When we moved into our house in September and I finally had an office space to work in, I was ecstatic.

We quickly accumulated the furniture needed to have a fully functioning office from Ikea and UW Swap Shop. Our office chairs, which cost $20 each, were very comfortable to sit in but esthetically, left something to be desired. Here’s what they looked like originally:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

And here’s what one of them looks like now:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

This was our second upholstery project, the first being the headboard we made for our old guest bedroom that moved with us to the new guest bedroom. I’ve been on the lookout for fabric that would make these chairs exciting for a couple weeks now, and I fell pretty quickly in love with this Echino fabric from The Sewcial Lounge. Jason was slightly skeptical, and they only had enough fabric for one chair, so we agreed to do just my chair and worry about his later.

Anyways, there is quite a bit of information out there on the internet on how to reupholster chairs, but we’ll give you our own tutorial, just for good measure. Here’s what you need:

  • about 1-2 yards of fabric,  depending on the size of your chair
  • allen wrench, hammer, screwdriver and such to take apart the chair
  • staple gun
  • spray paint (we used a high gloss black Rustoluem)
  • large tarp
  • stray-on upholstery adhesive (depending on how your chair is built, you may or may not need this)
  • weights (may or may not need this)

Once you’ve got your materials, here’s how you upgrade your chair:

Step 1: Take Apart The Chair

All office chairs are different, but here’s what ours looked like. We took the bottom off the frame:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

And then the back which was attached with nails:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Of course because nothing can be that easy, one of the bolts was completely stripped and we ended up using a Dremel to just saw it off:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Hopefully you don’t run into that.

Step 2: Spray Paint the Frame

This is pretty straight forward.

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Our chipping grey frame looked like this at the end:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Let the frame dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 3: Measure, Cut, and Iron the Fabric

I recommend staying away from fabrics with any sort of straight lines or linear patterns unless you are really good at upholstery. The beauty of the pattern we chose was that if you didn’t get it perfectly straight, it was forgiving. We laid out the pieces, making sure that all the different elements of the pattern would be captured somewhere:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Then cut, giving yourself about 2 inches of slack on all sides:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Before you get excited about your upcoming staple gun usage, please iron the fabric:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Step 4: Staple, staple, staple

Then comes the fun part, the stapling. Always start with in the center of two opposite sides. Once you’ve got those taught and secure, work your way around the fabric, pulling tightly and making sure the folds are neat and hidden, where possible. You may also need to cut off some of the extra fabric after you attach it.

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Here’s what we ended up with:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Step 5: Reassemble Chair

The arms, bottom, and large back piece just screwed right back into the frame. The other back piece of our chair was originally nailed in, but we decided to try a spray-on upholstery adhesive to attach it. We put some weights on it overnight and it worked quite perfectly:

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Step 6: Marvel at the Beauty of Your New Chair

This part is self-explanatory.

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

Total Upgrade: Reupholstered Office Chair | Things I Made Today

10 Comments

  • 04 / 14 / 14 / 2:26 am

    What fun- I was going to pitch Rod’s UGLY office chair. Not anymore! Off to sewcial ;-)

    writes MaryReply
    • 04 / 14 / 14 / 8:26 am

      Ha Mary that’s perfect. You’ll love the store! And it’s a fun project to tackle :)

      writes VickyReply
  • 08 / 24 / 14 / 6:00 pm

    Sooo gorgeous and inspiring!! Thanks for sharing :))

    writes Belinda ThomollariReply
    • 08 / 24 / 14 / 7:01 pm

      Thanks Belinda!

      writes VickyReply
  • 08 / 24 / 14 / 9:34 pm

    Perfect fabric choice, and really well done! (spotted on AT via facebook!).

    writes ninaribenaReply
  • 08 / 25 / 14 / 12:53 pm

    I’m going to do it on my ripped black clunker which I was going to pitch. Thanks

    writes Flangtree@gmail.comReply
    • 08 / 25 / 14 / 12:57 pm

      You’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

      writes VickyReply
  • 08 / 25 / 14 / 1:02 pm

    what is the spray on upholstery adhesive?

    writes nancyReply
    • 08 / 25 / 14 / 9:12 pm

      Hi Nancy – we used ForceField Fast Tack Upholstery Adhesive. You can find it at any big fabric/craft store like JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels.

      writes VickyReply
  • 09 / 11 / 14 / 9:34 am

    […] Reupholstered Office Chair – I get to sit in this project every day, and it continues to make me smile. Plus it was […]

    writes Two Year Blog Anniversary and My Best Of Choices - Things I Made TodayReply

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