DIY Antique Chair Overhaul

Disclaimer: I am a Target affiliate and will receive a small commission if any purchases are made by clicking these links. I would never recommend something I didn’t 100% believe in and all the opinions I share on The Cozy Bungalow are my own.

If you haven’t heard me talk about it enough yet, I bought a little house! With this, comes the opportunity to outgrow a lot of my college furniture and upgrade to things that I thoughtfully purchase and actually love.

I have re-done more chairs than many late 20-somethings and thought it would be fun to share how I went about re-finishing my dining room chairs. First off, I need to brag on the Lexington, KY Restore for a second. They are so fantastic and I scored all six of these chairs for a mere $12 total. You read that right– solid wood antique chairs for $2 a piece. With a little love, elbow grease, and a great sander I cannot be happier with the finished product.

Two of the chairs have fabric cushions. While the rose print is all that and a bag of chips, I decided on something a little more neutral. I went to a local fabric store and found some plain olive-gray fabric that I thought would be neutral enough to go with anything.

The first step is sanding. Sand, sand, sand, and —- you guessed it —- sand. This is where having a sander such as the Black and Decker Mouse Sander from Target. For under $40, this is a wonderful tool to have on hand. I prefer the sanders with the pointed edge to be able to get into smaller spaces more effectively than round ones. While different sanders are used for different purposes, this one is a great purchase because it can do just about everything you need.

After doing most of the hard work with an electric sander, you need to go into the detail parts that a sander just can’t reach with an equal grit sand paper. If your chairs are painted, then you can use a liquid stripper if the sand paper is not working effectively. Always use gloves with this as it will burn if it comes in contact with your skin. If you decide to paint your wood chairs (sad day) then a light sanding will do, but use a coarser paper to get something for the paint to grip on to.

For recovering fabric chairs, you need approximately 1/4 yard per seat cushion, or more if you are covering the entire chair. If you are unsure take a photo to the fabric counter and they should be able to help you. Also, I like to staple the fabric in. Not only does it make for easy removal later, but it is SO EASY to do. I use a heavy duty stapler similar to this Stanley one from Target.

For these particular chairs, I needed a backer-board to be able to effectively cover the seats. Nate came in super handy with this and cut out a piece of scrap wood in order for me to have something to staple the fabric to. In the video below you can see exactly how I affixed this wood piece to the bottom of the seat. This not only will allow me to EASILY change out the fabric, but it also made fixing this cushion extremely time-efficient. Nate used a jig saw to cut out the wood pieces, if you do not have a handy boyfriend or someone who could cut this out for you, you can always have Lowes cut out a square surface for you and then round the corners using your sander. It would take some time, but it wouldn’t require buying another tool that you may not have at your disposal.

I purchased two 2-inch foam pads (one for each seat) and a single bag of cotton fill from a local hobby-craft store. The foam pieces are really easy to trim to fit the seat, and the cotton is just used to fluff the edges so its not as ‘square’.

Check out the video below, and bear with me, its my first attempt at using video footage. Let me know if you prefer DIY videos with text explanations like this one, or if you prefer the format of text-and-photo-only blog posts that I have been doing.


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