This is such an easy DIY thrift store chair makeover. I found these chairs for $10 and made them over in five minutes.
Here’s the step-by-step process of how I transformed these thrift store chairs on a budget. You don’t need a PhD in upholstery for this project—just these simple tips.
The best thing about going to a thrift store or a yard sale?
You discover the one thing that you never knew that you needed.
It’s the BEST EVER.
This past weekend I organized my spices and went on the hunt for blue and white dishes and milk glass and vintage frames. I didn’t find a single piece.
I came home with four of these.
These wonderful, amazing, incredible chippy chairs.
And guess how much I paid for each one?
I know, right?
I think they were such a bargain because the seats were damaged. No worries. I can fix that faster than you can say summer vacation.
Here’s an easy solution and a five-minute thrift store chair makeover.
Here’s a close-up of what we are dealing with.
This stained and ripped burlap.
I actually have been in love with burlap since these smocked curtains.
Burlap is a hard fabric to use on a chair seat. It stains relatively easily and it rips and doesn’t really hold up that well to normal wear and tear.
So I went in search of discount fabric and found this on sale at our local fabric store for 50% off.
It’s two-sided with a brown and white pattern on one side and a white and brown pattern on the other side.
I wanted to use the chairs in the craft room (I’m giving the existing chairs in there to the twins for their new apartments at college). The rug in there has a giant overall pattern on the floor, so I knew that I needed a smaller pattern on the chairs like this one. It’s a way to add another pattern to a room without overwhelming it.
Just like adding cute shoes to an outfit.
You can see all my pattern mixing tips here.
Here’s a close-up of the finished pattern on the chairs.
It was SO EASY and took me about five minutes per chair.
Quick tip: when you find something at a thrift store or yard sale? Try to start the project and find a home for it right when you bring it home. Otherwise, it can end up in a project pile that never gets finished and your treasure hunt will have been in vain.
Here’s my five-minute thrift store chair makeover.
DIY Thrift Store Chair Makeover
(I’ve posted mini-videos of the steps over on my YouTube channel and on my Instagram Stories if you need any more explanation)
Remove the seat cushion from the chair
This is really the most challenging part of the entire process.
Finding where all the screws are.
Here’s exactly how I take the seat cushion off a chair.
- Using a screwdriver, loosen and remove the screws that hold the seat to the chair.
- Carefully lift the seat off of the chair.
- Take a look at the underside of the seat. There may be additional screws or nails holding it together. Remove these as well.
Now you have a decision. You can remove the fabric or cushion from the seat frame. To do this, simply pull it away from the frame or unscrew any fasteners that are holding it in place.
You can just leave the existing fabric and reupholster over it. In my case when I took the seat cover off, there were a ZILLION little staples holding it in place. Way too much work, so I just chose to reupholster over it.
Quick tip: add all the screws to a piece of tape so you don’t lose any of them while you are reupholstering the seat.
Once your cushion is removed, you can always paint the chairs or stain them, but I loved the finish on these chairs, so I’m keeping them vintage and chippy just like I found them.
Cut a rectangle of fabric for the chair cushion
The easiest place to start?
The old piece of fabric you took off.
If you don’t have the old fabric as a guide, you’ll need to cut a rectangle of new fabric that’s two inches longer and two inches wider than the old piece.
Cut off the ends of the rectangle as shown.
Staple in place
Use a staple gun to secure it to the frame of the chair or sofa.
Be sure to pull the fabric taut as you work, so that the finished product will have a smooth appearance and make sure if you have any vertical lines (like the lines on my fabric) try to keep them as straight as possible. When you get to the corners, fold a flap on each side (cutting the ends helps with this) and staple in place.
Don’t overthink and don’t overpull the fabric.
Also, make sure when you are stapling, you leave access to the holes on the back of the seat cushion so you can reattach it to the chair.
When you are finished, flip over the seat cushion and check to see if you need to tighten any lose pieces.
Trim away any loose threads.
Once you’ve made sure everything looks good, it’s time to reattach it to the chair.
Reattach the seat cushion
Find the tape with the screws that were holding the cushion in place.
Remove the screws, align them with the holes in the chair frame and screw them in securely. Cut away any excess fabric that is preventing you from reattaching the chair.
If the holes don’t line up perfectly or you have any challenges, you can always drill new ones. Finally, place the cushion back on the chair and check to make sure it’s attached securely.
Five minutes for my ten-dollar chair.
Can you believe it?
You know what’s funny?
I never knew that I needed chairs like this in my life.
I can’t live without them. 🙂