New Love for Old Chairs (Leg 1: The Breakdown)


These chairs were a steal of a deal off of craigslist last summer. For months I had been searching for matching wingback chairs on craigslist for cheap since I knew the fabric and supplies would cost a bit. I seriously looked every day for about 3 months and then I found them. The guy getting rid of them actually dropped them off for me all for free! He just didn’t want to have to take them to the dump, which was his very next stop.

After I got the chairs I ordered the fabric I carefully picked out, and started to deconstruct the first chair. It is a crazy messy step and you have to be ridiculously careful with the fabric you are taking off, so that you can use them as a template for your new fabric. I started reupholstering with the new fabric and stapled like crazy. This is as far as I got…

photo (5)


This is when I realized one of two things.

The first being that I needed to actually use a sewing machine and put a little more effort than just stapling. I know you can use just a stapler for a lot of chairs, mine are not those kinds. There are too many curves that need special attention.

The second being that I hate that fabric. Don’t get me wrong it is a fine and lovely fabric but it just isn’t me. It doesn’t fit with my decorating style and it is too girlie. I was trying to expand past my normal bounders and that was not a good choice in this case. That said I have about 9 yards of the above printed fabric if anybody wants it, just send me an email.

Enter the new fabric! I stood at joann’s for about an hour staring at the upholstery fabric. This time I was smart and brought home samples. I had my favorite and after asking The Man what he thought, he picked the same one.. The next day I picked up the fabric I would need. (I will show you the new fabric in the next post)

7 yards at $19.99

= 139.93

-50% off coupon

=$69.97 total ($34.98 per chair).

Due to our recent move I somehow managed to loose all of the original fabric from the first chair.  Oops. Luckily chair #2 has not been touched yet. That meant I had one more chance to get all the pictures and all the fabric to make templates for.

Make sure to get pictures of absolutely everything about your chair before you even start to take it apart. As you start to remove fabric take pictures of every edge you come across. You may not actually need it, but it is so much nicer to have it for reference when you get overwhelmed.


The easiest place to start is the back and then just go for it. For the back you just want to slide a screw driver in between the fabric (as you can see below). Then just twist the screw driver and the tack strip should start to pop out. continue this all the way down the chair on both sides. Take special note of how the fabric should wrap around the tack strip.

photo 1

Be careful to try and recover all the piping and tack strips so that you do not have to buy new ones, the old ones will work just fine if you are careful.

Did I mention this process is messy? These are the things that were inside the chair… I think I can use that key for a new project ;)

photo 2

When you finally get done removing the fabric from the chair, take lots of pictures of the fabric pieces. Be sure that you take pictures of all the seams. That way it is much easier to reconstruct the piece when that step comes.

photo (2)

If you are going to change the legs either with paint or stain, do it now. You want to do the legs when there is no fabric on the chairs. I did not do this step because I liked the color the legs were and they already had the distressed vibe going for them. If you do want to change them just sand, paint (or stain), sand, paint (or stain), poly, sand, and poly one more time. It is a fairly simple process, so don’t stress it.

I would suggest that you lay the fabric pieces roughly where they used to go, so you have an extra reminder when come back to it.


What you will need for this step:

Old Chair

screw driver, hammer and plyers

eye protection (staples fly everywhere)

sandpaper, stain or paint and poly for the legs


Click here to see the re-upholstery process:




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