Chair Reupholstery Tips & Tricks

Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks

I bought this chair two years ago off Craigslist with the hopes of painting it to make it look new again. Yeah, that was two years ago. I have been hoarding this chair for TWO years because I could not give up on it. When I first got it I used about 5 tubs of chalky finish paint because I read you can paint fabric chairs with chalky finish paints. I wanted to use Annie Sloan chalk paints but they are just too expensive for the amount of paint I would have needed. So about 5 tubs of blue paint later, the chair looked like trash. The fabric was stiff and I could still see the ugly green color it originally was. So now after putting this project off for so long, I finally decided to just reupholster it instead. Keep in mind I have never reupholstered anything in my whole life. I figured it out as I went. I didn’t do a full tutorial for this because I had no idea what I was doing. I had a general idea thanks a million to this tutorial by Rebekah at Charming Imperfections that I found through Pinterest. She explains in detail each step on how to reupholster these kinds of chairs and I suggest reading that if you are looking for directions. However, I will share a few tips and tricks I used when doing my chair and the general gist of what I did.

What I did was rip off all of the fabric first (this is the hardest part). P.s. I painted the frame with a layer of white to see what it would look like but then changed to the grey. Here is what the chair looked like after ripping the old fabric off (Gunner had a go at the seat while I wasn’t home and ripped the stuffing up a bit):

Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks

Then I painted the frame. I used an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint dupe for French Linen (!). For a ton less $, I got a sample size of Lowe’s Beige Shadow. The number for it is W38005A. I showed my Lowe’s paint guy the number and he looked it up in his computer to mix it. I found the dupe on Beneath My Heart and if you want to see her comparison of the two colors, you can view them here along with a sample chip of the dupe color. To recover, I started with the arms, then the front back, seat, then the very back. Here is a diagram of the order I did it in:

Victorian Chair Reupholster Diagram

I then stapled the edges down with a staple gun and tucked in the pieces around the seat. Next I put nailhead trim around the edges to hide the staples. And that’s all folks! Now I’ll share some tips, tricks, and the tools you will need if you have a chair you want to reupholster…


  • Use a foam pouncer to paint the frame, it’s easier to use than a paint brush.
  • Check the clearance section of Walmart or craft stores for cheap trim.
  • Use canvas drop cloth instead of expensive upholstery fabric.


  • Fold the edges of your fabric in so that you have a clean edge.
  • Use a nailhead trim kit so you don’t have to put each nailhead in individually. You will only have to put a pin in every 5 or so. It saves a lot of time. I got mine from the clearance craft section of Walmart.
  • If your chair will be against a wall, don’t waste time putting trim around the back. You could save a few bucks here.
  • Get the $20 drop cloth from Walmart (I think it’s like 9′ x 12′?), it has sewn seams. Cut pieces with the seams on them in the middle then use them on the arms of your chair. Place them over the arm so that the seam is on top.


  • Pliers (to pull the originally fabric off) 
  • Paint (for the frame)
  • Fabric
  • Scissors (to cut the fabric)
  • Staple gun (to secure the new fabric to the chair)
  • Trim (to cover the staples around the edges)
  • Hammer (if you are using nailhead trim)

Chair Upholstery Tips & TricksChair Upholstery Tips & TricksChair Upholstery Tips & Tricks Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks

My trim kit had just enough to cover the front and sides of my chair. I’m leaving the back trimless since no one will ever see it since it sits against a wall.

Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks

It was a little hard to put the pins in on the bottom sides of the chair. It turned out a little off but I didn’t care.

Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks Chair Upholstery Tips & Tricks

I am so, so proud of this chair. I wish I had a before picture to show how bad it was. The frame was brown and the fabric was a faded pukey green color, yuck. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out and I thought I would probably just end up throwing it out but it turned out a lot better than I thought. Now I can’t stop admiring it! 



  1. Carol Scott
    October 24, 2016 / 3:01 am

    Hi there, great article.

  2. April 14, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    Thank you for talking about the importance of making sure you have the right tools before you start your reupholstery projects. It makes sense that doing this can help ou avoid stressing out too much and be able to finish in a timely manner. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to make sure they consult with a professional so they can help with this and make sure it is done right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *