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.

thrift store chair makeover

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.

Instead?

I came home with four of these.

These wonderful, amazing, incredible chippy chairs.

And guess how much I paid for each one?

TEN DOLLARS.

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.

thrift store chair makeover before

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.

The challenge?

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.

thrift store chair makeover fabric

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.

thrift store chair makeover seat cushion fabric

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.

thrift store chair makeover disassembling

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.

The key?

Finding where all the screws are.

Here’s exactly how I take the seat cushion off a chair.

  1. Using a screwdriver, loosen and remove the screws that hold the seat to the chair.
  2. Carefully lift the seat off of the chair.
  3. 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.

Or?

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.

thrift store chair makeover upholstery

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.

That’s it.

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.

But now?

I can’t live without them. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

Comments

  1. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    I love those chairs even though there is nothing in my house that is vintage distressed or chippy but those are so cute and it would be hard for me to pass them up. The fabric is just so pretty. I love it. Both sides. They look awesome. You got a great deal and made them your own. Gorveous.

  2. Image for Alene Pettus Alene Pettus

    Another good tip for Removing the seats is to Number each seat and each chair. That way you know they’ll go back on in the same place and you don’t have to drill new holes

  3. Image for Barbara Cawley Barbara Cawley

    Where can I find good fabric. I want to reupholster my dining room chairs in a pretty soft blue fabric. My home is mostly blue and whit. I haven been to Joanna's. Nothing. Any Suggestions? I live in Granbury Texas. Love your blog. I am a designer also. Originally from N.E. Any info would help!

  4. Image for Lori Lori

    I bought a 2nd hand French style chair early this spring that I plan to reupholster as well. Amazon has a tool kit for like $14 that helps get the staples out and to pull the fabric off which is my plan as I want to paint mine. My biggest hold back is the price of the fabric that I want to use. Hobby Lobby has a linen fabric I love but it's $35 a yard and I'll need 5 yards total. Not a huge deal but I hope to find a sale soon. Is there a timely schedule for sales on fabric? Ha!! Love your chair find....love the fabric you chose....perfect!!

    1. Image for AnnTN AnnTN

      Download the Hobby Lobby app and check it every Monday for what's on sale that week. All their sales run on a cycle.

  5. Image for Lee Stearns Lee Stearns

    What kind of staple gun do you use? I have 4 chairs “ waiting for me” to recover the seats but I think the right tools will make it easier! I LOVE everything you touch! Family/yard/home/social media and US, your “ truly amazing friends”! Thanks for being a bright light for all of us! Maybe you could bottle and sell your enthusiasm and positivity!❤️❤️🙏🙏😎

  6. Image for Jeanine Kesey Jeanine Kesey

    Beautiful job Karianne. I love the ornate backs of these chairs and you picked the perfect fabric to go with the rug. I love how it all turned out. You will love spending time in your room. Happy Wednesday!

  7. Image for Judy Young Judy Young

    Those are absolutely perfect Karianne! They are so “you”. I’ll bet you were so excited when you found them! Enjoy!

  8. Image for Holly Bullard Holly Bullard

    Kari Anne Can you tell me where you found the fabric you used for this project? I live near you & would love to have some pillows made out of it. Thanks

  9. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    Karianne, I had just been thinking of reupholstering our dining room chairs after having friends over for the Fourth of July. It is time for new seats. Your very timely post has inspired me to get with the program! Thanks!

  10. Image for Rhonda Rhonda

    I love to go 'junkin' I had a vintage store but had to close it...I miss it everyday. I use to call it 'playing house' I couldn't wait to wake up everyday and get to the store to play house...I think I enjoyed junkin most of all...I see deals all the time and would scoop them up in a second if I had a place for them to live LOL anyway I love the transformation on these chairs. Gorgeous. Have a great summer

  11. Image for Marlene Marlene

    You made them look exceptionally pretty and the fabric was perfect match for your rug. I think it's wonderful to take old things and make them beautiful again.

  12. Image for Patricia Patricia

    Reminds me when I reupholstered a great aunt's balloon back chairs. They had 1,000 tiny nails and at least 100 individual brads on each chair. Took me two years to complete the first chair and about one week to do the second! I much prefer the seats that screw on and off. Yours turned out great. Your tip about knowing where they're going to go afterwards is excellent.

  13. Image for Carolyn Stone Carolyn Stone

    That was a FABULOUS find and remake. I love redoing chairs, they are quick & easy & the results are amazing. Great job! Love it & those chairs....wow. drooling...

  14. Image for Jeanne Schendt Jeanne Schendt

    I always say it is God when I find exactly what I am looking for and also a great price. Wonderful find! You are blessed!

  15. Image for Tara Watts Tara Watts

    I love the chairs! Looks great in the craft room! I really need to take care of projects right when i have the idea or find something that needs a little help. This point in life is pretty busy so lots of things have been saved for later. 😬

  16. Image for Missy Mangum Missy Mangum

    Great advice are starting and completing projects immediately! I have chairs seats for the beach house that haven’t been started, gonna drag them out tonight! P.S. love your nail color, do you know the shade?

  17. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Way to go, KA!!!! They look fabulous. Love the fabric you chose. Well done. What a fabulous Look for Less!!!!!

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