Drab to Fab -Stylish Chair MakeOver on a Budget

Old green drab chair
After pic of drab to fab chair makeover









My favorite old chair needed help.  It had great bones and was absolutely not going to the landfill OR a professional repholsterer (too expensive).

I looked into all my options for updating furniture and even tried painting a small test area in the back – this was a total waste of time.  The chalk paint I used did not cover the green faabric and made it very coarse, not comfortable at all.  Unless you are painting a faux leather or plastic sofa or chair, I don’t see how this method would ever be OK.

At this point I was committed to recovering, because of the paint debacle.   I looked into fabric options and noticed a lot of DIYer’s are using the heavy canvas painter drop cloths for modern looking curtains ….LOVE this idea and love the price compared to decorators fabric.

Here’s what I picked up from Amazon for this project:

Painters drop cloth


nail tacks

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tack strip

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cotton pipping

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How to:
Step 1 - remove all old fabric

I started by sanding and stripping the wooden portion of the chair.  Because the wood was very grooved and not easy to sand, I used the orange stripping paste (Citristrip) and mineral spirits for most of it. This took three to four coates because the manufacturer had used a combination of products to get the greenish wood look.




OnStrip wood and refinishce the wood was as clean as I was going to get it, I used a small brush to add some darker stain to the creases of the wood…for more character.  Then added a little cherry stain and finished with two coates of polyurathane.





I attemSalvage old cloth pieces to make patterns for new coveringpted to wait to remove the green fabric until after the wood work was completed because I wanted to keep the filler/lining of the chair clean, but some areas had to be removed to get to the wood.  When removing your fabric try and save the entire piece without ripping because you can use those pieces as patterns for the new fabric.  You can see in this picture that there were tack strips on this portion(the back panel), I replaced them with new but sometimes they can be salvaged.  The key is to not bend the metal when removing.





My chair Attach new coverhad grooves to nail the fabric to, which were then covered by the piping.  I folded about 1/4 inch of fabric under and then again before I nailed the fabric to the chair.  This gave it a solid feel and clean look.





Attaching painters drop cloth

I wanted to avoid taking the chair completely apart, so I made due with pulling the new fabric through to the under side and then stapling to the wooden frame, this area was then covered by the outer/back fabric panel.





Attach piping on edges

The piping went around the entire chair’s wooden frame inside and out.  I looked into fabric glue, but in the end went with my trusty hot glue gun.  For the pillows, I cut up a TJ Max throw blanket and hand sewed the edges.  For the bottom cushion, I used an old alpacca rug I had on hand.  The rug had a liner sewn on the underside, which I cut open and was the perfect size to act as a slip cover for the chair.  Another option, would be to sew a slip cover out of the drop cloth and add a sheep skin or furry type fabric to the top.





Finished Look:

After look of the redone chair

After look of redone chair

This project was a lot of work and was pretty time consuming, but I am really happy with the results.  Total budget was around $70, with fabric, piping and plenty of supplies left over for my next piece.  My advice would be to take your time and do it right.

Tip:  Once the wooden base was done, I moved this into my living room and worked a little bit each night while the family relaxed and watched a bit of TV.




Drab to Fab -Stylish Chair Makeover on a Budget
Article Name
Drab to Fab -Stylish Chair Makeover on a Budget
My favorite old chair was in need of a makeover. This article walks through the step by step process of a complete makeover - turning a drab old chair into FAB.
Publisher Name
Flawless Chaos
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  • Lin

    How do you use and attach the tack strips. I have a couch with a lovely, decorative would frame. The front of the arms has the wood swirl in the center of them. The fabric is stained terribly and smells.I want to recover because I love the wood. Any more pictures that would help?

  • chaosqueen

    Hi there – the tack strips are used in areas that won’t have piping over them to hide the staples or nails. If you take a look at the back of my chair, the strips were placed on each side vertically. The metal strip goes on top of your folded under fabric and then the top layer of fabric covers the strip…then you nail them in and have no edges or staples. Feel free to send me a pic of your chair….

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