Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to: Office Chair Revamp

When I got my new job, I was put in an office with these chairs:

A real yawn, right???
They were perfectly good, utilitarian office chairs but they lacked inspiration and, well, kind of made me sad.  In search of a new project, I found the chair below left at an antique store  in my home town ($15) while antiquing with my friend Amy and the chair below on the right on craigslist ($25).  The lady I bought it from also had a coffee table in her back seat with a sonic cup sitting on it.  It was decided these would be my new office chairs....after a lot of work because those seat covers were especially yucky.

I wanted chairs that coordinated but did not match and chairs that were not so precious they would be destroyed by refinishing.  These two share the cane back and rounded tops-though one is large round and the other much smaller.  I love how they look together.  Also, they are the same seat and back heights, which helps pull them together.

The first step was to remove the seat cushions.  It's very easy.  There are screws in each corner on the undercarriage of the chair.  Remove those screws and the seat comes off.

Then, I guess you can sand them.  I didn't really do this step.  Instead I got some Kilz primer and gave them several good, thin coatings of that.  Sanding details is one of my least favorite things.

After one coat of Kilz Primer.
After the primer has dried, it's time to paint!  Yellow is not really my go to color, but my office is decorated in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black...the four key colors of design that make all other colors).  I thought yellow was a good option for the chairs out of those colors so that's what I went with.  Also, I used spray paint and couldn't really find the right cyan or magenta and thought black was a little boring.   (I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Gloss in Sun Yellow)
After one coat of yellow.
While letting the paint dry in a well-ventilated area, I began working on recovering the seats in between coats of paint.

The seats along with things you will need.  You might also want a little crowbar if the bottom of your seat looks anything like mind did.

I'd love to know what the person was thinking who stapled this to the bottom of the chair.  Clearly they wanted it to survive any type of natural disaster as well as the end of the world.  It took a long time to remove all of these.  They would break and that's where the needlenose pliers came in handy.  The other cushion had a much more reasonable number of staples and they all came out easier.

Those crisscross staples were the worst...and absolutely unnecessary.
So once you've gotten all the staples out, lay your new fabric top-side down and the old yucky cushion covers on it.  As you can see, my new fabric is black and white chevron.

The old cushions are already cut to the right size so it's not necessary to cut any bigger.  I just cut square-ish shapes.  They don't need to be shaped like the old seat covers were.

See what I mean?  I doesn't have to be perfect.  I did, however, want the chevron to be straight so I lined up one edge and went from there.  And by line it up, I mean I eyeballed it.  

Once your fabric is cut to the size-ish you need, lay the upholstery foam and board on it.  The upholstery foam on these seats was still in good shape so I reused it.  If the foam is gross or crumbly or has a funny smell, just pick up some new foam at a fabric store or Hobby Lobby and cut to the size of the board.

Now it's time to staple.  Don't go staple crazy on this part.  You will want to because the staple gun is really fun, but don't.  Btw, my staple gun is a cheap-o from Home Depot.  Not like the cheapest but the cheapest "heavy duty" they had and it works great.  I think it was around $15 and I just used the staples that came with it.

To staple, I started with the bottom edge (like in the photo above), lined it up and then stapled a row of about 3-4 staples across.  On this part, don't pull it really tight because nothing else is stapled and there's nothing to pull against.

Then fold over the top and staple a row.  You will want to pull this a little to make sure it's taunt and smooth on the seat surface.  No one likes a wrinkly seat.

And then I did the sides.  The sides are longer so there was no chance of getting a staple over the screw holes so there's not an issue when you try to screw the seats back on the chair frame.  And I didn't get fancy on the corners.  Mostly just make sure they're wrapped and secure.  No one likes a show off.

All stapled!

Finished seat.
Jovie testing it out.  She approves.
So then when the chair frames are dry, attach the newly covered seats and voila!  New chairs!  You can see mine are done a little "shabby chic" on the left edge of the chair on the right.  Crackle optional.

Here they are in my office with my giant portrait of Jovie.
Also, my desk had dull brown panels.  I covered them with grey and white chevron fabric using my trusty staple gun.  Now, if I should ever leave this office, I can pull the fabric off or leave it for the next person.

Brown desk panels.
Covered desk panels!
One more before and after!


  1. Much better than the sterile office chairs!

    I'm not much of a DIY'er, but I too have some cork-board panels at the back of my office desk that's covered in a lovely taupe. I've honestly never thought about recovering them before. Maybe next time I'm at a craft store I'll glance in the fabric section to see if I can find something to make my office look a little less...blah.

  2. Wow, impressive! Although I'm not surprised--I expect nothing less from the amazingly talented and creative Candace Timmons. Come do my house next k? Thanks.

  3. Yellow is a refreshing colour. And putting these shabby chic yellow furniture in your office is relaxing, adding more life to your space.

  4. Thank you for providing the details regarding brownish set chair.You provided me a very reliable details.I fully read your blog,it has very exciting details,i really experienced it.Really wonderful.

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  5. Good work…unique site and interesting too… keep it up…looking forward for more updates.

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  6. You work really hard and create some good chairs. Can you make chair for gamers? Or how to make those chairs?