathing some new life into my reading chair. It started off looking a bit grubby and rusty and ended up all sleek and shiny, perfect for curling up in with a good book.

It was surprisingly easy to do and much cheaper than buying a new chair. In total I spent around £45, which included any equipment I didn't already have such as sanding paper and a staple gun (though how I have got through life without owning one of those I don't know!).


So how did I do it? Well, it went a bit like this...
  • I needed to decide which room my chair was ultimately going to be in. I've created a scrapbook of ideas and themes for how I want my rooms to be decorated and decided that it would fit best in my bedroom. Deciding where the chair is going to go makes choosing a fabric easier in terms of colour and pattern and texture. It might help to take a photo of the room with you. And don't be afraid of asking for opinions if you're not sure or can't decide!
  • Specialist upholstery fabrics can be rather expensive so look for hard-wearing, durable fabrics if it's a chair that's going to get a lot of use. I got my fabric from Dunelm, but there are plenty of other places you can look. Try a local market or looking online.
  • Measure the chair before you go shopping! I spectacularly failed to do this and so had to guess. Luckily I over-estimated and will be able to make a cushion cover from the remnants. You'll need to measure in dimensions (length x width x depth) to be able to have enough fabric to cover the area. I'd recommend buying at least half a metre more than you need anyway, just in case. Don't forget about covering the back of the chair as well.
  • Think about if you need any extra or new foam. I must confess that I almost didn't have cushioned armrests as all the foam I'd seen in shops had been rather expensive until Mother Shoes reminded me about a stall in the local market selling it. It worked out a lot cheaper than buying from Dunelm or John Lewis (the only places I'd seen it). But again, don't forget the measurements wherever you buy it from! Oh and if you need the foam cutting, get the place you buy it from to cut it for you if they offer! I didn't, thinking it'd be easy enough to do myself. Except it wasn't and so the armrests are a little uneven if you look very closely!
  • When it comes to the frame, prepare the wood or metal properly. Usually a good sanding is enough to take off the first layer of dirt and paint or varnish. A prepared surface will give you a smoother finish when you come to paint it. Use the right kind of paint for the surface too. There's lots to choose from in different finishes so it's just a case of taking a fabric swatch along with you to help you match it up!

Prepping & painting the frame...
  • When it comes to actually putting the fabric on, this is where you may need to phone a friend to come and help pull and hold things in place for you. I just about managed on my own but the last bit was so much easier with an extra pair of hands to help. If you chose a patterned fabric, having someone to hold it all in place once you've lined it up will be invaluable! You'll need to pull the fabric as tight as you can over the cushion then staple in place. Keep pulling and stapling until the fabric is taut without anyone holding it.
  • Once you've re-assembled the chair, check for any stray threads and any areas where the fabric feels a bit loose. If there are, take it apart and pull the fabric back in place.
  • Happy with everything? Now it's time to stand back and admire your handywork!
We'd love to see any furniture you've restored because we're a bit nosy like that so don't be shy about showing off your handywork. Email us and show off a bit! Let us know as well if you have any other tips.


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