Friday, August 25, 2017

Recovering Dining Chairs

Several years ago, we decided it was time to buy a dining table that was actually large enough to seat at least most of our family. Knowing that whatever we bought would be "well used," we didn't want to buy anything too expensive. I lucked into a table and eight chairs at a furniture store that were on clearance--and that included a lovely china hutch thrown in for free. The table was already a bit scratched up and--this is the key point here--the chairs were covered in white upholstery fabric. You might ask what decorator would choose white for dining chairs, but it seems equally fair to ask what person would buy them? Yes, that would be me. I bought them knowing that I would have to recover them before too long. So here we go:

This is the before. I photographed the chair that was the least yucky.

The hardest part of this project by far was removing the old upholstery. I feel like I am a slow learner, but each chair taught me something new. I'll share what I learned:

Begin by unscrewing the chair bottom from the frame and legs. I suspect each kind of chair is different, but this is what I had to do:

Using an allen wrench, I unscrewed the front legs and the back from the frame. I put all hardware together in a ziplock bag to keep it from getting lost.

The seat was attached to the frame with long screws at each corner.

Once the seat was removed, the hard part began. After the first chair, I bought an upholstery staple remover. Do it! It will save you so much time and effort. Start by removing the black dust cover. I didn't have to take it all the way off; I just moved it out of the way as you can see below. 

My chairs had piping around the bottom edge that had to be removed next. By about chair number three, I realized that the easiest way was to pull an end free, grab it with pliers, and then roll the piping around the pliers as I pulled the staples loose. I hope that makes sense:

The hardest part was removing the upholstery fabric because the staples were tough to get out of the wood and the fabric tore. I don't have any tricks for that. I used a screw driver to pry the fabric up and loosen the staples and then worked the staples out with the staple remover. It took a lot of time and patience. Let me know if you have any tips. 

I found my fabric at my favorite resale shop for a dollar. I was so lucky--there was exactly the right amount for my eight chairs. Simply use one of the old covers for a pattern. I learned after chair number one to cut big, and, after chair number two, not to cut off the corners even if your pattern does. You can cut off the excess later:

There is probably a scientific way to put on the new cushion cover. I just centered it, stapled the back, stretched it to the front and stapled it, stretched and stapled both sides, and then rounded the corners, pleating as necessary as I stapled them in place. I didn't have enough fabric to replace the piping, but I wouldn't have done it anyway. I like the cleaner line (and less work) of the chairs without it. Staple the dust cover back in place.

As I finished them, I took each seat outside and sprayed the cushion with Scotch Guard. Hopefully, that will make the fabric more resistent to stains and easier to clean.

Simply screw the legs and back on, and. . .

Have a seat!

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