Thrifty (Re)Upholstered ArmChair

And the parade of projects continues, thanks to this highly unusual spring into summer we are enjoying.

I just got around to recovering an $8 chair I picked up a couple of months ago from my favorite spot, the goodwill outlet store.

I actually rather like the fabric that’s on it. It was just beat to hell done for. It was frayed around the corners and filthy.

With a few few waves of my magic wand, here is the after:


The fabric I used came from the $6/yd section of Hancock Fabrics, and was practically identical in texture (linen-y/burlap-y) to the fabric that covered it before. The after effect is very Ballard Designs, minus the cost, don’t you think? I liked the finish on the frame of the chair, so I decided not to mess with it. I was a little concerned about using a light colored fabric (this is after all a household with children). Not to worry though, I scotchguard-ed the hell out of it.

Once again, Before, meet After:


No really, this project was so simple I almost feel guilty. Pretty straightforward stuff.

1. Remove about a thousand upholstery tacks, then the top fabric (there’s usually a muslin cover underneath that)

2. I used the old fabric pieces as patterns for the new fabric. I cut where the old pieces were cut, and slit where they were slit. This made things so much easier when it came time to attach the fabric  because everything fit perfectly.

3. Attach with a few thousand more staples. 

You want more information on the process, you say?

I can DO, but there are way cleverer teachers out there than yours truly, so I’ve sourced some really good tutes for you. Check out these resources:

Here is a great 3-part tutorial from Little Green Notebook. They are also the proud owners of the handy little chart pinned below (directly from the source, thank you)


ReUse your jars and bottles…with style.

I tend to collect used jars and bottles, especially spaghetti jars. I feel that they just have so much life still left in them.    They can be used to store a multitude of things. While I like to reuse and recycle, I stop short of hoarding.

Whenever I repurpose these jars I always look for a way make them a little more stylish.  I have been using my jars to store beans and other grains in my pantry and have used different labeling ideas.  I never really cared for just plain old sticking a label on the jar.

I decided to use my Silhouette cutter to actually cut the letters out (for those who don’t know what the Silhouette cutter is, read all about it in my post here or go to the machine’s website for more info here).  A bit tedious, yes, but fun.  And as you can see, the results are absolutely smashing!  It sort of just ties everything together and make the pantry look even more organized than it really is. The second picture shows a bottle of sparkling pink lemonade repurposed to hold filtered water in the fridge for those hot months.

The lesson here is, look at what you have and see what other purpose it might have before just throwing it out.

Spaghetti jars holding beans/grains, bottle of filtered water.

sparkling grapefruit lemonade bottle repurposed for water with vinyl labels.

More Chairs

As promised, here are the other two chairs I’ve done. Can you guess which went into the boys’ room, and which went to the girl?
I lucked out and found the same chair on two different occasions! The chairs looked like someone soaked their hands in a combination of mud, grease and grime for weeks, then smeared every inch of the chairs with it! I thought about taking the metal frames to get sandblasted and refinished at an auto painting place but didn’t. Because 1) the places I called thought I was crazy (this is ohio, not san francisco, after all..) and 2) really, who am I kidding? I read a very effective tip on bringing your chrome back to life. Simply scrub the chrome with aluminum foil. What was even better? add some baking soda pasted with water. It was amazingly easy and effective in cleaning/shining the chrome. Check the before and after… (A lot of times you’ll see my ‘before’ objects positioned rather strangely. That’s because I ALWAYS forget to take the before picture before starting the demo.)

After #1
After #2




I’ve been obsessed with recovering old chairs lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been ‘finding’ so many! I just love making something old and cast aside, new again. I’ve done about 3 chairs so far, with 2 chairs and 2 couches left to re-upholster. I don’t know when I’ll get to those, as fabric (at least what I want) is un-cheap! I love the funky, mod fabrics out , but at $18-$60 per yard, that could add up.
The chair in this picture is my craft room chair. It was actually an rolling office chair in its old life. I loved the chair instantly from the side of the road. I cleaned it up nicely, but kept the original upholstery for a few months. I wasn’t sure I could recover it, since I couldn’t find any screws. I eventually found the screws and proceeded to take it apart. For a second during the demo I considered pitching the whole project because it had sooooooo many staples! Plus, it was really built to last, and I wasn’t sure I could do as good a job putting it back together. I’m so glad I kept it and continued to work on it because it turned out so nice! It took me 3 nights to demo and rebuild. I still didn’t tighten up the redo as much as the original, but I think it’s great. I’m working on my perfectionist tendencies…
The sweetest part of the whole deal? The fabric only cost me $0.88 for all 3 yards (I only used about 1.5 yards). The Wal-Mart I got it from was closing out their fabric section so I was able to pull off a major score.
I have two more chairs that I’ve done that I will post soon.